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Learning Activators

Page history last edited by Kristin Hoins 16 years, 9 months ago

It becomes immediately obvious to me that learning activators are a necessity when I attend a conference or meeting putting myself in the role of the student.  Research shows that 20 minutes is the maximum a brain can stay focused.  Learning activators can be used when students are slowing down, losing energy, becoming anxious, frustrated, or bored.  Livening up the classroom atmosphere not only brings a welcome change to a predictable day but also energizes the body, activates the brain, and helps create new pathways for learning.  They also help build community and are just plain fun!  Through our research I have found a wonderful collection to add to my teaching toolbox.  Below I am including 6 of my favorites you can take back and use for any age at any time.  I would really encourage you to check out the resources listed below.  You are sure to find lots of goodies for your own back pocket.  Enjoy!  (Eric Jensen and Jerry Evanski)




Have a Seat (Jonathan Erwin)

In this game, a chair is placed in the middle of the room.  The teacher chooses a student to sit in the seat.  As the student aproaches the seat the teacher tells the student, "It's a burning hot seat."  The student sits down on it and "Yow," he jumps up and stumbles back to his place, rubbing his burned behind.  You could choose students individually to come to the front and others to create the type of seat or have everyone participate.  Continue as long as you like.  Some possibilities for seats include:

a throne, a slipper seat , a chair with a tack on it, a chair that has just been painted, a seat with someone already in it, a seat next to someone you love

a seat next to someone you dislike, a seat with itching powder on it     Have fun creating some of your own!


Switch-a-roo (Diana Loomans and Karen Kolberg)

Switch-a-roo is a playful way to encourage students to pay attention, to observe carefully and to think creatively. 

Have the students find a partner who is approximately the same height and stand directly in front of him or her.  They should be about an arm and a half's length away from each other, so they can see their partner from head to toe.  They get one minute to observe each other carefully without talking.  They should observe each other without being critical of judgmental.  They are trying to notice details, such as what they're wearing, how they've parted their hair, if they are wearing jewelry, etc...Then have them turn back to back and give them 2 minutes to change 5 things about their appearance.  They could roll up their sleeves or untie their shoe.  Then they guess the changes their partner has made.  If you want to challenge them, have them change 5 more things!


Movement Activities Made Easy (Eric Jensen)

 Simply add together words from each column to create action combinations. 

For example, "Hop gracefully from corner to corner" or "March softly around a table".

What:  hop, skip, slink, jump, leap, shuffle, spin, march

Howslowly, on foot, softly, gracefully, rapidly, with arms out, to the beat

Wherearound a table, to the door and back, in place, from corner to corner, touching every chair, every 10 feet


Zip-Zap or Buzz-Bang (several variations)
I use this as a math warm up.  Have kids work in small groups (3, 4 or 5).  For the first round you assign a number to the word zip.  Then students will count around the circle in consecutive order.  You say zip every time the number chosen appears.  For example, if the number chosen is 6, the counting would sound like this 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 , zip, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, zip.  For round 2 you say zap for numbers that are a multiple of 6.  So the counting would now be 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, zip zap, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, zap, 13, 14, 15, zip, 17, zap.  The group must start over each time they make a mistake.  Variations include counting by 2's, backwards, reverse when you zip or zap.  The kids love it and it's good practice with numbers.
Three Props On a Box  (Jonathan Erwin)
The teacher selects three props out of a prop bag and places them on a box.  A student selected at random has to come up and tell a story that involves all three props.  You could also have students work in pairs and have everyone come up with a story.  You could have them act out a skit using props.  There are so many variations you could use to make it appropriate for your classroom.  I also use picture cards found in the game Hoopla for writing stories.  They choose who, what, and where cards and make up a story with a partner.
Balloon Bounce (Kagan)
A team forms a circle by joining hands.  They bounce a balloon in the air without letting go of their hands.  When they get good, they try two or three balloons at once.  If a balloon lands on the ground, they must pick it up and continue without letting go of their hands.



Erwin, Jonathan C.  The Classroom of Choice.  Alexandria, VA:  Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (2004).
Evanski, Jerry.  Classroom Activators.  San Diego, CA:  The Brain Store, Inc. (2004).
Jensen, Eric.  Learning With The Body In Mind.  Thousand Oaks, CA:  Corwin Press (2000).
Kagan, Dr. Spencer.  Silly Sports and Goofy Games.  San Clemente, CA:  Kagan Publishing (2000).
Loomans, Diana and Karen Kolberg.  The Laughing Classroom:  Everyone's Guide to Teaching With Humor and Play.  Canda:  HJ Kramer and New World Library (1993).




Comments (1)

Anonymous said

at 4:17 pm on Nov 7, 2007

In our 7th grade IMAP, we came up with an idea to help students understand adding and subtracting negative integers, while using kinesthetics: create two life-size number lines and then give two students a number sentence that includes a negative number, each student runs to the number line and "acts" out the number sentance, ending with the answer. The first student to stand on the correct answer wins a point for his/her team.

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