Fun Activities for Remote Learning: Pre-K-5

Get students moving and and enjoying each other with one of these fun activities. 

To the Teacher

In these uncertain, stressful times of physical distancing, coming together and connecting socially and emotionally is especially important. For young people to see and connect with their peers can be ray of light for some, and a real lifeline for others. Students might connect over things that spark joy and gratitude or over things that bring on more challenging feelings. Young people, like all of us, need a chance to express and share their feelings, and get the support of others. 

We’ve been hearing from educators that students don’t necessarily want to talk about what’s challenging for them during Covid-19 on a weekly basis.  They might want a break from it all to connect with friends and classmates on a lighter, more fun note. 

In this part three of our series of lessons for the corona age, we offer a series of lighter, fun activities for you and your students to come together and enjoy each other’s company. These are stand alone activities, not intended to be done in any particular order or combination. Decide what works best for your students and please adapt an activity as needed for all students to participate and have fun together.

Note: If you have any light and fun activities that have worked well with your students in a remote setting, please send them to us so we can share them more widely.


Follow the Leader

Begin by explaining to your students that you want them to copy/mirror the things that you’ll be doing. Start with simple movements that you know your students can easily replicate, like clapping or shaking your hands, marching in place, etc. As your movements get gradually more complex, continue to check in with students asking them how they’re doing and giving them directions as needed. You might slow down the movement and provide more detail. Continue to support your students as needed. 

Consider the following movements and add your own more complex movements, especially for higher grades, recognizing your own and your students’ needs and limitations:

  • Clap your hands
  • Shake your hands as if shaking off excess water
  • Walk in place
  • Now march in place, lifting your knees, start swinging your arms
  • Slow things down: Continue swinging your arms, but in slooow motion and slow down your marching too
  • Now, imagine your feet now being firmly rooted into the ground, shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent
  • Sway from side to side like a tree
  • Now twist slowly from side to side from your core
  • Bend your body down to touch your toes, slooooowly, making sure to keep your knees bent
  • Now loosen those roots, hop little hops, and gradually getting further off the ground
  • Next jump from side to side
  • Walk on your tippy toes
  • Stomp your feet and ball your fists
  • Pretend you’re flying like a bird
  • Fall to the floor like a leaf, slowly making your way down
  • Flap your arms like a bird, maybe a fledgling on the edge of the nest, now slow it down
  • Roll on the floor, one way, and now the other way
  • Shake your hips, and let it resonate though your whole body till all of you is shaking
  • Move sideways on all fours like a crab, and back
  • Rise back up and kick with one foot and then the other
  • Pretend to swim freestyle, etc.

At any point, you may turn things over to your students, so that students take the lead in showing a movement that they’d like the other students to reflect back at them. 

Continue the activity while interest is high.  And as you start wrapping up, slow down the actions, making them smaller and quieter. 

End with actions like:

  • Try to stand as still and quietly as you can for 10 seconds
  • Take a slow, deep breath into your belly, and relax your belly as you breathe out
  • Pretend to go to sleep/sleep like a baby
  • Slowly sit back up and try to yawn, looking at all the other friends on our screen (This may help everyone to yawn together)
  • Take some deep breaths, do some stretches, and see how you’re feeling right now

At this point you may ask students:

  • What did you like best about the activity?
  • What was easy about the activity? What was hard?
  • Which movements did you like best? Why?
  • How did it make you feel?


If You’re Happy and You Know It

Consider playing the If You’re Happy and You Know It video by Barefoot books.  Have your students sing along and do the movements. 

After the video is done, welcome students, by saying hello yourself and using different student names (following the students’ lead at the end of the video). 

Ask students if THEY know how to say “hello” in other languages besides English.  How does it make them feel when they are hearing “hello” and being welcomed in different languages? Why?

And if students are open, engage them in a conversation asking them:

  • What makes you happy? Why?

The kids in the video used different ways to show that they were happy.  They clapped their hands, wiggled their hips, pointed their toes, stomped their feet, etc.

  • Which did you prefer?  Why?
  • How do YOU show you are happy?  Show us if you’d like.  (Have all other students mirror what they are shown.)

“If You’re Happy and You Know It” 4Rs* Variation

Say hello again to each of your students by name, using some of the non-English words for “hello” that were shared in the previous activity. 

Engage students by asking them to help you out with the pronunciation and introduce additional customs that they and their families have to welcome visitors and loved ones.

Next, engage students in a variation of the song “If you’re  happy and you know it …” that includes a range of feelings.  Start and end the song with “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands.” But in this variation of the song, introduce feeling words other than “happy,” and ask students to show what those emotions look and maybe sound like for them.

For example:

  • If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands
  • If you’re angry and you know it stomp your feet/ball your hands
  • If you’re proud and you know it go hurray (and throw your arms in the air)
  • If you’re sad and you know it go boohoo
  • If you’re tired/bored and you know it yaaaaaawn

And so forth.  Have students come up with their own feeling words and ways they show those feelings.  And end the song on a positive note with:

If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands 

This song allows young people to express (verbally and physically) the range of feelings they may be experiencing during this challenging time.

The 4Rs (Reading, Writing, Respect & Resolution) is Morningside Center’s social and emotional learning curriculum for grades preK-5.

A Note to the Teacher on Managing Feelings:  Naming our feelings can help us to manage them better, or as Dr. Dan Siegel would say, we can name our feelings to tame them. Our feelings inform our actions which is a good thing in that positive feelings indicate what we care about, what we are drawn to, and what we want more of. Negative feelings, on the other hand, inform us about what to be careful with or stay away from, like a busy street with speeding traffic or a blazing fire.

When feelings of anxiety, fear, or anger overwhelm us, our more primal, “reptilian brain” takes over. We might go into the survival mode of fight, flight, or freeze, which is useful when we are in immediate danger. But in many cases our negative feelings don’t stem from an immediate threat, and the “fight, flight or freeze” response may not be the best way to react in the moment. 

So if we can use words to name those intense negative feelings, as in “I am feeling anxious” or “I am feeling afraid,” we are able to put some distance between us and our feelings. It’s a subtle way of reengaging our executive-functioning brain, called the cortex, while calming down the emotional part of the brain called the limbic area. This helps us avoid being triggered into reacting, and instead allows us to think things through and choose a response that seems fitting in the moment.

Looking for My Friends

This activity gets everyone singing and clapping together while we’re welcoming each unique individual into our online gathering.

Explain that you’ll all be singing a song and clapping together.  It’s very simple.  Ask students to follow your lead, as you start singing and clapping your hands. The I’m Looking for My Friends video link provides you with the tune. 

You might tell students that they don’t have to stand up and dance – they can use a hand motion, a facial motion, or any other move they want to make (and are able to make) – or they can make a sound.  

The language below is changed a bit from the video so that you can direct who gets to show off their moves or sounds. There are also a few added lines to give students time to gather themselves between each student getting “on stage.”

  • I’m looking for my friends
  • I’m looking for my friends
  • I’m looking for you, you, you, you (point to the camera/webcam several times over)
  • I’m looking for my friends
  • I’m looking for my friends
  • There is “Anna” (point to the camera as if you’re inviting Anna, or whichever student you choose)
  • Show us what you can do 

This is Anna’s cue to wiggle, groove, dance and/or make a sound – whatever works for her. When she’s done or when you feel it’s time to move on, start the song again:

  • I’m looking for my friends
  • I’m looking for my friends
  • I’m looking for you, you, you, you (point to the camera several times over)
  • Clap, clap, clap, clap …
  • I’m looking for my friends
  • I’m looking for my friends
  • There is “Jalen” (point to the camera as if you’re inviting Jalen)
  • Show us what you can do

This is Jalen’s cue to wiggle, groove, dance and/or make a sound – whatever works for him.  When he’s done or when you feel it’s time to move on, start the song again.