If Their Bodies don’t Move their Brains won’t Groove.

How to incorporate more movement into your lessons  

Your pupils’ learning can be greatly enhanced with active learning. Scans of the brain have revealed that activity in the cerebellum is increased during physical, movement. It appears that active learning enhances understanding and recall. Active learning also adds to the enjoyment and many pupils prefer active over passive learning because of the action-orientated lifestyles they lead. The message for teachers is simple – change the body and you change the mind.

How to ensure active learning works

  • Keep the learning activities short
  • Give clear instructions and time limits
  • Use a unique sound to get attention at the end (gong or horn)
  • Incorporate music with an activity and turn it off when the activity is finished
  • Change the activities regularly to keep the learners fresh
  • Always do a debriefing after any learning activity
  • Avoid conversations that drag on aimlessly.

Learning activities to initiate a state change and energise pupils

New Seats

When pupils look as if they need an energy boost, get them to stand up and take twelve large steps to a new seat. Remember to play music during this transition.

Quick Stretch and Breath

Play relaxing background music and lead your class with a few slow stretching movements to wake up the brain.

High Fives

All pupils need positive validation. With upbeat music in the background have everyone find a partner and give then a high five, low five, high ten and a low ten.

Brain Gym Cross-Laterals

Have a great state change with music in the background and pupils playing follow the leader on a variety of brain-gym cross-lateral exercises.

Clapping Game

Energise pupils with empowering music as they play follow the leader. Then divide pupils into groups of six and appoint a leader in each group to lead them into a clapping and dancing rhythm, as they remain seated. Every twenty seconds, introduce a novel sound. The leader quickly points to a new leader and the game continues.

Toy Box

Keep a toy box in the classroom. Stop and give pupils a natural break for five minutes. Ask them to find something from the toy box to play with. Provide play dough, a Frisbee, juggling balls, koosh balls, airplanes and any other toys the pupils will find interesting and appropriate.

Kinesthetic learning activities that embed new content for pupils

Expert Press Conference Review

Divide your class into two teams with one team being the experts and the other team the reporters. The reporter’s job is to interview experts by asking questions on a particular subject. Each team gets ten questions as reporters and the experts can work as a team to answer the questions.

Find a Learning Friend

Ask everyone to find a partner. Set a time limit of two minutes for partners to ask each other three difficult questions about the subject they have just learnt and what they do not yet completely understand.

Relax and Review

Play relaxing music like a ‘Paler Shade of White’ for a great review. After a few deep breaths get pupils to close their eyes and you lead the class into a concise review of the subject learned. Pupils are encouraged to raise their hands and contribute one nugget of information for the learning review.

Advertisement Breaks

Give pupils a collaborative break. Divide the class into two groups and give them time to create a series of short thirty-second advertisements on what they have learnt. At various times during the week, stop and ask pupils to present their adverts.

Partner Up and Share

Have each pupil choose a partner. Ask one partner to teach the key concepts of what was learnt today. After three minutes stop and let the other partner discuss any concepts they have not completely understood from the lesson. Provide a debriefing on any areas not yet completely understood.

Snowball Fight

Each pupil writes one question they do not know the answer to on a piece of paper and rolls the paper up into a ball. Pupils then get thirty seconds to have a snow fight, trying to hit as many other pupils as possible with their snowballs. Each pupil then picks up the snowball closest to them and has to speak to three or four pupils to find the answer to the question. A debriefing session is facilitated to answer all the questions at the end of the lesson.

Clinton Lamprecht founded the School of Accelerated Learning and since then has trained thousands of teaching and training professionals in brain-compatible learning strategies worldwide. A degree in psychology, a thesis in accelerated learning, an NLP Trainer and over 10 years’ experience in training and learning confirms he brings with him a rich perspective and experience in accelerated learning that will rarely be matched.

All of our tips have practical relevance and proven success in the classroom. For more tips, sign up to our bi-monthly e-newsletter, which is packed with strategies for effective teaching .

This article first appeared in Teaching Expertise, July 2005.