We all have those brilliant students who can’t sit still for longer than 10 minutes. Today I’m sharing 10 fun classroom activities involving movement to help those fidgety students and kinesthetic learners thrive. These engaging strategies create hands-on learning opportunities that are exciting, active, and meaningful for kiddos.
10 Engaging Strategies to Add Movement in the Classroom
1. Introduce New Topics with a Cocktail Discussion
Don’t worry, there’s no alcohol required for this.
This strategy is very similar to a think-pair-share but with an active twist. I usually use cocktail discussions at the beginning of a brand new lesson just to see what students already know about a specific topic. Plus, they help me introduce our weekly essential questions.
To start, I write the essential question on the board and circle it. Example EQ: How can we help make the Earth better? Students copy it down in their notebooks and create a web around it. I then set a timer for 2-3 minutes.
Students walk around the room forming groups of 5-6. Once in their groups, students discuss the topic and record any new information discussed in their notebooks.
After the timer goes off, students move around the room and form new groups. Together they brainstorm new ideas and share information gathered from their previous group. Repeat the process 3-4 times and then wrap up with a whole-class shared discussion.
2. Review Content by Playing Musical Chairs
This exciting activity combines music and movement as a way to review content. I use this as a review for 2-digit multiplication, but it can be used to review any skill!
To start, I place a review sheet or activity on each student’s desk. Once the music starts, the students move around the room —dancing, wiggling, doing the dab…. whatever makes them happy.
Once the music stops, they find an empty desk, sit down, and solve the first problem. The music starts again, they repeat the process and then solve the next problem. (I don’t take away any chairs like the typical musical chairs because that would leave kids without an opportunity to solve any problems.)
Grab the FREE Review Worksheets
These 2nd grade review worksheets are perfect for a game of Musical Chairs! They can also be used as bell ringers, early finisher work, and more!
3. Use Scoots in the Classroom
Having students scoot around the room is a great way to get them moving. The best part is that scoots can be done with any task cards that you have handy! Simply place the cards around the room (make sure they are numbered) and give each student a response sheet.
I pick two numbers at random from my popsicle stick bucket and that determines the buddies that will be working together on the scoot. Each pair starts at a different task card placed around the room.
Students move around the room answering each card until they have reached their starting point. This can also be done using a timer, but it can be a bit stressful for students who work at a slower pace.
Want to make it a silent scoot? I challenge my students to see who can be the QUIETEST, yet most collaborative group. I tell them they have to find a way to communicate with their partner without saying a word.
FREE 3-Digit Subtraction with Regrouping Task Cards
These FREE 3 Digit Subtraction with Regrouping task cards are perfect for your next scoot. Just hang them around the room and let students get to solving.
4. Play Charades as a Vocabulary Review
This is one of my favorite activities to engage students! I know your students will love participating in this fun vocabulary review strategy. Every Thursday I give a group of 3-4 students a vocabulary word. (I whisper it in their ear so no other group can hear it.)
Students brainstorm a mini skit (30 seconds to 1 minute) that will help the rest of the class guess what word they are acting out. The students get so creative with this and even incorporate props from around the room! It’s a fun vocabulary review activity that involves movement right before Friday test days.
5. Play a Jenga Review Game
Here’s another one of my favorite ways to incorporate movement in the classroom. Review Jenga is perfect to use during literacy and math centers. Students have to answer the questions on the corresponding cards in order to move a game piece. This review game is a great hands on learning opportunity for students.
6. Create a Learning “Hut”
St.Patrick’s Day happened to land on the week right before state testing this school year. I knew that my students only had a week to prep for the test, but also wanted them to enjoy the holiday! So, I set up themed centers to review each of the skills that would be on the test.
One of their favorite centers was the “Leprechaun Cave.” All I did was hang a green tablecloth over my reading corner to create a little ‘hut’ and it was an instant hit.
Students worked on elapsed time in the hut with a student teacher. (I would recommend supervision in that center since you can’t really see what’s going on inside.) They had so much fun they didn’t even realize they were prepping for the test!
7. Make an Interactive Graphic Organizer
I’m sure we are all huge fans of graphic organizers. I use them all the time– especially during reading instruction. However, they do get a little repetitive and sometimes it’s nice to just change it up a bit. So, I grabbed two hula hoops and created a life-sized graphic organizer.
I typed up character traits to match two of the characters in our weekly story. The students compared the characters in order to determine where each trait belonged. This activity provides hands on learning for kinesthetic learners allowing them to experience movement in the classroom.
8. Host a Bucket Scoot
Similar to scooting around the room, this activity has students scoot their way to different buckets to incorporate movement in the classroom. To start, place buckets around the room; you may even want to hide them for some extra fun!
At each bucket, students must pick up the question inside, answer it (provide recording sheets so they have a place to answer) and move on to the next bucket. Yet another fun way to engage students by adding movement!
9. Flashlight Fridays to Encourage Reading
Every Friday morning, students are encouraged to bring a flashlight to school and grab a book. We ditch morning work and just spend some time soaking up a good book! The thought of reading in the dark sparks immediate engagement making this one of my favorite activities to engage students.
10. Take Learning Outdoors!
I love taking learning outside. It’s a nice change of scenery especially for students who can’t sit still.
I grabbed some picnic tablecloths and baskets and took our math review outside. I simply cut up the review sheet into strips, placed them inside the baskets, and had groups of four work together to solve them. We then debriefed the answers as a group while we enjoyed eating popsicles.
More Engaging Strategies to Add Movement in the Classroom
Kids will be kids! We can’t expect them to sit at a desk all day without acting up or getting off-task. I hope these engaging strategies involving movement in the classroom can help you spice up your instruction.
Looking for more fun classroom activities for elementary students? Check out this post about how to keep students engaged from my friend Courtney.