Movement can activate the brain! Research led by Dr. Chuck Hillman suggests that after just 20 minutes of physical movement, our brain is a lot more active than it would be if we were sitting down. According to PHIT America, 48% of all schools in the USA have no physical education. Incorporating movement into the classroom may be the only way to get those bodies and brains moving. Why do we tell students to sit still at their school desks when the research is conclusive that improving movement or fitness can improve academic results? Consider how you are including movement in classroom activities. Most teachers are already using movement in some way, but have you considered using movement in a remote learning or hybrid learning STEM classroom?
Here are a few suggestions:
Seedling Scavenger Bingo
Students walk around to find items to photograph to upload that pictures onto their bingo card. Adapt this game by creating nature or color bingo where students walk around outside and take pictures of leaves, trees, flowers, etc. or items of color like houses, cars, etc., to fill a teacher-created bingo card.
Skeletal Simon Says
Students follow the directions of a leader, but only if “Simon says”. “Simon says touch your right patella, Simon says raise your left clavicle five times, etc. Try playing during a Zoom call.
Measure Around the Room
Challenge your students to measure a variety of things in the room—chairs, desks, doors, windows—using yard sticks and rulers. Record their answers in a log and make a chart of the biggest and smallest things. Use these logs in later lesson as examples for depth, height, etc.
Use Legos or Building Blocks
Students work in pairs or trios on the floor to build patterns (try an AB pattern or an ABC pattern to start) or to work on counting using Lego bricks or building blocks. If adapting to distance learning, students can use the blocks or Legos to build something, capturing their work in a drawing or photograph. You can ask them to use video to describe their process and share with others online or in a Zoom call..
Video “Show and Tell”
Have students create videos of demonstrating a step-by-step process of their favorite physical activity like shooting a basketball, skipping rope, doing a cartwheel, etc. You could also have them take you on a walking tour of their neighborhood using directional indicators (ex: take ten steps south). The possibilities are endless.
Another benefit of movement, as stated in Dr. Hillman’s article, is that movement reduces stress. Movement can be used as a mood-boosting activity or brain break designed to give students instant energy.
Scissor hands: Students stand and scissor their arms across their chest four to five times, then touch their nose with their right hand and touch the opposite ear with their left hand, then switch.
Super stretch: Students stand up and stretch their arms and body to the ceiling, then to the side, then to the floor, twisting both ways.
Yoga pose: Lead the kids in hero pose, lion’s pose, mountain pose, tree pose, warrior pose, and end with three deep breaths in upward salute. (Google “kids’ yoga” for ideas!)
Laugh in: Start with “ho-ho-ho-ho” together. Then “he-hehe-he.” And then, “ha-ha-ha.” Pretend to laugh. In no time the whole class will be laughing.
Dance party: Turn on some fast music. Dance your hearts out for two minutes. Turn on some slow music and stretch a bit and calm down for 30 seconds.
Whether you are teaching in-person or remotely, consider ways to use movement to energize and de-stress students. We have compiled a list of our favorite learning apps, websites, videos, and simple classroom games to get started with movement. Have fun with it!