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Top 12 Classroom Fitness Activities
The teachhub team.
- August 3, 2012
The new school year brings the same mindset as New Year’s Day. You can apply that annual fitness fervor to you classroom as you make new school year resolutions . Getting active in the classroom will help students improve their health, their focus, and ultimately their academic performance. Here are the top 12 classroom fitness activities for you and your students to try.
Jumping Jacks & Bouncy Chairs
This is a simple technique for any age or subject. As you review concepts, have students stand next to their desks. Instead of raising their hands to volunteer, students will do a jumping jack. Award points to encourage participation! You can also rotate a few of those exercise balls to replace students’ chairs. Rotate them around the classroom throughout the day.
Hop Scotch Math & Spelling
Either using sidewalk chalk or a number/letter mat, have students answer questions by jumping on the correct number or letters. Students can still work out the problem at their desk if they are more complicated, but you can use this movement method to announce the correct answer.
Act Out Stories
First, choose or create a story with a lot of action. Before you start the story, explain to students that they are going to act out the movements in the story. Practice these actions with students, showing them how to run in place, pretend to swim, and any other relevant action. As you read, students will have to listen attentively to catch the actions and then demonstrate the movement you already practiced.
Classroom Warm-ups & Fitness Breaks
Establish a routine between activities in which you do something physical. Whether it’s a quick classroom stretch, walking around the room, or even a few jumping jacks, this can be a great way to start the class off right or pump some energy into dozing students.
Smart Board Fitness Games
The Smart Board is a great resource for integrating physical activity into your learning. On the most basic level, Smart Boards can get students up, walking to the board, and stretching as they move elements around the board.
Acting Out Scientific Concepts
It’s time to convert potential energy into kinetic energy with big movement in your science classrooms. There is endless potential to have students demonstrate scientific concepts or vocabulary through movement.
For example, have students:
- Act as electrons doing different kinds of bonding or breaking off as chemical reactions take place
- Imitate animals within different species as they identify the species, class, etc.
- Play science charades with your latest vocabulary terms (tons of possibilities for animals, plants, weather, etc.)
Teach Measurement Through Jumping
Jumping can add activity to the study of measurements, data collection, and number order. Students first mark the measurements on the ground either with yard sticks or masking tape. Then, they’ll take turns jumping and recording their jump distances on the board.
Students can compare jumps between each other, compare a standing jump to a running jump, or any other variation of ideas to practice comparing numbers. More advanced students can then use the collected units to create graphs or equations.
Wii Classroom Activities
Teachers around the country are engaging their students both mentally and physically by using Wii games for learning. Some are using Wii sports games for fitness and to integrate into their curriculum.
Historical & Cultural Movement
Each culture and historical period has different dances, popular sports/games, or even day-to-day activities to survive. Try these out as a class. As you compare different countries, regions, or time periods, you can try out their different dances, from Spain’s flamenco to Hawaii’s hula to the 1920’s swing.
Review vocabulary or curriculum concepts by assigning students concepts/vocab to act out for the class. It’s all about getting students up and moving.
Fight Childhood Obesity for Better Test Results
Studies have shown that students struggling with childhood obesity are also performing worse in school. School-wide changes can sometimes be at fault, with the elimination of recess and physical activity in the classroom. Experts recommend 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily to prevent obesity in children. Learn more about the importance of physical education here .
Get Active Student Project
Encourage students to get moving outside of school as well. Assign them to track their TV time, computer time, and physical activity for a week. For the following week, challenge them to double their activity time for the next week and chart it again. Not only will this encourage kids to be more active, but they’ll also practice goal setting, data tracking and organizational skills.
- #ClassroomActivities , #Fitness
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Classroom Physical Activity Breaks
Schools and teachers looking to integrate physical activity both in and out of the classroom should start with a few initial steps and considerations before implementing a new or enhancing an existing program.
- Engage and leverage your school health team to identify key opportunities for student physical activity as well as any significant barriers to successful implementation.
- Understand your local school wellness policy and how it supports or enhances opportunities for brain breaks and classroom energizers.
- Develop your elevator pitch to describe to your different audiences why physical activity is important and how it links to academic achievement as well as other positive outcomes.
- Get your principal’s approval! A supportive principal is essential to your efforts.
- Make this activity inclusive for all abilities:
- Empower students to suggest and choose which activities, games and movements they find enjoyable and accessible.
- Get to know your students and find out about their abilities, limitations, and interests. Encourage them to be a part of the learning and lesson planning process.
- Demonstrate modifications of simple and complex movement skills such as jumping jacks, squats, and push-ups. For example, show students a wall push-up, a kneeling push-up, and a full push-up. Give students the opportunity to choose which option is best.
- Adapt the game or activity rules. Some simple suggestions include reducing the number of players on a team, modifying the activity area, eliminating time limits, and lowering or enlarging targets or goals.
- Try creative or team-building games where success is only possible when the whole group works together.
- Integrate various types and sizes of equipment such as tactile balls, juggling scarves, numbered spot markers, and foam noodles.
- Vary body parts used, the speed of movement, and number of repetitions to adjust for mobility limitations or low fitness students.
- Mobility adaptations: Some activities may be done from a seated position allowing mobility challenged students to participate with peers or doing similar motions with hands/arms as others are doing with feet legs.
- Sensory adaptations: Students with deafness, speech, self-management or cognitive problems may be able to participate fully in a follow the leader manner. These are very short periods of activity and done in groups of fewer than thirty so students are able to keep up to peers.
Social Emotional Health Highlights
Activities such as these help students explore…
Self-Management: Classroom Physical Activity breaks provide the perfect opportunity for students and teachers to organize their thoughts to better manage stress and control impulses. Release the wiggles with a dance or two and give students are an opportunity to check-in with their emotions and get motivated to continue working towards their goals.
Responsible Decision Making: Taking a classroom activity break can be a great way to redirect attention and antsy behavior to a fun, interactive activity or game. Sometimes all children need is a short opportunity to analyze the current situation, reflect, and responsibly choose their next action. Physical Activity breaks in the classroom provide students an opportunity to practice these skills while increasing to energize the brain.
Participate with your students in the activity. Students will be more likely to join in and have fun if they see their school community moving with them.
Keep physical activity breaks short and manageable. Shoot for 1 – 5 minute breaks at least 2-3 times per day.
Ask teachers and school administrators to share and demonstrate their favorite activities, games, and movement ideas during staff meetings throughout the school year.
Create a classroom atmosphere that embraces movement! Consider playing age and culturally appropriate music.
Integrate physical activity into academic concepts when possible.
Encourage your physical education teacher to be a movement leader and advocate.
Empower students by asking them to share and lead their own physical activity break ideas.
Add in fun equipment items such as beanbags, spot markers, yoga mats, and balance boards. Consider applying for a Game On grant !
Add physical activity breaks right into your daily schedule. Try creating a classroom physical activity calendar of events that includes a variety of ideas throughout the month. Use a classroom physical activity tracker to help your students reach 10 minutes daily!
Ask a parent volunteer create a playlist of music that complements planned movement breaks.
Ask parents to create movement break activity cards and props for teachers to use.
For more activities and ideas like this one, be sure to sign up for our news and updates . And if you like what you see, please donate to support our work creating more ways to help build a healthier future for kids.
Categories: Physical Activity & Play , At School , Digital Resource
Active Classrooms (NOW)
Classroom Physical Activity Boosts
Welcome classroom teachers.
- This landing page is designed to help give you and your students a much needed physical activity boost every day.
- Download the activity card, watch the video, and start moving.
- Students can stand up and move at their desks or play along via video meeting.
- Look for new activities each month.
- View our Pre-COVID Active Classroom Page for more ideas.
Learn more about the Building Brains and Bodies with Active Classrooms Professional Development
Looking for free Social and Emotional Learning resources? Visit BelieveInYou.com!
Join the Teacher Learning School FREE. Get instant access to this Active Classroom training. Complete the course and receive a certificate documenting 1.0 hour of professional learning.
Unlocked Activity Boosts: (no login required)
- 20 Questions [ PDF , VIDEO ]
- 30-Second Animal Jumps [ PDF , VIDEO ]
- 30-Second Jump Routine [ PDF , VIDEO ]
- Animal Charades [ PDF , VIDEO ]
- Animal Dance Party [ PDF , VIDEO ]
- Bean Bag Brain Boosts [ PDF, VIDEOS ]
- Best Foot Forward [ PDF , VIDEO ]
- Body Shapes [ PDF , VIDEO ]
- Elevator Game [ PDF , VIDEO ]
- Exercise Word Scrambler [ PDF , VIDEO , CARD ]
- Favorite Song Workout [ PDF , VIDEO ]
- Academic Language Glossary [ PDF , WORD ]
- Alphabet Animal Cards [ PDF , WORD , PPT ]
- Exercise Word Scrambler Card [ WORD DOC ]
- Fitness Categories Card [ WORD DOC ]
- Nutrition Education Fortune Tellers [ LINK , VIDEO ]
- MyPlate Nutrition Education Activities [ LINK ]
- Timed Interval Music [ Apple , Spotify ]
- High-5 Breathing [ PDF , VIDEO ]
- Equal Breathing [ PDF , VIDEO ]
More Unlocked Boosts:
- Fitness Categories [ PDF , VIDEO , CARD ]
- Mirror, Mirror [ PDF , VIDEO ]
- Once, Twice, SHOW! [ PDF , VIDEO ]
- Red Light, Green Light [ PDF , VIDEO ]
- Red Starfish, Blue Fish [ PDF , VIDEO ]
- RPS Victory Chegg [ PDF , VIDEO ]
- RPS Victor Dance [ PDF , VIDEO ]
- Sports Charades [ PDF , VIDEO ]
- Yes or No Body Language [ PDF , VIDEO ]
DEAM Classroom Routines: Drop Everything And Move
- August [ PDF , VIDEO Coming Soon] NEW!
- September [ PDF , VIDEO Coming Soon] NEW!
- October [ PDF , VIDEO ]
- November [ PDF ]
- December [ PDF , VIDEO ]
- January [ PDF ]
- February [ PDF , VIDEO ]
- March [ PDF , VIDEO ]
- April [ PDF , VIDEO ]
- May [ PDF , VIDEO ]
- June [ PDF , VIDEO ]
Do you need more activities for physical distancing? Download Movement Made for NOW !
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The Benefits of Physical Activity and Exercise in the Classroom
- Wednesday, March 15, 2023
- by: Fresno Pacific University Staff
Teachers can help improve those statistics. They occupy a unique position of influence in a child’s life. By getting their students moving while building a positive learning environment and teaching valuable life skills, educators can inspire their students to exercise in the classroom and live active healthier lives.
Teachers can learn how to incorporate physical activity and social-emotional learning opportunities into the classroom with the Social Emotional Learning Through Sports and Physical Education course from Fresno Pacific University. Participants in the course explore many physical activity opportunities available to their students and encourage a less sedentary lifestyle.
“Educators should take this course because Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is critically important in today's schools and classrooms,” said Bill Cockerham, Ph.D., the course instructor. “This is also true for the athletic field or physical education gymnasium. Students will learn how to create and support an environment that promotes SEL principles.”
With the course, teachers also earn professional development credits applicable to earning a Social Emotional Learning certificate .
The Lack of Physical Activity Is Growing
According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), experts estimate less than 24% of children between the ages of six and 17 in the United States participate in 60 minutes of physical activity per day.
At school, time spent in physical education has been reduced in recent years, and some activities are no longer done out of safety concerns. The CDC reports that in 2017, only 51.7% of high school students attended physical education classes in an average week, and only 29.9% did so daily.
Those are important issues to address because routine physical activity is tied to so many good health outcomes.
The Benefits of Physical Activity
Getting active and moving more during the day helps students in a variety of ways.
In a guide for classrooms, the CDC reports that regular physical activity helps children maintain cardiorespiratory fitness, build strong bones and muscles and control weight. It also can reduce the risk of developing heart conditions, cancer, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.
Mental Health Benefits
The benefits of physical activity don’t stop with physical health. According to the CDC, getting more active can also help children better control their anxiety and depression, as well as increase self-esteem. Studies also have shown that routine exercise proves especially beneficial for students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, including an association with reduced use of medications.
Physical activity also leads to better students. When they routinely exercise, the CDC reports that students in the classroom
- Improve concentration and ability to stay on-task in the classroom
- Reduce disruptive behavior, such as fidgeting
- Improve their motivation and engagement in the learning process
- Improve their academic performance, getting higher grades and test scores.
What Teachers Can Do
Teachers can find many resources through the CDC and online sites created by teachers that offer strategies to get kids moving in class . Some of these ideas include
- Movement-based learning stations . Students stand, walk and move around at these stations while learning.
- Ball-toss spelling . Students toss a ball to each other for each letter in a word.
- Morning Motion Movement . Integrating a series of light exercises into the morning routine, such as yoga or Pilates
- Nature Walks
- Dancing to popular songs
- Creative workstations . These desks offer students the ability to move, including desks with pedal stations or seats that swivel.
The CDC, SHAPE America, the National Academy of Medicine and other national organizations also offer advice for schools in helping children reach 60 minutes of physical activity every day. They include these guidelines.
- Do not replace physical education/recess with classroom physical activity
- Integrate physical activity into planned academic instruction to reinforce academic concepts
- Provide physical activity, such as physical activity breaks, outside of planned academic instruction
- Ensure that barriers to classroom physical activity, such as lack of equipment or available space, are minimized
- Do not withhold classroom physical activity from students as a disciplinary approach
- Physical activities should include all students, regardless of ability
Tying Physical Activity to Social-Emotional Learning
While the FPU course provides teachers with ideas on engaging activities to get students moving, it also gives them strategies to help students build SEL skills.
These skills set students up for life-long success. They include developing a growth mindset, honing the ability to focus, regulating emotions, setting goals and learning the importance of preparation and practice.
Teachers also learn SHAPE America's national standards and grade-level outcomes for K-12 physical education that define what is considered a “physically literate” student. Those standards include exhibiting responsible personal and social behavior that respects self and others, a centerpiece of SEL.
Other standards include competency in various motor skills and movement patterns; applying knowledge of concepts, principles, strategies and tactics related to movement and performance. Taken together, these competencies demonstrate the knowledge and skills to achieve and maintain a health-enhancing level of physical activity and fitness.
Cockerham noted that Fresno Pacific University's professional development courses allow teachers to “implement what you learn in your course today into your classroom tomorrow.” The course offers teachers the chance to learn stress-reduction techniques for both themselves and their students.
Other courses that address physical activity include teaching Lifetime Fitness , Active Bodies, Healthy Minds and Walking For Fitness.
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33 Energizing Physical Education Activities For Elementary Learners
February 23, 2023 // by Brittney Hallmark
Physical education is the best part of the day for many children! They love moving around and getting a break from sitting in the classroom. Physical education classes should be fun and allow some creative options for students that offer alternatives to sedentary behavior. Physical education teachers can really add some variety to their fitness lessons by incorporating everyday items. Check out these 33 energizing ideas to enhance the activity time in your elementary physical education classes!
1. Noodle Hockey
Give each student a different color pool noodle and allow them to play a safe game of noodle hockey. Choose a grassy area and provide a small ball for them to try to get and get into goalposts.
Learn More: My Baba
2. Ninja Warrior Course
Creating a ninja warrior course in your gym may be the highlight of the day for your physical education classes. This is a smart addition to your physical activity program because it includes many different skills and can help improve agility, flexibility, and friendly competition.
Learn More: SSWW
3. Balloon Tennis
If you need a quick and easy idea to use with your physical education classes, try this one! You can create this game with paper plates, balloons, and a plastic spoon. Simply hit the balloons up with the makeshift paddle and keep them in the air.
Learn More: Pinterest
4. Fitness Dice
This activity is ideal for younger students like kindergarten-2nd grade. As they are improving the development of motor skills, they can make it into a fun game to practice these activities. When they roll the dice, they will do the corresponding exercise.
Learn More: Homeschool Here
5. Survivor Tag
Always a fun game for students, this is a twist on the classic game of tag because if a student gets tagged, they will sit down in that spot. They must watch the person who tagged them and if that person is tagged, then they can stand up and run again. This will become a favorite recess game as well!
6. Rock, Paper, Scissors Tag
This is an enjoyable game for a physical education class. You play rock, paper, scissors. The loser remains frozen while the winner runs to the next person. Once you play and win, you are unfrozen and you get to run to find someone else to play with again.
Learn More: Grade Onederful
7. Race to the Galaxy Game
If you include this game in your lesson plans, students will have the opportunity to play a fun, racing game. They will have to run and find their matching bean bags and beat the other teams to get all the items. The trick is that they must avoid stepping in “lava” and getting caught in hula hoops along the way.
8. Plant the Trees Agility Game
This is a fun game for improving agility. Classroom teachers may even have students play this at recess. When the whistle blows, students will run to the opposite side and pick up bean bags; bringing them back to their side. Students cannot throw them and are only allowed to pick them up one at a time.
Learn More: Prime Coaching Sport
9. Fruit Salad Dodge Ball
This is a survival game of dodgeball where some students are placed in the center and must try to avoid being hit with the ball. If they are hit, they must move outside the circle. This is a great game to play with class sizes of at least ten students.
10. Heads or Tails
Give pairs of students a coin and have them toss the coin to determine which activities to do during class time. This is a perfect idea for an elementary PE teacher to use on a day when you don’t have time to prep for other fitness lessons. This is also a good way to get students warmed up at the start of activity time.
11. Scooter Obstacle Course
Kids love scooters! This is a physical activity that students will love! Design an obstacle course that students can participate in while riding their scooters. The location for this activity must be in the gym so that the scooters are able to slide across the floor.
Learn More: Meraki Lane
12. Hungry Human Hippos
If your class goal is to have fun, you must include this activity! Give students a scooter, have them lie on their bellies, and use a laundry basket to collect balls in the center of the gym floor!
Learn More: The Chaos and the Clutter
13. Cone Race
This activity is geared toward kids in 1st grade and younger. They will work on motor skills as they try to place cut-up pool noodles over tall plastic pipes or broom handles placed into cones to hold them steady. This will also help with color recognition as students place the coordinating colors together.
Learn More: Kids Art & Craft
14. Musical Hoops
This musical movement activity is a variation of musical chairs, but when the music stops, students must rush to stand inside a hula hoop. The teacher continues to take them away as the students progress through the rounds. Add a new level of difficulty by having students do a specific locomotor movement or stand inside the hula hoops in a specific pose.
Learn More: The Physical Educator
15. The Caterpillar Scooter Game
A great game for improving teamwork and listening skills; this caterpillar game is fun for all! Have students use their coordination skills to join together and form a long line while staying on their scooters. Then, they must figure out how to keep moving the line toward a goal point.
Learn More: The Inspired Treehouse
16. Spider Web Scooter Crawl
This activity will require some setup ahead of time. Create a spider web out of yarn and have students use coordination skills to work their way through the maze. They must lift the yarn and duck underneath it to make their way through the maze and stay on their scooters.
17. Jump Rope
Jumping rope is a favorite for kids of all ages! Even your 3rd-grade and 4th-grade students will enjoy this. You can even make this a music movement activity by adding some songs to this center for students to chant as they jump. Allow students to wear a pedometer to keep an accurate step count of their activity!
Learn More: Pinterest
18. Parachute Fun
Little ones love playing with parachutes! You can encourage students to work together and hold the handles of the parachute to move it up and down to go under and back out or move together to keep a monster ball in the air!
Learn More: Mom Junction
19. Scooter Board Relay
Divide your class into teams for this relay activity! Have students use the scooters under their feet and get to a checkpoint where they will pass off the scooter to the next student in line. The team who makes it to the finish line first will win!
Learn More: Keeping Kids in Motion
20. Mario Kart Battle Boards
If you want a fun and crazy ball game for students to enjoy and request again, introduce this game of Mario Kart Battle Boards. Students creep around mats that are standing upright. The “villains” try to hit the good guys’ battle boards and knock off a tennis ball sitting atop a cone on top of a scooter.
Learn More: PE Universe
21. Scooter Board Jumping
This is a good activity for preschool through 1st grade. Students will use the scooter to move around and push their feet against a wall to help them jump from a sitting position. This is a good way to strengthen leg muscles and practice using scooters.
Learn More: Pink Oatmeal
22. Wall Ball
Wall ball is a favorite activity of 4th and 5th-grade kiddos! Simply throwing the ball onto the wall and catching it to throw it back again is appealing to them. They can also enjoy this activity by kicking the ball instead of throwing it.
23. Topple Tube
This game involves two teams each trying to flip cups to their color. This can also be done using wooden blocks with different colors on each end. The teams run around, flipping the color of their team so that it’s on top of the other team’s color. This is a difficult task, as the other team is also doing this. The team with the most of their color flipped up by the end of the game is the winning team!
Learn More: Gopher
Try a game of soccer. This will help with running and coordination as they are learning to control the ball while moving down the field. Two teams will play against each other, each team heading for the other’s goal, using only their feet to kick the ball toward the goal.
Learn More: ABCDee Learning
25. Portable Balance Games
This is perfect for all physical activity levels! It will incorporate balance and gross motor skills as students walk along the upside-down buckets. Be sure to line them up in a way that is more difficult than just a straight line.
Learn More: Sleeping Should be Easy
26. Table Top Tennis
This activity will be great for older students in elementary school or middle school. This will require more advanced motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Physical education lessons like this are a break from the typical activities they may be used to. They can simply play ping pong with straws and cups.
Learn More: What Do We Do All Day
Cornhole is a great physical activity for elementary students. This helps students learn how to use hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills. Students will toss the beanbags onto the game board; aiming for the cutout. This is good for physical education lessons that will progress to throwing and catching.
28. Cops and Robbers Tag
Elementary school physical education wouldn’t be complete without the game of tag! This is a good game to play at the start of the year to help teach physical activity behaviors. Use this cops and robbers version of the tag to teach students how to do a soft touch and not hurt others when playing. Cops simply chase the robbers!
Learn More: Kid Activities
29. Dizzy Kickball
This is a fun and funny game to play! With a twist on the traditional game of kickball, students will close their eyes and spin around a few times before they have their turn to kick a ball. Then, they must run to their base just like in traditional kickball.
Learn More: Scholastic
30. Air Pong
Physical education lessons that can combine many skills are the best! This game of air pong is a fun way to use coordination skills and motor skills. Students must hit the ball onto their opponent’s mat. They must be careful to not hit it out of bounds.
Learn More: Be Well Played
31. Rabbit Hole
This game is ideal for any physical activity level. Students will enter into the space of a hula hoop; being mindful to avoid knocking down the hula hoop balanced on top of cones. Then, students will sneak out; pretending to be rabbits and making sure they aren’t captured by the fox.
32. Jellyfish Scooter Tag
Scooter tag is a fun game for all ages! Students can be separated into teams and sit on different colored scooters as they zip around the court, tagging the opposite teams. Tagged team members must then retire to the side of the court. The team with the most members at the end of the game wins!
33. Throw and Catch Tic-Tac-Toe
This is a fun game of catch and tic, tac, toe. Students must work in pairs as one stands in a hula hoop and waits to catch the ball from their teammate. If they catch it, they add their color to the tic-tac-toe board. If they drop it, the other teams go. The first team to get three in a row wins!
Learn More: The PE Shed