Movement – Engaging your students with movement


Chances are – that if you move your arms in the same shapes as the figures above, your mind would be saying YMCA!  That’s embodied cognition!

The research behind using movement in the classroom is solid.  It makes sense that sitting slows thinking and movement wakes up the brain, but did you know that it goes deeper than that?  The theory behind using movement to learn is called embodied cognition.  Marianna Bolognesi, a linguist from Italy, explains that embodied cognition  shows “that language is tightly connected to our experience.  Our bodily experience” (Chorost, 2014).

When we talk about strategies using movement on this website, we will be talking about three different ways that you might use movement in your classroom.  First of all, we will provide you with strategies that involve gestures – like the figures above.  The use of gestures reduces the cognitive demand on the working memoryallowing students to retain more.  If I started singing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” could you do the movements and finish the song?  The second is total physical response.  This involves the entire body.  For this, students may become different parts of the digestive system.  The other group of strategies will just involve getting up and getting the blood flowing.  Many of our strategies involve movement, but we may place them under a different category.  We will list links to those on this page.

Chorost, M. (2014). Your brain on metaphors: Neuroscientists test the theory that your body shapes your ideas. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved September 7, 2014 from

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Educational Strategies