There are a lot of different ways to teach your students. But if you really want them to connect with the lesson and not just memorize facts or numbers one of the best ways to teach them is with interactive classroom activities.
Interactive classroom activities are activities that forgo one-way communication, or individual learning in favor of getting students involved and engaged with the lessons or material.
Interactive classroom activities can allow students to understand what they’re learning on a deeper, more integrated level—which can make the classroom experience a more successful and rewarding one.
Want to make your classroom more interactive and engaging? Below are 25 interactive classroom activity ideas to bring learning to life for your students.
Group brainstorming sessions are a great way to bring your students together to engage with whatever it is they’re learning. Instead of thinking about the topic alone at their desk, they get to expand their ideas with other students, which will help them be more engaged and gain a new perspective into the lesson.
Want to keep your brainstorming sessions organized? Try one of Canva’s organizer templates, like the Blue White and Orange Simple Brainstorming Graphic Organizer or the Green Palm Leaves Brainstorming Graphic Organizer.
Have a test coming up? Instead of having your students review the material on their own, host a Jeopardy-style game show to test their knowledge. Not only is a game show more interactive for the entire class, but it’s also a lot more fun—and when learning is fun, students are more engaged.
You can have your students write a paper on a historical figure. Or, if you want to make the process more interactive, you can have them actually bring that historical character to life.
Ditch the paper and have your student dress up like the historical character and give a presentation, in character, to the class. It will take the same amount of research and preparation—but because your student will have to actually think and interact as the historical figure, it will help them get a deeper understanding of their subject.
Students tend to get a deeper understanding of a concept when they can relate it to their own life. If you’re teaching a concept you really want your students to grasp, a great way to drive home the lesson? Ask them to bring back related examples from their own life—and, in particular, from entertainment.
For example, is your history class learning about corrupt governments through the ages? Ask your students to come up with examples of similar corruption in their favorite films and TV shows—and then explain the similarities. Are your students reading Catcher In The Rye? Ask them to come up with some examples of Holden Caulfield-inspired characters in modern-day media.
Put a stack of index cards next to your classroom door and write a question on the board. When your students come into class, have them grab an index card, write down an answer to the question, and hand it in at your desk—as their “entry ticket” to class.
The question should be something related to the day’s lesson, like “after last night’s homework assignment, what do you think about X?” or “after studying the material for today’s class, what are some areas you still need clarification on—and would like to go over in today’s lesson?”
Not only does this activity get your students engaged and interacting from the minute they walk into the classroom, it also gives you valuable insights you can use to guide the day’s lesson plan.
When your students are getting ready to leave for the day, have them do the same thing—just with exit tickets.
The same concept applies. Ask them a question about the day’s lesson, any questions they might have, or overall feedback—then collect their ticket before they head home. Reviewing their exit tickets will help you figure out where to adjust your lesson plan for the following day.
If you want to create an interactive classroom environment, your students need to feel comfortable, at ease, and ready to engage in the learning process. And a great way to get them there? Icebreakers.
Kicking off the day with a fun icebreaker game is a great way to get your students loosened up and having fun from the get-go—which will make them more likely to engage and interact with the learning process throughout the day.
Thinking is an important part of learning. But sometimes, students can get caught in the trap of overthinking, which can actually inhibit their ability to engage in the classroom.
That’s why improvisational exercises are so effective. They get students thinking on their feet and engaging in the learning process—instead of getting trapped in the cycle of overthinking and overanalyzing. Start class with a fun improv game to get your students ready to engage—or, take improv a step further and incorporate it directly into your lesson (for example, by having your students improve how they think a key historical event might have played out).
Learning and solving complex problems is, in many ways, like a puzzle. So why not bring that concept to life for your students?
With jigsaw problem solving, students are assigned to groups to solve a complex problem. Each student solves a different part of the problem (making them one piece of the jigsaw puzzle), and then the team comes together to assemble all the pieces and solve the problem (or assemble the puzzle) as a group.
This exercise will give your students both a micro and a macro view of how to solve challenging problems—and also brings them together to solve the problem in an interactive way.
A big part of successful jigsaw puzzle solving is keeping track of the moving parts of the project (or puzzle). Help your students put the puzzle together and stay organized with one of Canva’s planner templates, like the Pink Simple Minimal Project Planner or the Yellow Photo Project Schedule Planner.
Most students will have an opinion about what they’re learning. But no issues are completely one-sided—and this debate exercise can help your students to see both sides of a complex issue.
With optimist/pessimist, you assign one student to argue in favor of a particular issue (the optimist) and the other to argue against a particular issue (the pessimist). Then, the two students each debate one side of the issue, followed by a class discussion.
This exercise not only gets your entire class involved in the discussion, but it also illustrates that few issues are strictly black and white—a lesson that will be extremely useful for them both in and out of the classroom.
Some students excel in certain areas—while others might struggle a bit. Peer reviews and study sessions can be a great way to encourage students helping students—and it’s also a great way to foster interactivity and collaboration in the classroom.
Just make sure to always supervise your students; it’s important that peer reviews and study sessions feel empowering for both students—and don’t turn into one student bullying or putting another student down.
You’re the teacher. But you don’t have to always be the one teaching.
Letting your students take charge and lead reviews or lessons is a great way to create a more interactive atmosphere in the classroom. Plus, teaching the lesson (vs. just studying the lesson) forces your students to engage with the content in a new, different way—which can deepen the learning process.
Obviously, structure works in a classroom. But sometimes, a lack of structure is just what your students need to engage, interact, and get their creative juices flowing.
Give your students a freewriting exercise. Give them a prompt, set a timer (between 5 and 15 minutes is typically a good time frame), and have them write whatever they want about the topic. Then, have them share about the experience and, if they’re comfortable, share some of their writing.
This kind of open-ended creative time is a great way to keep your students engaged—and make for a more interactive classroom environment in the process.
Incentivizing students can go a long way in creating a more interactive classroom.
Put a puzzle that’s relevant to your current lesson plan in the front of the classroom—and offer a prize to the first student (or students) who figure it out. So, for example, if you’re teaching your younger students basic math (like addition and multiplication), fill a large jar with candy and have them try to work out how many pieces of candy are in the jar. Then, whoever wins gets to keep the jar—and the candy.
The puzzle with a prize exercise not only creates an interactive learning opportunity, but it also attaches it to a reward—which will make your students more likely to engage.
Your students should be able to summarize what they’re learning in their own words. And, if they really understand the concept, they should be able to do it pretty succinctly.
Have your students come up with an “elevator pitch” on your current lesson plan, where they summarize the concept in two minutes or less. Then, have them present the pitch the class.
Not only does this reinforce the lesson and make learning more interactive, but if you notice your students are having a hard time with this exercise, it also lets you know they’re not really grasping the concept—and you can adjust the lesson plan accordingly.
Want to really make sure your students are grasping what you’re teaching? Ask them to draw it.
Having your students draw a concept allows you to make sure they really understand what it is you’re teaching—and it immediately makes the lesson more interactive and engaging.
In addition to having your students draw the concept you’re teaching, you can also have them act it out. Again, this will allow you to confirm they’re really grasping the content—and it will also get them up, out of their seats, and engaging with the lesson.
One of the best ways to make your classroom more interactive? Interacting with other classrooms.
Partner with a teacher in another school and set up a Skype debate, where your students and the students in the other classroom (which could be in another city, state, or even country!) discuss a topic they’re both learning. Not only will your students be excited to interact with another classroom, but being the tech-savvy generation they are, they’ll also be excited to hop on Skype during school hours!
Help students think ahead by having them guess what they’re going to be learning next. You can give them hints to guide their thinking—or have them try to deduce what lesson comes next based on what they just learned. Not only is this a great interactive classroom activity, but it can also help students build their reasoning and critical thinking skills!
Students want a sense of ownership in what and how they learn. And a teaching brainstorm is a great way to give them that ownership.
Have a brainstorm with your students on what they’d like you to teach and how they’d like to learn. Keep track of all their ideas, and try to incorporate them into your lesson plans. When your students see their ideas being implemented, they’ll be much more engaged with the lesson—and feel like they were a real part of making that lesson happen.
Keep all your student’s ideas organized—and implement them into your lesson plans—with one of Canva’s organizer templates, like the Violet and White Rocket Ship Science Fair Brainstorming Graphic Organizer or the Coral and Green Brush Strokes Brainstorming Graphic Organizer.
If you need to review for an upcoming test, a round of question roulette is a great (and interactive!) way to prepare your students.
Have everyone write down a test-related question on a slip of paper. Put all the slips of paper in a container, shake it up, and pass it around the room. Whichever question a student pulls out of the container, they have to answer. If they don’t answer correctly, they pass to the next student.
Keep passing the container until all the questions are answered. Not only is this a fun, interactive way to prepare students for exams, because they’re the ones coming up with questions, it also gets them involved in the learning process (and can give you some good ideas for test questions!).
Taking your students on a field trip is one of the best ways to make learning interactive because it brings the lesson to life.
Look for ways to take your teaching outside of the classroom. Are your students learning about local government? Arrange a field trip to City Hall so they can see local government in action. Is your next lesson about animal biology? Schedule a trip to the zoo so they can see those animals in person.
Sometimes, arranging a field trip for your students isn’t logistically possible. If you can’t coordinate a field trip to support a specific lesson, see what you can do about bringing the field trip into the classroom.
So, for the previously mentioned local government lesson, see if the mayor or city planner can come in to do a Q + A with your students. For the animal biology course, get in touch with the zoo and see if they can send an animal expert—and a few exotic animals—to visit with the kids.
Want your students to take a gamble on learning? Then you’ll definitely want to give this interactive classroom activity a try.
Choose twelve classroom activities and assign each a number, 1 through 12. Then, have a student roll the dice. Whatever number they roll, the class does the corresponding activity.
If you want to give your students a sense of ownership in their learning, have them help choose the activities. And if you really want to get your students excited? Make one of the classroom activities something fun, like 30 minutes of free time or field trip planning.
“The Questions Game” is a staple on long road trips—and it can (and should!) be a staple in interactive classroom environments.
Have students take turns choosing a person, place, or thing—then, have the rest of the class ask them questions until they figure it out. You can have students choose a person, place, or thing related to the day’s lesson, a specific theme, or you can keep it more open-ended; either way, this game makes for a fun, interactive activity for the entire class.
An interactive classroom is one where the students are more engaged with the learning process. And now that you have 30 solid activities to make your classroom a more interactive place, all that’s left to do? Get out there and get your students interacting, engaged, and exciting about learning!
Also, we’re offering a super-charged version of Canva to classrooms for free. Learn more about bringing Canva to the classroom with Canva for Education.