Integrating Movement and Early Literacy… Kimberley Bates
How can early literacy instruction be integrated with movement-based activities?
Many teachers are aware of the importance of Brain Breaks (or as I prefer to call them, Brain Boosts) as they have experienced first hand, the difficulty of having students sit still for 5-35 minutes. As a pre-service teacher, I have seen the importance of giving my students regular movement breaks as it allows them to get their wiggles out, receive additional DPA, reenergize and refocus. I have also seen a wide range of learning styles in my classroom. I have noticed that many students are kinesthetic learners; however, movement-based activities that can be used across the curriculum are not always readily available. I decided to focus my project on the importance of integrating movement with early literacy instruction. I believe that incorporating movement, in conjunction with traditional methods of literacy instruction (auditory, visual and tactile,) allows for all students to learn through their own learning style and needs.
For my project, I chose to research how early literacy skills can be taught through movement-based activities. I chose to create an activity bank for teachers to easily access these activities. This activity bank is based on fundamental movement skills taught in physical education and is a daily physical activity (DPA) and cross-curricular integration resource. I have designed my website as a compilation of various movement-based early literacy activities.
I started this project by analyzing the Alberta Language Arts Program of Study. Originally, I had intended on creating a grade specific activity bank, however after a detailed analysis of the program of studies and noting the natural progression of the prescribed learning outcomes, I decided to group activities based on general learning outcomes rather than by grade.
I consulted a variety of external sources including Ever Active Schools, Alberta Education’s Daily Physical Activity Handbook, and author Rae Pica. These resources acted as the prime source for the various activities found in my activity bank. I read through various movement-based activities and subsequently matched up general and specific learning outcomes. Using this information, I then began compiling my database and organizing it in an appropriate manner.
I tested a variety of the activities with my students and made appropriate adjustments to the activity description and added various extensions and adaptations. Due to the nature of this project, I was not able to test all of the activities with my students.
This project has been received very well by the students in my class and other teachers at my school. My students greatly enjoyed the movement-based activities and they continued to express their desire to participate in these types of activities when they were given a choice. I noticed an improvement in the students’ concentration and focus during and after the activities. Most students were engaged in the various activities for the entire duration. However, similar to any non-movement based activity, some students needed reminders to stay on task.
As a future teacher, I would love to incorporate literacy components into physical education. I believe cross-curricular integration provides a holistic opportunity for children to grow and apply their learning in different ways. I have had the opportunity to share my project with my professional learning network on Twitter and it has been received very positively. I have been contacted by various physical education teachers to learn more about cross-curricular integration. This opportunity has definitely taught me the importance of collaboration with other educators.
In the future, I would like to research cross curricular integration into other subject areas. I believe that movement-based activities are another avenue for students to explore their learning styles and interests, and it is therefore beneficial to investigate other teaching styles and methods of instruction.
Kim completed PSIII teaching Kindergarten in Airdrie, AB. She will graduate with a major in Physical Education, a minor in Mathematics Education and a special focus in Early Childhood Education.