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Are your students constantly wiggling in their chairs? Stomping their feet? Banging and tapping tabletops, hanging off stools, unable to wait in line?
Little learners have so much energy and so few ways to expend it in a traditional classroom setting. It’s no wonder we see our students exhibiting these behaviors. Our challenge is to harness that energy and redirect it.
Surprisingly, you can limit distraction and disruption by encouraging MORE movement in the art room.
One way to do this is to use a familiar song and adjust the lyrics for your purposes. For example, when using Elmer’s glue, I teach students to sing, “Shake, shake, shake. Shake, shake, shake. Shake your glue bottle!” to the tune of KC and the Sunshine Band’s “Shake Your Bootie” song. They are happy to oblige. They boogie, giggle, and get the glue ready independently.
Vigorously shaking the glue bottles gets their bodies moving and allows time for the glue to travel to the nozzle. It’s a sure way to keep students from complaining that the glue “doesn’t work.”
Or, why not Whip and Nae Nae to make sure your glue sticks stay fresh? On command, have students show off their tightly-capped glue sticks in their outstretched arms while doing the popular dance. Whenever possible, enlist the latest dance move and/or hot chorus refrain and it shall be received with much fanfare and compliance.
Having only a single sink and forty kindergartners that need to wash hands is less than optimal… but it’s my reality none-the-less. So, I needed a plan. First, I marked a line to the sink with duct tape. Second, I taught them how to do the Hokey Pokey. Their challenge is to straddle the tape while following the dance prompts. Since they need a bit of space to dance, it keeps them from pushing the person in front of them and gives them something to do while they wait for their turn.
You could think about building specific movement into other waiting times like while you pass out supplies or while students wait at the door for their classroom teacher.
Sometimes, it’s clear that students just NEED to move. For these times, I like to have a few quick things I can pull out. Here are two great choices.
Both of these can be streamed to a Smart Board or any other projection device connected to your computer. Changing it up is key, and, thankfully, these resources abound and you can constantly add to your repertoire. It can be helpful to create a YouTube playlist for yourself to easily access and bookmark these sites on your school computer. Being organized and having this set up ahead of time is crucial. You don’t want to be fumbling for a video while your class needs attention.
For example, when teaching new vocabulary, have students stand, clap it out, and rhythmically repeat the words and definitions while stomping around the table. It’s a proven fact when you make something lyrical or rhythmic, retention is heightened. Plus, they get a chance to release pent-up energy.
Here’s another idea. When introducing the concept of foreground, middle ground, and background, why not have your students act it out? Here’s how to do it:
This simple activity helps students internalize the distinctions and works out the wiggles at the same time.
Sometimes, students just work better standing up. You can let them stand right at their seats, or, you can get creative and create an easel workspace or other designated standing space if you have room. Creating a separate space gives students the freedom of movement they prefer and relegates distracting movement to a contained area.
As you begin to incorporate and encourage more kinesthetic activities into your art room, you will experience fewer behavior problems stemming from inactivity. Plus, you up the cool quotient of the art room. As if we needed that… right?
How do you keep little learners active and engaged?
What online resources do you employ to keep your artists moving? Please share!
Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.