Movement is quickly becoming more of a chore than a desire in most American households. Television, busy schedules, and other responsibilities often limit the amount of time people have to take a walk or play outside. As we know from a plethora of sources, this sedentary lifestyle is quickly leading us down the road to obesity and reduced health. So, we know that movement is good for our bodies, but did you also know that it is good for our minds? Especially the growing minds of our children?
Children under the age of 3 are building neural pathways at the faster than they will ever again in their lives. Have you ever wondered why spending the day with a 2-year-old can be so physically exhausting? It’s because he’s working on overdrive to learn as much as possible, both physically and mentally. If you’ve ever spent time with young children inside or outside of a storytime setting, you understand their need to be constantly moving and exploring their world. Research has shown that movement helps promote bone and muscle health, reduce anxiety, and even temper the symptoms of ADHD. While carefree physical outlets are few and far between as we age, why not add movement into your storytime to provide health benefits for both the children and the caregivers participating in the program?
At the CLEL Conference this year, I attended a fabulous session presented by Andrea Cleland, Kristen Bodine, and Amy Ortiz called “The Library Has the Moves Like Jagger.” It was all about how their respective libraries incorporate movement into their storytimes. From Zumba, to yoga, to dance parties, their children and families were moving all over the place and having a wonderful time doing so! For more information on their presentation, please see this link.
I’ve been working more on integrating these kinds of activities into my own storytimes and read alouds, particularly as children are getting antsy or wiggly. When I first started doing storytime over 3 years ago, I never even considered having movement be a part of the program; but now, I couldn’t imagine not including it. Hand games, animal games, yoga, and dancing all get the body moving and help children focus on the next story. Even as an adult, I have trouble sitting for a long period of time, so I always remember that during storytime, movement can be just as important for building literacy skills as reading the books themselves.
If you have any favorite movement activities you’d like to share, please feel free to do so on our Facebook page!