Classroom Physical Activity Idea

Exercise Cards


Approach: Movement outside of academic instruction

Recommended by: Darin Nolan, Health and PE Teacher at Bellingham High School (Bellingham, WA)


Mr. Nolan uses three stacks of exercise cards from Fit Deck – bodyweight, exercise ball, and Pilates – and uses these cards at the beginning of each lesson and before students take a quiz in his class as a way to stimulate the brain during learning and keep students engaged in lessons.

  1. Have students pair up.
  2. Student A picks a card from one of the three stacks of card at the front of the room.
  3. Student A returns to their partner and shares the activity and instructions.
  4. Partner A teaches partner B how to do the exercise do the exercise together.
  5. Student B picks a different card from one of the stacks at the front of the room and repeats the same process with their partner.
  6. Repeat with additional exercises as time allows.

Mr. Nolan reflected on how exercise cards changed his approach to physical activity in class:

“A good starting point that really helped me was introducing the Fit Deck cards… Students grab a card, it tells them what to do, and there’s variety in  physical activities that they can do. Fit Deck is what made adding physical activity to my classroom work, especially since I have three different type of activities students can choose from. I rely on Fit Deck cards more than I do the other brain energizers…I plan to stick with this as long as I can still get buy-in from my students.”

While Mr. Nolan uses cards from Fit Deck, any set of exercise cards would work. You can even make your own using popsicle sticks, playing cards, flash cards, etc. The priority here is having a variety of exercises easily available to students and a structured way for students to use the cards.