Though it is all too easy to fall into the trap of “sit down and sit still” schooling, one of the things I try and embed in our literacy and mathematics learning is movement. (For me as a Primary teacher, this falls in the category of Ongoing Learning and Striving). There are lots of reasons for incorporating movement:
- It’s fun!
- Children are going to move anyway, so we might as well try and put this energy to good use.
- Children at this age already learn verse and song almost effortlessly, and adding movement creates a kind of “body memory” that can be helpful with learning things like skip counting or times tables.
- Specific kind of physical movement can both mirror and nurture important brain development.
This is hardly revolutionary–every nursery rhyme or skipping chant grows from this notion. But one of the things that I have taken from Waldorf Education and various articles (just head to Google) is that “crossing the midline” is not something very young children can do at all, and is not easy for some children even by ages six, seven or beyond. This capacity can support ease of reading and writing, and some children who cannot do so can struggle with these tasks. Midline-crossing movements include touching elbows to opposite knees, or one’s opposite ear by reaching over top of one’s head. They can also include drawing exercises such as drawing a lemniscate (a horizontal figure eight). As I said, I am still learning about this.
The video below is an example of the kind of movement we engage in (with some midline crossing–I wish I’d added a line that took us figure eight under our knees). As the verse became “embodied” it was then one that I wrote on the board for everyone to explore through reading (as in this post). I made the video a few weeks ago when we were just learning this set of fairly complex movements. Last week we presented it beautifully and seamlessly to our Pencil Pals when they visited. We even started with the added trick of going from sitting to standing with the beanbags on our heads! (Would have been great to film all that! But no matter: the point is the doing, not the performing). Watch the yellow beanbag!