One of my absolute favorite types of activities to do with my 4th and 1st graders was “Scoot”! During a “Scoot” activity, students travel around the room viewing questions/prompts/problems on cards placed by you. They travel with a recording sheet for their answers, and work in pairs, groups, or independently. “Scoot” activities can take some extra preparation and require some more behavior management, so sometimes teachers shy away from them. But don’t let them intimidate you! Your students and YOU will love them!
While “Scooting” with my 4th graders was relatively easy to manage, I was so nervous about attempting these activities with my little firsties. If you teach K-2, you know that managing little bodies in a small classroom can be a big ordeal to take on. They have so much energy and get so excited about the freedom to move around. But that’s exactly why they NEED to “Scoot”!
Our little ones are given the heavy responsibility of sitting still in class all day to learn rigorous (and sometimes not developmentally appropriate) skills. They so badly need the opportunity to move about and just be kids. Although many studies are now showing the positive effects of additional recess time, not every teacher is able to provide that. Giving your kiddos the time to move around the room and discuss their work not only gives them the exercise and safe energy outlet, it encourages positive social skills and problem solving with their peers. It seems like a win-win to me!
Managing the Movement
Even with my most energetic groups, “Scoot” activities were a huge hit! Half of the time, my wild ones were wild because they needed to move! Allowing them to move was sometimes more easy to manage than expecting them to sit still. However, I still had some tricks to help manage behavior during “Scoots”.
- Set a Timer – Every time we did a “Scoot” activity, I displayed this timer. It was perfect for my kiddos to keep an eye on how much time they had without me having to shout a reminder every 5 minutes. I usually set the timer to 20 minutes to give everyone an adequate amount of time. Students who finished early could help others or move on to an activity at their desk.
- Use Props – Sometimes teachers shy away from props because they can be seen as a distraction. And honestly, sometimes they are. Only you can decide if this will work best for your specific students. However, using props was often a very useful tool. It gave me something to take away if their behavior was inappropriate, and was usually a pretty discrete way of managing. For example, when using my Sneaky E “Scoot” I gave students each a popsicle stick with the letter “e” at the end. They would hold up the stick to the end of the word and decide if the word was “real/nonense”. If their behavior was out of control, this stick was something I could take away without other kids really noticing AND the student could still complete the activity without it.
- Use as Review – One of the worst mistakes I made was using a “Scoot” activity as an introduction activity. My lower students were extremely frustrated and worried because they had no idea what to do, and my “behavior” students used their frustration as a reason to blow off the activity and mess around. I found that the best time for me to use these activities were Wednesdays-Fridays when my students were more familiar with the skills and could use this as a time to collaborate and practice with their peers.
For me, it didn’t really seem like a good idea to take anything done as a “Scoot” activity for a grade. I couldn’t guarantee that the answers I got actually came from each student. Instead, we would spend about 5-10 minutes after the activity to go over the answers together. This also gave me time to answer any questions or clarify any misunderstandings, which was time I greatly valued.
What about you? Do you use “Scoot” activities in your classroom? What has worked best for you? I’d love to hear!