Where can we include more movement in the classroom?
When we know movement is important for kids, why do classrooms often look the same way they did a hundred years ago with desks in lines or groups? You know your students are not meant to sit at a desk all day. I don’t think anyone is.
There is sometimes a disconnect between what we know is best for kids and what happens in our classrooms. Our school days are full to the brim with content, and it feels as though there isn’t enough time to fit in movement, but it is vital we do.
By being strategic about including movement in the classroom, our lessons, and everyday routines we can up student movement and engagement will follow. For your own FREE checklist scroll down to the bottom.
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Ways to Include More Movement in the Classroom
Make movement in the classroom part of the daily routine-
- Start the day strong and wake up student brains with a little movement. For example, you might have a movement of the week, say jumping jacks. When students first enter the room in the morning they get ready for their day, but right before sitting down they do ten jumping jacks. This wakes up their brains and gets the blood flowing. Even I, who am NOT a morning person, feel a bit better after ten jumping jacks.
- If you want to get your whole school involved add a structured stretch or exercise to the morning announcements. Twenty to thirty seconds of movement is a GREAT way to start the day together. Some exercises to consider are jumping jacks, push-ups, planks, sit-ups, squats, high-knees…
- Another way to include movement is to do an exercise right before a part of the day. For example, our school participated in a program which involved each class getting 30 seconds of exercise right before lunch. Walk as a class to lunch and then outside the cafeteria the “Move of the Day” was posted. As a class, we completed this exercise for thirty seconds and then headed on in to have lunch.
Note: we made sure to not include any exercises where students put their hands on the ground since we had washed them.
Cross the Midline
- There is a ton of research out there explaining when you perform movements which cross the midline of your body it engages more areas of your brain. To cross the midline you can do something like morning stretches or simply have students praise themselves with a pat on the back using their right hand to pat their left side or vice versa.Other ideas for crossing the midline are touching your foot with the opposite hand or doing high-knees and tapping your knee with the opposite hand.
Make Learning Physical
- Use kinesthetic movements to reinforce learning. This is the perfect way for students to move all while being immersed in content. Science is an ideal area to do this. Have students create their own movements to help them remember parts of the water cycles, the rock cycle, or how weathering, erosion, and deposition occur and then teach them to the class. This practice allows students to cement their knowledge and move their bodies. Win-win!
Scavenger Hunts or Scoot
- Are you working to solve multiple problems with task cards or a worksheet? Instead of having students stay seated while working “hide” the problems or cards around the room or simply place them on different desks and have students rotate through them while standing. If you want some extra movement, include cards or spots for exercise movements like jumping jacks or toe touches.
Flexible Seating Options
- Flexible seating has become fashionable, and with it comes the chance to provide opportunities for movement while students are working. Some ideas might be Hokki stools, under the table bicycle pedals, or balance balls. Students could choose these options to complete a task, all while getting a little energy out.
- My students always loved when we took the time for a one song dance party! We would stop what we were doing, take a song request from a student, and dance our hearts out for one song. This is an awesome way to build community as well and inject a little humor into the day because our dance moves were always hilarious.
- Sometimes we need a break in routine and a little walk to clear our minds and focus on the tasks at hand. Why not take a walk outside and have a lesson there. This might mean using chalk on the blacktop to work out math problems, a nature walk to observe the local ecosystem or time to read in the grass or under a tree.
Get Your PE Teacher Involved
- Our wonderful physical education teachers are overflowing with ideas on how to get students moving. Most would LOVE to share with you. Pop on by their office for a little chat on how you can include more movement with your students.
There are infinite numbers of ways movement can be included in the classroom. Get started with the items on this list and brainstorm more on your own! The important thing is to do it because no one wants to sit all day. More importantly, our students shouldn’t have to.
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