Fitness and Learning: A Great Combo
Did you know that children who exercise before learning outperform their couch potato counterparts? It’s true! Scientists theorize that because it stimulates blood flow, physical activity sends more oxygen to the brain, making it a lean, mean thinking machine! So why not integrate some learning activities into your kids’ outdoor fun? Here are some ideas and resources for keeping both mind and body in tip-top shape.
- Play multiplication catch. Have kids pair up to lob balls back and forth, along with math facts! If your children are too young for multiplication, practice addition or subtraction facts instead. For variety, switch partners, speed up the pace, or increase the distance between players.
- Be a bird brain. Equip your students with small notebooks, pencils, sturdy shoes, thick socks, and water bottles—and set off on a bird-watching hike. Pack a field guide and binoculars to help you identify our feathered friends, and be sure to have kids record all the varieties you see. For more nature-inspired activities and ideas, visit Nature Rocks.
- Leap for measurement. Stage a competition to discover who can jump the farthest in a standing broad jump. (Be sure to mark a clear starting point and review the rules first, for fairness!) Have your kids measure and record each contestant’s leap. After each jumper jumps three times, have each contestant add up his or her total distance jumped. For more advanced mathematicians, let them average the measurements. Don’t forget to award prizes!
- Learn to hat dance. Teach your kids how to do the Mexican hat dance, and absorb some culture as you dance. Be sure to locate some authentic Mexican music. After the dancing is done, keep the theme going with an authentic Mexican meal and some cultural and geographic facts about our south-of-the-border neighbor.
- Horse around with verbs. Write up a list of fun, active sentences. Print the sentences, then cut them apart and place them in a basket. Have kids pick a sentence blindfolded, then read it aloud and identify the verb. For extra fun and exercise, turn it into a relay or have kids act out the sentence.
You can find hundreds of additional ways to combine learning and exercise by visiting www.pecentral.org or www.activeacademics.org. And when your family is tired from physical activities or needs to cool down, remind them to take a cool drink and enjoy a reading break.
What fun fitness activities have you combined with literacy and learning? Please share your creative ideas by commenting below!