Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bring Fitness Into the Classroom: Exercise Rhymes


Bring Fitness Into the Classroom

In on our modern society, a focus on academics in our education system has resulted in less physical activity for children. Most schools have reduced physical education (PE) classes to once or twice a week. Despite an emphasis on academics, reducing PE classes may be counterproductive as research indicates that fit children do better in school. Researchers at the University of Illinois concluded:
We have found a strong relationship between academic achievement and fitness scores,” said Darla Castelli, a professor of kinesiology whose area of expertise is effective physical education practices. “Those who scored well in academics also did well in physical fitness.” …[Co-researcher, Charles Hilman, a kinesiology professor at Illinois stated:]“…fit children made fewer errors than sedentary ones.[i]

Incorporating movement into the curriculum benefits learning. Dr. Sherry Bush, a prominent Clinical Pediatric Psychologist, contends that the area of the brain responsible for motor coordination is also involved in learning. According to Dr. Bush, movement engages motor centers that strengthen brain to body connections, establishes muscle memory, and enhances learning. Even simple movements like standing and writing on a chalkboard help children retain information[ii]. When movement is part of learning, kids retain information better than when they sitting sedentarily.

Fitness in the Classroom

Teachers can incorporate short fitness breaks into the classroom activities. These fitness breaks can be a regular part of the day to allow children to exert physical energy in short bursts so they can refocus on academic lessons. Getting children out of their chairs to stand, move and strengthen their bodies increases attention spans and enhances learning. Children that stretch, jump and pretend and are better equipped to focus their attention on academics.
Exercise breaks throughout the day helps kids stay healthy since short bursts of activity a few times per day are as effective as one longer exercise session. These exercise breaks also benefit teachers who are willing to do them along with their students.

Exercise Rhymes™ in the Classroom

Exercise Rhymes™ are rhymes that make exercising fun! The Exercise Rhymes fitness flashcard deck combines rhyming with exercise for kids 3 to 7 years. Exercise Rhymes can be incorporated into classroom activities for preschool and primary elementary students, and tied to the curriculum. The rhymes are fun and informative while expanding children’s vocabulary. Rhyming is well known among educators to be a building block for phonics and reading. The rhymes and exercises form mind body patterns that reinforce learning.
Cross-curricular lessons combining science, math, reading, writing, art and even physical education enrich the learning experience. For example, a science lesson on the lifecycle of a frog can include the Frog Exercise Rhyme that gets kids jumping up and down like a frog. They could also take turns jumping forward and then measuring how far they have jumped. They can write their own poem or story about frogs and draw a picture of a frog.
Exercise Rhymes are a fitness-based learning resource for parents, educators and therapists in developing a child’s learning skills while promoting fitness. The go-everywhere card deck fits today’s active lifestyles.
By: Marina McLennan, Exercise Rhymes, LLC.  www.ExerciseRhymes.com .
Copyright © 2012 Exercise Rhymes, LLC.


[i] Mitchell, Melissa (2004). Physically fit children appear to do better in classroom, researchers say. Abstract retrieved April 24, 2008, from http://www.news.uiuc.edu/news/04/1018fitness.html
[ii] Dr. Sherry Bush shared information with Marina McLennan about rhyming, movement in learning, and brain development during a meeting on April 1, 2008 in Scottsdale, Arizona.
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