Activity Break: 5 Ways to Add a Burst of Physical Activity to your Classroom


Adding bursts of physical activity to your lessons can be great for students' attention span and health. I love using activity breaks in between lessons as a way to reboot students' concentration. Students enjoy them and they help show kids how being active can be fun.

The National Association of Sport and Physical Education states,

Physical activity breaks during the school day provide children and youth an opportunity to be active and take a break from sedentary activities in the classroom (e.g. sitting, reading). Physical activity breaks can increase daily physical activity levels of youth, and leave them more focused and ready to return to their academic studies. Integrating physical activity into classroom learning provides another opportunity to infuse meaningful activity during the school day. Physical activity in the classroom helps activate the brain, improve on-task behavior during academic instruction time, and increases daily in-school physical activity levels among children. Classroom teachers have the potential to influence children's healthy behaviors and lifetime choices by including bouts of physical activity into the total learning experience, and in turn, maximize student learning during academic activities that are mostly sedentary.

Here are 5 'Activity Break' ideas that are simple to incorporate into your classroom:

1. Acting Out: Read a paragraph or page of a book, and every time an action verb comes up, the students have to act it out.

2. Stand Up for Vocabulary: Create a poem or song using vocabulary words that all start with the same letter. Every time a word starting with that letter is said or sung have students stand up or sit down.

3. Animal Instincts: Pick one student to call out an animal and have everyone mimic how that animal moves. Go around the room until every student has an opportunity to call out an animal and the class has mimicked that animal.

4. Train Like a Pro: Have students emulate various sports for 10-15 seconds each:

  • kick a field goal
  • shoot a jump shot
  • run through tires
  • swing a bat
  • serve a tennis ball
  • downhill skiing
  • spike a volleyball
  • swing a golf club
  • throw a football
  • shoot an arrow
  • shoot a hockey puck
  • swim

5. Take a Seat!: Have students stand up and pull their chairs away from their desks. They should stand in front of their chair (seat facing out). Have students quickly sit, then stand, sit then stand 8-10 times. Next, quickly repeat sitting halfway down and standing, repeating 8-10 times. Last, have students barely sit (just touching the chair) and stand quickly repeating 8-10 times. This activity is part of our Way to Grow Program, which provides a classroom lesson, additional activities, and student assignments. Enjoy!

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