10 Centers that Get Kids Moving

December 15, 2020 by




I have been working on centers that get my kids moving (especially since we don’t get to leave the classroom for lunch or specials). There are built-in procedures to help us maintain social distancing. But I am just glad to give my kids the opportunity to get out of their seats a little bit. 😊 Here are 10 Centers That Get Kids Moving in the classroom while they are learning. #3 is definitely one of my favorites!

Center #1 — 2 or 4 Corners

This center is when I pose a question to the group. I give 2 or 4 possible answers to the question. Students record their responses (with added details) on half a sheet of paper and then tape it on the poster they agree with. The students really love adding this component to the “Would You Rather” prompts center we already use. I just add “Why?” to the end of each prompt, so that they have to write an explanation with their choice.

#2 — Fishing for Sight Words

This game is very fun and can be done socially distanced. I gave each student a set of “fish sight words” that they were responsible for coloring and cutting out. Making a “fishing pole” is very simple. Just use an unsharpened pencil, tie a string around the end, and then have students put a small ball of clay on the “hook” end. Students will fish and use the sticky clay to grab the paper fish.

#3 — Write the Room

This takes a little bit of preparation on your part. This set comes with different vocabulary cards to put up around the classroom and recording sheets for students. There are two different types of recording sheets. You can just have your students find the words and write them down, or you can have the students write those words within a sentence that they create. My students love grabbing their clipboards and walking around looking for vocabulary words or math problems.

Center #4 — Pattern Dancing or Movements

Have your students come up with a dance or movement that represents a pattern in math. For example, to demonstrate an AB pattern, they could do a hop and a skip. Have them perform their dances for the class. With my younger students, they loved doing animal movements for patterns, so an ABC pattern may look like a frog hopping, a snake slithering, and a crab walking repeated over and over.

#5 — Phonics Movement Videos

Jack Hartmann has a variety of movement videos on YouTube that focus on phonics and phonemic awareness skills. I sometimes make this one of my literacy centers, where students can pull up the assigned videos on their iPad and do the songs and movements that go along with those phonics skills. There are also some great videos for math concepts too.

#6 — Spelling Plates or Tiles

Write letters of the alphabet on the back of small paper plates or small ceramic tiles you can grab at Lowe’s or Home Depot. (I usually make 2-3 of the vowels.) Then students will use these plates or tiles to build their spelling words. Once the word is built, students hop from plate to plate or tile to tile as they spell the word they built.

Center #7 — Scavenger Hunt

There’s no better way to get your students up and moving around the classroom then sending them on a scavenger hunt. You can make it educational of course, such as focusing on finding objects in the classroom that begin with certain sounds, or that rhyme with certain words. For math, you can ask them to find objects of a certain shape or that has a certain number of sides, or belong in a given category.

#8 — Swatting Sight Words

This is definitely a favorite student literacy center. You can use the paper “swatters” that are in the resource or give them an actual fly swatter from Dollar Tree. Just like the fishing for sight words, I gave my students their own set of flys to color and cut out, and then they get the swatters to complete the activities.

#9 — Puzzle Match-Ups

I use puzzle match-ups during my writing instruction. The Writing Mini-Lesson bundle that I use has a few puzzle activities in it. They can match the different types of openings, closings, and pairs of descriptive words. This gets students moving around the classroom during writing block, which we all know can be a hard time to keep their attention going. You can make puzzle match activities for practically everything… phonics skills, math problems, grammar, etc.

Center #10 — Use LEGO or Pattern Blocks

Let students get their hands moving with LEGO or pattern blocks. They can work on math problems, phonics skills, sight words, and spelling activities using blocks. This set of 1:1 centers is all about Pattern Blocks. The bundle includes both math and literacy activities and is very low prep for you. Just print the activities you want students to work on and give them a set of pattern blocks. They don’t have to work in groups, as all activities can be done independently.

With the lack of movement currently allowed in our schools, these 10 Centers that Get Kids Moving are important to help students act like “kids” and make school a fun place to be. As I stated above, I have routines and procedures to help keep the kids socially distanced and safe. They are not allowed to be at the same spot in the classroom as another student, and only 3-4 kids can be participating in the “movement center” at any given time. So far, things have been going smoothly. 🤞🏼

If you have any centers that get kids moving ideas, please share them in the comments below. I am definitely keeping a running list that I can use to change things up for my students. 😉

Written by: Janessa Fletcher

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