Active Classes

Active Classes

Posted by Neil Harrison on 20:04 We all know the stats a third of children in the US and the UK are obese, children are getting fatter and may not live as long as their parents. I don’t want to dwell on the problem, but what is our role as educators to find a solution? Children spend around 6 hours a day at school and a lot of that time can be spent being pretty inactive. So I think as the Olympics looms on the horizon, it’s a good time to start to talk to our classes about their lifestyle. What if every teacher spent an extra 5 minutes a week of our class time being active? Wouldn't that make our children's lives a bit less sedentary, I think over time that could start to make a nation fitter and healthier.

Healthy living should be like English a subject that spans the curriculum and an area that every teacher has an obligation to teach well, no matter what their subject specialism. I’m not going to suggest that children should be constantly active in the classroom there are lots of times when a calm quiet approach is the best way to get our learning across. But there are also those moments in a classroom, when we have a few minutes spare or when are class appear restless, when using an active approach will enhance our teaching and the children’s enjoyment. So I wanted to share a few ideas to make your lessons full of beans.

An active few minutes

I apologise if I’m preaching to the converted, but I find in the busy world of teaching it’s always good to have the occasional reminder. So here are a few ideas for those quick breaks in the middle of your lessons to refocus children’s concentration. Action games are the best place to start. Games like simon says, head shoulders knees and toes can be adapted and put to good use in class. Music can work well depending on the dynamic of your class, you can simply play some music for 1 minute and just get your class to dance. Displaying songs with actions like the cha, cha slide on your whiteboard is another option. Another idea is to lead some actions yourself and get the children to copy. I like to play the game where I repeat an action four times and then switch to a different action. But what ever action I am doing the children have to repeat the action that I did previously.

Relay Race

If your lesson includes any kind of matching activity as part of their lesson, then why not turn it into a relay race. Place all of the items at one end of a hall or outdoor space and the children have to run and collect each item one at a time while this is happening the other children in the group can be matching. This is a good way to involve everyone in group work and helps to stop one child from taking over.

Dictation Race

I have a lot of children in my class who have English as a second language and this next idea is a way of teaching language structure, as well as getting your class more active. Pick a short paragraph of information from your lesson. It could be a science definition or a poetic verse that you would like them to learn, about 6 lines or so should be enough. Then photocopy it for each group. You’ll need a bit of room, so you’ll either have to take your class outside or clear some tables. Place the photocopied text at one end of the room and split the children into groups at the other end with some blank paper and pens. This is basically another form of a relay race the children have to run to the other end of the classroom and memorise one line of text, then they run back and write it down. It doesn’t sound too tricky right, well the catch is that the copied text must be perfect. So no spelling mistakes and no incorrect punctuation. You can award points for the first team to finish and for the most accurate copy.

Fruit Salad

Give everyone in your class a fruit out of banana, strawberries, pineapples and mangos. Then when your class need to stretch their legs you say the name of the fruit. If you said strawberry everyone who was named that fruit would swap places with the other children who were strawberries. If you feel brave shout fruit salad and everyone has to swap seats.


This classic game is a good way to summarise a topic or to get children to explain different concepts. Give each table to think of a key word or concept from your lesson. Then they have to act it out to the rest of the class have to guess what the word or idea is. This is a good way to get children thinking and moving.

So next week try and include 5 minutes of activity in your lessons. Here are a few more exercise ideas, if you need them.


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