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Active Classrooms. Jo Bailey D. C. Everest Senior High WHPE President 2012-14 2013 Midwest High School PE TOY. Email: Twitter: @ lovephyed. Waves!. The line you don’t want to see.

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active classrooms

Active Classrooms

Jo Bailey

D. C. Everest Senior High

WHPE President 2012-14

2013 Midwest High School PE TOY


Twitter: @lovephyed

movement data

  • Finland – 15 minutes of activity before every class
  • California, Texas: Fitter students performed better on tests
Movement Data!
why do our students need classroom physical activity breaks cpab

It takes just 17 minutes (+/- 2) of sitting down for blood to leave the brain and pool in the hamstrings. Signals the body to release melatonin, reduces release of BDNF (brain fertilizer)

  • Exercise fuels the brain with oxygen and triggers the release of neurotrophins which enhance growth, impact mood, cement memory, and enhance connections between neurons
Why do our students need classroom physical activity breaks (CPAB)?
why do our students need classroom physical activity breaks cpab1

Standing up creates more attentional arousal, speeds up information processing by 5-20 percent and increases blood flow and oxygen to the brain by 10-15 percent

Why do our students need classroom physical activity breaks (CPAB)?
social network for the brain

>20 minutes of inactivity, neural communication declines

  • Activity increases neural connections in the brain
  • We need to expand the social network in our brains- get the neurons to “talk” more to teach other
Social Network for the brain
what are the benefits of cpab

Physical activity and cognition are positively related (Sibley & Etnier, 2003)

  • Physical activity improves cognitive performance and behavior improves following bouts of activity (Tomorowski, 2003)
  • CPAB temporarily improve attention and behaviour (Pellegrini et al, 1995)
What are the benefits of CPAB?
systems and learning

Motor development: framework to sequence patterns needed for academic concepts

  • Skipping – prerequisite for reading
  • Vestibular: Balance and spatial awareness- placing words and letters on a page
  • Visual: activities help develop eye tracking
  • Suggested 85% of students are predominately kinesthetic learners – move to learn!
Systems and Learning
managing the environment

Emphasize that CPAB are a privilege and can be removed

  • This is NOT PE – only a 2-5 minute break
  • Needs to be done quietly – Practice!
  • Outcome is not important
  • Toe to toe – easy way to get students into groups, work with different students
  • Lost and found/ Friendship corner
  • Watch for the hypermotivated student – may need directions twice
Managing the Environment
cross lateral activities activating all parts of the brain level 1

Brain Challenges:

  • 1. Hold your nose, reach over or under and grab your nose with the other hand. Switch
  • and switch
  • 2. Point an index finger out on one hand and a thumb up on the other. Switch and
  • switch.
  • 3. As you write your signature on an imaginary table, rotate your foot in a clockwise circle.
  • 4. Heads Shoulders Knees and Toes
Cross Lateral Activities: Activating all parts of the brain (level 1)
cross lateral activities activating all parts of the brain level 11


  • Stand in a circle of 4-5 people
  • Place your left palm up
  • point your right index finger down into the palm of the person to your right
  • On the command “Gotcha” try to grab the finger of the person to your left while avoiding getting your own finger caught
  • Repeat with opposite hand up
  • Repeat with arms crossed over body
Cross Lateral Activities: Activating all parts of the brain (level 1)
more cross lateral movements


  • Heel taps
  • Windmills
  • Body taps: Tap left ear, shoulder, elbow & wrist with right finger. Repeat on opposite side
More cross lateral movements
vestibular movements

Hop and spin- clockwise and counterclockwise

  • Hand spin – move feet around hands on floor
  • Crab walk spin - clockwise and counterclockwise
  • 360 spin
Vestibular Movements
balance activities

Arabesque walking

  • Tree Pose
  • Side plank
  • Crab kicks holding chair
  • Hopscotch
  • Skaters
  • Across the line
Balance activities
combination activities

Jump, throw and catch ball

  • Hopping and arm circles
  • Jog & wrist/ elbow/ shoulder tap
  • Cross country ski
Combination activities

Three shakes (no refusals!)

  • Body writing- name, animal, breakfast, game with different body part
  • Social walk and talk –assign topics
  • Foot to foot bean bag passing
activities colors hyperdash l2

Pick a color – touch 5 things of that color around the room (can’t be a person!)


  • Post colored spots around classroom. Each spot also has a number on it (you could also add a letter or a symbol to give you more options or use two different color sets).
  • Hand out index cards – student must follow sequence on card.
  • Can be a color, number or mixed sequence.
Activities: Colors/Hyperdash (L2)
activities rock paper scissors l2

Stand back to back with partner

  • Jump 5 times, turn on the 6th jump and show
  • Variations: use feet for symbols – together= rock, apart side = paper, front back straddle = scissors
Activities: Rock Paper Scissors (L2)
activities same different l2

Walk around room. On command get toe-to-toe with a partner

  • Designate one person to be “same” and one person to be “different”
  • Jump 10x. On the 10th jump, both partners put one foot forward
  • If the feet are the same (both right feet), the “same” person gets a point, if they are different, the “different” person gets a point
  • Change movement pairs from one session to the next – feet apart or feet together; palms up/ palms down
Activities: Same Different (L2)
scarfs l2

One scarf per student preferably

  • Throw and catch scarf with opposite hand
  • Throw, turn, and catch scarf
  • Throw, clap as many times as possible, and catch
  • Throw and catch scarf on head/ back
  • Throw and catch scarf on foot, lift up to catch with opposite hand
  • Throw and catch behind body
  • Do the same activities with a partner
Scarfs (L2)
activities sherlock holmes l2

Send two people out of the room

  • Choose one person to initiate and change the movement of the class – quiet, subtle movements
  • Invite the detectives back in – try to figure out who is the person initiating the change
  • Add decoys to increase the difficulty
Activities: Sherlock Holmes (L2)
activities maestro l2

O = lunge

  • X = jump
  • Arrows show which direction to move one step only)
  • Read the notes like words on a page – L to R, top to bottom and SAY THEM OUT LOUD.
  • Great activity for decision making, crossing the midline of the body, tracking, rhythm
Activities: Maestro (L2)
activities maestro l21

Level 1: move and say the SAME direction as shown on the screen

  • Level 2: move in the SAME direction as the arrows, but say the OPPOSITE direction
  • Level 3: move in the OPPOSITE direction, as the arrows but say the SAME direction
  • Level 4: move in the OPPOSITE direction as the arrows and say the OPPOSITE direction as shown on the screen
Activities: Maestro (L2)
activities do this do that l2

Chosen leader performs various movements, each preceded by saying “do this” or “do that”

  • Students copy the movements but only if they are preceded by the phrase “do this”. If the directions are “do that”, no one is to move
  • Can use points – students try to get the least number of points during the game
Activities: Do This, Do That (L2)
activities do as i say l2

Leader gives verbal commands

  • Leader attempts to confuse the class by performing a different movement from what they are saying
  • E.g. Say “put your hands on your elbows” while placing hands on your waist
Activities: Do as I say (L2)
popsicle sticks l3 4

Write activities/ movements/ exercises on popsicle sticks

  • Students aim to complete as many stick as they can in time allowed by teacher
  • Encourage students to add their own (pending teacher approval!)
  • Work as team: table aims to complete as many stick as possible in time allowed
  • Give a target to aim for: Expert level=6 sticks
Popsicle Sticks (L3-4)
cupid shuffle l2 4

4 steps to right

  • 4 steps to left
  • Kick left right left right
  • 8 step turn 90 degrees
  • Repeat!
  • Movement is the number 1 manager of student learning states!
Cupid Shuffle (L2-4)
activities academic integration l5

Quick Math

  • Face your partner. Pretend to put your water gun in your holsters.
  • For one-hand addition,on the signal “Draw” each partner shows any number of fingers and thumbs on one hand.
  • The first partner who adds the fingers and thumbs of both partners wins the draw.
  • For two-hand addition, add partner #1 and partner #2 fingers and thumbs together for the sum.
  • For one-hand multiplication, multiply partner #1 times partner #2 for the product.
  • For two-hand multiplication, multiply the sum of Partner#1’s hands times the sum of partner #2’s hands for the product.
  • ** Can’t do same number every time!**
Activities: Academic Integration (L5)
activities academic integration


  • Students walk around the room
  • On command they find a partner, designate one to be “odds” and one to be “evens”
  • Hit fist into hand 3x and on 3rd time stick out a combination of fingers: 0,1,2,3,4,5
  • Total number of fingers is added together
  • If it is even, “evens” player get the point, if it is odd, “odds” player gets the point
  • Play best of 3 games then find another partner and repeat
Activities: Academic Integration
academic integration

It’s all in the numbers

  • Spread playing cards, face down around classroom
  • Show a math problem on board
  • Students solve the problem then look for the cards that make up the answer
  • Face cards = 10, Ace’s =1
  • Could assign points to groups; complete several problems
Academic Integration
activities academic integration l51


  • One per group of students
  • Keep up – have to review topic/ answer question/ link concepts while keeping balloon from hitting the floor/ table
Activities: Academic Integration (L5)
activities academic integration l52

Howdy Partner/ Meet and Greet

  • Great for developing a positive classroom environment/ partnering students
  • High 5/ Low 5/ Wizard/ Warrior partners: TV show, like/ dislike, place to visit
  • Meet and Greet – extension/ content review or baseline assessment
Activities: Academic Integration (L5)
activities academic integration l53

Rock Paper Scissors, Math

  • Walk around room. On command get toe to toe with a partner.
  • Face partner and say R-P-S Math
  • When you say the word math, you should put between 1-4 fingers out (no thumbs or zero’s)
  • The person who adds the numbers/ multiples the numbers first wins the round
  • Play best of 5 rounds
Activities: Academic Integration (L5)
punctuation in action l5

Read a sentence or story. Punctuate using the following body movements and sounds.

  • Capital letter: jump up and say. “Go”
  • Period: Put your fist on your nose and say, “Whoa”
  • Comma: Hands on hips and circle hips around and say, “Slow down”
  • Question Mark: Shrug shoulders with hands up in air and say, “Huh?”
  • Exclamation Mark: Grab the air with the right fist and bring down forcefully and say, “Yes” Quotation Marks:
  • Pretend to make quotation marks in the air with fingers and say, ”Ching, ching”
  • Apostrophe: Use the elbow to make an apostrophe in the air and say, “Not”
Punctuation in Action (L5)
milk top math

Add 2 dice - flip over milk cap with number on it

Do activity under cap that many times.

First with all flipped over wins.

Milk top math
content review i deas l5

Give students cards with information that needs to be ordered on them

  • Students need to find their group (differentiate by color/ number) and get themselves in the correct order
  • Dance/ Lyric Creation – create a song of the material to be reviewed
  • Q and A match. Half the students have the Q, half have the A. Find your matching partner
  • Partner ball pass review
Content Review Ideas (L5)
content review ideas l5

4 Corners

  • Good for any review topic/ opinions
  • Designate an corner for each answer
  • Students move to that corner based on their belief
  • Students can discuss debate choices at corner – call on one at random
  • True/false – can assign movement to each choice, gives quick visual of understanding
Content Review Ideas (L5)
academic integration letter spots

Letter Spots

  • Think of a word involving letters A,B,C,D,E
  • Right shoulder = A, Right Ear = B, Nose =C, Left ear = D, Left shoulder = E
  • Without talking, spell out the word using letter spots on body
  • Partner has to say letters out loud and say the word
  • Change letters/ body parts/ add body parts
  • Vocab lists for topic; spell out answer to question using body
Academic Integration: Letter Spots
activities academic integration1

Pre-Test Taking Activity

  • Before starting test have students perform these warm-ups/hook-ups:
  • 1 leg squat touch opposite hand to floor: 20 each side
  • Spins and turns: 5 spins in each directions
  • Knee to Elbow: 30 times for each elbow
  • Stretches
  • Hands over Heads
  • Hands behind back
  • Shoulder shrugs
  • Head Rolls
Activities: Academic Integration
resources pages 2 and 3 have a variety of links to different activities

  • classroom integrated lessons. Most of them are elementary but you could adapt and tailor them to suit your needs
  • Roll Some Fun brain break activity:
further reading

The Kinesthetic Classroom – Traci Lengel and Michael Kuczala

  • Promoting physical activity and health in the classroom – Robert Pangrazi, Aaron Beighle & Deb Pangrazi
Further Reading