Spontaneous Moves: An Invitation

by | Jan 15, 2024 | Invitations

The math activity had appeal to the children gathered on the carpet that day. It had dice to roll and numbers to identify, count and write down on a whiteboard. There was a bit of competition between two teams to record as many different numbers as possible on each team’s whiteboard. But there was also wait times for teammates to have a turn. At first that was fine. Eventually it was not.

It became apparent that five-year-old Hannah was bored and restless, though she still wanted to please her teacher and do what she’d been instructed to do. She managed to stay on the carpet where the math activity was unfolding, but her whole body found escape through gymnastic moves.

Watching Hannah flip, pose and balance, I grabbed a clipboard with paper and pencil and brought it back to the carpet. Perhaps I could sketch one of her inverted positions. Soon other children nearby were watching and trying to copycat Hannah’s moves.

It was then Hannah grabbed her own clipboard, paper and pencil and began to try to capture another classmate doing a yoga bridge pose.

I asked Hannah if I could hold onto her drawing until the next day … when I brought in a poseable manikin.

The next day I shared my story with the class of how Hannah’s gymnastic moves had inspired me to try drawing them. Then when other children joined in with balance and yoga-like poses too, Hannah similarly became inspired to draw a body position of one of her friends. Showing the children Hannah’s picture, and then the poseable manikin, I invited them to test out body positions they could make with the manikin, or with their friends. Perhaps they too would like to draw what they see?


  1. Did bringing drawing into the children’s planned math activity derail or engage the children in learning?
  2. Are seeing and drawing shapes, attending to movement, and to spatial perception valuable aspects of mathematical learning?
  3. How would you suggest I mitigate potential frustration with the teacher who may have felt her planned math activity had been derailed?