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Energy Rollercoaster

An activity for thinking about and adjusting our energy levels.
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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, have special pillows for heads only, or improvise with folded sweatshirts.


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 around 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.

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.

To help students equate these numbers with their energy levels, you could use this ‘act it out’ exercise as a warm-up activity. You could then use the system to introduce the appropriate 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 a calming activity, or something active that would help him burn off some energy.)


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

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