Get Moving, Get Learning
We all know that the brain is the most important organ for cognition and learning. As parents and teachers, it’s our job to build, fill, and maintain the brain. For learning to take place, the brain needs oxygen, energy (glucose), and water. The brain requires more oxygen than any other organ and a 4-year-old child uses twice as much glucose as an adult. Physical activity is needed to pump blood to the brain that carries the oxygen and glucose in order for the brain to thrive.
Therefore, children’s brains are more alert when they are moving. This is why it can be so important to incorporate movement into educational activities, such as practicing literacy skills.
There are many simple, fun ways to combine movement with literacy development. Here’s one:
Literacy Obstacle Course
Materials: Masking tape, blank pieces of paper, markers
What to do:
Create an obstacle course using things from around the house. Use masking tape to make a track they will follow. Have it make sharp turns, zig zag, etc. Along the track, put down pieces of paper that you and your child have already written instructions on, such as:
- Jump three times
- Spin around
- Touch your toes four times
- Pat your head
- Sing a song
When they come to a paper they follow the instructions listed. Place obstacles along the track, for example:
- A table with a sign that says go around
- A chair that says go under
- A piece of tape from wall to wall and a sign that says go over
- An empty box that says go in and out
When you add music to movement, you have another great tool for building vocabulary and pre-reading skills. Be sure to choose interactive and engaging songs that allow children to move and contribute their own ideas. Look for songs with simple verses that are repeated over and over.
Every time the song is repeated there is a word or section where the children can come up with their own ideas to substitute. Here’s a great song to get children moving—and thinking.
Herman the Worm
(Hear it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-rg7EIt1x4)
Sitting on a fence post (slap legs four times)
Chewing on some bubble gum (make chewing noise four times)
Playing with my yo-yo (do an up and down whistle twice)
And along came Herman the worm and he was this big (motion with your hands)
I said, “Herman how did you get so big?”
He said, “I ate cake, pizza, a house” (Note: Allow children to come up with different ideas for this section each time you repeat the song.)
Repeat the song as many times as you want with Herman getting bigger each time. To end the song, make Herman small and say:
“Herman how did you get so small?”
For more information on the importance of music and movement please visit choosykids.com and http://www.songsforteaching.com/lb/literacymusic.htm.