• Michelle Bickhaus

Make ‘Em Laugh


I’m excited to share with you one of my favorite interventions to help students regulate. This technique works if kids are grumpy, worried, angry, tired, etc. Even the kids who try to resist the activity usually end up laughing as you’ll see in the video. The great thing about this technique is that it is easy, requires little to no prep, and it can be tailored to your students’ interest. It’s a quick activity that you can keep to about 3 minutes and achieve results, or you can take it a little further if times allows or if the group is just having too much fun to stop.

What is it? It’s laughter!

But don’t stop reading. Do not dismiss this underused strategy.

We talk about laughter often in my classroom. And we laugh a LOT in my classroom! But laughter doesn’t always come easily, and I’ve discovered that few students come to class with much knowledge about laugh. They have never considered why we laugh, the health benefits of laughter, what message laughter conveys, what makes us laugh, etc.

It’s a bit odd that there’s so much goodness in terms of health and mental well-being associated with laughter, yet most of us think of it as something that just happens or, perhaps, it’s simply taken for granted. It’s also odd that we don’t laugh as much as we once did. According to James Altucher, we adults laugh only 5 times a day while kids laugh 300 times a day.

Don’t you just love the way you feel after a good belly laugh? As you probably already know, there is science behind those post-laugh good feelings. The good vibes come easily after the laughs, but it’s getting the laughter STARTED than can sometimes be the challenge.

One of my favorite ways to shock my students into laughter is by putting in my Hillbilly teeth. Even the most hard-boiled kid is powerless when confronted with my visage as they watch me open my mouth to reveal those catawampus chompers!

I’m a huge fan of pranks, and realized that my students responded really well whenever I shared my favorite humorous YouTube videos with them. Perhaps that’s something you could utilize in your classroom. Your kids will love a minute or two of watching that sort of fun!

I encourage you to also get more “formal” with the laughter. I often sit down in a circle with the students and tell them we are going to laugh. I share the research with them that indicates our bodies can’t tell the difference between real and fake laughter in terms of the healthy hormones that are produced and then we proceed to laugh like babies, royalty, southern belles, superheroes, aliens, or any other crazy role we imagine.

I must let you know that the laughter you cause will be inversely-proportional to your typical personality – if you’re a man who tends to be a rather serious presence in your classroom and you enter the room one morning wearing a $4 moustache from the local costume shop, the return on your investment will be vast! (Actually, a little shopping in the gag aisle of that shop will pay dividends for a long time to come…)

There’s no need to be a clown, but, if you already are, let your fun-flag fly! If you’re more the sober type, unleashing yourself will be an amazing treat for your kids!

And, as you’ve no doubt experienced, a roomful of students, laughing their hardest, is a nice, natural reset button.

And don’t we all need one of those?


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