Looking for ideas to freshen up your Exercise Express activities?

Exercise Express offers a series of "sponge activities" designed to soak up free time in productive ways. They are quick and efficient in giving students opportunities to practice spelling, language, capitalization, usage, writing, and word analysis skills.

Exercise Express offers six options in every unit: Stretch it, Fix it, Finish it, Sort it, Add it, & Find it. Some teachers choose to teach all of them, others choose a few of them. Since they are an optional to the Sourcebook, teachers limited in time may choose not to use them. However, these activities can give you a lot of instructional mileage in a short period of time and students love them!

Keep in mind that once students know how to complete each activity, they can easily become independent, partner or small group opportunities to enhance your overall communications curriculum. Below are a few ways teachers in our network organize Exercise Express into their routines.

  1. "Do now": Many schools implement a "Do Now" routine into their transition times. When students enter the classroom, they know that they will have an Exercise Express activity to complete. This allows the teacher to manage the logistics of transition times while giving students a productive warm-up activity.

  2. Recipe box: Get a recipe box and label 6 different sections with the recipe divider cards. Then, each unit, record the EE activities on a card and file into the appropriate section. When students complete their work early or have free time, they can grab the recipe box and choose an EE activity to work on.  You have also created a mobile center that can move from table to table or even go with you when your class is waiting in a long lunch line!

  3. Homework: Once students have learned the routines of each EE activity, they can make great homework! Many teachers differentiate this portion of the homework. For example, if a student needs more practice stretching out sentences, the teacher may assign stretch it as homework and then let the student pick 2 more EE’s of their choice to complete. Another student in the class may be assigned "sort it" by the teacher and then 2 others of their liking. Exercise Express homework activities can also be differentiated by specific skills to practice, number of activities, or even level of expectation for how students complete the task. For instance, one student may be asked to make a "finish it" into a complete sentence, while a more fluent writer may be asked to make the same prompt into a complete paragraph or story.

  4. Menu: Make students a weekly "menu" of Exercise Express choices for independent work.  Each week, student fill out the menu, deciding for themselves which activities they will complete for each day. A menu strikes a nice balance between student choice and accountability for completing assigned tasks.

  5. Color Code Surprise: Each unit, pass out a sheet with a picture of each of the 6 Exercise Express apples. Ask students to get out 6 crayons in which the colors are designated by the teacher. Perhaps the colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. Then, assign students to color one apple of their choice blue, one apple red and so forth until each apple has a color. Once students have colored their apples each of the 6 colors, assign certain colors as homework. For example a teacher may say "for this week blue and red are homework!" Since students were able to color any of the apples blue or red, they have a homework surprise! The rest of the colored apples may be used throughout the week. A teacher could have an orange day in which students who colored a common EE apple orange become a group. Now their group is also a surprise!
How do you use Exercise Express activities in your classroom? Share your creative ideas for EE and receive a free 100 words poster!