We all feel better when we get up and move! I try to provide opportunities for the children to move during the school day. This movement provides important benefits to the class. The kids get a chance to move around and have fun but the most important benefit is to the brain function of the students themselves. Dr. John Ratey, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School has said, “Exercise itself doesn’t make you smarter, but it puts the brain of the learners in the optimal position to learn.”1 Dr. Ratey’s research compiles vast amounts of research that indicates that exercise done by students during the school day reduces stress and anxiety and also improves attention.
Here are some of the activities that we use to get ourselves moving:
First, we start off our day with SmartMoves. It is an interactive CD. The SmartMoves program, created and distributed by Fablevision, is described as “cognitive calisthenics” that provide a series of body movements that become increasingly more difficult. The movements are modeled on screen and are set to calming music.
Students also engage in Responsive Classroom Energizers. The Energizers provide 2-3 minute breaks during which the students engage in fun movement activities accompanied by chants and songs. The purpose of these activities is to provide (depending on the selected activity) movement to help them focus, energize or release stress.
Check out two of our favorites here:
Also, the school-wide Mileage Program, has started again. You may remember that this program allows each child the opportunity to run or walk up to a mile several days a week during recess. Depending on accrued mileage, students can earn a foot charm (or many), a water bottle and a gold medal. Participation is optional and still allows children plenty of time for free play during recess.
Finally, coming soon to recess..”New Game Day”. Once a week, I will introduce a new group game to interested third graders who would like to learn a new game to play with their friends. Some of the first games will include “Tacos & Bridges”, “Giants, Wizards & Elves” and “Band-Aid Tag”! I can’t wait!
1-Viadero, Debra, (February 12, 2008). Exercise Seen as Priming Pump for Students’ Academic Strides. Education Week. Retrieved from http://www.johnratey.com/