Monday, January 4, 2010

Ready, Set, Don't Move!

I am sure we have all said to a child at some point in our life, “Stop moving” or “don’t move.” And I am equally certain that a majority of the requests were met with more wiggling. What does it mean to actually not move, what skills are you asking a child to use by being still?

The first thing is to change the understanding of not moving. When a person does not move or otherwise “freezes” he or she is using a great amount of muscle and brain power. I tell my students that they are in charge of their bodies. Their brain has the power to tell their bodies what to do, and there muscles have the ability to make this happen. Instead of not doing, I ask them to do. Do something amazing while you stop moving, have superpower control over your body. Connect your mind and body together to “freeze” and become as still as a statue. The other thing I confide in them is that this is a very difficult task. When you stop moving, gravity wants to take over. Your muscles have to fight gravity in order to keep still. This means your muscles are working just as hard as if you were doing jumping jacks or push-ups.

Next, I ask them to become aware of how there body FEELS. I ask my students to put their hands above their heads and then not to move. I cue them with “you are in charge of your body,” “your brain tells your body what to do” and then we wait. I compliment them on how hard their bodies and minds are working to keep their body still. Then I ask “how do your arms feel?” Their arms will feel tired, and might even feel sore from working so hard. I tell them the muscles in their arms are fighting gravity; gravity wants to pull them down. The longer their arm muscles resist gravity, the stronger they become!

They are basically doing isometric exercises.

Then I ask them “what is the muscles job?” This is an important question because if you ask a child not to move, then the child needs to know HOW not to move. This is the job of the muscles. I ask them to tap on their upper arm or bicep muscle and then I direct them to bend their arm at the elbow a few times. The muscle made the arm move by contracting and lengthening. Muscles are in charge of moving bones or keeping bones still. The more we activate our muscles the stronger they get!

One more fun activity I do with my students is I ask them to stand very still on one foot. At first kids get very silly and fall down a lot. They might even say that they have a hard time balancing. Then I give the control over to the students. I tell them “you are in charge of your body. If you feel you are falling tell your brain to tell your body to put your foot down.” The result is amazing. Not only do the kids balance longer but they quietly put their foot down if they are falling and try again. Permission and personal control are powerful things.

With little control children have in their lives, the power of controlling their bodies is a very important one. And instead of telling a child “don’t move,” give them permission to use all the muscles in their body at once. This can become empowering, fun and can help them develop important body skills. So, the next time you say “don’t move” explain to the children in your life how hard this actually is, how much brain and muscle power this takes, and how much they are doing by not doing. They’ll want to impress you with their amazing not moving abilities!

This activity works on muscle control, balance and body awareness.

Keep moving (or not moving) up down and all around together!


  1. I am just reading this post and just today I did something similar with my students. Great ideas! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks for the feedback. I find that this is such a great tool for class management as well. "Freeze" takes on a whole new meaning, their entire bodies and minds are engaged and ready for direction.