Tuesday, December 30, 2014

10 Ways to Get Fit in Your Classroom

One of my biggest challenges as a teacher is finding balance.  Between the endless responsibilities of teaching, being a wife, mom, and friend, I find that I seem to always come last.  There is never time for ME to do something good for ME - like working out!  Well, a few years ago, I discovered some simple things I could do during my school day to help me lose weight and get healthy.  I lost 40 pounds in one year!  These pictures are from the Marine Corps Ball 2011 and 2012.

In 2011, I remember not wanting to go dress shopping.  I was so grossed out with myself and refused to buy the size that I actually needed.  I found something in my closet with enough elastic to work.  Looking at the picture, I can't believe how booby-licous this was and I actually wore it like that!  And now I am putting it on the internet!  Oh, lord!  I believe it will help others, so I am willing to make this embarrassing sacrifice.  Don't judge!  :)  In 2012, I had lost 40 pounds.  I had not gone dress shopping and there was only one dress in my closet that would fit me for the ball.  It was the same dress I wore to my first ball with my husband when I was just 19 years old.  (Saved only for the memory, I never intended for it to be worn again!)  How freakin' awesome is that?  Three kids later, I was rocking the same dress I wore at 19.  No spanx, no sucking in!

Here are 10 little tricks that I implemented to help me achieve this success and keep the weight off!
  1. Walking Club - So one day, I was standing on the playground doing recess duty when I realized that instead of standing, I should be moving!  I rounded-up some kids and started "the walking club".  Our walking club does laps around the playground.  To keep it fresh and exciting, I came up with little "challenges" as we walk.  One wall has an ocean mural.  When we walk by it, we pretend to swim and hold our breath.  There is a small hill that we call "danger hill".  Every time we go down the hill, we say, "Oh, no!  It's Danger Hill!"  We raise our arms in the air and run down the hill.  There is an alcove near the office.  This is a bear cave.  We tip toe across very quietly so that we don't wake the bears.  There is also an electromagnetic wall that we run past (or we may stick to it), scary trolls, and we stop to smell the flowers (another mural).  When we walk by my classroom door, we raise our hands and give a little woot-woot, because this marks one completed lap.  I keep a tally chart in my room to track our laps.  Last year, we got almost 200 laps.  Kids want to join the walking club.  They see me walking and run to join.  Walking club is for all kids on the playground - not just my own students.  My class this year has added another fun twist on the walking club.  They use sidewalk chalk to create obstacle courses.  They make bombs that we can't step on, tight ropes, stones that we must jump on, and more.  They get so creative and are super excited for our walking club to walk their course.  Their obstacles work even more muscles.  Jumping on the "stones" is a real workout!  I also love that they label the side walk with "bear cave" and "danger hill".  I love to see that they are motivated to write.  
  2. Skip Count and Move - I totally created this as a way for me to get some exercise into my day, but they are good for my kiddos, too!  These are PowerPoints that get us moving while we practice skip counting.  You choose which number you want to count by.  Numbers 2-10 are included.  There are simple exercise moves to do as we count.  We do frog squats, polar bear jumping jacks, penguin knee lifts, and more!  This runs through numbers three times for lots of practice and exercise.  The squats make me sore every single time we do them!  When we started jumping jacks, I could not finish them all.  Now, I do them easily.  I am so proud of my progress!
  3. Fitbit - If you have never heard of a fitbit, it is a small pedometer that syncs to your phone or internet account.  It is SO fun because you can add friends from school.  It shows who from your group got in the most steps for the week.  This gives me a little more motivation to move more.  It also tracks active minutes, flights of stairs climbed, and calories burned.  There are even fitbit community groups.  I am part of a teaching fitbit group.  Just think of all the steps you can log if you start your own walking club!
  4. MOVE IT - This series features lessons with built-in brain breaks.  This is a GREAT way to get in some cardio in the classroom.  My class does a MOVE IT about three times a week.  They love it because they have a chance to get out of their seats and move.  I love it because I can move, I can assess their skills and give immediate feedback, and I can throw out a boring workbook page.  To read more about MOVE ITs, click here!
    30 seconds of jumping jacks!
  5. Drink more water - I have not had a soda in four years.  NO soda for 4 years!!!  When you don't drink soda, there is not much else to drink, so I have a lot of water.  Drinking only water can get really boring, so I spruce it up with fruit slices.  Here is my trick for yummy school water.  I buy produce, slice it up, put the slices on wax paper or saran wrap (so they don't stick together), and freeze them.  Once they are frozen, I store them in a container in my freezer.  If you put all the slices in a container and then freeze, they make one solid block and are almost impossible to pry apart.  When I am in a hurry for school, I can just throw a few frozen slices in my ice water.  Some of my favorite things to add to my water are: lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit, cucumber, pineapple, mango, and fresh mint.
  6. Tie fitness into your curriculum - I like to introduce the subject of healthy food choices with the story The Gulps by Marc Brown and Rosemary Wells.  This is a story about a family that changes their ways and gets healthy.  It is a nice way of broaching the subject without making anybody feel bad.  I also really like the story Miss Fox's Class Shapes Up.  We use this as a motivation for our class to work together on fitness goals.  I use the morning songs Healthy by Ken Sheldon, Let's Go to the Market by Greg and Steve, and A Very Good Me by Penny and Pals.  Singing these songs in the morning is a reminder to me about the choices I need to make. 
  7. Get rid of your throne! - I used to have a comfy rocking chair in the front my room.  I found myself sitting in it way too often.  I replaced it with a cheap computer chair and found myself spending less time sitting.  If you have a stool that you sit on while you teach, or if you are often perched behind your desk, try to get away from that comfort zone.  Stand more. Walk more.  Move more!
  8. Alpha-Stretch - These are quick brain breaks that reinforce letter size.  We touch our waist for small letters, reach up high for tall letters, and touch our toes for letters with a tail.  These come in a variety of themes to last all year.  This is a great way to stretch and feels great if you find yourself sore from all that exercising you have been fitting it.  To read more about Alpha-Stretch, click here!
  9. Change the way you party!  - Instead of having cupcakes and cookies at your party, have healthy choices like strawberries and carrot sticks.  You will be shocked by how much your kids enjoy them.  Instead of having a popcorn or root beer float party, have a dance party!  There are two ways my class has a dance party.  For the first, se use my Freeze Dance videos.  These have fun songs to dance to and then "FREEZE!" to practice skills like reading sight words, reviewing phonics, skip counting, etc.  The other type of dance party is where they come to the rug where we have lots of room and I put on fun songs for them to dance to.  I have some kids bop CDs that they like for this.  With both types of dance parties, I always review the rules so it doesn't get too crazy!  There is no break dancing or mosh pit.  You are not allowed to be on the floor because we might step on you!  Our objectives are fun and safety!  If we do not review these rules, dance parties can get a little dangerous!  
  10. Make yourself a priority!  - Remember that you are a role model for your students.  It is important that they see you setting a healthy example.  By taking time for yourself, you are actually taking care of every one in your life.  Your students, spouse, and children will benefit from you being the best you that you can be!  Treat yourself!  Buy yourself a new outfit when you reach a goal.  Your appearance affects your attitude.  Set goals and work to achieve them.  If you have a bad day, brush it off and start fresh tomorrow.  
Do you have any healthy classroom routines to share?  What keeps you motivated?  Please share!  

Until next time, 


Autumn Morrison said...

I just updated the article to include more info on dance parties. Thanks for the question, Susan! :)

Lee Ann Rasey said...

I love these ideas! Since I know nothing about technology, how do I get these on my computer when I download them from TPT?

Autumn Morrison said...

Thanks for the question, Lee Ann! When you download, you will have the option of saving them to your computer. After this, you can open them and use them. The most important thing to remember about using PowerPoint, is that you need to use it as a slideshow or the animations won't work. To use as a slideshow, press the F5 button on your keyboard. Please let me know if you have any other questions. I am always happy to help. :)

JennyDeeDee said...

Thanks for the timely inspiration!
Your students are lucky to have you :)

susan said...

Thanks for the dance info! I teach Second and I am hoping you can make more of the Dance Freezes for Second! I love love your products and congrats on your weight!

Julie said...

Love all of your tips! Ironically, they are pretty much the same things I have implemented in the last year and I've lost 25lbs, so they really work! I have your move- its, but need to add them to my routine so I use them more. Skip counting is in my TPT cart for when we get back to school too.
I would love to be in the teacher fitbit group! I have friends, but not any groups that I am active in. My fitbit email is mrsmartinchick@aol.com

Christina said...

Excellent ideas! Thanks for your family's service. I am a mom of a Marine and I understand how much your family has sacrificed by way of time apart. God bless you and the inspiration you are!
Seabear's Kindergarten

Christina said...

Excellent ideas! Thanks for your family's service. I am a mom of a Marine and I understand how much your family has sacrificed by way of time apart. God bless you and the inspiration you are!
Seabear's Kindergarten

Christina said...

Excellent ideas! Thanks for your family's service. I am a mom of a Marine and I understand how much your family has sacrificed by way of time apart. God bless you and the inspiration you are!
Seabear's Kindergarten

Rae Wallace said...

Great post! What a wonderful way to promote self-love and healthy living in yourself and your kiddos! Thank you for sharing this with us :)

Mindful Rambles

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