The best activities for learning combined with fun for kids are the ones where kids are actively engaged and are learning without even realizing it. If an activity is perceived as fun and feels more like play, and has repetition built in, it will meet all the basic requirements for a successful learning activity.
Many of the STEM activities do this very well. The experiments and real world observations are fascinating to kids, who are naturally curious, and give them a real sense of accomplishment as well. They are exposed to opportunities that help them understand natural phenomena, but in a way that is perceived as entertaining. Only afterwards will they realize that they have gained knowledge, but that will continue to be beneficial as it will come with pride, increased self esteem and the beginning of a sense of mastery of the world around them. Many activities that support this type of learning can be found at The Stem Laboratory.
Examples include percentages that are explained with pieces of pizza, or for literacy, a letters game where upper and lowercase letters are colored and a hidden picture appears. Attitude is crucial to learning, and the kids that are excited to get to school and participate in activities because they are fun will be much better learners than those who are bored and disinterested.
It’s not to say that it needs to be fun and games all the time, but if a concept can be introduced and reinforced through an interactive activity, it’s better for the teacher and the student.
Educational resources like those found at Playdough to Plato are based on these concepts, and make it easy for educators to find a plethora of different activities that support their curriculum and also meet the definition of fun and engaging.
Having resources like these available also makes it easier to tailor lessons to different learning styles and levels. In a classroom, as in life, the best answer is never “one size fits all” and having fun activities that can just be pulled out and applied is a real timesaver for teachers and helps ensure a more pleasurable learning experience for kids.