What happens when...?

Best for Upper Elementary Children


Older children will perform different movements to understand how their bodies react to physical activity. Children will learn to take their pulse.

Prepartion and Materials:

  • Clock or watch
  • Teach yourself and your staff how to take a pulse before teaching kids


  1. After children have been sitting doing homework or some other quiet activity, announce that they need a movement break.
  2. Before getting up, lead the children through some simple chair stretches:
    • Reach up to the sky like a tall tree
    • Sway the outstretched arms slowly side to side as if swaying in the breeze.
    • Bring arms down, then circle arms around as if hugging a large beach ball.
    • Reach over to touch toes and hang like a rag doll.
  3. Ask how their muscles felt after stretching. Teach kids how to find their pulse. Ask children to count the number of beats they feel as you time 10 seconds. Tell the kids to remember the number or have them write it down on a piece of paper.
  4. Stand up and walk to an open area (large corridor or gym).
  5. Instruct the children to take large, slow steps around the gym or down the hall.
  6. Return to a circle and march in place. Do 10 jumping jacks. Now, how do they feel? Are they feeling warm? Can anyone feel their heart beating? Take another 10-second pulse. Is this number bigger than the first time?
  7. Move into more vigorous activities. Jog around the room, play a game of tag or a relay race to get children moving quickly. Play hard for 10 minutes then take a break to check in with how they feel. Take another 10-second pulse - everyone's number should have increased at this point. If it did not, then that child was not being very active.
  8. Continue to play (invite the group to choose their favorite games) for another 10-20 minutes.
  9. Cool-down. Take a final 10-second pulse. This number should be like the second one they took. If it is still high then they need a few more minutes to cool down.
  10. Explain that when they play hard on a regular basis, their bodies get used to moving and that makes it easier to play for longer periods of time (called endurance).