When planning for the school year, classroom set up is key for student movement. The way we arrange our space can either create room or decrease it, so below are three suggestions to make your class user-friendly for activity breaks.
Arrange Desks to Create an Activity Area
Consider arranging the desks/tables in your space to maximize the amount of open space for students to move. In the pictures presented, you can see the way the desks are arranged in the first picture leaves very little open space for physical activity.
The second and third set ups allow for much more open space for you to lead the students or allow them to complete an online movement break.
Replace Traditional Furniture with Active Seating
Active seating is an alternative to traditional desks and chairs. There are a variety of stools and chairs that allow students to “move” without them even knowing it. For example, stability balls require a person to maintain balance by activating the core. The same is true for ergoErgo Seats, Kore Wobble Chairs, Revolve Active Stools, and SmartSeat Stools. Not only are these seating options novel to students, they require the brain to subliminally maintain balance, which reduces the student need to fidget, wiggle, and squirm.
Designate a Corner for Mindfulness Activities
Designating a corner or two of your space for mindfulness and/or quiet time activities is one way to encourage students to identify their feelings of frustration or anxiety so they can self-select times to excuse themselves to take a minute to calm their minds. The expectation would be for them to return to the lesson soon thereafter. Seating mats, beanbag chairs, and/or various cushions are good ways to indicate the use of the area.
Making subtle and intentional physical activity part of the school day instead of an “add on” will likely motivate the students to remain on-task and engaged in the instruction. I hope you can incorporate some of these suggestions. Use your own ideas to make your teaching space inviting and activity-friendly!
Do you need help figuring how to incorporate an activity space? Do you want a new classroom design featuring active furniture? Moving Minds can help! Fill out a short questionnaire to receive a 3D rendering, along with a custom list of furniture that will work with your space.
Heather is a Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion at the University of Kentucky. She is a former physical education teacher, and co-author of Dynamic Physical Education for Secondary School Children, 8ed. Heather was also the recipient of the NASPE Curriculum and Instruction Young Scholar Award and a AAHPERD Research Consortium Fellow.