• email
  • rss
  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Twitter

The Key to Keeping Kids Active? Get Creative! | Dear Rashida

Rashida Ladner-Seward

Rashida Ladner-Seward is Director of Program Support at ExpandED Schools. This blog is part of our bi-weekly advice column where we answer burning questions from program directors, educators and administrators on how to develop and run successful expanded learning programs.


Dear Rashida,

Even though fall starts this week, the weather is still warm and summer vacation play still fresh in the minds of our students. How can my program incorporate a healthy amount of physical fitness opportunities, especially with our limited recreation space?


They Can't Sit Still



Dear They Can't Sit Still,

We know that physical activity is crucial for kids’ bodies and brains, and also recognize that there is not always sufficient space in or around our schools for everyone to be able to dance, play basketball or run around. The trick is to be creative! 

First, you should think about how your instructors can incorporate physical activity in the lessons they are already developing. If you know that space is going to be an issue for formal sports or other recreational programs, encourage your instructors to include 5-10 minutes of physical activity into each lesson. This could look like:

  • active stretching before or in the middle of homework help;

  • students doing science experiments about the human body and measuring heart rate before and after 10, 15 and 20 jumping jacks;

  • or creating a wordless play in drama class, where kids have to use only their bodies to demonstrate a scene or theme (think "Charades").

Just about every class could have physical activity interjected and achieve multiple learning outcomes.

If you are looking for other ways to infuse physical activity into your expanded day, here are other low-space, low-cost options to consider:

  • While it’s still warm outside, schedule regular trips to a park or to a local community center. With parental permission, you could also take kids on a neighborhood walk to investigate the beauty, strengths and areas for improvement in their communities. This exercise could be a great introduction to service learning for your students!

  • If you have access to a smart board, invest in a Wii gaming console and some sports and dance games that require movement. There are even games that are for larger groups so that you can have 10 kids “playing soccer” or “bowling” in a classroom. The dance games are a great way to build up a sweat! 

  • If you can get your hands on some yoga mats (or cardboard)? Consider having 15 minutes of daily low-impact yoga tacked onto supper or snack time. You don’t even have to leave the cafeteria if the kids are able to keep it clean enough! 

  • One of my programs has a dismissal dance party in the cafeteria every day! This is especially effective with younger students. All you need is some music and some time and kids have a ball! 

  • Get some low-cost fitness trackers or pedometers (or even better, get some donated) and challenge students to compete against one another to see who can walk or exercise the most between classes. You can then use class time to goal set, talk about what is going well or not so well, and brainstorm ways to live more healthy lives. This could be used in conjunction with a health, PE, nutrition or cooking class!

I wish you the all the best in getting your kids moving!




♦ Have a question? Send it to info@expandedschools.org with “Dear Rashida” in the subject line. Be sure to check back each week for a nugget of wisdom.



Subscribe to Blog