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Counting on fun: Math & Movement mini-academy integrates play with learning

Counting on fun: Math & Movement mini-academy integrates play with learning

As summer vacation gets kids out of the classroom and onto the playground, it’s also a great time to integrate that play into learning. That was the goal of Math & Movement, a two-day STEM mini-academy offered by ORAU to help elementary schoolers’ minds move as much as their bodies do over the summer.

Combining kinesthetics with education helps kids get excited about learning and removes math-based anxieties. The best part is that young learners might not even realize they’re practicing math skills as they jump, stretch, play and move across the classroom.

“I hope these students’ main takeaway from this program is that they had fun,” said mini-academy teacher Jeramy Ezell, assistant principal at Lakeview Christian Academy. “A lot of them didn’t realize that we were doing math today, which is a perk. That’s really what we want: we want them to have fun, be moving, and be learning math all at the same time.”

Fortunately, making learning fun is a year-long endeavor. Students can take the skills they practiced during Math & Movement and use them to gain confidence once they reenter the classroom at the beginning of the school year. While ORAU usually offers a professional development course for teachers who want to learn about Math & Movement, this year those teachers were able to participate in the mini-academy, seeing firsthand how much students enjoyed the experience.

Kelly Brown, who teaches second grade at Hardin Valley Elementary, was excited to take part in the academy so that she could use the teaching principles in her own classroom.


“I love math, and kids nowadays just really need to move, and they just don’t get the chance any more in the classroom,” she said. “I’m excited that the students get to actually move and get that energy out in a controlled way while still learning.”

Skip counting, or counting by multiples, was one of the students’ favorite activities. Math & Movement teachers added extra elements to skip counting by having the students jump or pretend to shoot a basketball when they got to certain numbers.

“I like skip counting because it helps me practice,” said Davis, a rising fourth grader. “My mom says that I’m not good at multiplying and I need practice.”

“I wasn’t good at skip counting last year, and I would take a long time to get to another number,” said Noelle, another attendee. “So, I think learning it today will help me.”

As the students exercised their bodies and their minds, they not only had fun, but retained valuable math skills that will help them when they return to school in the fall.

“I teach Math & Movement really for my passion for helping students learn, because it combines two great things that I love: learning and moving, all at the same time,” said Ezell. “When you add movement to learning, it happens at a much faster rate.”

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About ORAU

ORAU, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, provides science, health, and workforce solutions that address national priorities and serve the public interest. Through our specialized teams of experts and access to a consortium of more than 150 major Ph.D.-granting institutions, ORAU works with federal, state, local, and commercial customers to provide innovative scientific and technical solutions and help advance their missions. ORAU manages the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

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Pam BoneeDirector, CommunicationsCell: (865) 603-5142
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