Laugh and Learn

Blog · Aug 17, 2020

Educators have long appreciated that students enjoy learning through games, humor, and music, but learning through songs and games isn’t just for fun. Indeed, the practice of learning through games dates back to antiquity. 2000 years ago, the game of chess was used as a simulation game to prepare soldiers for battle. Research indicates that students experience increased concentration and retention when lessons are delivered though games, music, and humor. This week, we’ll look at why teaching through music, humor, and games is effective.

Games, songs, and humor focus the student’s attention and actively immerses them in a synchronized activity. Lessons applied through songs and games foster improved retention by triggering heightened function in the lower brain to focus attention. In response to enjoyable experiences, the brain releases neurotransmitters including dopamine, serotonin, and an array of endorphins to stimulate the memory centers. When the brain decides to “pay attention” to a game, joke, or song, it dedicates more processing power to the information. The prefrontal cortex processes sensory information from what we see, hear, and touch to form behavior-guiding judgments. It also oversees processing for planning complex cognitive behaviors, demonstrating personality characteristics, and moderating social behavior. The increased processing power and focus adds to our ability to absorb and retain information.

Games provide practice in multiple skill areas including communication, cooperation, active listening, and considering choices and consequences. Both cooperative and competitive activities are built into the Too Good lessons to immerse the student in a practical simulation of using objective skills and knowledge sets. These student-led instruction methods present the subject matter in a format that can be readily recalled and applied. This sort of mental muscle memory translates abstract concepts into resources the students can call upon as a matter of course in their social and academic endeavors.

Listening to music and singing songs promotes memory and concentration, as well. Music triggers the same stimuli in response to pleasure, increasing processing power and retention. Songs provide an opportunity for a fun review of lesson content, and act as a mnemonic for students to recall information. Musical mnemonics provide a uniquely engaging approach to verbal memory tasks. One study found that students who listened to words sung recalled an average of 20% more words than students who listened to the same words spoken.

The whole class benefits when learning through fun, games, and music, as these teaching methods promote bonding through a shared positive experience. The contagious nature of humor naturally adds to our sense of community, uniting the students in the empathy of a shared emotion. When we’re having fun, we lower our defenses and experience a sense of camaraderie. Learning while having fun or experiencing joy fosters social and emotional development and promotes a sense of community.

Too Good lessons deliver skills and character development content through purposeful games, puppets, and original songs. The engaging and interactive lessons provide opportunities to practice and internalize skills, as well as experience the normative effects of participating in healthy activities within a community of peers. In each Too Good volume, students have fun learning and practicing social-emotional competencies and experience a positive normative classroom environment further bolstering their resilience and self-confidence. Games, humor, and music build a positive emotional environment and increase students’ retention of knowledge and skill, so why not have a little fun while we’re learning?

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