With many schools cutting back on recess time to make more room for test prep and challenging academic work, it’s more important than ever to remember just how important daily exercise is for kids. Childhood obesity is at epidemic levels, but many kids don’t get the exercise they need for good health. Even if your school does provide regular physical education classes and recess, your students might be struggling with some good old-fashioned cabin fever during the winter months; especially if your school needs to limit outdoor play due to cold or snow.
If you’re trying to teach a classroom full of squirmy, antsy kids, you know that there comes a point when asking them to sit still for one minute longer is going to be impossible. Those kiddos need to move! Even short bursts of physical activity (PA) can improve circulation, boost energy and spark improved brain function — all of which are going to make your job a whole lot easier. Try adding these fun PA breaks into your classroom routine to rev up the energy level — and focus! — of your students.
Dance Party, U.S.A.
Create a playlist of fun, upbeat tunes for your classroom — you could even ask older students to each supply one song for the classroom “radio station.” Play one song during a PA break and encourage kids to show off their dance moves for some freestylin’ fun. You can also teach your students the moves to old favorites: Everything from “The Twist” to “The Electric Slide” can liven things up. Younger students love old standbys like “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” or “The Hokey-Pokey,” too.
Wheel of Cardio
Use a dry erase spin wheel to add an element of chance to your PA breaks. Write a fun exercise on each wedge (jumping jacks, marching in place, knee bends — whatever your kids love to do best!) and spin the wheel when it’s time for a PA break. Do the activity for 30 seconds, then take a 15-second break. Try for three to five different exercises during each PA break.
Strengthening Story Time
Turn read-aloud time into another chance for PA breaks by choosing books that encourage kids to move. Eric Carle’s “From Head to Toe” and Raffi’s “Shake My Sillies Out” are classic examples, but there are many more great books out there to try. For older students, have kids write and illustrate their own books with movement to read aloud to the class — they’ll love seeing their friends play along!
Let us know what you have done to integrate PA breaks into your classroom!