9 Simple Classroom Engagement Strategies for Elementary Teachers

Whether it’s tired students, the end of the school day, or classroom distractions, there are a lot of reasons why your students can become disengaged. But whatever the reason may be, keeping your students engaged in class is critical to creating a lasting impact on young learners. In this article, we will explore nine simple classroom engagement strategies for you to start using in your classroom. Let’s get started!

9 Classroom Engagement Strategies

1. Hands-On Learning

Incorporate hands-on activities and manipulatives into your lessons to provide students with tangible experiences. Use props, models, or materials that students can touch, move, and explore. This approach can help make abstract concepts more concrete and engage multiple senses, enhancing understanding and retention. Often having something physical to interact with can be a big help to young learners to help them stay engaged in an activity.

For example in a math lesson you can provide students with manipulatives to allow them to help visualize addition and subtraction.

2. Cooperative Learning

Cooperative learning strategies help encourage collaboration and teamwork among your students. This can include assigning group projects or activities where students work together to solve problems, discuss ideas, and complete tasks. For some students this social interaction with other students is a great way to get students to stay engaged while also practicing their socialization skills.

An example of cooperative learning is to divide your students into small groups and assign each group a topic. Then have each group work collaboratively to gather information, create a presentation, and present it to the class.

3. Integrating Technology

Integrating technology into your classroom is a great way to help your students stay engaged and motivated in your material. Using educational games and apps, online platforms, interactive whiteboards, or multimedia presentations can help you deliver content in a visually appealing and interactive manner for your students. Technology can also provide opportunities for individualized learning, gamification, and immediate feedback for students. These are all great ways to actively engage students in learning.

For example you can use a programming game like Kodable to introduce your students to the basics of computer programming while also teaching them important skills like creativity, logical thinking, and problem solving. Kodable can be used by individual students, groups of students, in classroom learning centers, or for classwide lessons to keep students engaged with learning games and activities. Kodable is free for educators so make your account today to easily bring engaging technology into your classroom!

4. Have Active Discussions

Facilitating active discussions in your classroom can help encourage student participation and engagement. Use open-ended questions, debates, or small group discussions to provide students an opportunity to build their communication skills while also participating in your lesson.

For example, you can read your class a STEM picture book and then have a class discussion with open ended questions asking about the plot, characters, or story theme. You could also consider using physical props such as a speaking stick or ball to further encourage participation by being able to hold the speaking stick when called upon.

5. Differentiated Instruction

Use differentiated instruction strategies to tailor your teaching to meet the needs of all of your students. This can include providing learning options like tiered assignments to let students pick the activities that they are most interested in. In doing so you are not only empowering your students to actively participate in their learning, but also helping your students be more engaged by doing activities that they choose.

If you need some inspiration we have a number of great choice board examples you can use to help create your own tic tac toe or bingo choice board to get your students excited and involved! 

6. Gamification

Using gamification in your classroom lets you leverage video game elements to make learning more engaging and enjoyable to your students. Using educational games, quizzes, challenges, or rewards can help you create a sense of excitement and competition in your classroom to help students more actively participate.

Gamification can look different in every classroom including creating a Jeopardy-style review game for your students before a test to having students compete at the end of a week to see who can turn in the dirtiest wet wipe to help you keep your classroom clean!

Math teacher Alice Keeler shared a great gamification example above on how she combines her Google Classroom setup with gamification to encourage classroom participation.

7. Make Real-World Connections

Relating your lessons to your students’ lives outside of the classroom is a great way to make learning more meaningful and engaging to your students. This can also help students be more inquisitive about the world around them and take a more active role in their learning.

The good news about making real-world connections is that there are a ton of ways to easily work this into your lesson planning. For example if you are teaching about addition or subtraction you can use cookies, apples, fruit snacks, or other treats that students are familiar with to help explain concepts. Or you can use recent snow or rainfall to help teach students about the changing weather. Basically the world outside can be your inspiration to help make learning more approachable for students!

8. Movement and Brain Breaks

Your students, just like us, occasionally need a brain break and a chance to move their body to refocus and re-energize. A 2012 study also found that our brain’s state while we are taking a break is crucial for consolidating memories, reflecting on previous experiences, and forward thinking. Essentially breaks are critical to helping students not only refocus, but also to help students process and catalog previous learnings. It’s important to have solid routines when transitioning in and out of these breaks to ensure that you don’t lose instructional time to distractions.

These breaks can be quick, easy, and fun to institute! Check out how Meadow View Elementary School tackles brain breaks with a quick dance party.

9. Flexible Grouping

Use flexible grouping strategies to group students together based on their individual strengths and areas for growth to create a more supportive and engaging learning environment. Grouping students can help you personalize instruction which can make your classroom more engaged. Groups can be teacher or student picked and the groups can last for anywhere from an activity to a week or more so don’t be afraid to try something new and see what works for your classroom.

Did we miss any of your favorite classroom engagement strategies? Let us know on social media @Kodable!

Don’t forget - you can sign up for Kodable for free to bring a new engaging STEM activity into your classroom today.