Warm Up of the Week: Zip Zap

I pulled out an old favourite this week to play with my students. Give this one a go when you want to build energy, test reflexes and concentration.

1. Start in a circle.

2. Students clap their hands, turn to their left, make eye contact with the person next to them and say “Zip!”

3. Each student does this around the circle until the Zip returns to the starting person.

4. Students then clap their hands, turn to their right, make eye contact with the person next to them and say “Zap!”

5. Each student does this around the circle until the Zap returns to the starting person.

6. Start off with “Zip” again but at any time, any one in the circle can change the direction to “Zap!”

7. Students can also re-direct the energy flow by saying “Boing!” across the circle. The person it is directed at needs to duck quickly and then continue to pass the energy flow around the circle in either direction.

8. If a person is too slow when they duck they are out.


Yoga in the Classroom – Why Not Try It?

I recently posted about managing teacher stress. It is important for us as teachers to ensure this so we are highly functioning and energetic in our dynamic classrooms as well as able to emotionally handle situations rationally.

But what about our kids? How can we get them to manage their stress? We’re all suffering from sensory overload, our minds racing at a thousand miles an hour. For a teenager, chuck in hormones and a high sugar diet and you have one highly wired child. I see it everyday and it worries me. Many of our student’s are not resilient and not coping with the challenges that schooling, their social life and home life can bring.  I believe yoga is one way of uncoiling us from our stress and finding stillness.

I discovered yoga almost two years ago now and have reaped the benefits of a healthy body and mind. Many gyms offer it as part of their regular group fitness timetable and there are many yoga ashrams that offer classes specifically for children and teens. If you can get it incorporated into your PDHPE or Sport program, do it!

Last year I decided I wanted to vary up my usual 10-15 minute drama warm-up with some yoga practice instead. I wanted the kids to become more aware of themselves and how they were feeling that day and to offer them simple, easy to do exercises that would allow them to manage any discomfort they may be feeling.

So I took a day to do some TPL to see what another, experienced yoga in the classroom teacher felt was a good way to go about it. I then went back to school and experimented with my then Yr 9 student’s. I thought I’d share with you what I have tried doing. Maybe you will consider giving it a go. If anything, it really is a very simple alternative to playing a drama game.

1. Awareness of the Breath – Lie in corpse pose and concentrate on taking deep full breaths for 5 minutes in and out through your nose. Start to relax the muscles and feel the earth support your weight.

2. Salute to the Sun – Here is a clip explaining how to do the Sun Salute. A standard start of practice exercise to bring heat and energy into the body:

3. The Triangle

4. The Tree

5. Reaching for the Toes – Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Sit nice and tall. Breath in and reach forward and grab the outside edges of your feet. Bend your knees if you can’t reach. Hold for five breaths.

6. Beginner’s Shoulder Stand – Lie on the floor with your legs straight up and leaning against a wall. Keep your eyes closed and concentrate on the breath for five minutes.

Try this routine for a couple of weeks and then vary certain poses by removing one and replacing it with another. Initially you will need to establish routines and expectations just like you would any other classroom activity. However it is important to emphasise in these exercises that you work where your body is at and that it is not a competition to see how flexible you are. If anything it is about the breath.

For those student’s who may be reluctant to participate, a really great suggestion I was given was to get some dot matrix paper from the Maths department and get the student’s to draw lotuses by connecting the dots. You could also just have them lie in corpse pose and concentrate on their breathing or sit cross legged (half or full lotus if they can manage it), hands resting on their knees, eyes closed and breathing.

Some teachers may like to burn some incense before the student’s enter the room, others may like to play music.

I have also tried this in my English classroom. This was a room full of desks and chairs. We meditated with our heads resting on the desk and tried tree standing behind our chairs. It was five minutes of yoga after a crazy lunchtime. It settled the student’s a little and helped them focus. With continued practice I’m sure I can get better results. Give it a whirl yourself. You might be surprised by your student’s reactions.

For more informatin on Yoga in the Classroom try these links:

Have you tried yoga in your classroom? What has been your experience? Comments appreciated.

Image Credit:The Pink Panther’s Yoga Mat / Christian Yves Ocampo / http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Warm-Up of the Week: Fly!

This year I’ve taken on pre-service teachers for the first time. I felt it was about time I started imparting some of what I’ve learned in my five years and also to keep developing my skills by learning from teachers who are connecting with new research and ideas at university. My current pre-service teacher taught me this warm-up game this week. Give it a whirl with your class.

1. Find a space in your classroom or outside that is long in length. A good 6-10 metres at least.

2. Use masking tape to mark out a serious of points from one end of the space to the other. Make sure they aren’t stuck down too tightly because they will be ripped up later on in the game.

3. Line the student’s up at one end of the space.

4. Student’s need to make their way from one end of the room to the other stepping between each marker using only one step.

5. Student’s are to observe the way in which they use their bodies to move between the gaps.

6. As the student’s become more confident, remove one of the markers so that certain gaps become wider. The student’s will need to change the length of their step and the way in which they prepare to reach each marker.

7. Speed up the pace with which each student goes through the markers and begin a process of elimination until there are only two student’s left. Eliminate student’s if they can’t make it to the next marker in one step.

8. The student who can “fly” through each marker in one step is the winner.

Student’s should notice how their steps change and the use of their bodies becomes bigger as they begin to “fly.”

Warm-Up of the Week: The God Game

This game is great for higher ability groups who are able to pick up on the complexities of the game.

1. Have everyone start in a circle.

2. The teacher in role becomes “God”. The person to his/her left hand side becomes “Hell.”

3. Give every student, moving in an anti-clockwise direction (from the teacher’s right all the way round the circle till you get to Hell), a number starting from one.

4. Begin the following rhythm: slap both thighs once, clap hands together once, two clicks together on both your right and left hand. Keep this rhythm going.

5. On the first click “God” says: “God” and then follows on the second click with another number from around the circle. So it goes something like, “God, six.”

6. By saying the second number “God” is passing on the rhythm to that person and on the next set of clicks they must then say their number first and then another number. So it goes something like, “Six, twelve.”

7. The aim of the game is to dethrone “God” and avoid “Hell”.

8. You end up in “Hell” if you don’t respond quickly enough after the rhythm has been passed to you.

Variations: You could change the names of “God” and “Hell” if you prefer. It’s also a great way of learning names in class. Rather than using the numbers you replace them with names.

It’s quite a tricky game because student’s have to think about the rhythm, listen and concentrate at being able to keep the rhythm going and not get caught out for being too slow. This really is a personal favourite of mine.

Warm-Up of the Week: Murder Winks

This one is really fun 🙂

1. One person waits outside the classroom.

2. The remaining student’s form a circle and close their eyes.

3. The teacher selects one student to be the murderer by squeezing them on the shoulder.

4. Everyone opens their eyes and the person waiting outside is let into the room and circle.

5. The person in the centre of the circle has three chances to guess who the murderer might be.

6. The murderer’s job is to wink at different people around the circle. As each person gets winked at they must die an active, dramatic death.

You might also like to try having the entire class guess who the murderer is rather than one particular student.

Warm-Up of the Week: 21

I played this game this week after not having played it for awhile. I’d forgotten how much I love it.

  1. Student’s create a circle.
  2. Place an object in the middle of the circle for the student’s to focus on. They must spend the entire game looking at the object.
  3. The aim of the game is to count to 21 (1 through to 21 in that order). However who says what number does not follow the consecutive order of the circle. E.g. person one might say “one”, but then person six in the circle might say “two” and so forth. Numbers are being called from different parts of the circle.
  4. If two people say the next number in the sequence together in unison then the count must start again from one.

Some tips: I always like to allocate the teacher as the person who always starts and restarts the count. It keeps the kids focused and moving towards trying to reach the goal of 21. If they are struggling to get past a certain number make the number goal smaller. This week my student’s could only get to 10 and at one point 15. Come back to the game at a later time in the term and see if they can beat their score.

Warm-Up of the Week: Knots

This week’s warm-up is a quick little 10 minute game that develops communication skills and team-building. It doesn’t just have to be used in the drama classroom. It can be used during conferences and other team-building situations to get people out of their seats and interacting with others. Enjoy!

1. If you have a large group, split them into two smaller groups and have them make a circle facing inward. They also need to be shoulder to shoulder.

2. Have everyone place their arms outstretched into the centre of the circle.

3. Each person must then grab the hand of two different people. This will create a big looking mess of arms and hands in the centre of the circle.

4. The aim of the exercise is to now try to untangle the knot without letting go of any hands.

5. Once the group has succeeded (and this may take some time), try it again but this time without any speaking at all.

At the end of the exercise, discuss the differences between the first situation where you were allowed to communicate and the second situation where you were not.

It is a really interesting exercise to see how people react to problems and who steps up and leads when needing to deal with them.

Image Credits:

Sometimes Life Can Tie You in Knots!  (http://www.flickr.com/photos/8525214@N06/5529991482/) / Tony Hammond (http://www.flickr.com/photos/8525214@N06/) / http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/ (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/).