The Impact of Exercise Breaks in the Classroom on Disruptive Behavior of Third Grade Students

Date of Award

Spring 5-14-2021

Document Type

Project (696 or 796 registration)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Curriculum & Instruction


Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

Aaron Peterson


Exercise, Elementary, Breaks, Behavior, Disruptive


Disruptive and off-task behavior by students has become a growing issue for teachers at many levels. At the elementary level, those behaviors look like students fidgeting, getting out of their seat at inappropriate times, blurting and interrupting, zoning out, and distraction by technology devices. In this study, the researcher observed the effectiveness of implementing five minute active exercise breaks into the school day with third grade students. During these breaks, students were doing yoga and stretching exercises and also more active moves like jumping jacks and pushups. The students did this type of break about every hour throughout the day for one week. The researcher made observations of students’ behaviors following each break to see if the disruptive behaviors decreased. For another week, the students also engaged in their typical style breaks which involve silent reading, sitting quietly in their desk, or drawing in their notebook. Observations were made again of the disruptive behaviors and then compared with the other week. The researcher also asked the students questions about how they liked the new type of active break. How does giving third grade students periodic active breaks throughout the day impact those students’ disruptive classroom behaviors? The findings answered this question by showing that there was not a significant difference in the number of disruptive behaviors that occurred following the active break or the inactive break. The active break did appear to increase general focus in some students.

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