SPARKLERS / Ready for learning

Energy Rollercoaster

An activity for thinking about and adjusting our energy levels.
Connections with the NZ Curriculum and Mental Health Education Guide (learn more)

Learning outcomes

Tamariki understand how energy is connected to wellbeing, how our energy levels change and how they differ from person to person.

He aha ai? – Why we love it

Some tamariki seem to have a lot of energy. They like to run, jump, climb – even sitting still is a challenge! While others seem to have a lower energy output and gravitate towards calm activities.

This activity helps students think about their energy in an objective way and learn strategies for adjusting it to suit different situations. It’s a great intro for our other energy activities.

Tikanga tips

Just in case, it might be wise just to let your tamariki know to avoid touching other people's heads. The head is tapu. It's also important that tamariki don't rest their heads on cushions on beanbags people sit on. If needed, use special pillows (or folded sweatshirts) for heads only.


Energy is very useful. It helps us focus, pay attention, move around and do things. We’re like rechargeable batteries; sometimes we have lots of energy, sometimes we have less and if we use-up some of our energy, we need to find ways to recharge.

  • How do we feel when we have heaps of energy? Excited, noisy, bustly.
  • What about when we have no energy? Tired, quiet, teary, angry.
  • What’s it like we when we’re tired and someone else is energetic?
  • What about when we’re really energetic and someone else is not?
  • When is it good to show lots of energy? Play-time, football, tag, etc.
  • When might we need less? Before bed, at the library, at the movies, etc.

Hei mahi - What to do

Take the class through our Energy Kōrero then draw a 1-5 continuum on the board, where 1 is no energy and 5 is lots of energy. (For younger classes draw pictures.)

Kōrero about what each number might look like:

  1. Sleeping, lying on the ground, not moving.
  2. Sitting up, reading, slower breathing.
  3. Standing up, little arm movements, some stretches, hanging out with people.
  4. Active: Walking around, dancing, hand claps, normal breathing, talking.
  5. Hyped up! Jumping, making noise, high fiving, swinging arms above head.

Then create some space and get tamariki to act out each number, working from 1 to 5; then back from 5 to 1. You’ll see kids looking to each other for cues on how to behave.

When you regroup, ask:

  • What was it like?
  • How do we know how to act in different situations? Look at what other people are doing and see if we can match their energy level. (Mention noticing this.)
  • What could we do if we’re bursting with energy (5) and going into a quiet environment (2)? We could take some deep breaths or do some quiet reading. Or if we need to burn off energy, we could go for a quick run or do some jumps.
  • What about if we’re tired (2) and need an energy boost (4)? We could have a quick stretch, do a few star jumps, get some fresh air or have a healthy snack.

You could use this as a warm-up activity – or use the numbers to introduce the best energy levels for different activities. E.g. “For this you’ll need level 3 energy.”

You could also use the numbers to help students reduce and lift their energy levels. E.g. “Ben, at the moment your energy is a 4 and this exercise needs you to be at a 2. Do you think this is possible?” (You could suggest how he might do this – either through something active that will burn energy off, or through a calming activity.)

What next?

This same continuum can be used to help tamariki learn about managing emotions. To get started, set up your 1–5 scale using the emotion. E.g. for "excited" 1 might be "calm" and 5 would be "bursting with excitement".

When exploring emotions it can help to help to encourage tamariki to think about how the emotion feels and grows in our bodies. At 2 it might just be a tiny ball of emotion in their chest or tummy, which expands and grows bigger from there.

Ensure with each emotion that you start and end with a calm state, as this will give students the chance to practice "coming down" from a big emotion.

To teach calm start with Sleeping statues, then progress to Tummy breathing. Or to boost energy play one of our Ready For Learning activities.

Sparklers at Home

If you think it may be useful for whānau to give Energy Rollercoaster a go, simply copy and paste the following 'blurb' into an email or your home-learning programme as an introduction.

In the classroom we've been looking into our energy levels - how to notice them, notice the energy of those around us, match our energy levels appropriately for the situation, and how to give our energy a boost, or calm ourselves down.

Sparklers at Home has the same activity, Energy Rollercoaster, we've been trying in the classroom, as an activity ready for home use. It would be great if you could give it a try with your child, they'll be familiar with it, so it will be exciting for them to take you through it.

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