Sounds of laughter and excitement fill the Veale Elementary hallway near third grade teacher Tara Wessel’s classroom. It’s not a party but it may as well be. Wessel’s students are taking a brain break and are GoNoodling.

GoNoodle, an interactive computer program that gets kids moving with short, often academically based activities, has become a regular part of the routine for students in her class.

“We get to use GoNoodle several times a day,” said Tony, one of Wessel’s students, as he explained why the students are using the free program that thanks to a grant Wessel received through Action for Healthy Kids Foundation, also includes a paid subscription that allows students to track their minutes of physical activity and classes to compete for prizes. “It helps wake us up and get us moving in the mornings.”

Wessel said GoNoodle Plus has multiple games and activities to help students regain focus in the classroom and thanks to the grant, the entire school is able to participate.

“GoNoodle helps us get the wiggles out,” she said with a laugh as she watched her students sprint in place after correctly answering math questions. “They really enjoy it. It not only helps them become more active but many of the activities also have an educational component. They answer math questions or do spelling or other activities.”

Those extra minutes of physical activity not only provide a short brain break for students before moving onto the next task, but they can also help students academically.

Dr. Laura Chaddlock-Heyman, a research scientist at the University of Illinois-Champaign, said physical activity benefits the brain. According to information on the GoNoodle website, research conducted in 2009 by C.H. Hillman showed that students who had a short exercise break before testing showed improved cognitive control and improved academic achievement.

That improved cognitive control isn’t just noticed by adults either.

Shayna, another student in Wessel’s class, said after a GoNoodle break she feels more energized.

“After we do GoNoodle, I get more energy and can focus better,” she said, as she watched the screen to see what GoNoodle exercise was up next. “It just really helps me think better and makes me happy.”

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