When your students are extra wiggly and need to get some energy out, it’s time to start including more movement activities in your classroom! And even if your students aren’t extra wiggly, these movement activities are a great engagement addition to any lesson.
Why are movement activities important?
- Movement activities get kids out of their seats. Attention and focus can improve significantly if students are up and moving around for a learning activity.
- Movement activities include collaboration. When students are collaborating they are being exposed to a variety of responses and perspectives!
- Movement activities can promote positivity in the classroom. If you are incorporating movement activities consistently, your students will be familiar with working with their peers in an effective, positive way.
How can I introduce movement activities to my students?
- Start by explaining the big picture of the routine.
- Model and demonstrate either by yourself or with a student.
- Have a small group of students model or demonstrate for the rest of the class to observe.
- Practice MOVING before you add in content.
- Provide feedback.
- Try to do the routine 1-2 times in the same day and then 2-3 times in a week so students get really good at doing the routine.
Then, it should be a routine enough that you can just tell students you’re going to use without having to model and practice and explain.
Inside the Stellar Teacher Membership we created a set of slides that has 12 engagement routines and 7 movement routines. The slides show the expectations for student behavior and are partially editable so you can make them your own too! These are huge timer savers and fun to use.
Okay, let’s get to the movement activities!
Find Someone Who
This is a whole group movement activity. The goal is to find someone who can answer a question, prompt, or help them complete a task. This is quick, easy, and gets students out of their desks and collaborating!
There are many ways you can change up this activity. I liked to create Find Someone Who Bingo Boards with different prompts for students to complete.
- Find someone who has read a fantasy book this week.
- Find someone who has never read a fable.
- Find someone who has the same genre author as you.
The great thing about this routine is you can use ANY type of question! The goal is for students to collaborate with their peers to answer a question or complete a task.
A few more ideas:
- Find someone who can tell you what the theme of the story is.
- Find someone who can finish this fragment.
- Find someone who can tell you what the root aud means.
- Students will walk around the classroom.
- Encourage students to walk around with their hand raised as a signal that they need a partner.
- Once they find a partner, they give them a high five and then proceed to answer the question or respond to the prompt.
- Then they go on to find someone who can help them answer the next question.
Gallery walk movement activities are so versatile! If you aren’t familiar with a gallery walk, it is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Your classroom becomes the gallery and students move around to interact with specific tasks and their peers.
Your gallery could be:
- Student created anchor charts for a reading skill
- Pre-made anchor charts
- Images or articles related to a topic your teaching
- Student work examples
- Vocabulary words
Whatever you decide, you will display all around your classroom like an art gallery. When I first started using this routine, I took the time to talk with my students about what behavior is appropriate for a museum (quiet feet, slow movement, pausing to ponder).
- During your gallery walk, students will walk around and observe the gallery.
- Students will observe whatever pieces of “art” are displayed in your gallery.
- Students might answer a prompt or ask questions about the display.
- They will share their responses/comments on a sticky note and stick it to the display. If you are using large pieces of chart paper, students can write directly on whatever is displayed.
- To make it more collaborative you can have students converse with classmates who are observing the same piece of “art.”
A whip around is a great movement activity if you sense your students needing a quick way to get a burst of energy out! It’s also a quick way to gauge your student’s comprehension or understanding of a lesson.
I love this movement activity because it can be used in any subject with just about any question! It tends to work best if the question you ask has multiple responses or if you want students to understand various parts of a topic. I always told my students to still respond even if their answer had already been shared, but encouraged them to add to the response if possible.
To complete a whip around you simply have all students stand up and then each student shares their response as you “whip around” the room asking each student to participate. Once a student responds, they will sit down.
Questions you might ask:
- What is a character trait you could use to describe ___________?
- What is the most interesting detail you learned in the story?
- What is one vocabulary word you thought was important to the text?
- Give students time to think about their response before starting the whip around process. If they need to write down their response that is ok too!
- Students will stand up at the same time, next to or in front of their seats.
- Students need to be engaged and focused as this is meant to be a quick activity and they need to be prepared for when you point to them to share their response.
- After students share their response, they sit down.
Once your students become familiar with this movement activity it is really fun to see how fast your students can complete a whip around from the first student to the last! Or as the year went on we built in challenges for ourselves:
- Complete it in under 30 seconds
- Complete it without sharing a repeated response
Of course, I saved the best for last! This activity tends to be a student favorite. Unlike the other movement activities in this post, I do highly suggest some serious training and prep with setting expectations before you implement this activity. It can be a lot of fun, but without clear expectations it can become overwhelming fast.
Once again this is a versatile movement activity! It can work with any topic, subject, and question. Students will need a piece of paper they can crumple up and a writing utensil.
What do my students write on the paper?
- Ask them to write a question about a text/topic
- Have them complete a math problem
- Answer a topic specific question
- Write three things they learned from the lesson
Give students time to think about their response and then write it down. Once students write their response they will crumple the paper into a snowball. On teacher command, students will then throw their snowball somewhere around the room!
- Respond to the prompt or question on a piece of paper
- Crumple the paper into a snowball
- On command throw the snowball somewhere around the room like at a window, wall, or the floor – never at somebody in the room
- Pick up a snowball near them, take it back to their desk, and respond to the question, check the students work, or add their thoughts
I used this as a writing activity as well. Students would start a story with 2-3 sentences, throw the snowball, another student would add to the story, and we would keep the process going!
If you haven’t already check out my blogpost Movement in the Classroom: Get Kids Moving with these 4 Easy Movement Routines to learn about more movement activities:
- Loops of Learning
- 4 Corners
- Quiz Quiz Trade
- Small Group Scoot
Put it into practice…
- Here is your challenge. Pick one movement routine to teach your students this week. You don’t have to do all four, but definitely pick one and plan to share it with your students this week.
- Check out Episode #53 of the podcast to learn more about Incorporating Movement Into Your Literacy Block.
- Come join us inside The Stellar Literacy Collective. You’ll get access to a resource library filled with reading and writing activities for you to support your students all year long! Including the engagement and movement strategies slides I mentioned in this post.