Incorporating movement and games into a socially distanced classroom

Next year sometimes has me as paralyzed as others. I read (A LOT) about what people think and I try to slog through the crazy amount of information that we have been given and many times get stuck there. Where did all of that time go?! I do know my school’s plan for next year, but we are ALL going to have to be flexible when it comes to our plans. Other times, I try to be semi productive in coming up with ways to make things work.

If you are returning to class, chances are very high that your students will have to stay in their desk. For elementary teachers and teachers who love to incorporate movement, this seems daunting. I want to come up with ideas to make some small movements feasible while students are socially distanced and staying at their desks.

  • Mini whiteboards help tremendously! The ability to write, erase, doodle and lift up their boards provides small movements to break up the stories. I am in the process of making some Pear Decks, but I love that I can have students complete a Pear Deck on whiteboards if needed. I realize that each student will need his or her own whiteboard, marker, eraser etc, but I think many classes have this or can figure out ways to make it work. (I bought a set of mine years ago by buying shower board at Home Depot or Lowe’s and it was affordable.)
  • TPR (Total Physical Response): While walking, running, singing and jumping are not in the cards, students can use smaller actions to help demonstrate comprehension. Plus, I want to make small cards that they can use to demonstrate opinions by lifting up their card such as thumbs up and thumbs down. Whatever you would put when doing an activity like four corners, print onto pieces of paper to hand out to students. (But try to print multiple things on one piece of paper! The kids can even cut them out- more movement!)
  • As far as manipulatives go, any will work for some small movement. Just ensure that you have enough copies for each student individually. Since you are going to make a ton of copies, think about what you can use these for- over and over. Students could use them over to put in various graphic organizers. If you have sentence strips from a story, first, students could put them in order. Then, students could group them by main ideas and supporting ideas. They could also do other categories like fact or opinion. You could give students a blank Venn Diagram and have students compare two stories. They could compare and contrast what happens in one story versus another one.
  • While we won’t be able to vary their partners, you can still have students talk to the same person (that is six feet away). So ideas like think, pair and share can still work. Or turn and summarize with your partner.
  • I have found that drawing to demonstrate comprehension helps many students focus. It is always helps chattier classes focus. Have students draw to demonstrate comprehension. Also have students draw as you are telling a story.
  • I love games, but what games are feasible? There are online favorites which are sometimes more special being played in the class like Kahoot, Quizizz, GimKit and Quizlet Live. However, I really want to minimize their online time since if students are in a hybrid situation, much of their other time will be taken up online. I finally figured out Rip Bingo last year, and that is definitely feasible! Also from Martina Bex- the Unfair Game is a great idea!
  • Some group games can be managed distanced like the Review Game. Also instead of playing Great Minds Think Alike, I would play this game individually. That way students wouldn’t have to leave the room. Everyone could write down their responses silently at the same time and then the main person could reveal his/her answer.
  • Anne Marie Chase has some amazing games that I loved using synchronously via Zoom. They would be even better when everyone could be together. I love Foto Frenzy (but with drawings instead of pictures on their phone) and Memory. The Lucky Reading Game could be played but with a random number generator online. I have used this site to make a link to the resource. Then I can keep refreshing the page.
  • Mini whiteboards could also be used for Two Truths and a Lie. I normally have my students give me pieces of paper, but mini whiteboards allow students to hold up their answers and others can see the answers. Use two truths and a lie about their weekend plans, about a novel, infographic, video or MovieTalk.

I would love to add to this list! What are some ways to incorporate smaller movement, pair work and games into a socially distanced classroom?

Anne Marie has already blogged about some socially distanced brain breaks!

ps: Our local WL organization is setting up GWATFL TIPS! You can see my video about tips and tricks that help me as I plan online here.

One thought on “Incorporating movement and games into a socially distanced classroom

  1. For mini whiteboards, I’m planning on buying card stock and page protectors for each student to tuck into their binder, so everyone has their own.

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