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Active Play and ELA

Tell the tale of the seven seas! Learning through games and play is not a new concept, but learning through movement? Arr, matey! One of our favorite games - Exercise Shipwreck - can be a literary teaching tool.

Next time you’re working on reading comprehension, retelling a story, vocabulary, and more, give this game a try.

PowerUp Fitness offers a variety of unique fitness programs! PowerUp programs are designed to provide children with the opportunity to become more active, physically and mentally. Learn more about us and our mission to PowerUp children's development with fitness and fun in our About Section!

Set the Scene

In the designated play area, designate areas of the space as the front of the boat, back of the boat and sides of the boat.

Tell the Story

All aboard! Assign an exercise or movement to these common seafaring terms:

Swab the Deck - Squat position

Walk the Plank - Hold plank position

Man Overboard - Balance on one leg, arms out (as if you’re about to fall over)

Dead bug - lie on back with arms and legs sticking straight up in the air

Ask participants to come up with related terms/sayings and associate movements. Ideas: Lifeboat, Captain’s Coming, Shiver Me Timbers, Heave Ho, etc.

Once the children understand the commands for the different areas of the room and key terms with actions, the game can begin. The instructor randomly calls out areas of the boat and key terms, participants either move to that part of the “boat” or perform the appropriate exercise.

  • To add a little competition to the game, the last few children to perform the action called out are no longer crewmates, or ‘out’ for the next round.

  • In small spaces - have children skip or hop to “slow” the game down for safety.

Switch It Up

Ditch the ship and play out scenes and settings from a variety of stories. Ask participants to set the scene from their favorite book or time travel for historical storytelling. Venture to outer space! The sky's the limit!

PowerUp Academics

Interpret words and phrases, including technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

See specific Common Core State Standards alignment below.

Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.

Use information gained from the illustrations and words in a print or digital text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.

Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.

Explain how specific aspects of a text's illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting)

Common Core State Standards © Copyright 2010. National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and Council of Chief State School Officers. All rights reserved.


Download this printable pdf version of Measurement & Movement!

Did you enjoy these activities? Take a look at our activity bundles or even request sample lesson plans to learn more!

For 100’s of activities, games, and exercises that can be implemented in-person, virtually or with safe distancing, check out our PowerUp programs!


PowerUp Fitness is an Advocate Member of the National Afterschool Association and a proud partner of Active Schools.


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