As educators know firsthand, for many students, sitting still all day in a traditional classroom setting is a challenging task. For younger children especially, the need to move around and expend energy is a natural behavior. Unfortunately, there have been increasing calls in some school districts around the country to cut recess time in favor of additional classroom time. However, according to research from the American Academy of Pediatrics, physical outlets for children help them both better retain information and practice essential social and emotional skills.
Instead of automatically viewing a child as troublesome, it is likely that their restlessness is completely normal. In this way, by incorporating active breaks within your classroom, you can mitigate disruptions in class. Read below for a few engaging activities you can try today!
1. Mindfulness Exercises
An engaging activity does not always have to involve physical activity. Mindfulness exercises like short seated meditation sessions have been shown by the Boston Charter Research Collaborative to increase a child’s ability to focus and regulate their emotions. While seated meditation is the most common way to practice mindfulness, because each student has unique needs, teachers should allow them to act in a way that is most comfortable for them. If children don’t feel comfortable closing their eyes, allow them to fix their gaze on their palms, shoes or a place in the classroom. What is most important is that a set amount of time is set aside for self-reflection.
2. NIHF STEM Activities
To keep students engaged throughout the school year, the National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) publishes interactive STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activities on our blog and Camp Invention® Facebook page. One of our favorites is called The Great Marble Pass, a game that challenges students to invent creative tools out of upcycled materials to move a marble from one participant to another. By encouraging them to continue improving their device over time, this is also an activity that can be done multiple times throughout the year.
For more creative ideas on how to keep your students engaged throughout the school year, we encourage you to visit our blog. Additionally, we invite you to learn more about our professional development program designed especially for educators looking to bring innovative STEM teaching strategies into their classrooms.