Getting Them Excited to Learn – The Power of the Hook-In
I love it – the moment you see children excited and eager to learn. They are totally engaged and fascinated, eyes wide and chattering away to each other. Teaching and learning bliss! Getting these kinds of moments can be achieved on a regular basis with careful thought and specific planning. Never underestimate the power of the hook-in.
What is a hook?
Hook-ins get children fully engaged in learning. They are specific events that have a ‘wow’ factor. They can be used in a one-off lesson, at the beginning of a topic or unit of work or as part of a series of lessons. They are exciting, engaging and leave children wanting to find out more. Good hook-ins will foster curiosity and imagination.
I have planned and used many amazing hook-ins in my career. A particular favourite was the very large and smelly dinosaur poo and footprint that my reception children discovered in our outdoor classroom. It was full of vegetables and the children had to work out which dinosaur had done the poo. The children put on gloves and dived straight into the poo, writing down who they thought had done it. (It was a Stegosaurus). The children learnt key vocabulary and used it in context, learnt a lot about dinosaurs and their diets and produced brilliant writing.
Hook-ins should link to your topic or theme. Examples hook-ins are…
Finding a letter or note from someone specific that needs a response, creating a big web in the classroom, a crime scene, dressing up as a character or famous person, receiving something in the post, finding a gift, being given a secret mission or finding something has been stolen from the classroom. The ideas are endless!
Why use hook-ins?
Hook-ins motivate and engage children. They also give learning a real purpose and when there is engagement, motivation and purpose in learning, there are rapid gains in learning. Capturing the interests of every learner can be tricky. If you put yourself in the child’s position and think like a child, it can help. Children have that innate curiosity about the world and when they come across something new, they naturally want to learn more about it.
We want children to learn more and remember more. Think very carefully about what you want the children to remember. When I was asking some Year 5 children about their learning in a pupil survey, a small group of children were asked what they could remember about the Tudors. The responses stuck with me. “We made that black and white house. It was great fun and we got to take the house home.” They hadn’t remembered anything about the Tudors, just the lovely craft activity they had done. So, yes make learning fun and engaging but focus on the knowledge, rather than the task.
Plan hook-ins in advance. Make them a part of medium term planning and think of the end outcome. Prepare and gather resources you need and make it a big deal. It is exciting for you as well!
One thing I always did was to get down to the children’s level, so if you’re in early years or Year 1 this meant kneeling down and walk around the classroom. Looking at things from a child’s perspective. Where would you want to learn? What would interest or excite you? I always had a purposeful and stimulating learning environment in which children were motivated to learn. Learning could be seen (and heard) everywhere.
Here at Teacher’s Pet we love to support you with planning and creating hook-ins. We have included them in our topic planning ideas and with our curiosity cubes and tuff tray ideas. We will continue to add more ideas to our website for you to use and we’d love to hear about your hook-in ideas too!
I hope your classrooms are filled with wide eyes, productive talk and above all lots of learning all inspired by your well planned and delivered hook-ins!