Review by Caryn Lix, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2016

GoNoodle

Brief bursts of physical exercise add classroom fun, build brain power

Common Sense Says:
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Grades
K-5 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Videos and games are silly enough to get students' moving, and the benefits of "brain breaks" are well documented.

Cons: This burst of exercise requires a steady internet connection; otherwise you'll experience some choppy videos.

Bottom Line: In a genre of its own, GoNoodle is a ready-to-go and classroom-friendly exercise program that challenges students to get moving.

GoNoodle is best presented on an interactive board the entire class can view together. Teachers choose a game that then walks students through introductions, warm-up routines, and the game itself. Teachers' roles vary. In the breathing game, they can join in with students. For the running game, they're responsible for evaluating the effort of the class and advancing the representative runner in the track meet. A tally in the dashboard section keeps track of the minutes of each activity, points gained, and medals won, which is a nice incentive for the class and a great way for teachers to share the activity summary with students. Students can also make accounts at home, which can be a fun way for them to keep motivated with physical activity and mindful behaviors over the weekends and holidays.

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GoNoodle is a series of web-based videos, games, and activities focused on introducing short bursts of physical exercise in the classroom. For young children who need to burn up energy to concentrate on learning, this is a simple solution. The site is meant to be used for physical activity in five- to 10-minute bursts, particularly during transition periods.

Teachers create a classroom mascot, and students level it up by completing activity challenges. Don't worry -- when one mascot is maxed out, you can move on to another. This mechanic is fun but not the main incentive behind GoNoodle. What really stands out is the sheer variety of activities students can participate in, from Zumba to yoga to Wii Sports-type running games. In the latter, since the site lacks the interactivity features of a game system, the teacher can control whether students are in first, second, third, or fourth place based on how much effort they seem to be exerting. Although this means the teacher won't be running with students (which is too bad for positive role-modeling and can lead to some cries of "unfair"), it does encourage students to give their all as opposed to just going through the motions. 

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GoNoodle is a great way to give students a quick burst of physical activity, which can help keep them focused throughout a long academic day. Featuring a huge variety of activities, it allows teachers to include YouTube videos, such as the Just Dance videos, in their repertoire. The benefits of physical fitness and relaxation on learning are well documented, and GoNoodle provides teachers with a fun, interactive way to get students moving. It's unlikely every kid will enjoy every activity, but in view of the large variety of activities, so long as teachers remember to mix things up, there should be an activity to appeal to every student. Activities are being constantly updated, too. New videos often add variety to the types of topics covered. For instance, there's an increasing amount of activities designed to help students consider mindfulness, such as how to manage their emotions or calm themselves. These self-managing behaviors are integral to success not only in the classroom, but in students' futures. There are also a series of "brain gym" activities to help motivate creativity and encourage coordination.

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Overall Rating
4

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
5

High-energy videos and interactive activities capture students' attention and get them moving in this fun, cooperative physical-activity-based game.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
4

It nicely connects the ideas of physical activity and academic performance. Exercise breaks vary in time and style -- you can choose to get students' energy up or calm them down before a test.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
4

Games are intuitive to use and set up. Each game also comes with some text explanations that outline not only how to play the game but also the physical benefits of that particular activity on learning.


Common Sense Reviewer
Caryn Lix Classroom teacher

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