Childhood obesity, type 2 diabetes, depression and anxiety … these things are on the rise in kids. The good news is physical activity can help with all of these, while also improving cardiovascular health, and strengthening bones and lungs. With busy schedules and increased academic pressures, recess and physical education time can be impacted, but physical activity can actually improve students health and performance in school. So it’s important to get up and move.
Running around on the playground or in the gym provides more intensive exercise, but even in the classroom, you can get kids moving. Try movement breaks where everyone gets up from their desk or table. Play a quick game of Simon Says or do jumping jacks—just remind everyone to be aware of their space.
Younger children can move like an animal in a story you are reading. You can incorporate song and movement games into your morning meeting. If you have room, lay out letters and have students race to the letter you call out. Or give students mental math and have them do jumping jacks to share the answer. Some of these can become a regular part of your day, others are simply ways to work in a few more moments of movement.
In addition, make the most of physical education time. During P.E., you can teach students fundamental skills, play fun games, and give them opportunities to try different kinds of movement and activities.
3 ways to get up and move in P.E.
Planning P.E. classes may be low on your priority list, but knowing that kids need to move makes it an important part of the day. Having go-to ideas makes planning and teaching P.E. a lot easier. Try these for starters:
Relay races can be modified again and again to keep them fresh and provide practice in different kinds of movement. Students can hop, skip, sprint, jump, or leap the length of the course. You can use a baton to hand off for the relay piece. If you don’t have a baton (any easy to grasp object will work), you can have students slap hands.
Obstacle courses require different strength and agility from students. Have students zigzag around cones, step into each hoop you’ve laid on the ground, or leap or climb over an obstacle. While these can be done strictly individually, you can also run them as a relay.
Dance is a great movement opportunity for kids because it’s not only fun, but also something kids can keep doing as they grow. You can play dance games like the Hokey Pokey or teach different types of dance.
One easy way to incorporate dance is to have free dance, letting kids move as they like. It’s good to work on space and body awareness before beginning this. Another variation on this is to have kids move to the music and then freeze when the music stops.
There is more to yoga than exercise, but many yoga poses help build strength and flexibility and work on balance. If done in a flow sequence, yoga can also be an active form of exercise. You can try:
- Cat–cow. Have students get on all fours. Have them breathe out as the pull their belly button in and round their back, like a Halloween cat. Then have them breathe in as the lower their belly and arch their back. They can continue this for several breaths.
- Downward-facing dog. Start on hands and knees again. Have students spread their fingers and press their palms into the floor. Then have them push up, bottom in the air, legs straight. They will be like an upside down V. Tell them to relax their head down and look between their legs. Once in the shape, kids can wag their “tails” if they want.
- Tree pose. This is a balance pose, so make sure students have enough space between them. Have students stand with feet together, facing forward. Then have them shift their weight onto one foot and peel the other foot up off the floor slowly. They can then place the bottom of the foot they lifted on the standing leg near the ankle or up near the groin. (Caution students not to place their foot right on their knee.) When students feel balanced, they can raise their arms as branches and sway them. Repeat with the other foot.
There are many other poses you can do. You can also use a sun salutation as a way to get the blood flowing and energy rising.
There are so many fun ways to get active—and kids naturally want to move. P.E. can be fun for you too, if you take the stress out of planning. With the Physical Education Resource Kit, you have everything you need for a full year of P.E.
The kit contains 35 physical education lessons, and each P.E. lesson is on a separate card to make it easy to take with you no matter where you’re located. Each card in the kit contains warm up ideas, skill practice, equipment, games, and diagrams. Overall the kit is suitable for grades K–7, and each card indicates appropriate levels.
You’ll be all set with ideas for lessons on fundamentals, early morning fitness, modified sports, athletics, dance, gymnastics, and indoor games.
Ready to make physical education planning easy? Get your Physical Education Resource Kit here.