I don’t know about where you live, but we have had many MANY days of indoor recess lately. With having gym only one day a week, my kids are really getting antsy!
As a reading specialist who helps our struggling readers, I seem to see a decent number of kids who struggle with sitting still and/or focusing on the task at hand, even without the cold and snow keeping them inside.
Here are 8 ways to get kids moving to keep their brains active:
- Math Fact Exercise!
Skip counting is such a valuable skill, and can be ramped up for kids of all ages. Of course, you can count by 1’s, 5’s, 10’s, etc., but what about starting at 14 and adding ten more? What about counting by 3’s when you’re learning multiplication, or by 25’s when you’re learning about money? I have my students stand and do some kind of exercise while we skip count- jumping jacks, touching their toes, jumping in place, etc.
- Brain Breaks
My kids really enjoy the Just Dance videos on YouTube! I have a whole Pinterest board of brain breaks that get my students up and moving for 3-5 minutes, and it really helps them focus for the next hour. A kindergarten teacher I know even does the Cupid Shuffle, so her kids are counting and having to remember left from right. My kids especially love GoNoodle for LOTS of fun, interactive, and free brain breaks!
- Vocabulary Motions
As a bonus, tying some movement to the definition really helps my kids remember the word meanings. In my classroom, the students help me come up with a motion for the words and we run through them quickly every day. You can read more about my vocabulary routine here.
- Chart Paper Brainstorming
Can you let your students make a list of something? Maybe it’s proper nouns, words with short o, ways to make 10, factors of 100, or comparing and contrasting with a Venn diagram. Give each group markers, a piece of chart paper, and a section of the floor. Working on the floor always helps my class with the wiggles, and they all love to participate!
- Tall-Middle-Small Spelling
Have your kids practice spelling their words by thinking about where they sit on handwriting lines. For “tall” letters, like t or b, they reach hands up high. For “middle” letters, they put their hands on their hips. For “small” letters, they touch their toes. You can also have kids sit in pairs and “spell” a word with their finger on the other student’s back, and see if they can guess the word.
- Scoot! with Dance Breaks
Need students to get a lot of rote practice with something, or need to formatively assess their understanding? Put each problem or question on one card, and one card on each desk. Then, have the students stand and “scoot” from one desk to the other after 30 seconds or so. I sometimes turn on music and let them dance when they’re finished- makes it easy for me to see when most are ready to move on, and they get the wiggles out! (You can find lots of ready-made games like this by searching for “Scoot” or “task cards.”)
- Phonics Dance
This is a program my school purchased, and it gives kids motions and chants for lots of common phonics patterns that they will encounter in reading. I love the way it makes phonics “stick” for my students- but it also gives them a chance to move!
- Read/ Write/Solve the Room
Sometimes the simple act of turning an assignment into a scavenger hunt by having students find words/ math facts/ questions posted around the room can make such a difference in how well my students can sit and focus afterwards- and they’re still getting the practice!
- Geometry Challenges
Give your students a challenge to make a certain shape somehow with their bodies. They can use their fingers, their arms, their legs, or their entire torso- but somehow, can they make a square? A trapezoid? An isosceles triangle? Making geometry interactive is so much fun!
Next in the hop, you’re headed to Matt of Digital: Divide and Conquer, who’s sharing a simple tech tip for your classroom!
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