Activity Breaks in the classroom Presenter: Scott Williams M.A. Meriwether Lewis Elementary School, Charlottesville,Va
What are Activity Breaks?• Activity breaks are short periods of movement to be utilized by classroom teachers.• These breaks assist students in staying energized and focused throughout the school day.
How is it relevant?• Much research has been done that proves a link between physical education and academic success.• Curt Hinson Ph.D and editor for the newsletter PEnPal (the Physical Education Newsletter forPromoting Active Liestyles) provides us with ﬁve reasons why physical activity is critical to learning: (con’t)
• Physical activity increases blood flow to the brain. The brain relies on blood to nourish it with oxygen. The more blood, and thus oxygen, that is available to the barin, the better able the brain is to think, reason, problem solve and create…aerobic activity, such as running, increases and enhances the body’s ability to transport blood, thus carrying much needed oxygen to the brain. The more aerobically fit a person is, the better he or she is at supplying oxygen to the brain.• Physical activity helps to develop neural connections. The brain relies on neural connections to send and receive information. This transmission of information is the brain’s ability to think, learn, create, and problem-solve. The more neural connections that are made, the more efficient the brain becomes at processing information.• Physical Activity helps increase the size and number of blood capillaries in the brain, thus creating more potential for blood to travel to critical areas faster and more efficiently• Physical Activity helps to reduce stress. Too much stress affects learning and too little stress affects learning. To counter stress it’s important for students to engage in daily exercise and physical activity to help the brain regulate itself and deal with stress.• Physical Activity can stimulate the release of the body’s natural motivators. The brain is filled with neurotransmitters. The job of these chemicals is to regulate brain function based on the brain’s needs.
What outcomes should PE teachers want from these breaks?• Kids moving in class• Fun, short bursts of energy• TEACHER FRIENDLY! No extra work for classroom teacher.* *-Kids know dances/exercises learned in PE. -Fits in with Responsive Classroom methods -Easy to access ﬁles (video and mp3). -Not diruptive; easy to refocus students.• Choices for kids to pick from, ie; exercise videos and dance videos
Selling this to the teachers• Present an Activity Break at a faculty meeting as a demonstration.• Show to parents and administrators. Get them on board• Insert a cool down period to allow kids to refocus and transition back quickly to what they were doing• Install videos for teachers and show how to access videos
• Let the teacher choose the music.• Provide incentives for the teachers. Ex: teacher that using them the most in a given time frame, their class wins an extra PE class that week. (extra planning period for teacher)
Teacher Tes)monialsThe kids LOVE the ac)vity breaks. I use them in the morning to get their blood ﬂowing and their mind ready for work. I also use them throughout the day when I no)ce that the kids are ge@ng the wiggles (during our 1.5 hour Language Arts block and during 70 minute math block daily). We also do them at the end of the day to end with some exercise and with some posi)ve energy. I ALWAYS use them if it is raining outside as part of indoor recess. In addi)on, I have incorporated music and movement into my transi)ons and rou)nes (tables to carpets, lining up, clean up, pack up, etc.) to help the kids focus on what changes are happening now and what they should be doing at that )me.These breaks provide visual and auditory cues for the kids while engaging them in healthy exercise that helps maintain focus and raises the aﬀec)ve ﬁlter. Thank you for all of your hard work with the kids!~Heidi (2nd grade)Ac)vity breaks have become a part of our daily classroom schedule ‐ and they are by far one of the students favorite parts of the day! Every morning, students have an ac)vity break between their reading group period and another quiet, seated work )me; these breaks serve to give them a fun, much‐needed )me to move as well as get their bodies ready for another quiet period of focus. Students also do ac)vity breaks in the aXernoon when theyve not had much movement (during a non‐P.E. day and/or a day of indoor recesses). Since incorpora)ng ac)vity breaks into our daily rou)ne, Ive no)ced more sustained focus among even my most focus‐challenged students!Bonnie (1st grade)
Teacher Tes)monials Con’tMy kids LOVE ac)vity breaks. As soon as I say, „Ac)vity Break!‰ they jump up ready for the ﬁrst move. It is a great way to begin a lesson, especially if the subject maber will require lots of concentra)on. I use Ac)vity Breaks any )me the kids need a mental boost. Observing how the kids move during Ac)vity Breaks also provides me with addi)onal anecdotal informa)on about each student‚s learning style. Karla (3rd grade)We typically use our ac)vity breaks between our literacy block and a wri)ng or word study period. The kids are much more focused and complete work more quickly and with less distrac)ng behavior. They also have a lot of fun with the ac)vity breaks. On the days when we have to cancel our breaks the children moan and groan about missing them. We actually have temporarily lost use of our ac)veboard due to a burned out projector bulb but the children have decided that in the mean)me we should con)nue our breaks anyway. I choose three or four ac)vity break leaders and each chosen child leads two diﬀerent ac)vi)es for 20‐30 seconds each. While this keeps the kids moving they are quite anxious to get our ac)veboard back because they miss the visuals and music.Pa@ (1st grade)Kindergartners, and Kindergarten teachers, love activity breaks! I use them at the end of our morning meeting, as a transition between activities or whenever my children need to move. They are quick, fun, and help my children regain focus and control. They love to see themselves on the screen! My class asks if we can do the activity breaks of our Book Buddies, other Kindergarten classes and teachers. I try to incorporate some of the movements done during activity breaks during our calendar counting. What a difference activity breaks can make on a rainy, full moon day!Meg (Kindergarten)
Resource• For exercises, cool down movements, appropriate but fun upbeat music selections, and examples check out: mlspe.blogspot.com