By: Jenny Berju, 2016 Midwest District SHAPE America® Health Teacher of the Year
If you were to ask any of my 6th grade students, they would tell you that I love to bring health class into the gym and bring the gym (physical activity) into my health classroom. My students race to the classroom to answer the question of the day that I have written on the dry erase board and they want to see if they can figure out the answer to the brain teaser. In my fast-paced health classroom, students are constantly moving. They enjoy knowing that when they come to health class, they won’t be sitting in their seats the entire time. Below are some of my favorite activities in the health classroom to keep my kids engaged and moving.
Question with an Exercise
Place discussion questions around the room with an exercise attached to each. Give students a set amount of time to discuss the question with a partner. When the timer goes off, students complete the exercise. The exercise can be strength, cardio or flexibility such as push-ups, plank, jumping jacks or a yoga pose. You may consider adding visual aids such as a description of the exercises, pictures or QR codes linked to video clips.
Stand Up If…
Students stand up and do an exercise (e.g. jumping jacks) if they choose a particular answer or agree with a response. Choose exercises that students can perform at their desk or next to their desk, depending on the space that you have available. Other examples include: running in place, jumping up and down, and standing on one foot.
Walk and Talk
Give your students a set route through the school. I use the main loop inside my school. Students are paired up or placed in groups as they walk and discuss a question that you have already provided. I use cards with a set amount of questions or post discussion questions in each corner of the walking loop.
Hang chart paper with discussion questions around the room. Place students in teams to walk around and answer the questions. Each team has a different color marker so that they are able to read other teams’ responses and add to them.
I love the PongaLoon Nets from Sportime. They easily fit across the desks or tables in your classroom. Students can use a ping pong ball or some other small bouncy ball to hit back and forth with their hand. I give my students topics to discuss or questions to answer after each point. This works great as a review game!
I Choose Door #…
Students are given a scenario and asked to choose between door #1, door #2 or door #3. Each door has a different way to handle the scenario. Label areas of the room with a door number and answer. I use a large piece of chart paper and place an envelope at each door. Students are given a few minutes to think about their answer and write it on a piece of paper, explaining why they chose that solution to the scenario. After completing their answer, they place it in the envelope at the door. Students at the same door discuss their responses and why they think it’s the correct way to handle the situation. After discussing at their door, students share their ideas with another door or the entire class. The class can then determine the skills needed to make the right choice in the scenario. You may also want to add role-playing with this activity to make it even more exciting!
Beach Ball Toss
Have the students get into small groups of five or six with a beach ball, which is numbered. Have them pass the beach ball to another student. Wherever the student’s right hand thumb lands is the question or task number that they must complete. Have a separate handout of questions or tasks for each group. This activity is also fun to use as an icebreaker or team building activity.
Team Health Huddle
Play music as students walk or perform a physical activity around the room. When the music stops, students get into a “Team Health Huddle 4” (or whatever number of teams that you would like). Once in their team huddle, give the students a discussion question or task to complete. Continue playing the music and change the number of students in the team huddle to complete the questions or tasks.
Choose activities that work for your classes. Have fun watching your students learn the skills that they need to lead healthy lifestyles while moving around and enjoying health class!
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