Summer: Time to prepare for classroom physical activity?!

School’s out for the summer!  If you’re like me, you’re ready for some time where you don’t even THINK about lesson plans or curriculum or teaching methods.  But, inevitably, my mind always returned to those thoughts as the summer progressed.  Summer, when you have oodles of free time (at least compared to the school year), may be an excellent opportunity to learn more about classroom physical activity.  In preparation for the 2015-2016 academic year, take some time to discover how classroom physical activity can impact your students, your teaching, and your classroom environment.  And then take some time to think about how you can make physical activity in the classroom work for you!

Read some background information.  Check out our research page and look into some of the readings!

Free online training module: PBS Learning Media offers “Increasing Physical Activity in Schools: PD for Elementary Teachers” – a professional development module designed to offer tools to increase school-based physical activity.

Use our implementation page to get tips and tricks on adding or increasing physical activity in your own classroom. This page offers an action plan template and sample to get you started!

Pledge to get students active: Join Active Schools/Active Minds initiative

The Healthy Schools Program under Alliance for a Healthier Generation just launched their Active Schools/Active Minds initiative for the 2015-2016 school year.  And you can be part of it!  Signing up will provide you with tools and resources to help your students achieve the recommended number of physical activity minutes they need each day for academic and health benefits.

Link to taking action: Active School/ Active Minds

And check out this great PDF of “Ideas to Incorporate 10 More Minutes of Physical Activity Every Day

New Activity Ideas!

Health Powered Kids™, created by Allina Health, is a “free online resource designed to empower children and teens to make good choices about being active, eating well and balancing their lives.” One component of this website, which requires teachers to register for a free account to access materials, is Power Chargers. “Power Chargers are a collection of short exercises designed to give kids a quick activity break throughout the day. Choose from two, five or 10+ minute Power Chargers, depending on the time and space available.”

See our Materials page for links and more ideas on how to incorporate physical activity into your classroom!

New Research!

Norris et al. (2015) recently conducted a systematic review of classroom physical activity.  Findings indicate that classroom physical activity increases student physical activity levels and significantly improves or does not hinder educational outcomes with all results either positive or neutral.  This review calls for further research to gain a more complete understanding of the impact of classroom physical activity impact.

Naylor et al. (2015) systematically reviewed implementation of school-based physical activity interventions.  While studies varied in their assessment of implementation strategies and outcomes, the most influential factor to implementation success was time.

Burrows et al. (2014) determined that scheduled physical activity is associated with better academic performance.  In this sample, about 80% of students exercised for less than two hours per week.  Students who reported more than four hours per week of exercise were significantly more likely to perform about the 50th percentile in standardized academic achievement tests.

Katz, Mulder, and Pronk (2014) used worksite wellness Sit-Stand results as a method of improving student behavior and learning.

Chaput, Carson, Gray, and Tremblay (2014) proposed the importance of all movement behaviors in a 24 hour period for overall health of children.

See our Research Page for full abstracts.

Music for Classroom Physical Activity

Engaging students in movement in the classroom can be as simple as playing a song and allowing students to dance. As with any classroom physical activity, parameters may need to be set to ensure safety. But with instructions to stay in your own space bubble and in control of your body, free dance is a fun, easy way to get students moving! Having a playlist of songs means classroom physical activity opportunities are available at the click of a button.

Movie soundtracks: Children’s movies are filled with kid-friendly music.  From old to new, think of your (and your students) favorite animated film and get the CD for your classroom.

  • Happy Feet soundtrack (link)
  • Rio soundtrack (link)
  • Cars soundtrack (link)
  • Finding Nemo soundtrack (link)
  • Up soundtrack (link)
  • Mary Poppins soundtrack (link)
  • Curious George soundtrack (link)

Compilations: Compilation CDs are a great way to get a variety of music on one CD!

  • Best Animated Kids Movie Songs (link)
  • Disney’s Greatest Hits (link)
  • Best Disney Album Ever (link)
  • 100 Sing-a-long Songs for Kids (link)

KIDZ BOP: This set of CDs, currently 27 in all, are “today’s biggest hits, sung by kids for kids” and the songs have been rewritten so lyrics are appropriate for kids. Access website

Content-based music: Songs help students learn and remember academic content.

  • CD: Here Comes Science (link)
  • CD: It’s Elementary (link)
  • Database: Educational songs (link)

Schoolhouse Rock: Do you remember this from your own childhood?!  Originally a television show, these animated musical short films taught children about everything from grammar to math to history.  Disney acquired rights to the show and has made Schoolhouse Rock available to a new generation (link).  Original Schoolhouse Rock CDs are also available on Amazon (link).

What is Classroom Physical Activity?

While it can be assumed that classroom physical activity is physical activity in the classroom, it is important to make the distinction between this and physical education. Classroom physical activity is movement in the general education classroom facilitated by the classroom teacher. It can be categorized into three general areas:

  • Procedural activity: This is task oriented.  For example, allowing students to get up and sharpen pencils, or walk to turn in an assignment at a designated turn in basket.
  • Structured activity: This is whole-class engagement in physical activity unrelated to academic instruction.
  • Content-based activity: This is when physical activity is integrated into the academic lesson.

When incorporating physical activity into your classroom, consider how each type of activity may best suit your classroom, your students, and your teaching methods.

Note: Classroom physical activity should not be used as either reward or punishment! Rather, it is simply part of the learning process.

Meet the Creator

I like to say that I came by my interest in classroom physical activity genetically. My mother has her master’s in child development and my father has his master’s in physical education!

I taught in the classroom for over ten years, ranging from kindergarten through seventh grade, in Oregon and in Texas. In my teaching, I noted that when I engaged students in activity, my classroom climate was better and my students were more productive and ready to learn. Yet I struggled to locate information that would help me simply and easily offer physical activity opportunities to my students. After considering my options, I decided to pursue a doctorate and was admitted into a program at the University of Texas in Austin. Upon returning to academia, I discovered a plethora of research about school-based physical activity, and a wonderful core group of researchers passionate about the topic, just like me. While exciting, I was dismayed that this information did not seem to be easily accessible to classroom teachers. As such, it became my goal to bridge the communication gap between the research world and the education world. I want to share information with classroom teachers about classroom physical activity, the background and foundation, the benefits, and the implementation strategies.

Enter this website!  I am excited to launch Classroom in Motion™ as a resource for classroom teachers. I hope that it will help you learn more about physical activity in students and strategies for quick and easy implementation of activity in the classroom.