If you are looking for 5 ways to motivate your students in the classroom, you are in the right place! I’m going to share engaging ideas to help students comprehend tough concepts and skills. Whenever I would mix things up and use something outside of the box to help my students learn, they ALWAYS remembered it! These ideas can be used to review just about any subject or skill.

You can also watch FB Live where I talked about these ideas!


Song, Rap, or Parody

One of my favorite tools to use when teaching was using a song, rap, or parody written for that specific skill or content. You can look on Youtube, Itunes, or have students create one! In social studies, I loved Tunes That Teach American History. It covered all the units in South Carolina 4th grade history. My students would hear the same song over and over again. I’d play the song at the beginning of a lesson, while we were making a craft related to that unit, or while we were cleaning up. I would hear them singing it on the way to recess, throughout the year and believe it or not, I recently ran into an old student now in his 20’s and he sang one of the songs to me! Now if that isn’t impactful, I’m not sure what is!


Selective Videos

We all like to use videos, but be selective and avoid using it as an exclusive teaching tool. It is best to introduce and discuss the skill first, then watch a video or better yet, snippets of the video, that reinforces the skill. If the video has catchy songs in it too – BONUS! For example, School House Rocks Conjuction Junction. This is an oldie, but goodie! I learned it when I was in elementary school and can still remember the characters and sing it.



Whether it is an acronym that has been around for years, one you make up, or one the students make up, THEY WORK! Teachers are known for their acronyms! I always say, “Whatever it takes to help students remember difficult strategies, I’m on board!” When using that strategy later in the year, teachers or students can refer to the acronym for review. Here are a few examples:

RACE(Restate, Answer, Cite, Explain) This can be used for citing text evidence.

FAAVS – I made up FAAVS for word choice in writing. I would tell my students that I was looking for FAAVS in their writing.


Song Lyrics

Use song lyrics to teach different skills! Since lyrics are a form of poetry, it is perfect for poetry analysis. Choose lyrics and have students look for poetry elements like rhyme scheme, figurative language, tone, and rhythm. Super fun! Students absolutely love this. Lyrics are also great for teaching theme and inferences. Find the hidden messages within the lyrics!


Poetry to motivate? Really it works! To tackle two teachable moments at the same time, I sometimes had students write their poetry based on a strategy or unit of study. It gave it a different twist. We even used it in Social Studies! For example, when discussing the differences between federalists and antifederalists, use a diamante! Use an acrostic poem for a historical event or a free verse to tell about the point of view of someone in history.


I hope you gained some good ideas to use with your kiddos! If you at least got ONE good idea, I’m super excited!



These resources reinforce the ideas mentioned above:


Some useful blog posts: