You look around your classroom. A few heads are on desks. Some eyes are starting to close. Many students just have a glazed over look on their faces. You know you’ve been talking too long, and you’ve completely lost them. Use these tips to break up your instruction and engage your students with movement.
At my inservice the other day, I couldn’t believe how hard it was to sit still for the entire afternoon. The presenter was great, but I just wanted to get up and move. During a normal day of teaching, I don’t sit down at all unless I’m meeting with a small group. Sitting for two hours was torture.
That made me think about how it is for my students. For most subjects, I do a 10-minute minilesson and then they’re up and moving to a center or a reading or writing spot. However, sometimes I find myself talking for a long period of time. The information I need my students to learn is important, but I need to get their attention. That’s why I use these strategies to engage them with movement.
How to Engage Your Students with Movement
#1 – Unlock the Box Mysteries
My students absolutely love Unlock the Box Mysteries! They work together to solve four clues. Then, they use the answer to the last clue to open a locked box and get a surprise.
The Unlock the Box Mysteries are a great way to review for math tests. Rather than giving your students a worksheet to review division or fractions, get them up and moving. They will also practice their teambuilding and problem solving skills.
#2 – Brain Breaks
Another way to engage your students with movement is through brain breaks. A minute or two of getting up and moving gives them an opportunity to work off some energy and refocus.
My favorite brain breaks are from Go Noodle. I choose a student each day to select our brain break. They love looking through all options and selecting one for the class.
#3 – Math Relays
Practice and review important math skills with relay races. Divide your class into 4 or 5 teams. Then, pose a problem, and one member from each team runs to the board and solves the problem. The first person with the correct answer earns a point for the team. This is a fun way to get up and moving while reviewing important skills.
#4 – Chart Writing
My students love using my fun markers to add to charts that are posted around the room. You could use this for many different activities. I’ve done it for character traits in reading, research in social studies, and different operations in math.
Right now, we’re learning about weather in science. We used chart writing to learn about the different weather tools. I put one at each center, and the students had to predict what the tool was and how scientists use it. Then, they moved to the next one. By the time we were done, each chart was full of great ideas.
#5 – STEM Activities
If you want your students to collaborate and problem solve, STEM activities are just what you need. At the beginning of the year, I always do a marshmallow bridge STEM challenge. My students have to find a way to use toothpicks and marshmallows to build a bridge that will hold weight. The students are moving the whole time they are working on this challenge.
When time runs out, we add pennies to each bridge to see how many it can hold. The bridge that holds the most weight wins.
Building Movement into Your Lessons
Your students will really appreciate the opportunities to move when you add these activities to your lesson plans. I try not to make them sit for more than 15 minutes at a time. They are able to focus better when they know they’re going to have a chance to get up and move soon.
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What Do You Think?
How do you engage your students with movement?
Let me know in the comments below.
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