Ah, spring! Here in New Jersey, the winter frost is finally gone and little signs of spring are popping up all around us. And I couldn’t be happier! Let me introduce myself though. I’m Christy from Exceptional Thinkers and today, I’m thrilled to be a guest blogger for Chuck and Buck! I’m a regular contributor to a collaborative blog called Conversations From the Classroom and you can find my posts there on the 22nd of every month.
But can we get back to spring for a minute? Wouldn’t it be great to take your students outside and just let them play now that it’s finally nice out? Yes? I agree! We’re so in synch, you and I. Today, we are going to think of some ways to get the kids outside and moving, while learning and working towards academic goals.
You’re thinking, this is crazy. How are my students going to develop math skills while running around outside? But I promise, it’s possible, and potentially more effective than some boring old worksheets. Kids are more motivated to learn when it’s fun! Research shows that motivation leads to increased effort and persistence with better performance (Paris & Turner, 1994; Rueda & Moll, 1994). And what’s more fun than putting the textbooks aside and playing?
Okay, so it’s fun to get them moving, but how do we teach them while they’re playing? Good question. We aren’t just bringing them outside for the sake of playing and burning off that pent up energy. We want to harness that energy in a way that can be both productive and educational. But how? Well, instead of a worksheet with 20 math problems, why not play a game that requires students to practice those same math skills 20 times? Due to increased interest and motivation, students may even complete a game faster than a worksheet, potentially practicing the skill more than they would have on paper.
You can use games and sports to teach math skills, as brain breaks, review games, and more. They can be a refreshing break from textbooks! Many children learn better when they use more than just their eyes and ears during math lessons. Hands- on activities encourage students to become more involved with the material and allow them to experience it first-hand. Research shows that children with special needs benefit greatly from multi-sensory activities in the classroom.
Most of us already use manipulatives in our math lessons. But have you incorporated sports or games that get students out of their seats and moving? You can take almost any game or sport and incorporate a math skill into it. In volleyball, have the students skip count by fives each time the ball goes over the net. For Tag, players can call out multiples of 6 each time someone is tagged, up to, say, 72, and then switch to multiples of 7, and so on. For more ideas, take a look at my Active Math Sports and Games resource. Whatever it is, keep students practicing your targeted math skill while moving.
Whole body learning is:
1) Motivating for students who are uninterested in traditional classroom lessons.
2) Beneficial to kinesthetic learners.
3) Allows students to experience material or skill first-hand.
As a special education teacher, I have experience with students with sensory issues, behavior problems, and trouble sitting still. I’ve found that instead of forcing them to fight the urge to move, it is better to just get them up and direct that energy in a fun, positive, and educational path! They just want to go, so I let them go. But we don’t just run around without purpose. They practice skill sets, problem solve, and develop social skills, all while I assess their progress. This doesn’t necessarily always need to take place sitting at a desk.
My Active Math Sports and Games Resource was created to keep active kids moving while still working toward their academic goals. I've used these games in my classroom for years and it is my pleasure to now share them with you. (Side note: I'll likely add more games to this resource, so if you like it, be sure to grab it up now before I add to it and increase the price. If you buy now, you'll get the lower price, plus you'll get any of my additions and updates for FREE). Sounds good, but not sure if you want to take the plunge? No problem. Try out my FREEBIE Shuffleboard Addition Game and see if you like it! If you love the idea of using sports and games in your math class, but don't have the time to plan them out and create the materials, these are the resources for you. Busy teachers unite!
My Active Math resource targets early elementary math skills such as adding, subtracting, using place value, estimating, and measuring. It features 6 games at the moment (but likely to increase with time), including Steal the Flag, Subtraction Bowling, Making Tracks, Shuffleboard Addition, STEM Tower Challenge, and Pitch Your Estimate. Some of these games are available individually in my store while others are unique to this resource.
I hope I’ve inspired you to consider incorporating more whole- body learning activities in your own classroom. If this is an approach you’ve already been using, I’d love to hear about your techniques and activities in the comments below!
It’s been a pleasure posting here with Chuck and Buck. I hope to connect with you soon! If you’re not already following Exceptional Thinkers on Pinterest, make sure to click HERE to do so. You can also find me on Facebook right HERE. And of course, if you’re interested in new products, updates, and freebies, follow me on Teachers Pay Teachers.
Keep teaching. Keep learning.
~Christy D. from Exceptional Thinkers