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Activities to Help Students Refocus in the New Year

As we jump into January, the post-holiday energy and excitement of the new year can make it challenging to settle into school day routines. Stretching and calming movements increase serotonin– a hormone that helps stabilize mood, reduce stress, and overall make us feel good. Stretching activities even boost memory and focus.

Even just five minutes of these Zen Zone activities can help students refocus and reconnect with learning in this new year.


PowerUp Fitness offers evidence based-physical activity programs for before & afterschool, PE, summer camps and more! PowerUp programs are designed to provide children with the opportunity to become more active, physically and mentally. Use our bundle finder to find the best PowerUp bundle for your organization.


Alphabet Stretch

Participants will stretch their way through the alphabet. Participants will use their bodies to form each letter of the alphabet. Hold each letter for 5 seconds.

  • Upper Case & Lower Case - For young participants, compare upper case and lower case letters of the alphabet.

  • Spelling - stretch your way through this week’s spelling words.

  • Name Game - working in pairs or small groups, participants take turns spelling each other's names.

  • Vocabulary - recite definitions as you stretch through the letters of weekly vocab words.


Storybook Yoga

Discuss characters, scenes, and themes from a recent reading or favorite book. Invent yoga poses for main characters or objects in key scenes, 5 to 10 poses total. Hold poses for 15-30 seconds before moving to the next. Optional: create a yoga flow that tells the story.

Example: Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Bear Pose: Strong, wide stance, arms up and out, like a standing bear growling.

Goldilocks Pose: standing, one knee up, arms bent at sides, as if a young child skipping, but frozen in place.

Chair Pose: Hold a squat position (pretend like you’re sitting in a chair, but don’t fall down!)

Porridge Pose: Sitting, legs crossed and bent (criss-cross applesauce), hands on stomach, deep breathing.

Sleeping Pose: Laying flat on back, arms relaxed at sides.

Try it as a Yoga Flow!

Bear, Goldilocks, Chair, Goldilocks, Porridge, Goldilocks, Sleeping, Bear, Chair, Bear, Porridge, Bear, Sleeping, Goldilocks, Bear


Did you enjoy these activities? For 100’s of activities, games, and exercises aligned with academics shop our PowerUp programs!


Download the printable pdf version of PowerUp's Zen Zone below.

Tips & Tricks - 2023 Jan Zen Zone
Download PDF • 1.82MB

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


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