Active Play-Active Learning

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The Active Play-Active Learning Project (APAL) aimed to promote active play and active learning via low-cost, fun, and practical strategies: 

Brain Breaks



  1. Classroom Brain Breaks provide opportunity for students to be more physically active through planned classroom transition times as well as active learning activities.
  2. Playground Markings Enhancement involves painting a variety of markings on flat playground surfaces to promote more activity during recess as well as promote active learning by bringing the classroom outside.
  3. Peer-Led Games Process is a recess based strategy involving student leaders.

Active Play-Active Learning started in 2009 with a pilot study in Austin at 12 elementary schools and was replicated in Pueblo, Colorado. 

  • Phase I (2009-2011): Pilot Study in Austin, TX with 3rd graders at 12 elementary schools (Funder: Michael & Susan Dell Foundation).
  • Phase II (2010-12): Replication Study in Pueblo, CO with 2nd and 4th graders at 12 elementary schools (Funder: Colorado Health Foundation).
  • Phase III (2011-12): Demonstration Study in Del Valle & Bastrop, TX at 10 elementary schools (Funder: St. David’s Foundation).
  • Phase IV (2013-15): Dissemination in Del Valle, Bastrop & Manor, TX and Pueblo, CO (Funders: St. David’s Foundation and Colorado Health Foundation) at over 25 elementary and intermediate schools.

This project was a co-learning venture with teachers, students, aftercare providers, and community leaders to create opportunities for students to be active. The project seeks outside funding to provide the strategies and materials for free or at cost. Activities are student-centered and created to activate activity! 

Active Play-Active Learning Brain Breaks Guide

2/1/15 - In this guide, we present a range of easy-to-implement “Brain Breaks”- short activity dynamics that can be implemented by the teacher in the classroom setting. The guide is structured in two sections: 1.) General Brain Breaks that can be applied across classes and academic topic areas during any part of the day; and 2.) Academic-specific Brain Breaks that directly correlate to subjects.

Active Play-Active Learning Peer-Led Activity Guide

2/1/15 - The Peer-Led games process of Active Play Active Learning is a way to teach students leadership skills as well as social and emotional skills while they engage in physically active games.

Active Play-Active Learning Playground Marking Guide

2/1/15 - Playground markings are a good way to incorporate physical activity and active learning during recess time as well as class time. This guide includes the list of Playground Markings our team uses, and the simple curriculum that encourages active learning!

CATCH Webinar: Active Play-Active Learning Project

This webinar discusses three strategies for increasing physical activity and active learning in and out of school settings.