The beginning of a new school year! It’s an exciting time of building community and establishing routines.  Students have been, we hope, moving all summer long and need to continue to move to stay alert and focused.  Even though I love to move, as a classroom teacher I found it so easy to neglect movement with everything else on my plate not only at the beginning but throughout the school year.

One method I found to ensure I included movement in the day was to set the classroom rules to movement; I called it our “Rules Ritual”.

Establish 3-5 basic rules/guidelines.

This is a great number of moves to have to remember: not too long and cumbersome but enough to get in a good stretch.

Create a movement for each rule that will remind you all of that rule.

As the facilitator and co-creator, you can help guide the students to use:

  • high and low levels
  • small and large shapes
  • free (loose muscles like spaghetti) and bound (tight muscles like a knotted rope) energy movements
  • sharp and smooth energy movements
  • movements that cross the midline (having right arms and legs cross over to the left side of the body and vice versa)

Practice the movements so that they connect to one another and flow. 

This makes it more of a dance and easier to remember.

Create a chant or song to accompany those movements that describe or name each rule.

If you have chosen to write a song, I find it easiest to use the tune from a familiar song.  At the beginning of the year, generate a list of common songs with your students; you can use that list whenever you want to set a concept to music throughout the year.

After the class knows the entire sequence and the words, if you have chosen to include them, you can use your dance in a variety of ways:

Ritual –  to start the day or transition from one activity to another

Wrap-Up Signal – to indicate that it’s time to finish up during independent and group work.  You start the song and/or movement; the students can finish writing that sentence or complete that conversation and then join in when they are ready.

Attention Focusing Tool – to bring down energy and noise.  Start with a strong voice, repeat it with a softer voice, and end with just the movement alone.  Depending on how much time you have or how much movement they need you can start with just the movement, work up to a strong voice, and bring it back down to just movement again.

Quick Stretch – to give students a chance to move without losing focus