Give Me a Break by Barbara Gruener
By Barbara Gruener, Monthly Columnist
Let’s face it; with increasingly difficult academic challenges and seemingly less time to fit it all in, there are fewer if any moments left over for meaningful movement. Some schools have even done away with recess (gasp!) and/or physical education classes (yikes!). And then students go home to tech time in front of a screen indoors instead of active playtime in the great outdoors.
Energizers and Brain Breaks to the rescue! These two engagingly easy strategies give your students a movement break while at the same time reignite their brains and open them up to learning. And while there are definitely books and music for purchase, there are also plenty of free resources online to get you started.
Here, in no particular order, are my top ten suggestions:
*Take a one-minute Shake Break and dance along with Pancake Manor.
*Put Your Hands by Greg and Steve focuses them on body parts while they’re moving.
*Brain Aerobic Breaks (by Lincoln Elementary School Teachers) will be a fun wake-up call for your kids’ brains waves.
*Our kids LOVE Tony Chestnut ‘cause it infuses a sequencing challenge.
*And what kid wouldn’t love Cookie Monster’s spoof on Carly Rae Jepsen’s summer sensation Share It Maybe!
*Do you know about the award-winning musical group called the Happy Racers? Check out their energetic song Move Your Body!
*The Westwood Elementary PE classes dance to Friday (the Glee Cast version!) every Friday! All of these moves could be easily adapted to a classroom to energize your little dancers.
*These Energizers courtesy of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction integrate movement into academic content.
*Over at the We Do Listen Foundation, you can access eight Wigglebottom Songs to help your movers and shakers get the wiggles out.
*And our friends at the Special Olympics have Get Into It, a free K-12 State-Standards-Compatible “education and engagement tool.”
Other songs that I use in the classroom to get my students moving and spark their brain chemical release are The Chicken Dance, The Cha Cha Slide, The Pink Panther Theme, The Congo, Dalmatian Disco, The Hand Jive, The Macarena, The Mexican Hat Dance, The Hokey Pokey, Linus & Lucy, The Cupid Shuffle and YMCA.
Want to make a curricular connection? Write little poems, chants or ditties to go along with the music. Here are the lyrics I wrote to dance the Bunny Hop:
E-M-P-A-T-H-Y; put yourself in my shoes, c’mon give it a try.
E-M-P-A-T-H-Y; ‘cause if you feel what I feel, you might understand why!
Last thought — Choose an upbeat theme song that you can use as a pick-me-up whenever you feel the energy start to drain. My favorite is probably Up, Up, Up by Rose Falcon, but there are SO many songs with positive lyrics just like it. Consider something new (Home by Phillip Phillips) or tried-and-true (Xanadu by Olivia Newton John). Maybe there’s something somewhere in between those two genres that tickles your fancy. Encourage each student to bring you a song to download so you have a month’s worth of happy tunes to rotate through and dance to.
What other Energizers and Brain Breaks do you have in your movement arsenal?
About the Author
A bilingual educator who was raised on her family’s farm in Wisconsin, Barbara Gruener has been the counselor and character coach at Westwood-Bales Elementary School in Friendswood, Texas for the past ten years. She’s also a motivational speaker and loves to influence and impact workshop participants in her signature Sing, Dance, Laugh and Build Character sessions. When she’s not at school, Barbara likes to write, read, knit, bake, and spend time with family and friends. Check out Barbara’s uplifting blog, Corner on Character, to read her inspirational stories about positive people and elevating experiences.
Barbara’s inspiring articles appear monthly on The Teachers’ Lounge.