The new school year brings the same mindset as New Year’s Day. You can apply that annual fitness fervor to you classroom as you make new school year resolutions. Getting active in the classroom will help students improve their health, their focus, and ultimately their academic performance. Here are the top 12 classroom fitness activities for you and your students to try.

Jumping Jacks & Bouncy Chairs

This is a simple technique for any age or subject. As you review concepts, have students stand next to their desks. Instead of raising their hands to volunteer, students will do a jumping jack. Award points to encourage participation! You can also rotate a few of those exercise balls to replace students’ chairs. Rotate them around the classroom throughout the day.

Hop Scotch Math & Spelling

Either using sidewalk chalk or a number/letter mat, have students answer questions by jumping on the correct number or letters. Students can still work out the problem at their desk if they are more complicated, but you can use this movement method to announce the correct answer.

Act Out Stories

First, choose or create a story with a lot of action. Before you start the story, explain to students that they are going to act out the movements in the story. Practice these actions with students, showing them how to run in place, pretend to swim, and any other relevant action. As you read, students will have to listen attentively to catch the actions and then demonstrate the movement you already practiced.

Classroom Warm-ups & Fitness Breaks

Establish a routine between activities in which you do something physical. Whether it’s a quick classroom stretch, walking around the room, or even a few jumping jacks, this can be a great way to start the class off right or pump some energy into dozing students.

Smart Board Fitness Games

The Smart Board is a great resource for integrating physical activity into your learning. On the most basic level, Smart Boards can get students up, walking to the board, and stretching as they move elements around the board.

Acting Out Scientific Concepts

It’s time to convert potential energy into kinetic energy with big movement in your science classrooms. There is endless potential to have students demonstrate scientific concepts or vocabulary through movement.

For example, have students:

  • Act as electrons doing different kinds of bonding or breaking off as chemical reactions take place
  • Imitate animals within different species as they identify the species, class, etc.
  • Play science charades with your latest vocabulary terms (tons of possibilities for animals, plants, weather, etc.)

Teach Measurement Through Jumping

Jumping can add activity to the study of measurements, data collection, and number order. Students first mark the measurements on the ground either with yard sticks or masking tape. Then, they’ll take turns jumping and recording their jump distances on the board.

Students can compare jumps between each other, compare a standing jump to a running jump, or any other variation of ideas to practice comparing numbers. More advanced students can then use the collected units to create graphs or equations.

Wii Classroom Activities

Teachers around the country are engaging their students both mentally and physically by using Wii games for learning. Some are using Wii sports games for fitness and to integrate into their curriculum.

Historical & Cultural Movement

Each culture and historical period has different dances, popular sports/games, or even day-to-day activities to survive. Try these out as a class. As you compare different countries, regions, or time periods, you can try out their different dances, from Spain’s flamenco to Hawaii’s hula to the 1920’s swing.

Subject-Specific Charades

Review vocabulary or curriculum concepts by assigning students concepts/vocab to act out for the class. It’s all about getting students up and moving.

Fight Childhood Obesity for Better Test Results

Studies have shown that students struggling with childhood obesity are also performing worse in school. School-wide changes can sometimes be at fault, with the elimination of recess and physical activity in the classroom. Experts recommend 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily to prevent obesity in children. Learn more about the importance of physical education here.

Get Active Student Project

Encourage students to get moving outside of school as well. Assign them to track their TV time, computer time, and physical activity for a week. For the following week, challenge them to double their activity time for the next week and chart it again. Not only will this encourage kids to be more active, but they’ll also practice goal setting, data tracking and organizational skills.