The Laughing Classroom


The Laughing Classroom: Everyone’s Guide to Teaching with Humor and Play (Loomans, Diane) Paperback – August 16, 2002

by Diana Loomans (Author), Karen Kolberg (Author)

What distinguishes a boring classroom from a learning classroom? Laughter. This book helps move teachers from a “limiting” teaching style to a “laughing” style that inspires creativity and helps students learn faster and better. Cowritten by a former educator and the founder of a comedy improvisation company, The Laughing Classroom helps teachers — and parents — make learning fun while instilling self-esteem, solid work habits, and the joy of learning in children. Suggested activities involve silly songs, special dress days, vocabulary-building, observation, communication, social skills, and self-expression. The book gives teachers 50 ways to say “you did OK,” 15 play breaks, and humorous homework assignments to make the task fun. This edition includes a new introduction by the authors and a foreword by veteran comedian Steve Allen.

Editorial Reviews


Creating a laughing classroom offers one guarantee: positive unpredictability.

If students could choose their teachers the way the rest of us choose seminar workshop leaders, just imagine how different education would be. The classes, seminars and lectures that I’ve enjoyed and learned the most from were given by teachers or speakers who were personable, fun to listen to and included some activities or audience participation. On the other hand, I remember school teachers who were so boring or intimidating that I couldn’t wait to be finished with their classes. If I learned anything from them it was only out of fear or necessity, and the information was forgotten as soon as the exams ended.

Authors Diane Loomans and Karen Kolberg combine their talents in The Laughing Classroom, which should be required reading for every teacher who sets foot in a classroom. This brilliantly illustrated book offers many ideas for bringing humor and play to all aspects and levels of teaching. The techniques, divided into Warm-ups, Laughing Lessons and Play Breaks, are well laid-out and simple enough to use immediately. There are methods for effective discipline, reframing negatives into positive, before and laughter scenarios, and more. — The Light Connection, September 1994

I only wish I had a humor mentor, especially one named Professor Oops! The Laughing Classroom is a cure for teaching doldrums, lesson languor and student stupor. Steve Allen, in the book’s foreword, explains how masters in any profession have healthy sense of humor and believe their work is joyous necessity, not merely necessary. What more can we ask as a teacher?

Reach for this book on a difficult day. I promise you that after taking the humor questionnaire, doing just one assignment from your humor homework and glancing at several of Martha Westons clever illustrations, you will be smiling. Also, you will find several ideas to try in your own classroom. as the authors state, education is too important to be taken seriously!

The Laughing Classroom is filled with hands-on techniques to try in any situation. From one-minute warm-ups (making three faces, passing the compliment, mental flossing) to a five-minute play break (tongue twisters, forgetful storytelling, 60-second mirthquake), even a novice humorist will find an activity to try. I started with the three faces warm-up. In this activity, students pair up back-to-back and practice making sad, mad and glad faces. On the count of three they turn to face each other while making one of the three faces. The object of the game is to match faces with your partner without any other communication. Our results were spontaneous and uplifting. After the activity, my students sat down, ready to concentrate afresh on their lessons.

Emboldened by my initial success, I next tried a more ambitious play break: conducting. I played a lively, non-lyrical piece of music and asked my students to silently conduct the orchestra in time to the music. I chose an allegro section from The Nutcracker Suite, and was amazed and excited to watch even my most restrained students waving their arms and hands in time with the music, using their bodies to express the emotions of the music.

Chapter 28 introduces a more instructive and serious note. In Teaching with Humor That Heals, the authors discuss discipline issues and provide helpful insights for teachers who are desperate for behavior control advice. Problem students are often modeling terrific forms of playfulness[that are] just misdirected. Teachers who have taken our courses have commented on a decrease in behavior problems in direct proportion to the addition of humor and play in the classroom. If you need an excuse to explore humor and play, behavior control is an excellent goal to strive toward.

The Laughing Classroom makes you smile and makes you think. You will find yourself experimenting with activities just in case they work. Even if making faces does not solve your behavior problems, what harm can a smile and a laugh bring? If one minute of concentration can be gained for the one minute of laughter, the classroom and our teaching world will be a far happier place. Where laughter abounds, curious minds can flourish. — Association for Childhood Education International, Summer 1995

We all learn more effectively when we are enjoying the process. Humor sets a social context within which most students feel comfortable and appreciate learning. Loomans and Kolberg have written the best available cornucopia of hands-on ideas for applying humor and easy-to-follow techniques for increasing the playfulness of teaching. There are warn-ups, laughing lessons, and play breaks.

The Laughing Classroom begins with self-inventories concerning personal uses of humor and extracts a laughing oath. There are 30 ideas for fast and fun humor, 25 ways to go the extra smile, and the ABCs of fun. Techniques include humorous ways to improve memory, enliven debates, and promote cooperation. The authors demonstrate how to use humor in discipline and ease tension with before and laughter scenarios.

The format and illustrations are a joy. The Laughing Classroom is an invaluable resource and probably a step toward better mental health for all teachers. — Intervention in School and Clinic, January 1995 –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

To our readers: The books we publish are our contribution to an emerging world based on cooperation rather than on competition, on affirmation of the human spirit rather than on self-doubt, and on the certainty that all humanity is connected. Our goal is to touch as many lives as possible with a message of hope for a better world. – Hal and Linda Kramer, Publishers –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details


Lighten up!

ByS. L. Sasakion September 21, 2008

Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase

All teachers should teach like this — it works so much better than standing around glaring when things go wrong!
After I read it, I wondered why I had bought it — I already do so much of what it mentions — but then one day I realized that the book had worked its magic in an unexpected way; it changed my attitude. I may use humor and laughter when I teach, but what about when something goes wrong? That’s the moment to use humor. I needed to lighten up my ATTITUDE; being “fun” for the kids to learn with is different than being fun when things go wrong. I turned some bad moments into teachable moments, and all because I stopped taking MYSELF so seriously. Their attitude change (and a difficult class!) reflected the success. It turned into a great day.

I highly recommend this book — especially if you are an authoritarian-type teacher. BUY IT!

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