Take a hike. It's a popular suggestion for students at Silverwood Heights School as they make their way through the hallways.
Last spring, the school installed decals on the hallway floors to create pathways that encourage students to move, hop, skip and generally engage their bodies in activity as they move around the school. The decals depicting natural elements such as leaves, water droplets, sticks and acorns create a nature walk atmosphere throughout the halls.
Principal Krista Sego said the idea for the decals was suggested by parents. The school's parent council jumped on board to support the project with funding and parent volunteers took time over the May long weekend to install the decal pathways as a surprise for students.
"It's a way to keep them moving. Instead of walking in a line they are exercising as they move about," Sego explained. "If kids have too much energy or feel sluggish — it works both ways —being active will either pep you up and get that oxygen flowing to the brain, or you get out the excess energy. There are lots of kids who say: 'Can I take a hike?' and the teacher will say 'you bet.' They purposefully follow a path through the school."
Going for a hallway hike is one example of the ways in which schools are pursuing opportunities to include brain activating movement (BAM) during the school day. Brief BAM activities help get students up and moving, which has a positive impact on social, emotional and physical well-being. Getting active, even for a few minutes, can also assist students with self-regulation, allowing them to attend and focus for longer periods of instruction time.
Although the decals create specific pathways to follow, the students have adapted and modified the ways in which they move through the various layouts.
"When we put them down, instead of just putting them down in a straight line we did it so the students would do different things," said Rana Derksen, chair of the school's parent council. "It's pretty cool to sit back and watch them look and figure it out. My boys say it's fun — when you go for a drink you can jump on things instead of just walking to the water fountain."
Giant steps, hopscotch-like motions or a side-to-side shuffle are some of the methods favoured by students. The school's main hallway encircles a central library with classrooms on the outside edge, so students can go full circle through the pathways of sticks and water droplets, make their way through a maze-like design at another central junction point and then end up right back where they started.
The decals — which have remained in perfect condition despite thousands of hops and steps, scrubbing by floor polishers and the general activity of a busy school — have been a success in encouraging students to be creative in moving their body.
"We led the older care partners through the first time so they could teach the younger care partners," Sego said, "but the kids have changed it hundreds of times. The kids do their own thing on it and they're inventing different things to do. They love it."