Consider this word problem:
Two hippos and two alligators are at the zoo. Pete the zookeeper feeds them at the same time. Pete gives each hippo seven fish. He gives four to the alligators.
How would you teach this Math word sum to them?
Have you thought of using actions?
In one interesting study, 9 year-old students were divided into two groups. One group read through the problem twice. The other group acted out the story as they read it, physically pretending to feed fish to the hippos and alligators as they read the problem. Both groups of students were asked how many fish the zookeeper fed to the animals.
Students who read the word sum often got “eleven” as a solution as they had missed the word “each” in the problem. Students who acted out the scenario managed to obtain the answer. Scientists have found that when someone picks up newer skills and aptitudes, they are connected to the same functions that control basic body functions. Called ‘embodied learning‘, Maria Montessori (the one behind Montessori Learning) believed this principle and that was the movement behind her style of teaching.
In fact, researchers found that children as young as four-to-six months olds who could sit up, sustain “tummy time” longer and walk had better academic successes. Once kids are on the move, the adults in their lives will use more complicated words to direct them. These children would be exposed, coached and eventually work out how to understand more complicated directions.
Movements during lessons not only benefits the young; teenagers also benefit from movement as well. Students who were highly anxious before exams were told to write a few words of how they felt. Scientists noted that those who did so were able to do better for the tests. This happened as the act of writing helped to calm them before tackling the questions in the exam.