4th graders at McKinney school get rid of chairs

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on March 21, 2013 at 12:37 AM

McKINNEY ––  Stephanie Cravens' fourth grade class at Vega Elementary in McKinney is on the ball –– literally.

At the beginning of the year, all 17 students gave up their chairs for stability balls.

"As long as they're not using it as a trampoline, movement is good," said Cravens. "It's good for your brain, it's good for your blood flow. It's just good for how you feel about yourself."

Cravens wanted to try exercise balls in her classroom after seeing them used in a children's museum. Texas Health Plano donated them.

"The health benefits for all the kids and adults as well is a stronger spine and then a strong core," said Sara Brice of the Texas Health Plano Scoliosis and Spine Tumor Center. 

Brice has a daughter in the class and saw the stability balls on the teacher's "wish list" at the beginning of the school year. 

"On a chair you have to lean back and on a ball you have to stay straight," said student Keyon Brown. "Or else you're going to fall."

Posture improved immediately. So did attention.

"When you're on chairs," said classmate Zoe Jackson. "You get to lean back and your brain turns off and you might go to sleep."  

That can't happen on a round rubber sphere. And instead of out-of-control bouncing, Ms. Cravens discovered that fidgeters quit. 

"My wiggle warts, it keeps them busy," she said. "It gives them something to do so they can use the rest of their mind and stay engaged in their learning, it's perfect."

Students say the chairs can stay empty. When it comes to working on brains and bodies, they prefer to be on the ball.

Email jstjames@wfaa.com

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