Quick and Easy Movement Breaks for Distance Learning

Kindergarten Cafe

Welcome to Kindergarten Cafe - your home for teaching ideas, activities, and strategies across all content areas! I am Zeba McGibbon and I love creating resources for teachers and sharing my teaching experience with others. Kindergarten Cafe is aimed for kindergarten, but teachers of Preschool-First grade can find resources here for their students! I love to connect with other teachers so please reach out and say hello!

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No matter if you are teaching in a classroom or on a computer, your students will need movement beaks and your normal movement breaks might not work in this new setting. Here are my favorite go-to activities to use with students!

P.S. Some of these slides and visuals are available in my Basic Morning Meeting Slides product!

Why movement breaks?

Can you sit still all day? I don’t know about you, but I certainly can’t! I need to get up and move often! We can’t expect our students to sit still all day – it’s not developmentally appropriate and it’s not going to help them do their best learning. Movement breaks are a quick and easy way to get the group to take a break and get their bodies moving. They can be done for fun, for community building, to reinforce academics, or all of the above!

Stand up, sit down

This is such a fun and easy movement break or activity to play! You will say a statement and if it’s true, students stand up, but if it’s false, students will sit down. I love to use this at the beginning of the year to get to know students.

I might say statements like:

  • Stand up if you like chocolate ice cream
  • Stand up if you play soccer
  • Stand up if you have a pet dog

It’s a fun way to get to know about the students and for them to get to know about their classmates. It’s also a really easy activity to connect academics to it.

For example, you could say math facts and if the answer is true than the students will stand up.

  • One more than 5 is 6
  • 2+2 = 3

You could also connect it to phonics:

  • Rhyme: Bob, Dog? Chair, bear?
  • Stand up if your name has 3 syllables in it
  • If you change the last letter in cat to p, it says cap

Shake down movement break

This is a quick and easy movement break if you notice your students getting wiggly. It also doesn’t take up too much room so students can do it easily this year. The class will shake the right arm 5 times (I usually just do 5, but you could do any number up to 10 if you wanted) and with each shake they count backwards. Then, they do the same with the left arm, followed by the right leg, and finishing with the left leg. Once you do all the body parts, you back to the right arm and shake it 4 times. Each new round you take away a shake until you get to 0.

This is a fun one to have students lead. When students lead, I like to give them a choice to do it in English or another language they know. This is a fun way to learn and appreciate the many languages your students may have. Since it follows the same pattern each time, your students will still know what to do. I also like my native English speakers to have a chance to experience doing an activity that’s led in a different language. This can help them start to understand what their English Language Learners experience every day.

You can also connect it to different math skills by counting up or down by 2s, 5s, or 10s. For older students, you could do multiplication facts. For younger students you could trade off counting forwards and counting backwards.

You could also do this with spelling high-frequency words but each shake you take away a letter (like the BINGO song).

I Spy /  Scavenger Hunt movement break

I explained how to do this as a greeting, but it can also easily be used as a quick activity or movement break. You can either take turns “spying” things around the classroom or in each other’s computer screens. You could also make it more of a scavenger hunt where you call out a category for them to find. This is where it is very easy to incorporate academics.

For example, you could have them find numbers or shapes around the classroom or at home. They could actually go and get it or just point to it. I personally, find it easier to manage if they just point and then you ask them what they found. However, your students might need more of a break so you might want them to actually walk around their house and find something.

You could also connect this to literacy by asking your students to find things that start with a certain letter/sound, or something that ends with a letter/sound.

Freeze!

A classic and a favorite! You can play freeze dance or just freeze. In a regular game of freeze, students are walking around or making small movements in their spots until you call, “Freeze!” After you call freeze, they have to freeze in a certain position. I like to use them to have them freeze like a statue that’s following one of our class promises. For example, I tell them to freeze like they are taking care of others or taking care of the classroom. Then we can talk about different ways to follow that class promise. It’s an easy way to reinforce the expectations. In this example, I asked students to freeze showing different emotions. You could also connect to academics by freezing in different science or social studies content areas. For example, freeze like the ladybug larvae.

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

Another classic! A super easy and quick movement break! Sing the classic song and have students do the movements. Then do it again very slowwwwlllyyyyyy and then finally do it very fast! Everyone has fun and it gets them moving and quickly back to their work again!

Opposite Game

This is a great way to practice executive function skills. You will tell the students one direction, but they will have to do the opposite (obviously you will have to model and practice this first!). For example, if you tell them to stand up, they should sit down instead. Other command partners you could do are walk/stand still, dance/freeze, speak/quiet, etc. You could also connect this to different content areas by choosing a symbol for a vocabulary word and then one for the opposite. For example, add/subtract, period/exclamation mark, plant/seed, etc.

Yoga

Sometimes, your students need to move but you don’t want to get them to excited. Yoga is a great option for this. There are lots of options for movements you can do, but I love to use these Alphabet Yoga cards (click below for an Amazon Affiliate Link) to connect my quick movement break to phonics.

Conclusion

While we may not be able to use our go-to movement breaks in this new socially distanced or remote classroom, children still need movement breaks. There are lots of fun and easy breaks that can easily connect to academics for extra practice! Let me know which one was your favorite!

Looking for other tips for distance learning? Check out these posts on morning meeting, greetings and activities, and google slides!

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Emma Hayes

There I was in a hot yoga studio with plenty of bright natural light and bending myself into pretzel like positions for the very first time.

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