Close your eyes and picture a library. What do you see? Many people would respond with things like: rows of books on shelves, people reading, quiet, calm. None of those things mention physical movement; however, the library is a great place to incorporate physical activity. Below are five ways I incorporate physical activity and movement into our library space.
In most of my classes, we have a time of transition between being on the carpet for the story or lesson and working at tables or checking out books. I have found that using this time for stretching and yoga allows students to focus in on their next task and make a smooth transition.
I’m also able to incorporate specific types of physical movement into our transition. Sequoia by Tony Johnston was a recent read aloud. After we read the story and discussed personification of the tree, we used Tree Pose as a transition from carpet time to table time.
Spending a minute or two to do a few neck rolls and stretches also provides time to talk about body health. For example, explain that after sitting for a while, stretching your arms up to the ceiling helps stretch your back muscles. Neck rolls provides relief after sitting in one position for a long period of time and prevents hunch back.
This time of year we begin to see warmer weather, and the sun making more appearances. Warmer weather provides the perfect inspiration for physical activity, or just a change of scenery. Often, my students ask to read outside. We take our beanbags, cushions, and chairs out into the grassy area behind our library. Students enjoy reading outside, and the sunshine is good for the soul.
Just last week, a kindergarten student chose a book about rocks. He stopped on a page with a geode to ask if they were real rocks. I happen to have one hanging out in the storage area of the library. I showed it to him. The whole class went outside to the sidewalk to watch him break the geode. We all talked about how it formed. Each student got to take a piece home. Sometimes our lessons lead us outside the four walls of the library.
Don’t get me wrong, I like structure just as much as the next habitual organizer; however, having flexible seating in your library or classroom provides students with a much needed break from the norm. In an article in Edutopia, Kayla Delzer states “Our classroom environments should be conducive to open collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking. This simply cannot be done when kids are sitting in rows of desks all day.” This is also true for libraries. Flexible seating can allow students to burn energy and calories, choose a seat that allows them to be comfortable and increase focus and productivity.
If you’re curious about flexible seating, but not sure where to start, check out Angie Olson’s article in Lucky Little Learners. She has many great ideas, answers almost every question you could have, and even has rules for how students use flexible seating in her classroom!
Also, Pinterest is overflowing with flexible seating Boards!
Part of the concept of flexible seating is to allow students to choose a seat in which they feel the most comfortable and can be the most productive. At times, that may be to stand to work. Students in our library are always welcome to stand while working. I just ask that they push in their chair for safety and stand behind it.
Being a Music and Performing Arts Magnet (and personally a music freak), I almost always have music softly playing in our library. Students are able to dance and move to the music while working, searching for a new book, and even coloring. Yes, I’ve watched many students wiggle and shake their tail feather while coloring!
Playing games in the library is another great way to get students moving! Second graders use spine label cards to learn shelf organization. Many choose to play a game with their partner similar to Go Fish. Fourth through sixth graders complete BreakoutEDU challenges we designed to prep for Hour of Code. All students participate in National Game and Puzzle Month. Physical activity does not have to be hard cord, HIIT, American Ninja Warrior type activity. Sometimes just getting students out of their seat can really help a stagnate mind.
Author: Ashley Cooksey
Library Media Specialist in Arkansas. Self-proclaimed geek. Lover of nature and music. Always learning.