Bringing Physical Activity "Around the World" and Into the Classroom

Pen Bay Medical Center

As a child, Jared Todd used to count down the minutes until each recess. As a second grade teacher at Appleton Village School, he keeps that in mind when planning his curriculum.

“I try to put physical movement back into the day whenever I can,” said Mr. Todd.

In the fall of 2015, Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0 Knox County awarded Mr. Todd a Redy Award for his commitment, leadership and innovation in creating a healthy learning environment for all of his
students by incorporating physical activity into every learning day.

“Winning that award really makes me want to walk the walk,” said Mr. Todd. He tries to tie physical activities to lessons and even seasons whenever possible. He describes pairing movement with things that are measured on report cards, such as math skills. He uses games like “Around the World” that get students up and moving while they learn. Every October he teaches kids the “Monster Mash” when students need to get their blood pumping and heart rates up after sitting at their desks. Last fall the whole school did the dance together at a school-wide assembly.

Mr. Todd has been very influenced by the Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0 message. He remembers Adrienne Gallant, Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0 Knox County coordinator, giving a presentation about the program. She shared the importance of increasing fruit and vegetable intake, limiting recreational screen time, drinking plenty of water, and moving more. 

“Let’s Go! has done an outstanding job drawing attention to the relationship between healthy choices and success in school,” said Mr. Todd. “Research shows that diet and exercise have a profound impact on a child’s ability to learn. Physical activity improves classroom behavior, increases student motivation and boosts academic achievement.”

Mr. Todd uses quick movement breaks throughout the day that don’t take away from instructional time, such as incorporating a physical activity while transitioning from one activity to another. He often sets up different workstations around the classroom and has students move from one to another as they work on tasks. He said the payback from taking these breaks is immediate. The kids come back calm, not as distracted and able to focus on their work.

While Mr. Todd has always believed in the importance of movement breaks, he said teachers face a lot of pressure to meet academic targets that can make it seem difficult to work such breaks in.

“Now, programs like Let’s Go! are really pushing these initiatives to be more active, and that helps give teachers permission to incorporate breaks into the curriculum,” said Mr. Todd. “You don’t have to sacrifice one for the other.”

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