Updated January 2022
Over the course of 2020 and 2021, students, parents, teachers, and everyone involved in their education struggled to make remote learning work, let alone make it fun. But it definitely can be enjoyable for everyone involved.
Many people have come up with unique, creative, and innovative ways for how to make remote learning fun. Let’s explore these ideas along with all of the ins-and-outs of distance learning.
What is Remote Learning?
What does remote learning mean? That’s a great question! It’s essential to understand this before we talk about how to make remote learning fun.
According to Geneva College, remote learning is distinctly different from online learning. The remote learning definition is an online learning environment that seeks to recreate an in-person classroom experience. Students engaging in remote learning log in to an online classroom at predetermined times and receive much the same experience as students who are present in person.
The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated that millions of students worldwide move to remote learning. Teachers, administrators and parents who had never experienced this learning model before had to adapt. Even as many schools return to in-person instruction, some parents hope to continue remote learning, so it is still important to understand and improve these practices to make remote classes more engaging fun for students.
How Does Remote Learning Work?
Remote learning depends greatly on reliable technology. Teachers and students need a remote learning portal where they can upload and share documents and files securely, post presentations and lectures, take notes, and keep all documents and assessments organized. That’s where Sizle comes in handy. Here’s a list of modern presentation slide design inspiration if you need some help getting started!
Sizle has unlimited storage, and many teachers and schools have used it successfully to support remote learning.
How does remote learning work? Essentially, teachers and students log in to their virtual classroom at pre-set times, and it’s important to make each and every remote session as engaging as possible. Teachers lecture like usual but often post lectures, lessons, and resources on a platform like Sizle.
Students can also upload and share documents with teachers for their review and feedback. Sizle makes it all as simple as can be, and their analytical software helps everyone stay on top of their work.
Pros and Cons of Remote Learning
There are many benefits of remote learning, but there are some downsides as well.
Benefits of Remote Learning
One of the most significant benefits of remote learning, especially in parents’ eyes, is the ability for parents to be much more involved in their child’s education. If the student learns at home and parents are there to assist and participate, students have extra support from the most important people in their lives.
Remote learning also teaches children accountability. The fact that they need to log in at certain times and then be responsible enough to pay attention without direct supervision from their teachers teaches important skills that will come in handy later in life.
Remote learning can also make quality education accessible for students who would not otherwise have access to it for various reasons. It can also make education more personal and flexible. Each student can customize their learning space to be conducive to their learning style.
Cons of Remote Learning
There are definite downsides to remote learning, despite all the pros. The distance itself can be the biggest downside for a lot of kids. It is more difficult for students to bond with teachers and tutors, and there are virtually no social interactions between the students themselves. These elements are essential for school-age children especially.
Some of the pros can also become cons with some kids. For those who struggle to hold themselves responsible, it can be easy to fall behind. Being at home can be very distracting.
Finally, technological issues can make remote learning more difficult. Internet failures or other issues can cause much bigger problems than in physical classrooms. As discussed above, Sizle can help a great deal by providing an easy-to-use, intuitive platform with a minimal learning curve.
How To Make Remote Learning Fun
Teachers, parents, and other people invested in education have come up with many ways on how to make remote learning fun. Let’s take a look at our 10 favorites. Some are geared more for parents, some for teachers, and some for anyone hoping to support them!
Take Frequent Movement Breaks
Most remote learning schedules (see the samples above) have breaks built-in, but they’re often not enough. Frequent movement helps keep their minds focused and is very fun for them, especially for younger children.
For teachers, try setting up a digital spinning wheel with various movements on it. Then, put it on the screen for students to see. Use movement whenever you sense you’re losing the students.
Parents can make their own physical spinning wheel for their kids. Or, use break times to do a quick scavenger hunt in the front yard or engage them in a relay race in the driveway.
Kids love Bitmojis, and using them in the remote learning classroom can help better engage them. Teachers can make a digital version of their in-person classrooms and a fun, clever Bitmoji of themselves to use. Students can also learn how to create and use their Bitmojis as well.
The Bitmoji classroom has proven surprisingly engaging for students and helps them connect to their classrooms when they’re far away. It also draws them into the learning process and better engages them.
There are several great tutorials on how to use Bitmoji in the remote classroom and for remote learning. One of our favorites is from Tech & Learning.
Make the Space Fun
There are tons of ways to personalize your child’s remote learning space and make it conducive to working. Some educators have found that fidget toys have helped young children focus during lessons and tutorials where they do not need to write. Leave one or two at a time next to their computer, and switch them out every couple of days.
Put photos of things they love and are proud of on the walls, the desk, or a corkboard. Pets can be distracting, but putting pictures of them around reminds your kids of their best friend. Stills from their favorite shows or music artists also help them feel more at home and remind them of fun times.
A clock or timer can also help keep kids focused. They can keep an eye on how long they have left until their next break or how long they have been in their lesson. In addition, items such as bean bag chairs, cozy pillows, and other comfort items will help them love being in their learning space.
While you probably can’t decorate their school-issued computer, you can get them light-up keyboards, bright mouse and mousepad, or funky headphones.
Animal Show and Tell
One of the best parts of being home during remote learning is the ability to see your beloved animals all day. So why not let your students show theirs off? Have a pet show and tell where students get to introduce their furry friends to their classmates.
In order to pull this off successfully, you’ll need to do some planning. Let parents know ahead of time so they can facilitate having the animals ready for their moment in the spotlight. Give each child a ten-minute block of time so parents aren’t having to sit around waiting for their child’s turn.
What if students don’t have pets? That’s okay! They can bring their favorite stuffed animal, action figure, or whatever other treasured possession they want their friends to see.
The added benefit of this activity is that it helps foster a sense of community and familiarity in your remote classroom, which can be challenging to accomplish remotely. Kids get to share a little bit of their lives with each other and you.
Do a Scavenger Hunt
One great tip on how to make remote learning fun that is accessible to parents and teachers is to do a scavenger hunt. We already mentioned a scavenger hunt as a break activity that parents can use at home to get their kids moving throughout the day.
There are also ways that teachers can use them too. You can use a complete scavenger hunt as a “homework” assignment. Go over it the next day, and call on kids to describe an item they found in their home.
Or use one or two scavenger hunt clues to draw attention to each other’s screens. Ask them if they see a particular type of item or object on someone else’s screen. The child whose screen it is can go next or talk about the thing that their peer spotted.
For both parents and teachers, there are many scavenger hunt templates and examples available online. Some are generic (find something blue, find something that breathes), and some are themed, such as a nature scavenger hunt or a holiday scavenger hunt.
Theme days can be an entertaining way to engage students. You would be surprised at the degree to which older students in middle and high school also like to get in on the game. The best part is that you can not only dress up but also decorate your learning space. Let’s look at some teacher favorites for remote learning theme days:
- Beach day: this one is especially fun on frigid days or right before spring break
- Sports day: do this theme the day after the Super Bowl
- Pyjama day: you can allow kids also to bring their pillows, stuffed animals, blankets, and other sleep-time essentials.
- Pirate day: National Talk Like a Pirate Day is September 19, so use this theme on or around this date.
Don’t forget to get your Zoom or video backgrounds in on the action. That’s also an excellent way for kids who can’t decorate their actual surroundings to participate.
Create Hand Signals
This one’s for teachers more so than parents, and it is a great way to capture your students’ attention and help foster a sense of community among your class. Once again, that is very difficult to accomplish with remote learning.
The hand signals are also handy for your kids to communicate with you. You can develop and teach different hand signals for when kids have questions about the material, need you to repeat something, need something logistical (such as having to go to the bathroom), and more. It’s also a sneaky method to use to get kids to keep their cameras turned on so you can see them.
Some teachers have also created “secret handshakes” that they and their students do digitally to signal the beginning of the day, the end of the day, or breaks. Emphasize that those hand signals make them part of a special club, and only they get to learn them.
Games are a great tactic to use in the classroom, and you can utilize them in remote learning. Many classroom games are adaptable to this new model. For example, a Jeopardy review game before a test is engaging and educational. You can play a round of memory with younger students or hang-man with middle schoolers.
Parents can utilize this tactic as well, especially during their kids’ breaks. Remember, with remote learning, most schools don’t build in time for recess anymore, so your kids are missing that time to let loose and be silly. Give it back to them as much as you can by engaging with them in some kind of play during their breaks.
Other games that adapt well to remote learning include:
- Twenty Questions
- Take turns telling jokes
- Mad Libs
- Quick share (ask fun questions such as what item you would bring to Mars)
- Secret Word
- Would You Rather
- Tongue Twisters
Virtual Field Trips
We’re sure you remember the excitement your kids (whether they’re your students or your own children) had when they got to go on a field trip. You can replicate that experience with virtual field trips not only nearby, but all over the world. Many teachers were already utilizing this tool before the pandemic to enhance learning.
Hundreds of museums, cities, sites and other destinations have created their own virtual field trips. Many are free or carry a small fee to help support the institution. Look far and wide, but don’t forget to check out what the places in your backyard have put together.
Ever wondered what degree you need to be a teacher? Find out here!
Keep It Fresh
Teachers already know from their years in the classroom that mixing it up is essential. Whether it’s trying a new learning style, rearranging the furniture in the classroom, a teaching assistant, or something else, change and surprise can help keep children engaged and give their brains the necessary stimulation.
There are ways that parents and teachers can do this during remote learning. For parents, leave little surprises in your children’s space. You can even rearrange or redecorate (if it is within your means) their learning corner in your home.
For teachers, it’s more important than ever to try to appeal to all of the different learning styles with innovative ways of teaching. It is sometimes best to present material in several different ways, spending more time on each module. You don’t have the same opportunity to read your students’ body language to tell who is confused or behind to work one-on-one.
Even small changes, such as a background change, can help keep your students’ attention throughout the school day. Play around with different ideas to see what resonates with the children in your class right now.
Sample Remote Learning Schedule
Finally, here are a couple of sample remote learning schedules for different levels of education.
8:00 – 8:30 AM — Morning meeting
8:30 – 9:00 — Reading live instruction
9:00 – 10:00 — Individual work time and small group instruction (reading and ELA)
10:00 – 10:15 — Break
10:15 – 10:45 — Math live instruction
10:45 – 11:45 — Individual work time and small group instruction (math)
11:45 – 12:15 — Lunch
12:15 – 1:15 PM — Social Studies and science live instruction and work time
1:15 – 1:30 — Break
1:30 – 2:20 — Specials (art, P.E., music, and so on)
2:20 – 3:00 — Student work time and meeting with instructors
Middle and High School Students
8:30 – 8:45 AM — Morning meeting and announcements
8:45 – 9:55 — Period 1
9:55 – 10:10 — Break
10:25 – 11:35 — Period 2
11:35 – 11:50 — Break
11:50 – 1:10 PM — Period 3
1:10 – 1:40 — Lunch
1:40 – 3:30 — Individual work time and meetings with teachers
Periods 1, 2, and 3 become 4, 5, and 6 on alternate days.
Remote learning is challenging for everyone, and all caregivers and educators want to do what they can to make it easier on children and prevent them from falling behind. Luckily, there are lots of big and small things that we can do when it comes to figuring out how to make remote learning fun! That way, kids stay engaged and maintain a love of learning while doing so remotely.