Movement and learning

Movement and learning

Several studies have been carried out between the association of physical activity and cognitive function during childhood and adolescence. The results of these studies (Donnelly & Lambourne, 2011) demonstrate benefits such as improved fitness, cognitive function, and academic performance. In other words, any type of physical activity, not just the movement associated with the material being taught, can benefit students academically. In addition to helping students academically,  movement encourages children to express their creativity physically, and promotes laughter and fun while learning. For these reasons I will share two activities which you can use with your children or students to learn alongside physical movement. The recommended age for these activities are from ages 4 to 8 years old.

  • Pronounce words that emphasize various vowels. Then, ask students that when they hear the vowel (a) they should clap, on (e) they will stomp with their feet, with (i) they will jump with their feet together and with  (u) they will twirl. To make this activity even more fun, turn on background music. Start the first round of the activity slow and easy, with each round speed up the music so that the children can make the movements faster.
  • Play 'Musical Chairs' with a group of children. First, make cards with different words (I recommend using the book El Gran Nacho as it has many target words you can teach). If you have 5 students, make 5 cards. Have the children in a circle and ask them to bring their chairs to the center. Give each student a word card. Then, tell the children to take the card to their chair, sit down, and read it. After doing so, turn on some music, and instruct the students to place their card with the word facing up on their chair. Once they do this, they can begin walking around the inside of the circle. When the music stops, each student should grab the card on the chair in front of them and  read it before they can sit down.

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Works cited:  Joseph E. Donnelly, Kate Lambourne, Classroom-based physical activity, cognition, and academic achievement, Preventive Medicine, Volume 52, Supplement, 2011, Pages S36-S42, ISSN 0091-7435,


Written by: Valeria Flores. Universidad of California Los Angeles. BA. Spanish and Linguistics. Bilingual Teacher. 

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