The past few months as we have been writing more of the THINK cognitive-motor activities in a format you teachers can actually do yourselves in your classrooms, we’ve been test-driving them with students ages 6-12 and they love ’em!
The research tells us:
- Acute bouts of physical activity are a promising way to immediately enhance children’s attentional performance (Hillman et al., 2011; Chang et al., 2012; Verburgh et al., 2014).
- Student enjoyment while doing activities enhances cognition (Diamond, 2015).
- Classroom physical activities that combine physical effort with cognitive demands likely produce effects beyond those of pure aerobic exercise, e.g., running in place (Diamond & Ling, 2016).
Cognitive-exercise likely primes the brain for learning and may enhance attention, on-task behavior, sequencing, and memory (Schmidt, 2016; Donnelly et al., 2016; Donnelly and Lambourne, 2011). Yet more research is needed.
When we THINK together in class we create rhythmic motor movement sequences, we can do in 1-5 minutes in between lessons to alert or calm our brains and bodies. The goal is to move 1-5 minutes every 45 minutes so that we are energized and alert throughout the day.
As we move and think together, we teach the children some cognitive science along the way, increasing student interest, self-confidence, and engagement.
- Rhythm, tempo, and timing are related to sequencing, an important cognitive skill needed for both reading and math.
- Your brain and body work together like an orchestra, when you combine coordinated movement with thinking about what you are doing and how you are doing it, you improve important cognitive skills like attention, inhibition and working memory.
- When you add a cognitive demand such as naming colors from memory in alphabetical order, on a specific beat as you do an automated movement such as marching, you increase the cognitive demand on your brain thus exercising your cognition.
Then we provide the children with some foundational movement sequences or patterns and ask them to add, change or elaborate on the pattern, as a team, in synchrony.
The result is amazing. The children are moving, thinking and working together. We all laugh and play as we practice sequences deciding what goes well together. Sometimes the children think up really complicated switch tasks where you say one thing but you do something else with your body.
Here is a video for our Spring trainings with samples of classroom activities we teach in the workshop. A warm thank you to Principal Diane Hale, the teachers, and students at the amazing Tarwater School, for helping us to teach cognitive activities for the classroom to children.
If your school or clinic would enjoy a classroom activities training via webinar or in person simply contact us lynne AT lynnekenney.com.
Here are a few articles and resources you might value –