Pop Its in the Classroom: Classroom Hacks to Engage Students

With the advent of online learning, teachers have struggled to actively engage students in lessons. One major aspect of learning engagement is socialization, which is essentially to say that students are more energized to learn when they're around other people. Fortunately, we should see more and more socialization as in-person, face-to-face education continues to return. Even so however, teachers can also be working on new ways to directly encourage socialization and play in daily school activities.
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Teaching Strategies:

Using Pop Its in the Classroom

One craze teachers can tap into as part of this effort is that of Pop Its! These are wildly trendy fidget toys that look more or less like sustainable bubble wrap. Once you’ve popped all the dimples on one side, however, you can flip the toy over and start popping again. Savvy teachers can put these little toys to use in their engagement strategies and are using them as a clever classroom hack, and hopefully helping students to enjoy a better learning experience than ever.

Why Are Pop Its So Popular?

As a sensory fidget toy, Pop Its have been used by healthcare professionals to help children who have anxiety or sensory difficulties –– especially those who were exposed to various stressors at an early age. Professionals who pursue human development and family studies education note that social issues are "becoming increasingly complex and far-reaching," making it all the more essential for parents and teachers alike to monitor and manage childhood developmental issues. In some cases, the latest technologies and tools can help.

Sensory toys like Pop Its calm and relax children by activating their senses, which can, in turn, take their attention away from overwhelming emotions. Pop Its can also assist children struggling with concentration and attention, the same way adults might employ various fidgety tendencies while trying to pay attention to presentations or stay attentive in meetings.

More TeacherVision Sensory classroom resources

Using Pop Its In the Classroom

So how can you use Pop Its in your classroom? Here are three options to think about:

1. Word play and spelling

Prepare your Pop Its by writing alphabet letters on each bubble with a permanent marker (you can give it a spray of varnish to make sure the letters don’t rub off). This will help younger students going through the alphabet to say all the letters in order, popping them out one by one. Once they get the hang of it, you can ask them to press specific letters like vowels or consonants. On a similar note, Pop Its can also be excellent spelling boards for older students. Dictate a few words, then ask them to press the letters in the right order; you can even make it a game where students compete over who can spell words correctly and quickly (so long as things are kept fun and lighthearted).

2. Math teaching games

On the other sides of your alphabet Pop Its, you can prepare a similar board with numbers. The Pop It bubbles classroom game offer a great way to familiarize students with numbers and patterns. The students can practice identifying odd and even numbers, for instance, or skip count by 2s, 3s, and 4s. Kinesthetic learners can also have fun working on addition, subtraction, and multiplication on a Pop It. If the problem is “2 + 2”, they can press the “2” bubble twice, then the “4” bubble for the solution. For multiplication, they can pop two rows and three columns to see the answer for 2 x 3.

More TeacherVision maths games resources

3. Strategy and coordinates

Pop Its are also touted for cultivating logical reasoning skills by boosting brain power, memory, and strategy in children. One way to bring about these benefits is through a version of the classic game "Battleship." This game is best for older students with some awareness of cartesian planes and grid coordinates. With such students, you can split your class into two teams, keeping them on opposite ends of the room. Each Pop It dimple is a map coordinate; the one on column A, row 1 is A1, and so on. The ships differ in size and take up different numbers of dimples, and teams have to arrange their own ships accordingly. Players then take turns calling “shots” at the other team’s ships by choosing coordinates –– the objective being to destroy the opposing team’s fleet. To win, students should develop a mental picture of how the other team’s fleet is positioned and strategize their hits. It's a fun game to be sure, but also an exercise in logical reasoning.

We hope this has helped to illustrate just how handy these trendy fidget toys can be in classrooms! For more information on classroom trends and ideas, please subscribe to our regular newsletter today.

Written by Samantha Barnes for teachervision.com

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