One day, I was in the middle of a lesson on finding the area of shapes, and I noticed that I was losing my kids’ attention. Some were fidgeting, some were looking around the room, and some were getting that glazed over look in their eyes. Then it hit me. My students hadn’t moved in way too long! I immediately stopped the lesson, and we took a much-needed movement break in our classroom. After that, the lesson went much better. AND, I learned an important lesson – my students need to move throughout the day!
Making time for movement in the classroom is not only for kids’ physical health (although it is good for their bodies). Giving children opportunities to move during the school day also improves their mental functioning, increases their ability to pay attention (especially for students with attention difficulties), and helps them learn more effectively. For all of these reasons, movement in the classroom is essential!
Ideas for Movement in the Classroom
Giving your students a chance to move during the school day does not have to take a long time. The list below includes lots of quick, easy-to-use ideas for how to incorporate more movement in your classroom. It is broken down into non-academic movement breaks (plus some of these are great for relationship-building) and academic movement breaks (which means the kids are moving and working with content). I hope you find some helpful ideas to get your students moving!
Want a free, printable version of this list? Get it here!
- Get up and give a high five to 3 classmates, then sit back down.
- Do 30 jumping jacks.
- Do 15 squats.
- Hold plank for 30 seconds.
- Get up and move to a different seat. (Later in the lesson, have them get up and go back to their seat.)
- Do 15 star jumps.
- Wiggle your whole body for 30 seconds.
- Run in place for 30 seconds.
- Designate sides of your carpet/whole group area as “yes” and “no”, then ask questions (e.g. Do you have any siblings?) and have students answer by moving to one side or the other (without talking!).
- Do 20 lunges.
- Hands up high, then touch your toes! Repeat 10 times.
- Put on some music and have a quick dance party.
- Do 10 sit-ups.
- Do 10 push-ups.
- Sing a round of “The Hokie Pokie” with the movements.
- Watch a Gonoodle video. (This is also a great indoor recess activity!)
- Get in a line and tiptoe around the classroom.
- Walk around and tap 3 other chairs, then sit back down.
- Play a round of “Simon Says”. (Be sure to include directions with some movement!)
- Take your class outside for a lesson.
- Do high knees for 30 seconds.
- Make statements (teacher or a student volunteer) and kids stand up if they agree. (E.g. Say, “I like pizza” and kids stand up if they like pizza, too.)
- Hop up and down for 30 seconds.
- Get in line and walk a loop around the school building (inside or outside).
- Tape task cards around the room. Students walk around the room to find and complete each one. (Looking for task cards? Get these FREE addition task cards or subtraction task cards. Or check out my TpT store for more options!)
- Do a gallery walk. (Students or groups of students make something, like a poster, then the whole class walks around and looks at everyone’s work.)
- Walk the perimeter of the classroom (or your desk or table or the carpet), then go back to your seat.
- Stand up and draw different shapes with your foot.
- Stand up and draw different numbers with your foot.
- Count and jump! (Variation: Count and jump when you get to multiples of 2/5/10.)
- Jump to answer a math problem. (E.g. Ask the class, “What is 3 x 5?” Then, have students jump 15 times.)
- Work as a class to stand in order from tallest to shortest.
- Stand up and work together to divide the class into 2/3/4/5 equal groups.
- Create patterns with actions. (E.g. Jump, squat, jump, squat for an ABAB pattern.)
- Give out number cards and work as a class to get in line in number order. (Can be consecutive numbers or skip counting.)
- Make different types of angles with your arms.
- Do a shapes scavenger hunt. (Students need to find objects around the room that are certain shapes.)
- Stand up during a story and jump every time you hear a certain sight word or vocabulary word.
- Stand up and draw letters or words with your foot.
- Walk to different corners of the carpet or room to show what part of speech a word is.
- Jump for each letter as you spell words.
- Act out a scene from a story.
- Make the letters of the alphabet with your arms/body.
- Challenge the class to get in line in ABC order by their first name (or last name).
- Act out different prepositions. (E.g. Stand on the carpet, next to the carpet, and in front of the carpet.)
- Act out vocabulary words.
- Name different body parts to shake.
- Imitate various animal movements (e.g. hop like a bunny, waddle like a penguin, etc.)
- Do science experiments that involve movement.
Making time for your kids to move every day in the classroom is so important for their physical health and for their ability to learn. Do you want a printable list of these ideas for easy reference throughout the day? Get it here! I hope these ideas make it easier for you to fit movement into your busy schedule!
Did you use the ideas on this list in your classroom? Or do you have other great ideas for movement in the classroom? Please, leave a comment below or shoot me an email!