There have been many studies focused on movement and its effects on learning. Time and time again these studies have come to the same conclusion. Movement helps students to learn. Students who are more active show better memory retention, faster processing, and better focus. With everything you have to teach, trying to work movement into your lesson can be a challenge. Here are some ways you can accomplish just that.
1. Fidget Tools:
Obviously none of us look forward to the dreaded fidget spinner, but fidget tools that are not distracting to other students can have their place. It can be as simple as placing a large band around the front two legs of the student’s chair to allow for leg movement while sitting or handing a student a stress ball to squeeze. We like the fidget tools that you can attach to a pencil top. All of these are less distracting options. Check out our Amazon Top Picks Article to get a look at the pencil top fidget tools.
2. Brain Breaks:
Sometimes you just need a break! Especially if you have students in the same room all day or teach a blocked class. Our absolute favorite site to help you with brain breaks is GoNoodle. You can read all about WHY we love it and our other ideas for brain breaks in our Pre-Break Brain Breaks article.
3. Acronyms & Memory Songs with Movement:
These are great to pop into a lesson when there is something students are going to need to remember for a test. Anytime you can teach an acronym, rhyme, or song, it is easy to throw in movements. For acronyms you can even just have students form the letters with their bodies YMCA style.
4. Check for Understanding/Review:
Snowball fight: For this activity students create their own review question and write it on one side of a piece of paper and the answer on the opposite side. Then they crumble their paper into a ball and line up on opposite sides of the room. They then have a “snowball” fight. I like to set up ground rules like only aim for the torso, etc… When you yell stop they grab a snowball and return to their seat. Once seated students can pose the question they ended up with to the whole class, or you can put them in groups or have them pair share their questions and answers.
Beach Ball Toss: You could definitely do this activity with a balloon, but a beach ball works well because it is naturally divided into sections by color. Write questions or categories on the different sections of the ball with a Vis-i-vis or chalk marker. Have students toss the ball around the room when music plays and whoever is holding the ball when the music stops has to choose a question to answer or ask to another student. To keep students from being put on the spot you can instate the “phone a friend” or “poll the class” options (Bonus movement: Have the class cast their poll by standing or sitting).
Four Corners: Label each corner of the room with an answer choice or category. Have students move to the corner they think is the correct category or answer. Then discuss which answer is correct and why.
5. Flexible seating:
This type of seating allows students to change their position and location as needed. Flexible seating is something that we recommend that you research and implement in small stages. There are many DIY ideas on Pinterest that are cost effective. When you are trying to provide seating options for a class of 25+ though, it is best to convert to this type of seating one area at a time as budget allows.
6. Class Discussion:
Object: Create a special object that students must be holding in order to be given the floor to speak in class discussions. As you call on other students to speak, they will have to pass the object around or walk it to the next student, creating an opportunity for movement.
Body Vote/Poll: Have students stand or sit to cast their vote on an issue (as mentioned above). Once the votes have been cast you can have students move across the room to pair up with someone who had the opposite view as them. The students can complete a two-minute pair share before returning to their seat.
7. Musical Chairs:
We don’t recommend this during flu season, but it will definitely get your students moving. When reviewing answers to a test/quiz, or homework assignment, have students move to a new desk after each question is answered. Last man standing has to share their answer to the next question or write the correct answer on the board for the class.
8. Floor Grid/Table:
We like to write on our floors with chalk or window markers because they are easiest to mop away. If you are a math teacher, you have probably already thought of several activities surrounding this, but it works for other subjects as well. Social studies teachers can create longitude and latitude coordinates and have a student move to a coordinate while the class races to find out what city/state/country the student is standing in. Science teachers can have students record data from an experiment on floors grids around the room before discussing the results. Language arts teachers can turn two floor grids into a vocab “battleship” game with vocab words being in one table and their definitions being on the one across the room.
9. Procedures and Cues:
Movement Cue: Have students repeat a movement or series of movements back to you to cue the end of an activity or to let them know you want their attention. Example: Clap, clap, stomp
Transition Dance Party: Play music during transitions. Give students a set amount of time (2 min.) to get themselves ready for your next activity. When the music stops they have to have their area ready to begin (papers put away, supplies returned, etc…) and they have 10 seconds to be seated and listening.
Stations are such a great alternative to the PowerPoint lecture that has become the norm. There are so many ways to do stations, that we sometimes forget to change it up a little. Staging your stations and using different setups for days that you do stations can keep them from getting “stale”. Some of our favorites are the walk and talk, whiteboard meeting, gallery walk, museum visit, and reception. Putting a sign on the door introducing the activity or having the information hung on the wall in clumps (rather than at grouped desks) can make it seem more exciting and provide for more movement.
Movement is a great way to add a little fun into the lesson while helping your students be more focused. Which of these ideas do you think you could try out this week? We’d love to read your comments below!