Help students refocus with these fun physical activities that add math and ELA into movement!
Between bathroom breaks and literacy lessons or from snack time to homework help, it can be hard to keep kids on task as you transition a group of students from one activity to the next.
Whether you’re in the classroom, running the afterschool program, or getting students geared up for PE, those transition times can be a great opportunity for fun fitness activities.
Transition Time Activities for Afterschool, PE, and Active Classrooms!
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Have Fun & Re-Focus - Physical Activity Boosts Concentration
Engaging students in short physical activities during breaks and between programming revitalizes their energy and enhances cognitive function. Afterward, they’ll transition back to learning with improved focus and readiness.
A strong link exists between regular physical activity and academic achievement, as regular movement not only enhances physical well-being but also contributes to improved cognitive functions, attention spans, and overall academic performance among students.
Get ready to play!
Activity 1: Word Chain Relay
Explain the game: Students form teams and create a word chain related to the subject (Math, Science, etc.).
Each team member adds a word that begins with the last letter of the previous word.
Incorporate movement: Between words, students perform a quick exercise (e.g., jumping jacks).
Benefits: Enhances vocabulary and critical thinking
Activity 2: Race in Place
Explain the game: Seated in their chairs, students move only their legs, in place, and pretend to run/race in a seated position.
Instructor calls out a math problem and students answer with their hands and stop moving their legs. Once everyone has the correct answer, start racing in place again and solve the next problem.
Benefits: Math skills, mental problem solving
Activity 3: Body Cross
Explain the activity: Participants will solve math problems or spell words while doing mid-line crossing stretch activities. In a standing position, participants touch their right elbow to their left knee (lift knee to belly button height), return to stand, then switch, touching left elbow to right knee. Continue alternating right to left and left to right.
Instructor calls out a math problem, i.e. 30 divided by 2. Participants perform 15 body crosses to “answer” the problem. Try spelling words also.
Benefits: Problem-solving, spelling, mid-line crossing activity
Activity 4: Spelling Stretch
Explain the activity: Participants will use their bodies to form each letter of a word as they spell it out.
Instructor calls out a spelling word, for example, “together”. Participants move their bodies to look like the letter T, for example, standing with feet together and arms out to the side. Then “e” and so on.
Benefits: Letter recognition, spelling, vocabulary.
Adding some physical activity during those in-between moments isn't just a break from the norm – it's a brain boost! It helps students recharge, stay attentive, and sneak in a bit of learning, all while having a blast.
If you love these activities, try several of our math-focused activities here. Want to mix in more English Language Arts - see some of our favorite literacy activities here. Looking for more? The PowerUp Your School program offers over 300 math and ELA-integrated physical activities, requiring no equipment and perfect for any space, any place!
Did you enjoy these activities? For 100’s of activities, games, and exercises aligned with state and national standards, shop our PowerUp programs!
Download the printable pdf version of PowerUp's Transition Time Activities below.
PowerUp Fitness is an Advocate Member of the National Afterschool Association and a proud partner of Active Schools.