When you’re empowering your students to develop their physical literacy, their learning goes well beyond the gym and your P.E. class—it can be seamlessly incorporated into all aspects of your class’s daily schedule. It’s possible for students to read, move and learn, all at the same time. How can we think about physical literacy beyond the gym? An innovative program in B.C. has some ideas!
Learning to love movement through literacy
When kids take part in the free Active Stories program now running in the Nicola Valley, literacy and physical activity go hand in hand. Children learn to use their imagination while moving their bodies, exploring fundamental movements at the same time as developing their improvisation and creativity skills.
As explained by Lia Moyes Larson, chair of Literacy Merritt and the Nicola Valley Society, in a recent news article, Active Stories gives instructors the chance to pair their love of literacy with engaging physical activities. While they listen to the narratives being read aloud, participants get to run, jump, and use their bodies for dramatic play in tandem with the story. By having students move in a way that reflects the meaning of a word, the storytellers can increase comprehension, memory and recall in their audience. At the end of the session the kids get to choose a book to take home with them.
Additionally, children who typically have issues with sitting still have their need to move addressed in a positive way. Engaging with books in this fun way helps them to get their wiggles out, all while taking in new information.
Using School Physical Activity and Physical Literacy resources
Programs like Active Stories are great inspiration for the ways we can all incorporate physical literacy across the school day! If you’re looking for more ideas on how to get your kids moving in new environments, here are some ways to increase their physical activity and develop their physical literacy from our resources Developing Physical Literacy on the Playground, Physical Literacy in the Classroom: Activities to Keep Your Students Moving! and Cross-curricular Activities.
5,4,3,2,1: This is a great way to get students physically engaged between lessons. Have your students do an activity for each number in a countdown.
- Five jumping jacks,
- four squats,
- three hops on one foot,
- two laps around the classroom, and
- one high five.
If you like: This activity involves quizzing students about their preferences and getting them to perform physical actions based on their answers. Ask your students questions about what they like, and have them perform an action based on their answer.
- “If you like going to the beach, hop on one foot.”
- “If you like summer more than winter, do three squats.”
- “If you have a dog, do a stretch on both sides of your body
Grip strength: Create some stress balls by filling balloons with sand or flour, then have students squeeze them while reading poems, practicing spelling or multiplication tables, or rehearsing rhymes or chants. This activity will help them develop the strength they need to use an outdoor play structure.
Let’s make a math story:
- Brief students on how they’re going to make a math story as a group. First talk about different kinds of movements they can do and demonstrate them as a group (e.g., lunges, jumping jacks, high knees). Ask students if they know any other movements they could do.
- Now that you have some ideas of movements, write on the whiteboard (or just use hands and memory if outside or in the gym), and call on students to share a number and a movement (e.g., “Jake says we’re going to do 5 pushups, how many more do we need to make 10?”).
- Have students call out numbers and movements until they complete the full math story (e.g., “Okay, we have 5 push-ups, 3 jumping jacks, and 2 squats. Did we make 10? Let’s check.” And count up as a group).
- Have the students complete their math story by doing all of the movements! (e.g.,“Now that we’ve made 10, we can do all of the 10 movements together. Count with me and let’s go!”).
Looking for more activities to try with your students? PLAYBuilder has hundreds of free, curriculum-based activities, free for BC educators! Even better? PLAYBuilder can build a whole term plan for you, with just six clicks. Sign up today: https://spa-pl.playbuilderapp.com/signup