Monday, February 17, 2014

We've Got to Move It, Move It- Motor Kids

There is a lot of brain research that says kids learn better when we give them lots of opportunities to move their bodies.  Over the years I've used various programs to give my students these opportunities during the day.  One great program is Motor Moms and Dads, developed by Nancy Sornson here in Michigan. The reason I don't do Motor Moms and Dads as it is designed any more is because I don't have enough parent volunteers to use in this way.  I also use Brain Gym.  Both the posters and video are helpful in incorporating movement into our day.  This winter, with all the extra snow and below zero temps keeping us inside, I've had extra reason to work on the movement challenge, and I am happy to share I formed two new structures that bring movement into our learning time most days of the week.

The one I'll talk about in this post is the one I've dubbed Motor Kids because it is similar to Motor Moms and Dads, but without the adult. This fifteen minute center takes place during center time, and is broken into five, two and a half minute rotations which the kids do completely independently. Students start at any one of the five stations and go through all of them while at this center. 

Spelling Station- I have a timer on the white board, and the student who is at this cross body spelling station is in charge of hitting the start and stop button for that rotation.  (I love that circled timer from Lakeshore Learning by the way- it's durable and easy to use.)  The student reads and spells the three or four word wall words which I choose to focus on each week, while swinging their arms across their midline to hit the X or O on the form, one letter said with each swing.  When the timer goes off, they press the button to stop it, and everybody rotates stations.  The new person coming over to spell presses the timer to begin again. 

Balance Beam Station- Our balance beam is made of vinyl covered foam, and sits flat on the floor.  I got it at a garage sale for $3--whoot whoot-- but it is similar to this oneYou could also just put masking tape on the floor to make your own.  I sectioned off the beam with masking tape and the students first walk forward and backward, then do a side step, and then do a crossover side step down the beam and back.  They then switch the direction they're facing and repeat the three part routine until time is up. 
Sit and Spin- Students sit and spin while singing a song or reciting a poem-- and yes, I got the Sit and Spin for cheap at a garage sale.  We choose a different song or poem each week.  They switch directions each time they end the song before beginning again, going through the song numerous times in their two and a half minutes.  
Square Dance- This isn't really a dance, but a masking tape square on the floor in which the students move in any way they choose, as long as they stay in the square.  They can run in place, walk or march in place, jump, hop on one foot, do jumping jacks, or even dance-- it is a bit of a hoot to see them choose to dance to whatever song their friend is whisper singing on the nearby sit and spin. 

Rocker Board- Students stand on the rocker board holding a little bucket (the kind from Target's dollar spot) and drop foam discs into another little bucket on the floor.  When they have dropped all ten discs they switch the empty bucket for the full one, picking up any discs that didn't make it in.  They count the discs continuously as they drop them in, sometimes getting past 100.  It is a personal challenge to beat their own records-- you can bet they are aiming as they drop them.   There are various rocker boards on the market, ranging from under $20 to over $100.  

And where is all this taking place, you ask?  I designated five spots in our block corner and imagination station.  I have quite a small classroom so if I can do it, anyone can.  The students do all their spelling, counting, and singing in whisper voices and it is pretty rare that I need to give a reminder-- their energy seems to go into movement, not volume.  They also really enjoy Motor Kids and don't want to lose it because they are interfering with other kids' learning.  I am just feet away doing guided reading at this time, so the students are in plain sight.  It did take several days to learn the routine with my assistance, but it is pretty smooth sailing now.

Look for another post on our Standing Center to get more ideas to keep kids on their feet and moving.

The post We've Got to Move It, Move It- Motor Kids first appeared on


  1. Cool! I completely agree on kids moving about, incorporating fun to promote understanding and learning.

  2. I absolutely believe activity/moving about in classroom is essential to learning. Who can resist fun? Very creative!

  3. Great tips! Thanks for - Leslie


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