According to Dr. Lanningham-Foster, Ph.D., endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic, “kids crave movement. What’s more, they need movement for proper development. We need to find ways to give children more opportunities to move, whether it’s at school or at home.”
Increase activity in school with a Movement Maze; a guided course outside of our classrooms that leads our students through a variety of purposeful movement. Students take a short break, utilize muscle groups, and re-enter the classroom ready to learn!
What is the Movement Maze?
The Movement Maze allows students to release energy in a controlled and engaging manner. Students follow a pathway that stretches the length of our hallway. We use floor tape from our physical education teacher to construct the maze on the floor. Different colors designate specific actions and the parts of the body the students should use. The colors allow students to complete the Movement Maze independently.
To start the maze, the children jump forward on a hopscotch-like ladder, continue down the hall to a zig-zag line with designated colors for the students to begin walking in a crouch position and end by walking on tip toe. Then, they hop from one geometric shape to another, crab walk down a line into a wall sit, complete a set of twisting jumps, hop down a ladder and end in a wall push-up.
Implementation of the Movement Maze
Introduction and supervision of the maze after installation is important. We had all the students learn how to use the maze. We brainstormed as a group times when we have needed to take a short break and why those breaks are so important. Then, we introduced the maze as a great way to give our bodies and brains the breaks they need to be successful. The adults modeled both the “correct” and “incorrect” ways to use the maze. Finally, every child got a chance to go through the maze with supervision.
It is important to introduce the maze to all the children who will be using it so that there is a consistency in both the purpose of the maze and how it will be used. Students may hop, tip toe or scissor their way down the hallway to lunch and recess for the first couple of days after the maze is installed, but don’t worry, the novelty wears off in a short time and it is viewed as a learning implement.
Once the maze is introduced and the expectations are clear, it becomes an independent tool for all our students to use. As the maze is located outside of our main office and near eight classrooms, most of our students use the maze on their own without supervision. Completing the maze from start to finish only takes a couple of minutes.
In the words of a 3rd grade student, “I like the Movement Maze because when you come back inside it’s a nice wiggle and you can focus and learn!”
Students may ask to use the maze as a break or teachers may suggest a child utilize the maze. You will find that certain students will crave that release of extra energy and continuously ask, this is okay- it’s what they need, and ALL students can benefit from a little extra movement!
Emily Constable, a primary learning support teacher and Quinn Hofmann, a 3rd grade teacher are educators in Central Bucks School District in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. They are both constantly searching for and implementing ideas to help their students learn, move and have fun!