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Sep 7, 2016

Why You Should Get Your Students Up & Moving!

Studies show that increased time in physical education usually has positive effects on learning. Increased time at recess increases attention, concentration, and focus. Incorporating physical activity into the daily routine of the classroom also helps children learn. It is not surprising to anyone who spends time around young children that they are constantly moving. Why? Well, children just aren’t designed to sit still. Children have been learning about the world around them every second of every day since they were born. And they’ve been learning about that world by moving through it! Young children are holistic learners, gathering information through all of their senses and attempting to answer questions the way that scientists do: by forming hypotheses and testing them. Many of those hypotheses involve trying different ways of making their body work. Children want to know how fast they can run, how high they can climb, and what kinds of things they can build and make. The only way they can test these questions is to move their bodies. Most elementary school students are still just learning how to think of concepts abstractly; it is much easier for them to understand ideas by working with physical objects. On top of that, children who are told to “sit still” all day are spending a huge portion of their brain power just trying to keep control of their body and preventing themselves from doing what they are naturally designed to do. Physical activity does not necessarily have to require huge changes to a teacher’s daily classroom routine. Giving students the option of standing while working at their desks or offering students a stress ball to squeeze when sitting is required will probably not disrupt anyone else and will help increase the level of focus and attention in the classroom.

Physical activity doesn’t just give children a break from learning, it actually helps them learn! Executive function refers to the mental processes necessary to focus, prioritize incoming information, stay on task, and remember and learn new information and skills. In other words, in order for a child to be able to learn any of the academic content taught in school, he or she must have sufficiently well-developed executive function to be able to make sense of the information being provided by the teacher and textbook. The great news is that physical activity has been shown to increase executive function. Children respond more quickly and more accurately to cognitive tasks: things like academic questions, quizzes, and complex puzzles, after engaging in physical activity for thirty minutes. Students who return to class after a physical education class or active recess are able to sustain focused attention for far longer, display more on-task behavior for an extended period of time, and retain the learned information for longer than students who do not have the benefit of physical activity. Students can even gain these benefits at home, if they walk or jog while trying to remember spelling words or important facts while studying for a quiz. Physical activity encodes information in the brain far better than simply hearing or reading it. It doesn’t have to be a full exercise routine either; simply teaching your students how to finger-spell a word will help them remember how to spell it better than just looking at the letters.
Physical activity does not have to last a long time to be beneficial. Even adults struggle to focus on reading a book or a computer screen, or taking a test, for a long period of time without a break. After a certain amount of time, most of us find that we've been reading the same sentence over and over, or that we cannot remember what we've just read. Students are the same way. A few minutes of motion can be enough to let the brain reset to come back to the task with fresh eyes and a fresh mind. It can help boost
students' moods as well, helping them to associate learning with fun and positive feelings, which will also help them to remember the information a lot longer. And, physical activity can help children calm down if they are feeling frustrated by a learning task that seems to difficult.
Ready to get your students up and moving? Check out these activities!
 Include dance and multicultral fun in your classroom!
Great Activities for 3rd-8th Grade and Around the World Units!
Students will learn over 18 different traditional and cultural dances from Italy, Russia, Africa, India, China, and Mexico! There are 20 video links (QR Codes as well as URL Links) included to see dancers in action! Get your students up and DANCING!
Get your students up and moving! Students will learn all about different biomes and animal adaptations while participating in an engaging physical activity!  30 animals in 5 different biomes are waiting to be discovered! Biomes include Forest, Desert, Tundra, Tropical Rainforest, and Aquatic(Saltwater).  Students find one animal per round. They fill out their “Biomedex”, recording data and answering questions about the animal they have just discovered. When they are done, they will go and hide the biome animal for the next classmate to find.

Do your students need a brain break? These fun and interactive activities will get them up and moving! Use them to re-energize your students when they need it!


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