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Easy-To-Use Teaching Strategies to Get Students Moving

Janelle Cox

Many traditional classroom teachers are moving towards a more kinesthetic classroom. Teachers who used to tell their students to “Sit still and be quiet” are now using teaching strategies to get their students to show their emotions and get up and move about the classroom if they feel they need to. The mind-body connection isn’t anything new. However, it is beginning to revolutionize teaching strategies these days. The relationship between movement and learning has been thoroughly researched, and a growing amount of studies that are being conducted (even as we speak) suggest there is a definite link between our mind and our bodies -- some evidence suggests that exercise may even help you grow a better brain! Some of the most effective things that teachers can do in their classroom to get their students moving may also be the simplest. By integrating movement activities (seat-changing, brain breaks, dancing, etc.) you can keep your students brains and bodies connected. Here are a few easy teaching strategies to keep your students moving.

Teaching Strategies: Learning on the Go

A fun and active way your students can start the day is to learn on the go. Each morning, students pair up to “Walk and talk” with their partners. Write 3-5 questions on the front board and have students discuss the answers to the questions with their partners as they walk. Where they walk and talk is up to you. You can have them walk around the classroom, up and down the hallway, around the school, etc. The questions are also up to you. You can use this time as a getting-to-know activity, for review, or to even set daily or weekly goals. As long as students are learning on the move, that is your goal.

Brain Breaks

Brain breaks are short energizer activities that use the body and mind. These activities are said to help reduce antsy learners, raise epinephrine levels among drowsy learners, and help children reinforce content. Here are a few energizers to try out in your classroom.

  • Play Simon Says with cardinal directions.
  • Create a yoga flow where students must follow specific yoga poses.
  • Have students use their bodies to measure objects in the classroom.
  • Get the app GoNoodle where children follow directions to keep active.
  • Use the app Mind Yeti to settle students down and redirect their attention.

Crossover Activities

Have students do cross-lateral activities where they force their brain hemispheres to talk to one another. For example, students would pat their belly while rubbing their head or play patty cake with a partner while clapping each other’s hands by crossing over the midline of their body. These types of crossover activities activate development of the corpus callosum. which connects the two hemispheres of the cerebrum.

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Play Games

Get students up and moving by playing games. Students can learn while they play and move about. Here are a few quick games where students are learning while they are active.

  • Word Relay – Break students into two teams and have them stand in a relay race line one behind the other. Ask students a question, then on your go, have students walk swiftly to the front board and take turns writing one letter at a time for the answer. For example, “What color is the American flag?” Students go up to the board and, letter by letter, answer the question “R-E-D-W-H-I-T-E-B-L-U-E.” The first team to finish and have all their people back in line wins.
  • Ball Toss – Students sit on their desk (or stand by their desk) and take turns tossing a beach ball to one another. If the student doesn’t catch the ball they are out. You can also play where students must answer a question, and if they get it wrong they are out as well.
  • Sing a Song - Place students into pairs and have them write new lyrics to a popular song. They must sing and act out the lyrics in a class challenge. The team that has the best lyrics and dance moves wins! Tip: Try and place shy students with bold students.

Weekly Role Play

An active as well as fun get up and move strategy is to have students conduct a weekly role play about what they have learned during the week. Every Friday, a new group must design a short, three-minute commercial about what they have learned during that week, and present it to their classmates. This is a unique and fun way to reinforce concepts while being active.

There is an abundance amount of evidence that supports the notion that the mind and body are connected. By stimulating the brain through active environment you can increase academic performance in your students.

Do you teach with the brain and body in mind? What teaching strategies do you do in your classroom to get your students up and moving? Please share your ideas in the comment section below, we would love to hear your thoughts.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.