This year, the Farmingdale School District implemented an elementary school initiative to get K-5 students moving in the classroom during their learning time. A committee of teachers, administrators, board of education members, and the district’s athletic director worked together to design a curriculum that would incorporate “healthy-mind healthy-body” habits into everyday lesson plans—and it’s proving to be a great success!
A list of interactive games and academic activities were devised by the committee for elementary school teachers to use at their discretion, depending on their day and lesson plan. Many of the classroom activities are timed to tie-in with the district’s physical education units.
The initiative gets children out from behind their desks to engage in math, spelling, science, and motor skill activities. Movement during the school day teaches children the value of daily exercise and gives them a “brain break.” Short bursts of increased physical activity and/or meditative mind breaks have been proven to boost productivity and improve behavior.
A number of teachers have also designed their own movement instructional classroom activities. At Northside Elementary School, fifth-grade teacher Regina Bates incorporated their school initiative—Northside’s Five Keys to Success (respect, kindness, honesty, perseverance, responsibility) into her kinesthetic approach to teaching. She challenged students to interpret each key into a physical representation. They came up with a disco pose for respect, a touch to the heart for kindness, a thumbs up for honesty, a muscle kiss for perseverance, and the floss dance move for responsibility. Her students love practicing the keys this way. “If they are engaged in the lesson, they are more likely to remember it,” said Ms. Bates.
At Albany Avenue, first grade teacher Jacqueline Brown uses a tool called Go Noodle to keep her students engaged between subjects. Whenever her class needs an energy lift or a calming moment she streams a short video on her white board from the Go Noodle collection. This helps focus her students attention and strengthens the community feeling in her classroom. “Kids love to dance,” said Ms. Brown. “This is like a reward and it keeps them happy.”
Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources and Administration Glen Zakian (and former physical education teacher) said, “We’re thrilled to present a curriculum that not only supports the teachers and the lessons they are presenting to their students, but also ignites the mind and body in a positive direction each and every day.”