Movement: Incorporating Math Concepts into Movement Activities

(I’ve written several other posts on movement:  Post 1 • Post 2 • Post 3)

Movement has been a huge part of my classroom since attending Sara Van Der Werf’s session at a conference my first year teaching.  When I first started being more intentional about incorporating movement into my classroom, I would often have students do 10 jumping jacks, 5 push ups, or skip around the room, etc.  Every once in a while I have an epiphany about a way to incorporate the concepts I’m teaching students into these movement activities and think to myself, “Why did it take me so long to come up with this?!”

Here’s the list of what I’ve found to work best so far, more for my future reference than anything.

  • Perimeter/Area – I have students skip around the perimeter of the room or hop through the area of the room.  (I will also often add clockwise or counterclockwise to the directions.  I’m always shocked at the number of students who don’t know these words!)
  • Exponents – When doing something like jumping jacks, I started giving students an exponent to evaluate, rather than just a number.  This way I can sneak in exponents all year long.  “Do 3 to the second power jumping jacks.”
  • Prime/Composite – I’m all about finding ways to expose students to vocab words all year long.  I sneak these vocab words in by having students “Do a prime number of push-ups.” or “a composite number of sit-ups.”
  • To get back to their desks when we’re doing with a movement activity, I will sometimes have students count the number of “hops” to get to their desk and then do something with that number such as find the prime factorization of the number or we’ll talk about who hopped a prime number of times or whose number is divisible by 3, etc.
  • Ratios – I pick 2 activities and have students do them at a specific ratio.  For example, “Do jumping Jacks and sit-ups at a ratio of 3:2.”  (This was my “Why haven’t you thought of this before now?” moment of this year.  6th grade is ALL about ratios.  Seriously, why did this one take me so long to do?!)

I would love to hear how you incorporate the skills you’re teaching into movement activities in your classroom!

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One thought on “Movement: Incorporating Math Concepts into Movement Activities

  1. Love it! (Particularly the ratios one!)

    When I teach function transformations, we move the desks, make a coordinate plane on the classroom floor, and students take turns being points on a function and then physically walking different transformations to see their effect. I got this idea from an NCTM article I read once.

    In my calc classes, whenever we’re talking about any graph, I ask students to draw it in the air with their finger before I draw it on the board.

    Like

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