10 Tips for Getting Active in the Classroom

10 Tips for Getting Active in the Classroom

In support of May’s National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, Field Trip Factory wants to help you get your students moving. We all know the benefits physical movement and activity has on learning. Students pay closer attention and often retain information better. But it can be difficult to carve out time for a much needed second trip to the playground or gym during a busy day of academics. So here are some tips for weaving physical activity into your student’s daily routines.

  1. Act out the lesson. You’ve probably tried this one, but acting out a concept can really help students connect with the information. For example, when teaching revolutions, rotations, and orbits of planets, ask students to get up and move around the room like Saturn or Earth around the Sun.
  2. Teach numbers while counting out the number of jumps students make or another physical activity they can count.
  3. Reinforce the concept of grouping and numbers by having students walk around the room in no particular pattern. Call out, “Groups of ___” and have students organize themselves into groups of that many. If any students can’t find a group, they have to do 5 jumping jacks.
  4. Fly swatter vocabulary. Write out the week’s vocabulary words on pieces of paper or on the board. Divide students into two groups and give each group a fly swatter. Give the definition for one of the words. Have one member from each group race to the board to swat the correct vocabulary word.
  5. To practice spelling, place multiple copies of cards with the letters A-Z on a table. Give one of the class spelling words and call on a group of students to spell the words with the letter cards. Each student holds a letter that is in the word and the group arranges themselves to correctly spell the word in front of the class. Ask the remaining students to correct the word if necessary.
  6. Instead of having students raise their hand for responses, get them up and moving. Ask them to move to a certain part of the room, or point to the ceiling, or clap their hands to respond.
  7. Make it a classroom routine to take a 3-5-minute walking break before a test.
  8. Play charades to act out vocabulary words, a scene from history for students to guess the time period or event, or those daunting math word problems.
  9. Learn 1-digit addition and subtraction by creating an active calculator. Divide students into groups of 5. Create a calculator on the floor with tape. Include numbers 0-9 and the operations + , -, and =. Have students stand on the numbers and operation inside the calculator to represent an equation that you say out loud. 6 + 1 = ? Students have to work together to figure out the answer. Have the remaining student stand on the number that represents the answer. To extend the activity, ask students to stand on different numbers that would provide the same sum, for example 3 + 4 = 7.
  10. Take a brain break. These are short 1 to 3-minute activities that give students a mental break and gets them moving.
    • Do a yoga pose.
    • Scrunch down into a ball and reach for the sky as high as possible. Do arm circles, touch toes, and some deep breathing.
    • Give students a series of tasks to do such as fist bump 5 girls, touch the west wall with your nose, and then wave to 3 classmates wearing red.
    • Have students create a rainstorm. Begin by asking students to rub their hands together, snap their fingers, clap their hands or slap their knees, and finally stomp their feet on the floor. Then have students to the same actions in reverse until the “rain” stops.

There are lots of resources for brain break ideas. Here are two we like:



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