Movement Activities and Games for Elementary Classrooms (Part 2)

By Leah Davies, M.Ed.

(Part 1 features twenty additional activities that may be used with elementary aged children. See Movement Activities and Games for Elementary Classrooms-Part 1.)

1. Play calming music as the children first enter the classroom. When all have arrived, have them watch you and copy your slow movements in silence. Breathe deeply, sway, lift arms, relax your body, etc. Needed: CD and CD player

2. Play “Statues.” As you play music, have the children move in place or if there is space, have them dance around the room. Every few minutes stop the music and the children have to stay still in whatever pose they were in when the music stopped. If they move, they have to sit down and lose a turn. Needed: CD and CD player

3. Play various types of music. Have the children dance, waving their streamers up and down and all around to the musical beat. A variation is for you or a child to demonstrate motions for the students to copy. An additional variation is to play CDs or DVDs that direct students to move in various ways, with or without streamers. Needed: Streamers of crepe paper, ribbon, or plastic material, CDs, and CD player

4. Choose music that encourages motion. Start the music and have the children move around the room to the beat until the music stops. Then have them partner with the closest child. Ask a question or name a topic for each child to discuss with his/her partner. For example,“What is your favorite sport?” “Tell what you know about our state.” This activity can be done at the beginning, during or at the end of any unit of study. Needed: CD and CD player.

5. Explain that the children are to walk or jog in a line around the edge of the classroom to the beat of the drum. Tell them that when the drum stops, they are to stop moving and stay still in their own space. Begin with a slow beat and then vary the speed. You may want to have them tiptoe or use “heavy feet.” Needed: Drum or rhythm sticks

6. Prior to the game, write a word on a card for each child in your class. Make each card have a match such as an opposite or belonging to a group such as types of fruit or words that rhyme with each other. Put a card face down in front of each child. When you say, “Begin,” the children turn their cards over and walk around the room trying to find their partners or their group matching the word they have. Then they walk together to the meeting area. When everyone is there, the children take turns reading their cards. Sets of cards may be made for any subject; for example, geography with names of states or countries on one card and their capitals printed on their matching cards. Needed: Set of teacher-made cards

7. Read an easy story that can be dramatized. Choose children to participate and have them recreate the story. They can make up the lines or you could reread or tell it as they act it out. Do it several times with different children. A variation is to divide the students into small groups. Have each group pick a story and provide time for them to read it, choose parts and practice acting it out. Then have each group perform their story for the rest of the class and/or for children in younger grades. Needed: Story books

8. Play “Baseball.” Place four chairs representing three bases and home plate around the room. Divide the class into two teams. (If you have an uneven number of students, one child could keep score on the board.) Team One lines up behind home plate. Ask the first child a question and if the child answers correctly, he/she moves to first base. If a child answers incorrectly, he is out and must go to the end of his line. Play continues until there are three outs. If a child scores a run because he answers the first question right and his teammates answer three more correctly, a tally mark is placed on the board and the child sits down. If there are not three outs after all the children on a team have had a turn, those who missed their first question get another chance to answer one. When the team has made three outs, the other team gets a turn to play. Needed: 4 chairs, white board and dry-erase marker

9. Play “Sentence Relay” by dividing the students into teams of six to eight players each. There is to be no talking among team members before or during the relay. Have the teams line up behind each other facing a board. Each person on a team writes one word on the board. Then he/she gives a marker to the next team player who writes another word to continue the sentence. As the game progresses, each player within the row adds a word but avoids completing the sentence until the last player goes up. The object is for a team to be the first to compose a sentence that makes sense. A variation is to have each child draw a line and the last person completes the picture. The first team that finished a recognizable picture wins a point. Needed: White board and dry-erase markers

10. Have the student play “Pictionary” on a white board. Play it like charades, but instead of students acting out words, they draw picture clues to help their team identify their word. When making up the words consider the age and drawing skills of your students. Examples are: book, house, dog, apple, kite, vegetables, etc. Write words on pieces of paper and mix them in a hat. Divide the students into two teams. Ask a child to volunteer to pick a word out of the hat and to illustrate it. Time how long it takes for a team to guess the correct answer by viewing the student’s drawing. If someone on the other team blurts out the answer, the playing team gets a point. The team with the most points wins. Needed: White board and dry erase markers

11. Play “Silent Ball.” The children stand by their desks or chairs. A ball is thrown from one person to another in complete silence. If a child throws the ball wildly, that student must sit down in his/her chair or desk. If the student makes a good throw and the receiver missed it, the receiver is out and must sit down. If the receiver throws it back to the person who threw to him, he is out. The student who is left wins and gets to start the next round of play. A variation is to allow only 5 seconds to throw the ball. Needed: Ball or stuffed animal

12. Use a ball to review a lesson or concept. Have the children stand in a circle or beside their chair. Ask a question and then toss the ball to a chosen child who attempts to answer it. If a child does not answer correctly, he/she returns the ball to the teacher and sits down. The teacher repeats the question and throws the ball to another child. After it is answered, ask a new question to a different child and the game continues. A variation could be to divide the children into two competing teams. Needed: Ball

13. Have the children find their own space on the floor. Explain that when a bell is rung they are to stop moving and remain still. Also explain that if they touch another child, they will need to sit out for a turn. Name a category such as farm, jungle, or ocean animals. Have one child name a creature in your chosen category for all of the children to imitate. For example, if a child selects “cat,” the children pretend to be a cats and purr. After a few minutes, ring the bell for the children to stop in place. Then call on another child to name an animal in the chosen category and the game continues. Needed: Bell

14. Ask a child to be “it” and to hide his/her eyes. Have the other children line up shoulder to shoulder in a row, with their hands behind their backs. One child is given a bell to hold, hidden behind his/her back. When “it” opens his eyes and looks at the row of children, the child with the bell rings it once. “It” gets two guesses. If he/she guesses correctly, he gets another turn. If not, the one with the bell gets to be the new “it.” A variation is to have only six or eight children line up. Then after several turns, choose a new group of children to play. Needed: Bell

15. Make signs that instruct children to move in a certain way. For example, “Hop,” “Run in place,” “Pretend to play a drum,” “Pretend to sing a song,” “Do jumping jacks,” “Sway,” “Bow,” etc. Place them around the edge of the classroom. Have the children count off to form groups with four or five members and direct each group to a different sign. Tell them to begin to do the motion written on the card until you ring the bell, when they are to stop. Then have each group move clockwise to the next sign and begin the new movement. Continue until all children have had the opportunity to do every action. Needed: Signs and a bell

16. Choose a child to come to the front of the room where he/she picks a card that states an emotion, without sharing it with the class. The child is to stand expressionless in front of the class while all of the children count softly to five. On five, the child makes the facial expression that portrays the emotion on the card. The first student to guess the feeling correctly gets the next turn. Needed: Names of feelings on cards placed in a hat (for ideas, see the Kelly Bear Feeling Game)

17. Put the cards in a hat and select a child to draw one. He/she silently acts out the movement written on the card. Have the rest of the children guess what is being portrayed. The first child to guess correctly gets to draw a card and act out another action. Examples are: tying shoes, running in hot weather, having a stomachache, playing ball with a dog, feeding a baby, planting a tree, talking on the phone, eating something sour, catching a ball, etc. Needed: Cards with various actions written on them

18. Have the children make a circle of chairs, one per child except for the leader. Have them identify the number on their chair. A “leader” is chosen who stands in the center and asks one child, “Do you like your neighbors?” If the child says, “Yes,”all of the children must change seats. But if the child says, “I would like new neighbors,” the “leader” asks, “What numbers do you choose?” The child says two numbers such as two and six. Those students exchange seats with the children who were on either side of the child who answered. Meanwhile, the “leader” tries to sit in a vacated seat and assume the number of that chair. The child left standing is the new “leader.” Needed: Numbered chairs for all but one child

19. Have all of the children in chairs in a circle, except for “it” who stands in the center. He/she thinks of common trait, hobby or experience to name. Every child who fits the named category gets up and moves to a new seat. “It” sits in one of the emptying chairs, leaving one person without one. The new “it” thinks of another topic. For example, "Who has blue eyes?” Then everyone who has blue eyes hurries to a new seat. The other children remain seated. Other ideas include: “Who has visited another state?” “Who loves to read?” “Who has a pet?” “Who has on white shoes?” “Who can speak two languages?”
    A variation is to play “The Wind Blows.” The teacher is the wind and calls out a characteristic such as, “The wind blows all children with brown hair,” or “The wind blows all children who like to run,” etc. Those children who fit the description have to find new seats. Allow the children to get settled before you state what the wind blows again.
Needed: Chairs for all but one child

20. Give each child one sentence. He/she has to pay close attention to know when it is his turn to do what the instruction says. For example, begin by saying, “Good morning class.” One child will have on his/her slip of paper, “When the teacher says, ‘Good morning class.’ get up and touch the door and return to your seat.” One child will have on his paper, “When someone touches the door and returns to his seat, stand up and jump three times.” So the child complies with the directions and jumps. The next child will have on his paper, “When someone stands up and jumps three times, stand up and say, ‘I want to go to the zoo.’” And so on…

“When someone says, ‘I want to go to the zoo,’ write ‘Zoo’ on the board.” “When someone writes ‘Zoo’ on the board, clap five times.” “When someone claps five times, get up and walk around the teacher three times.” “When someone walks around the teacher three times, say ‘Why did you do that?’” “When someone says, ‘Why did you do that?’ stand up and touch your toes.” “When someone stands up and touches his toes, jump up and clap your hands over your head two times.” “When someone jumps up and claps their hands over their head two times....”

You can make up your own scenario with every child having an action to do in sequence. The last student bows to the class and everyone claps. Needed: Sequencing sentences written out for each child on a slip of paper

Used by permission of the author, Leah Davies, and selected from the Kelly Bear website [], 12/06.

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