Math and movement

Most of you know me as a math teacher educator in the secondary education department at National Louis University, but as of about five years ago I have looked at math with a dual lens – secondary and early childhood.  Four and a half years ago, my daughter was born, and so now when I go to math conferences and workshops I have double the work of collecting resources, and ask twice as many questions, some for my role as an educator, and others for my role as a parent.

In our current situation of shelter in pace, I am once again collecting resources and ideas that will be helpful for my students (future high school math teacher) and me and my daughter (PK). In my role as a parent, I am especially looking for educational opportunities that involve movement. According to Eric Jensen, a former teacher, member of the Society for Neuroscience and New York Academy of Sciences, and the author of Teaching with the brain in mind  “movement can be an effective cognitive strategy to (1) strengthen learning, (2) improve memory and retrieval, and (3) enhance learner motivation and morale”. Another great piece on the topic comes from Cult of Pedagogy – To Boost Learning, Just Add Movement.

So in this week’s blog post I would like to share what my daughter and I are doing to develop math skills with movement, and a few other resources that encourage learning while moving. 

One of our favorite activities is skip counting and moving. There are many examples of this that include driving a car, being an elephant, and other variations. Many of these skip counting activities can be found on the site. 

We also enjoy hop scotch. We draw the numbers with chalk on the driveway. Here are more variations of early numeracy activities –  playground markings.

A few people suggested I check out – a website dedicated to movement and mindfulness. Most of the resources are not math related but I did find a cute video about comparing numbers

Want to use the number line to practice math? Try Outdoor number line activity

Want to talk to your kids about similarity? Do it while walking around your neighborhood by making observations about the details of the different buildings and plants you see. While you are at it, talk about patterns too. Patterns are everywhere in nature –

Have hoola hoops? Check out all the different ways to do hoola hoop math on Pintrest. 

How do you incorporate movement with your children and students? Share in the comments below! 

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2 thoughts on “Math and movement

  1. Thank you for your wonderful examples of movement and math. I believe that illustrating math in our everyday world can open students’ eyes to more than just sitting and completing math problems, but to how math is applied in our world around us. I found two examples from “The Joy of X” by Steven Strogatz and “What’s Math Got to Do With It?” by Jo Boaler.

    The first example from Strogatz is teaching vectors in which Strogatz demonstrates through dance moves, like the Box Step. An illustration of the Box Step usually shows the bottom outline of shoes and the direction and length the shoes need to move with an arrow for each move. These arrows are vectors, which contain a direction and a magnitude or length that a person should step. As educators, teaching students to dance can be a wonderful lesson plan in math, vectors, and movement.

    The second example I read recently is from Jo Boaler’s book was a chapter on Fibronacci’s sequence when looking at daisies and sunflowers. This lesson can be a multitude of different plans, starting with a hike to find a daisy or sunflower, counting the seeds in the spiral of each flower, finding patterns, addition and sequencing, using division to equate the golden ratio, etc. This exercise can be completed with a variety of age groups and there is movement involved.

    Thank you for your creative ideas in your posts.


  2. Monica, thank you for those examples! I especially love the one about dance. I think often when we think about applying math we think “real-world” but not necessarily “real interesting” 🙂 The applications to dance and music would be appreciated by a lot of students.


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