April 29, 2012

Move to Learn in Science!

Brain research supports the need for students to get plenty of movement throughout the day - but that's something every teacher knows! In Teaching with the Brain in Mind, Eric Jensen states, "Brain-compatible learning means that educators should weave math, movement, geography, social skills, role play, science, and physical education together."

I completely agree, and that's why I enjoyed using simulations and role-playing games in my classroom. One day my students were stuck inside due to the winter weather, and I made up a game where the kids pretended to be molecules and they moved according to the changes in states of matter. We reviewed the three states of matter, and I used water in my examples:
  • Solids - Molecules are tightly packed and move slowly, staying in a rigid formation. (Ice would be an example of matter in a solid state.)
  • Liquids - As solid matter is heated, the addition of energy causes molecules to move more quickly and spread apart. (Water is a liquid.)
  • Gases - With the addition of more heat, the molecules move even faster and pread even farther apart. (Steam is the gaseous form of water.)
Here's a simple visual I found online:

States of Matter Game
To start the game, I asked everyone to stand up, find a spot on the floor, and then move as I guided them through the states of matter. One of the rules was that they couldn't touch anyone or anything as they moved, so I had them cross their arms across their chests to keep their bodies in a compact form.
  1. Solids - They started out bunched together in one part of the room, barely moving as they role-played molecules in the solid state. 
  2. Liquids - Then I told them they were getting warmer and they needed to increase their speed and spread out accordingly. 
  3. Gases -Finally, they became gas molecules and moved quickly but carefully all over the room. 
Anyone who touched something or someone had to sit out for a minute (mostly to calm down!). Click the image to download the directions.

Water Cycle Adaptation
The States of Matter game is easily adapted to have students role-play the water cycle. Tell them they are now molecules inside a water droplet.Then guide them through the processes of evaporation, condensation, and freezing. When they start evaporating, they become a gas so they need to spread out. As they cool down and condense to form clouds, they become liquid and move closer together. At that point you can have them become a liquid again as rain or tell them they are freezing to form snowflakes or solid particles of ice. Relate their movements to water's different states of matter during the water cycle.

More Water Cycle Resources

If  your students need extra practice with identifying examples of condensation, evaporation, and precipitation, check out my Water Cycle Combo on TpT. This product includes includes 32 task cards, a sorting activity, and a quiz.  Your kids will master these concepts in no time!

Move to Learn Link Up
Because I think movement is so important in learning, I was excited when Rachel Lynette posted her Move to Learn link up. I decided to write this blog post to share one of my favorite ways to get kids moving. Even if you aren't studying states of matter, the game works great as a 5-minute energizer. With younger kids, you can leave out the science terminology and just tell them to speed up and slow down according to your directions. My students always loved this one! Please visit Rachel's original blog post on this topic for more ideas about how to get kids up and moving to learn!


  1. I love this! Getting physically involved helps my little ones really understand! Plus, they just need to move!

    Sally from ElementaryMatters

  2. Great ideas to get the kids active in their learning. I bet they had so much fun when you did these activities. I can't wait to try some of them. :)

    Teaching in Room 6


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.