Creating a More Active and Successful Classroom
Most importantly it is essential to be an advocate for health and lead by example in the classroom. Modeling healthy eating habits, physical activity, and appropriate responses to stress can have a powerful effect on students, health decision-making behaviors. Having a positive attitude and placing a high value on healthy habits can affect students' attitudes as well. (Evans and Sims, 2018) Teachers/parents have a responsibility to guide children to the best choices for their health and their future.
As you can observe in this chart shown in, Health and Physical Education for Elementary Classroom Teachers, there is a huge link between better grades and healthy habits. Many things can be done to promote health that could lead to improved grades in your classroom. Here is a list of ideas to use in the classroom to get students to be healthy, concentrate and have better behavior.
- Brain Breaks- Provide guidelines and organization in advance. These guidelines must include stop-and-go signals, spacing, and how to handle the equipment (if using any). Dancing to music is a great way for students to move. I like using videos that contain other kids dancing to appropriate music so the students can follow along. I also love to add music during transitions as well. Yoga and stretching are a quick way to calm down before a test or after they come back from recess/P.E. Youtube has countless kids' yoga videos and has been shown to help test scores if done beforehand along with many other benefits. Some fun moving activities such as cross crawl where students touch the right elbow to the left knee, then the left elbow to the right knee while walking is a terrific way to get the "sillies" out. Lastly, singing Head, shoulders, knees, and toes is a classic favorite of mine. It not only creates a teaching opportunity for young children by teaching them body parts but also gets them up and moving. At the beginning of the year, I let the classroom guide me to discover what they enjoy the most. I will also add more fun activity websites, check those out below.
- Integrating Movement Into Lessons - Many lesson plans can be done outdoors. I love taking my science lessons outside and giving students the opportunity to observe the world around them. The best way to expand the mind beyond four walls is to bring the classroom outside whenever possible. In addition, if you are unable to go outside create centers around the classroom where students can move around the room completing tasks. Allow students in between lessons to get up and stretch. There are many chances to use movement even in math such as clapping to count or throwing a foam dice, and having students add/subtract/multiply the two numbers that their thumb lands on. In history, have students act out an event or create models. In English, you can use carpet or chalk for students to outline letters or even model the letter with their body/hand. Older students can write and act out a story. Lastly, students love to help out! Give each student a task such as a whiteboard wiper, paper passer, and pencil sharpener. The sky is the limit. It teaches responsibility, keeps them moving, and helps you out.
- Equipment- As many teachers can relate they do not want to spend a lot of money on activities. Luckily, there is so much that can be taken advantage of by simply going outside or hopping online. Bean bags are an exciting new item to add to use with songs etc. They are also super easy to make. Just add beans or rice to a sock and tie the end in a tight knot. There are many ways to get creative with inexpensive items such as popsicle sticks, yarn/string, and things you already have in the classroom. Finally, ask around to borrow materials from nearby teachers or the gym.
Youtube- Brain Breaks- Be sure to watch beforehand for appropriate content
Evans, R. and Sims, S., 2018. Health and Physical Education for Elementary Classroom Teachers. Champaign: Human Kinetics.
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