After asking this question to my Saturday morning yoga class, a fellow yogi came up to me and admitted that this question gave her pause. She had to really consider what activities she finds fun. I shared that I had the same reaction after reading Gretchen Rubin’s chapter about play in her book, The Happiness Project. It seems like it should be obvious, but I find that as adults, we have to really think about what we find fun.
What is fun?
To backtrack a bit, Rubin explains that something is fun when:
- it is an activity that we do for its own sake; not for money or ambition.
- the activity is energizing and something to which we look forward.
- it is not draining or leaves us feeling guilty.
With these qualifiers in mind, I closed my eyes and pictured myself riding bikes with my children. Then I thought about dancing to a good ol’ tune from my ‘80s childhood or Latin rhythms. I became even more excited when I read Rubin’s advice that when thinking about fun, consider what you enjoyed doing as a 10 year old child because, most likely, you find the same activity to be fun as an adult. Check, check and check!
Fun Activities are those that make us live in the present moment
One day this summer, my daughters and I went to our local amusement park with my dear friend, Lisa and her granddaughter. I admit that amusement parks are not my favorite places mostly because the rides make me dizzy. But there is one ride that I love called the Raging River in which you ride in a large tube that seats 6 and head down a watery path. The float spins around in the water so part of what makes it fun is not knowing who will take the largest hit when tumbling down the small waterfalls. During that 10 minute ride, we laughed so hard, I did my usual embarrassing mom screeching, and we stepped off the ride soaked! There was no question that the Raging River was fun! As we walked on towards the next ride, my friend Lisa turned to me and said, “Wow, during that ride I really felt in the present moment. I didn’t think about anything else.” That made me think that maybe, activities that are fun have the power to bring us into the present moment.
Fun Activities Allow you to be who you truly are
Okay stay with me here a minute, I had this realization after seeing the Downton Abbey movie last night. I am a huge Downton fan and enjoyed seeing all my favorite characters on the big screen. While there were many touching moments, the one that stayed with me the most was when Thomas, the head butler, stepped into an “underground” club for gay men. His eyes widened at first followed by a monumental smile as he exclaimed, “I didn’t know this place existed!” He danced freely with another man and laughed brilliantly. In that scene, Thomas shook off the confines of his identity as Downton’s head butler, and truly found joy in being himself. The scene made me think that activities that are fun allow you to be yourself.
How can we infuse more fun into our lives as educators?
Being that it is the 3rd week of school here in upstate New York, and we are working hard to assess students, get to know them, tend to their needs, and get our curriculum up and running, it is a good time to take a step back and consider where we find fun in our professional lives. Here are a few ideas to infuse more fun into our lives as educators.
- When planning your lessons, privilege those activities you believe in and that bring you joy: book clubs, quick writes, inquiry projects, whatever that might be for you.
- When facilitating these activities, reflect on whether or not you and your students are truly in the present moment. If not, what shifts can you make to make that learning more engaging?
- Share what activities you find fun with your students and invite them to do the same.T hen, infuse those activities into your day. Why not take a “dance party break” or do a little yoga in the 5 minutes before lunch? What about bringing in a joke book or reading something really funny before recess? Sing together! Dance together! Play together! You will be happier and so will your students.
So, I invite you to share what you find fun and how you can bring that fun into your teaching lives. Please leave comments below. We’d love to hear from you!