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Integrating Movement into the Classroom

Classroom Management 


New Member
Hello all! I am a preservice teacher and as I am preparing to start student teaching I would love to know how you all integrate movement into your lessons. Pertaining to integrating movement into lessons, how do you ensure students are focused throughout and after the movement? Thank you in advance for all of your ideas and help!


Senior Member
What a great question. I think kids need to move often. A few hints:
*throw in a few jumping jacks (or other exercise) between subjects
*act out—as physically as possible—moments from history
*bring in a class pedometer or Fitbit, 1 kid a day wears it and steps are recorded at the end of the day (good for graphing)
*I had 1 part of a lesson sitting on the floor and another in seats


Senior Member
As part of our morning meeting ( 4th grade) we always play a game that includes some movement- 4 corners, 7 up ( or 5 up if a smaller sized class), Night at the Museum, frog detective, etc.
I also use the GoNoodle website a few times a day for a quick, fun movement break. There are tons of videos on there and we " favorite" a bunch of them to use.
We do talk about how movement breaks are to help get the wiggles out, but that they need to be ready to learn afterwards if they want to keep having them.
Sometimes I would lead the whole class in a few simple stretches. We have also done a few yoga moves to help.


Senior Member
Welcome, Shortim! I’m happy to help. It would be helpful if you would share the age range / grade you’ll be teaching.

In regards to your question there are several ways to integrate movement into your lessons. I predominately taught K-3. Keep in mind that all of these ideas should be modeled and practiced (with a lot of praise) for success. Here’s a few ideas:

- General brain breaks: Before or after the lesson give the class a 30 second dance party. Give parameters (must stay in place behind seat, keep hands to self, etc). Silent dance parties are even better 😉 These are great class rewards for after a lesson as well.

- Use the students as the example in a lesson. For example, teaching Place Value. The number is 315. Give each student a number on a piece of paper: 3; 1; 5. Have each student line up in order to represent the number. The class can give a thumbs up or down if their peers are correct. If they’re wrong have another student come up and correct it. You can then rearrange the digits for a new number, change the number, change the students.

- Think-Pair-Share / Turn & Talk: This gives students a 20-30 second opportunity to move (turn) to their neighbor or table and discuss an answer, idea, etc.

- Centers: I had my centers stationary and my students would travel between activities. You could make it fun: “everyone travel like a cat, like a frog, really slow/like a snail/sloth, etc

- Specific to K/1: After my block of instruction we had a Musical Movement. The class would join the carpet (standing) and we would do one song. Dr Jean & Friends, Jack Hartmann are good. Songs like “Tootie-Ta”. Go Noodle has some quick brain break songs, chants (the Moose).

I’m confident that others will have more ideas. Check in often and feel free to post more questions or challenges. This is an exciting time in your career. We’ve all been in your shoes and I’m sure you’ll find that we enjoy supporting one another. Good luck!


Senior Member
Welcome to PT!
I would agree with the good ideas so far !

*Go Noodle is great and useful for indoor recess too.

*Using a timer of some sort to allow students a specific amount of time (a minute or however you deem) to move around the room to stand and stretch or whatever. Sometimes we did this switching from one subject to another.

*Any time you can, add movement to a content lesson (like acting something out ). So when teaching vocabulary we would try to show the meaning of words by getting up and doing something. I taught Greek and Latin words so when teaching the word cooperate for example, they needed to show what that would look like.


Senior Member
Welcome to ProTeacher! This is a great place for teaching advice and help!

I teach high school but movement is important for teens, too. It's important to keep an eye on their energy and not have the movement be too-over-the-top if you feel like it will overly excite them. With younger kids, you can incorporate gestures for them to do when they hear certain vocabulary words.

What age range are you going to be working with? We have teachers of all grades here, so you'll be able to get advice specific to your situation.


Senior Member
You have already received some fantastic ideas. I would add that crossover movements are helpful. You are so wise to recognize the need for movement in your lessons. It is equally as important to ensure that your students are engaged during the movement activities.

You could create an activity list each week like a menu and come up with a random way to choose a student to lead their choice from the list during transitions. This would give your students a chance to take some ownership of the activities.

It is also important to let your students know how the movement improves their ability to focus.

My students especially love the GoNoodle short clips.

Rusty's Mom

Senior Member
In addition to the other great tips, if you are teaching kindergarten or first grade, check out Jack Hartman videos on YouTube.
He has many good movement and activities for this age group. He has both academic topics and social emotional topics.
My first graders love the counting and math videos. They enjoy the dancing and math practice put together before starting their work.

I also use and agree that GoNoodle is very good for brain breaks and academic topics.


Senior Member
Welcome to our community! We’re a helpful bunch and very empathetic. Sometimes nonteachers just don’t get it. Hope you’ll visit often and let us know how you’re doing.

You’ve received excellent suggestions already. Go Noodle is great! I can’t remember if you need an account. It’s free and it’s nice to see which routines you’ve done.

Good luck!


Full Member
One of the favorite things I like to do is do some light stretches yoga type. I find that it helps reset you them after a stressful lesson or difficult concept.


Under Review
Sometimes I like to have the students move around the room as they work. I put a question on each desk, and the students move from desk to desk (not all together) writing their answers on their answer sheet on a clipboard they're carrying.

I also like to have them participate in graffiti walls. It keeps them learning and moving at the same time. Here's a good link about graffiti walls. I really like numbers 3 & 4 on the list. 20 Engaging Ways to Teach With Graffiti Walls

To make sure they're focused during these activities, I tell them the expectations ahead of time then show them a quick example of what I would look like if I were a student doing the activities, and I show them an example of what not to do. During the activity, I thank the ones who are following instructions. I do this as a way to call attention to what they should be doing in case some of them need to get back on task.


Senior Member
Hello!! You are so right to acknowledge the importance of movement. A big vote for Gonoodle for short breaks,

I used to play a game called Pods…..first,you teach the class what the pods are:
pods of zero - each individual crouches/kneels on floor
pods of 1 - everyone freezes indovodially
pods of 2 - quickly pair up with the closest person
pods of 3 and up - group together
you can add a half - for instance in pods of 1 and 1/2 one person stands the other person kneels.

play music. Give children ideas on how to move: fast, slow, March, backwards, low, high….your imagination is useful here.
stop music and call out “pods of (pick your number). Class has to assemble and freeze in that position. If someone ends up with no partner, no big deal - no “punishment.” Continue the game.

my kids loved this game.

Look into a program called Brain Gym - simple, quick and easy exercises to stimulate the brain.


Senior Member
Welcome! What grade/subject will your student teaching be in? It's important not to use gimmicky techniques with middle school/high school students. They will rebel against participating in anything they see as "babyish," even if it might actually be fun.

With older students, one possibility is to make predictions and then go to a corner of the room to signify your choice. If you think that this ball (of wood, of cotton, of glass, of ...) will float in this unknown liquid, go to the corner near the door. If you think it will sink, go to the corner by the bulletin board. Etc. OK, now talk with your group about your reasoning.


Senior Member
Hello all! I am a preservice teacher and as I am preparing to start student teaching I would love to know how you all integrate movement into your lessons. Pertaining to integrating movement into lessons, how do you ensure students are focused throughout and after the movement? Thank you in advance for all of your ideas and help!
I use “corners” as we call it in my third grade classroom (mentioned above), students will move to the corner which matches the answer choice they chose (they stay the same each time so they know where to go).
We discuss a lot about going to what you choose, not where everybody else is going and I celebrate the kids who are honest and don’t just follow the crowd, even if they’re wrong! I emphasize that its practice and they’re never expected to get everything correct, they’re just expected to put forth their best effort.​
I use Go Noodle occasionally as well but not every class enjoys it, it depends on the specific group of kids.​
During independent work or partner/group work my students are allowed to “work around the room” which means they can sit on the floor and use various workspaces in the room (I have a trapezoid table that I removed the legs from so it sits on the floor, they love to use it). They like being able to be out of their desks and move around.​
I play music, pretty loudly, when we clean up at the end of the day. The kids are allowed to sing/dance while they clean up as long as they’re cleaning/packing up and the dance move are school appropriate 😂 I play Kidz Bop (which I play a lot quietly during the day) on Pandora but sometimes they’ll request specific songs. They look forward to this every day and watch the clock for the time I’ll start/turn up the music.​


Senior Member
My advice is to be as creative as you can. When you begin a new movement activity, model and practice until you feel confident the group can stay calm. If they are disruptive, stop and model what you are expecting. Add some chants and make up songs for more fun.
Welcome to PT, and welcome to our noble profession.


Senior Member
Retired middle school/high school teacher
I would do the corner activity. I would gave each corner stand for A, B, C, D. I would ask a question and give four possible answers. They would have to go to the corresponding corner.


Senior Member
Wow! I’m glad you’ve gotten suggestions for a variety of age ranges. In terms of classroom management, I want to “underline” what a few already stated.

Whatever you choose to do, it’s important that you have a firm idea in mind of what you want it to look like. It’s important to explain the behavior and model what you want to see. Let them see what’s acceptable and what is not. Then practice together. For me, I found it was necessary to explain, demonstrate and practice the concept of personal space to my lower elementary groups before any other movement activities.

An unfortunate fact of teaching is that there will usually be some who try to push the boundaries, or get the laughs by being silly as they see how much they can get away with. When this happens don’t just keep going. Stop. Review expectations, rules or boundaries and use your judgement about whether to continue or move on to something else. If it’s a matter of just one or maybe two disruptive students, they can be removed from the movement activity and directed to a more subdued activity for just a few minutes at a time. They can be invited back into the activity at your discretion since they, too, will need to show they can be good participants.

Usually those who have lots of ‘wiggles to spare’ will need those movement breaks all the more. However, you don’t want them to ruin the movement break or the group academic activity for the others, either. Throughout the day, try to give them more opportunities to individually move. For example, erasing the board, handing out supplies, helping another student or any other activity within your teaching day.
For any activity you always want to be consistent in your follow through so both you and your students know the boundaries and are able to enjoy the activities together.

I mention the above because these are things I learned the hard way, not only about movement in the classroom but with teaching in general. Regardless of how much I had looked forward to teaching, I HATED my first year. I felt like a failure. Out of frustration, I started to keep a journal and reflected on was and wasn't working. I also consulted with and noticed how 'successful teachers' operated when they worked with their classes outdoors.

Hopefully, you'll have lots of success as you integrate the movement ideas into your teaching day, along with general classroom management strategies.
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Senior Member
Sometimes I like to have the students move around the room as they work. I put a question on each desk, and the students move from desk to desk (not all together) writing their answers on their answer sheet on a clipboard they're carrying.
Yes! This type of activity is often called Scoot ( timed per question) or Scavenger Hunt ( not timed). In my 4th grade I would use my task cards ( sets of review cards with questions) to do them. Scoot was always done individually with easy questions and they had 15-30 seconds to write their answer before you say "Scoot" and everyone shifts 1 spot ( think basic math facts, noun or verb?, simple multiple choice questions, etc).
Scavenger Hunt is not timed and sometimes I had them in partners. I would purposely put some questions in different level spots ( on wall, on desks, on chairs, on floors) so they were moving their bodies different ways when doing them. I might give them 15 minutes to see how many they could get done.


Senior Member
I had movement breaks built into my schedule. There are tons of ela and math movement videos out there. Often you can use Jack Hartman videos which are fun and will support what you are learning. I remember memes after the difficult years of Covid about Jack Hartman being the VIP that helped get us through!

I also had calm down breaks. There’s cosmic yoga and this songs like this my little learners ❤️loved❤️

I also would sometimes let the leader of the day choose the movement break…keeping it to 3 choices or so and switching them out. Good luck with your student teaching!


Senior Member
You’ve gotten some awesome advice! I didn’t read all so it I may repeat.

If they’re littles you can have them touch their head, hop on one foot, etc

Some people hate movement in the classroom, but I found it keeps behaviors in check better!

We are an amazing group! You joined at the right time! This site was on life support and has been revived! Even isveterans are very excited because you will quickly see friendships are easy to develop here!


Senior Member
Great advice so far! I've done much of what's been suggested. Another thing I used to do was to have them touch X number of desks and count by 2, 5, 10 etc. if we were leaving our gathering sitting spot back to desks. They liked that.


Senior Member
Welcome! You have received great suggestions! I teach first grade and we move all the time. I use many of the previous suggestions. I subscribe to Fluency and Fitness which has pre made slides on a topic and movement in between. The kids love it!


Senior Member
I am a retired second grade teacher. Here are some activities that I used:
Go Noodle

Guess the number- I would think of a number, the students would make guesses based on my using the clues greater than, less than-if they listened carefully to the other students answers, they could figure out the number. I realize this is more of a listening activity.

Stop and Start- The students would run in place when I would say start and stop when I would say stop. Sometimes I would use the word freeze instead of stop.

Old fashioned I know but the students loved:
Seven up, Heads up

I hope any of the above might help you in some way.

Welcome to PT! This board is a great resource for all educators!