Why the classroom should be a funny place

Kriscia Cabral

Growing up I was a fan of all things school. I went every day. I listened and followed directions. Yes, I was 'that' student. It wasn’t until college that I really turned the page and started asking the question “Why?” about the information I was learning. It is because of this inquiry that I have landed in the position I am in today.

My name is Kriscia Cabral. I teach a combination 4th and 5th grade class in a San Diego suburb called Poway. I’ve been working for the Poway Unified School District for eight years. Over time, I’ve grown as an educator, as learner, as an individual. Each year brings new reflections and learning experiences I look at as growing opportunities. My goal is to teach my students to think for themselves, ask questions, and teach me something new. I look at my role in the classroom as their motivator, their supporter, their partner in learning.

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Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to engage students with an interesting lesson, their minds still wander. San Diegan teacher Kriscia Cabral considers laughter to be an important part of any school day, and a vital element in keeping pupils present.

The great E.E. Cummings once said, “The most wasted of days is one without laughter.” Laughter in and out of the classroom is sunshine to our souls. It is a powerful tool and can be ignited when shared with your students. How can you empower students with laughter? Give them the opportunity to laugh out loud!

One way I love to share a laugh with my students is during our morning meetings. Every student has something to share and there is always at least one moment where someone has a misunderstanding or we ask silly questions. When this does not happen, although it is not very often, I try to bring in my own silly moments to share with my students. Often times the stories I share are about my children. They do something funny pretty much every other second of the day.

Mistakes Can Be Funny Too

Besides sharing funny moments or memories from home. We talk often of mistakes that we have made. In an effort to encourage my students to laugh and learn, we share mistakable moments. Before the moment is shared we go back to a recurring discussion about making mistakes and how they are only life lessons. We share how our mistakes and failed attempts are moments that make our brains grow bigger and lives last longer. We then take turns sharing “This silly thing that I did was…” We usually get a kick out of the stories and then share feedback if the sharing person requests it. It’s a good way to laugh and great way to reflect upon our mistakes and then move on.

Mad-Libs

This could just be in the way we share the story and yet it is so worth the try. Every once in a while we pull out a Mad Libs. It is a great opportunity to review parts of speech and allow students to fluently practice reading in front of peers.

One way I try to switch up the way we play, besides having to input all of the parts of speech just prior to reading the story, is posting the parts of speech needed and have students input them on a lined piece of paper throughout the school day. At the end of the day I collect the lined paper with all the parts of speech filled in and input them to the story. I then allow one student to come up and read the Mad Lib to the class. The nonsense that goes on within these stories is guaranteed to get a gigglefest started in the classroom.

Laughter is the way to any child’s heart. It is a connection amongst all. It is a way to build community and share a moment. A little giggle can go a long way in a classroom filled with students.

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Do you purposefully utilise laughter in the classroom? Share your experiences in the comments.

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