kids are scary
June 12, 2005 8:41 PM   Subscribe

Howdy! I've got to keep 50 8-year olds entertained for an hour while I teach them about a local endangered species tomorrow. Any teachers out there with some general tricks of the trade to help maintain control and keep their interest? ...I'm scared. Will they eat me?

I'm doing a powerpoint presentation...mostly pictures of cute birds and widdle fuzzy chicks. I've got a background in theatre, so I'm fairly comfortable with being animated in front of people...but I'm worried about the age group. Should I keep things dumbed down? Should I leave space for lots of questions? Should I be a goofball, or should I demand respect? Advice?
posted by stray to Human Relations (6 answers total)
Kids tend to be very quiet when you're holding an animal. Is there a way to bring something in (maybe a chick?), let the kids touch it and use it as a way to say something like "the fur is similar to that of the endangered bird"? I know you said it's powerpoint, but I really think the kids will get restless without something more interative.
posted by null terminated at 8:45 PM on June 12, 2005

First of all, there is not reason to be frightened of 8 year olds. They can be rowdy, but they are a lot of fun, and seldom cruel to teachers.

Kids have a hard time sitting still and being quiet. Give them things to do with their hands (gestures, things to feel) and voices. They can handle content that is above their comfort level if they have things like animal calls and little projects to keep them busy. They do absorb things passively, so don't fret if they don't immediately grasp everything. Consider having them draw their favorite bird, learn its call, etc.

Eight year olds like motion, silliness and a few general lessons that aren't too hard to follow. They absorb passively as well as actively. Be open and calm.

This is actually one of the funniest ages to work with. Something about they way you worded your post makes me think you'll do fine.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 9:09 PM on June 12, 2005

I'm a high-school teacher, but in this case I'd likely try doing the presentation, keeping it quick but informative, and then have them create something (I'm thinking posters along the lines of "save the whales")
I wouldn't worry about demanding respect (if their teacher is in the room they will generally defer to them/behave as they normally would for the teacher).. The goofball thing may or may not work, as it can take kids a while to warm up to a stranger enough to know how to take/react to them. The question period would be a good time to ham it up a little bit with a bit of back and forth between the kiddies.
posted by davey_darling at 10:14 PM on June 12, 2005

I think if you leverage the novelty you'll automatically possess at the beginning of your time with them, you'll be fine. Pretty much any group of kids, of just about any age, will give you a little bit of a window when you first meet them. You just have to be aware of that and use it to your advantage.
posted by yellowcandy at 1:11 AM on June 13, 2005

Kids at that age have not yet been institutionalized to be passive. Ask them questions, even very simple ones to engage them and make it active on their part, especially if you have things for them to hold. If you have an egg, have one touch it (gently!) as ask how it felt. For things for which you only have pictures, ask how they think they might feel. Teach them how to do bird calls and you'll have their attention, but you'll never get them to stop (which is not a bad thing). I second a project for them to do like coloring with crayons (cheap, relatively neat), or collage (cheap, messy).
posted by plinth at 4:14 AM on June 13, 2005

Use lots of humor, and don't worry about being too squishy-squishy--kids like it when you're a little rough-and-tumble, not just physically but verbally.

If you have puppets or stuffed animals, make a little play and use very, very silly voices.
posted by schroedinger at 1:55 PM on June 13, 2005

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