LIVINGSTON, NJ — Livingston High School (LHS) was recently chosen as the recipient of a $350 “Active Classroom A+ Challenge: Actions for Healthy Schools” grant thanks to LHS nurse Laurie Jung and special education teacher Natalie Natale. The two have worked together to use the funds to purchase equipment that allows students to combine movement and learning in Natale’s classroom.
The idea for this project came from a kinesthetic movement class that Jung had taken for professional development. When she asked Natale to work with her to implement some of the things she learned in her classroom, Natale devised a daily activity plan to incorporate movement in her class for “brain breaks.”
Using the money for classroom equipment, students are now able to use fitness stability balls to help with balance and strengthen core muscles while doing schoolwork. Fidget bands and Swidget desk swings (seated foot pedals) help to promote gross muscle motor movement. With these unique items, students have the opportunity to learn math on a yoga ball, or practice reading while pedaling away.
According to Jung, the purpose of incorporating movement with learning is to improve focus, attention, mood and memory. She said the hope is that the long-term benefits, such as increasing caloric expenditure and assisting with weight loss efforts, will promote future enjoyment of activity and exercise of any kind.
Jung and Natale’s collective goal is to show students with various physical, academic, social and emotional needs how important physical activity is for their academic performance.