10 Simple Ways to Attach Station Signs to Cones

Are you like me? Have you been searching for the best way to label your stations in PE class? “What is the best method for attaching signs to cones?” I recently proposed that very question on social media and was blow away by the number of helpful responses. In fact, the answers to my question were too good not to share. Below is a list of ten ways to attach signs to cones. Each one is cost-effective and allows you to easily reuse your signs. Laminating your signs not only increases their durability, but also allows you to write on them with dry-erase markers.  A special thank you to all my fellow PE teachers around the world for your help!

#1 Rubber Band and Floor Tape

This is personally my favorite way to attach signs to cones, and it’s so easy. All you need to do is attach a rubber band to the back of your laminated sign with floor tape. Make sure you use a thicker rubber band for durability. Thank you Jedd Austin for submitting this idea.

#2 Clothes Pin and Tongue Depressor

This contraption can be used multiple times. Using a hot glue gun, attached the clothes pin to a tongue depressor. The tongue depressor is used to limit the sign from bending. Then tape both sides of the tongue depressor to the laminated sign. Finally, clip the clothes pin to the cone. When finished, the contraption can easily be removed for future use with other signs. Thank you Robin Walker for submitting this idea.

#3 Binder Clip

Simple and easy, the binder clip is strong enough to hold your laminated signs to most cones. Thank you Jamey Lewchanin for submitting this idea.

#4 Paint Stirrer

The local hardware store is always willing to give teachers a small supply of paint stirrers. Using floor tape, tape the stirrer to the back of your sign. Both inexpensive and easy, the stirrers can be used for many years to come. Thank you Cindy Martin-Brooks for submitting this idea.

#5 Taped Laminated Paper Slip Cover

This is a great way to make a 2-sided sign. Print and laminate 2 copies of your sign. Tape along the two sides and top of the signs creating a slip cover. Then slip the sign over the top of the cone.

#6 Manila Folder with Laminating Film Pocket

Manila folders are another one of my favorite supplies for attaching signs to cones. Along with the signs, laminate the folders for durability. Cut a small hole in the fold of the folder. Tape a piece of laminating film (same dimensions as the folder) to the front of the folder along the sides and bottom using floor tape. Slip your sign into the pocket. Finally, place the folder over the cone through the hole. Thank you Alisha Grossman for submitting this idea.

#7 Manila Folder with Velcro

Laminate a manila folder, then cut a hole in the fold to later slip over a cone. Attach velcro squares to the back of the signs and the manila folder. Attach the sign to the folder, then slip it over a cone. This is another great option, which can be used with multiple signs for years to come.

#8 Slit Cones to Hold Signs

I used to use this method earlier in my career until my cones began to fall apart. Simply cut a slit in the top of your cone that’s deep enough to hold your sign. Slip the sign into the cut and you’re good to go!

#9 Manila Folder Pocket Slip

This is similar to #5 but a little more stable. Laminate a manila folder. Cut a large square out of the folder, then tape it to the back side of your sign along the top and sides. Do not tape the bottom. Slip the sign over the cone. Thank you Kim Catalfamo for submitting this idea.

#10 Floor Tape

In a pinch, this is an extremely quick method to attach a sign to a cone. two pieces of rolled up floor tape will usually do the trick.


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9 Halloween Games for PE

Each year, around October 15th, my students in 1st-5th grades begin asking for Halloween games in PE.  They love the excitement of dimming the lights, listening to spooky music while playing a variety of games with a Halloween twist. They also appreciate a good storyline attached to each game. It is my hope that you can use a few of our games with your students during one of the most exciting times of the years for kids.

I would like to thank all the PE teachers on social media for sharing all of your amazing ideas. Some of the following games were influenced by YOUR creativity.

Witch's Hat Picture

Storyline: Three evil witches are patrolling the forest on Halloween night. They want to prevent all the children of the land from trick-or-treating. The witches cast a spell on the children by turning them into witches helpers. The only hope for the kids is for at least one of them to survive being tagged by the witch. This breaks the spell, and frees the children of the land.

Witch

Ghosts on the Gravestone Pic

Storyline: Each Halloween, evil spirits in the neighborhood cemetery come to life. They haunt the trick-or-treaters by hovering over gravestones. Two teams of ghostbusters are called to eliminate the ghosts once and for all. Each team wants all the glory by being the one to eliminate the ghosts. Which team will prevail?

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Haunted House Pic

Storyline: There’s a haunted house in your neighborhood. You and your friends know that the house has the best Halloween candy in the world! You’re mission is to capture all the candy. If successful, you’ll not only have the best candy in the world, but will also eliminate the ghosts forever!!!Haunted House Rules

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Storyline: There’s a rumor that zombies are slowly taking over the village. The people of the village don’t trust anyone. They don’t know who is a zombie and who is a human. Therefore, they must attempt to eliminate anything and anyone! Can you survive the Night of the Living Zombies?Night of the LZ Rules

3G Pic

Storyline: Ghost, Ghouls, and Goblins annually hold a Halloween dance in the local cemetery. They play their scary music way too loud and their spooky conversations frighten all the local residents. Therefore, The Triple G Busters have been called to “bust” the ghosts, ghouls, and goblins. Can the Triple G Busters eliminate them in less than 2 minutes?

3G RUles

Catchong Ghosts picStoryline: There are a bunch of friendly ghosts and perfect pumpkins throughout the pumpkin patch. Both are desired by all the children. The ghosts are fun to play with and the pumpkins make the most delicious pumpkin pie! How many can you and your buddy collect?

Catching Ghost and Pumkins Rules

Pumkin patch picStoryline: 2 neighboring pumpkin farms are having their annual Pumpkin Patch Throw Down. Each farm wants pumpkin farm supremacy by picking all the pumpkins off the opposing farm’s vines. Who will win this year’s throw down?

Pumpkin Rules

WZ PIC.png

Storyline: Three evil witches are patrolling the forest on Halloween night. They want to prevent all the children of the land from trick-or-treating. The witches cast a spell on the children by turning them into zombies. The only hope for the kids is for at least one of them to survive being tagged by the witch. This breaks the spell, and frees the children of the land.wzzz

Trick or Treat.png

Storyline: The local kids have had an exhausting night of trick-or-treating. It’s now time to go home. However it’s past 10:00. This is when the graveyard comes to life with ghosts and zombies. Unfortunately, all roads home lead through the graveyard. Will you and your candy make it home safely?ToT

Ghostly PicStoryline: The silly ghostly pumpkins are once again having a friendly battle in the graveyard. They try to toss gourds at each other in an attempt to knock each other over. A knocked over ghostly pumpkin is transformed into a jack-o-lantern and is placed on a pedestal. Which team of ghostly pumpkins with completely decorate their pedestals first?

Ghostly Rules


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November’s PLANKS-GIVING Fitness Challenge

Are YOU ready for the (click for calendar)Planks-Giving Challenge? This menu is chock full of delicious exercises ready to be consumed by your students, families, and even your faculty and staff! Anyone interested would simply need to print out the Planks-Giving calendar to use as a fitness log for the month. Then simply check out the Planks-Giving Dinner Menu and select two appetizers, two main dish exercises, and two side dish exercises. Each day the three-course meal of exercises is completed earns a check on the calendar.  Oh, and one more thing! For dessert think of something or someone you’re thankful for, and write it on the calendar each day the workout is completed.

At the end of the month, all participants add up the total number of days completed, have their parents sign the bottom of the calendar, and return it to a PE teacher for an certificate and shoe token.

Each exercise on the menu is linked to a video description. Simply scroll over the name of the exercise and click.

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Scroll over an exercise and click for a video description

There’s also a link to the Planks-Giving Exercise YouTube playlist at the bottom of the menu.

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Planks-Giving YouTube Playlist

Click Planks-Giving Challenge for an editable copy of the calendar and challenge.

Click here for the Planks-Giving YouTube playlist for video descriptions of each exercise.

A HUGE thank you to my kiddos for helping with the videos.


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10 Soccer Activities for PE

I hope you can use a few of my favorite soccer activities for elementary level physical education. Be sure to share some of YOUR favorites with the PE community!

Soccer Ball Tabata

Throughout the soccer unit, we like to incorporate some of the skills into our fitness.  Soccer Ball Tabata is a perfect way to do just that. We use the Tabata Pro application on an iPad as our timer.

 

Single Cone Soccer

Once we cover many of the basic soccer ball handling skills, we like to introduce single cone soccer. All you need is one cone and a couple of evenly matched students. You’ll find that many components of soccer are practiced in this simple game including defensive positioning, ball handling, strategy, and a ton of fitness!

 

2-Team Soccer Pin Knockdown (physedgames.com)

We like this game when we need to be inside.  Each team sets up 5-7 pins on their baseline.  The goal is for each team to knock over their opponents pins. Once a pin is knocked over, it is taken to the other side where it is set up on the opposite baseline. The goal is for each team to collect all of the pins, then set them up on their side of the field. I usually play with two balls per game.

 

 4-Team Quadrant Pin Knockdown

Four teams battle it out for pin supremacy in this fast-paced soccer game.  Each team sets up six pins on their corner of the field (3 on the baseline side and 3 on the sideline side). This game is played like 2-team pin knock however each team can knock down any of the other three team’s pins. To begin the game, each corner gets a ball.  Therefore, four balls are played at once.

 

Dribbling Gates

We use this as an agility, ball control, and fitness drill. Set up about 16 sets of color coordinated cones (gates( throughout your space. Each gate is approximately three feet wide. Give you students a challenge to see how many gates they can dribble through in a given amount of time. Let them rest for 30 seconds, then do it again. The key to this drill is ball control. I tell my students to control the ball with all parts of  their feet while changing speed and direction.  For an added challenge I sometimes five gatekeepers. Gatekeepers run from gate to gate, blocking them so students can not dribble through. The gatekeeper does not block the ball. His presence between the gate deters the student from dribbling through.

 

Deck Ring Soccer

I like to use this activity in the gym with my first through third grade students. It’s a simple dribbling exploration game where students count how many deck rings they can place their ball in using only their feet. It helps the students discover the importance of using all parts of each foot.

 

2 versus 2 – Single Cone Soccer 

This version of single cone soccer incorporates a teammate and passing along with dribbling, defensive strategies and fitness. I’ll usually play this immediately following games of 1 versus 1 – single cone soccer.

Stop and Go Soccer

Usually used as a warm-up, stop and go soccer focuses on fast break dribbling and stopping on a signal. Before the drill, we’ll discuss the differences between a fast break and dribbling through traffic. Students begin on one end of the field. On the signal, students begin to quickly move the ball up the field. On the whistle, students must immediately stop the ball. A player who continues to dribble after the whistle is blown must head to the back of the group. The same is done when a player is lacking ball control.

Passing Through Gates

Passing through gates is a great follow-up to the dribbling through gates drill. Students partner up and try to pass through as many gates as possible in a given amount of time. Once a partner passes through a gate, she then runs to position herself at a different gate. Meanwhile, the partner who received the pass quickly dribbles to the gate where her partner is waiting. Pass and go!

 

Small-Sided Soccer Games

Our goal in any of our units is to provide as many touches as possible throughout an activity. When we do play actual soccer games, we play on small fields with no more than five players on each team. In this setting, students have numerous opportunities to be a part of the action.


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October’s “Trick or Treat, Move Your Feet” fitness challenge

The Trick or Treat, Move Your Feet fitness challenge consists of three separate workouts. Each workout is represented by one of the three colors of candy corn; white, orange, and yellow.candy-cornEach Day of the week on the calendar is highlighted either white, orange, or yellow. For example, October 1st is highlighted orange. Therefore, on that day, students will do the orange workout. Using the fitness calendar, students will write their initials on each day they complete the workout. At the end of the month, they add up the total number of days completed, have their parents sign the bottom of the sheet, and return it to a PE teacher for an award certificate and shoe token.

For an editable copy of the challenge click Trick or Treat, Move your Feet Challenge and Calendar.

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Below is the certificate I’ll use when a student returns a calendar at the end of the month. I’ll add a two-inch round gold, silver, or bronze sticker to the bottom of the certificate between my name and the date. This makes the certificate look more official.

Click Trick or Treat Certificate for an editable copy of the award certificate.

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Top 10 Pieces of Equipment for Primary PE

 

Top 10 lists are everywhere. They catch your eye, draw you in, and give you quick information. Perfect for our busy lifestyles and my waning attention span.  Walking through a sporting goods store, a banner titled: “10 Tricks to Make Your Camping Trip a Success” caught my eye. Camping was not part of our vacation plans, but after perusing the list, I was ready to pitch a tent anytime!  Magazines are loaded with such lists including this one I just read in a health magazine; “Top 10 Male Health Problems…” Now I should have known better but I couldn’t resist. Even though I knew the list would scare the heck out of me, I HAD TO KNOW! Am I eating the top 10 healthiest fruits on the planet? Not according to healthline.com. I’m only batting 20%. Do I drive one of the top 10 most fuel-efficient cars? Nope! Not even close according to Consumer Reports. In fact, in the same report, I learned that I drive one of the top 20 “biggest gas guzzlers.”

In my research of why top 10 lists are so appealing to readers on the internet, the very first article to pop up was called, “The Top 10 Reasons that Top 10 Lists are so Popular…” There’s a list for EVERYTHING! In my opinion, the reason they’re so appealing is that they pique our interest. Top 10 lists are quick to read and simple to understand. They let us know how we fare on a given topic, and on many occasions, provide useful information to the reader.

With that goal in mind, I thought I’d jump in on the action and share my Top 10 Must-have Pieces of Equipment for Primary Physical Education. The intention of my list is twofold.  First, I’d like to share what has been helpful to me and my colleagues who share more than 70 years of combined experience. Second, I would like YOU to share how my list compares to yours! Don’t hesitate to share your top 10 must-have pieces of equipment in the comments.

1. Swim Noodles

NoodlesWhether full size, cut in half, or sliced into small pieces, swim noodles have been used regularly with our students. A quick search on the internet will yield countless tag games, team building activities, and competitive challenges. You can’t beat the price as well. I recently picked up a bunch for $1.00 apiece at Five Below. Check out a few tag games you can play in the post called Tag Games with Hoops and Noodles.

2. Jump Ropes

Ropes

It is my opinion that like riding a bike, every child should be able to jump rope. The jump rope is a dynamic piece of exercise equipment. It’s small enough to fit into your backpack, improves coordination and enhances cardiovascular fitness while strengthening muscles. Most importantly, jumping rope is FUN! You can cater your lessons to any level and differentiate for advance jumpers with a variety of challenges.

3. Gator Skin Balls

GatorI remember ordering my first set of gator skin balls in 1995. I was impressed by their practicality, durability, and level of safety. They come in a variety of sizes and styles. Our favorites are the six-inch Gator Skin Softi Balls. We use them for throwing and catching drills, team hand ball, rolling challenges and drills, lead-up games for baseball (gator ball), and Ultimate catch. Without question, there are thousands of other ways to use this incredible ball.

4. Foam Activity Pins

Foam PinsFoam activity pins, or foam cylinder as they’re commonly called, are safe, easy to store, and unbelievably useful. We most commonly use them as targets and goals in rolling, throwing and kicking activities. If you’re familiar with my Twitter feed (@justybubpe), you’ve without a doubt seen these gems being utilized to the extreme! Trust me when I tell you, you’ll quickly discover them to be one of your favorite pieces of equipment.

 5. Beanbags/Yarn Balls

Yarns    Bean Bags

Although they’re two different pieces of equipment, I’ve placed them on my list together. Both are excellent implements for younger and older students to practice their tossing, catching, sliding and rolling skills. Kindergarten through second grades in particular, can practice tossing and catching with a partner confidently, without a fear of getting clunked by a heavier, traditional ball. Yarn balls are also a great choice when using plastic scoops and introducing indoor games like bocce.

6. Scooter Boards

ScooterScooter boards make many appearances throughout the year in our PE classes.  Early on, we use them during our cooperative lessons. Later, we break them out for a variety of tag and invasion games like scooter soccer, scooter handball, and ultimate bucket ball .  Finally, scooters have become a main fitness tool.  Check out this blog post called Scooter Fitness – 11 Exercises Using Scooter Boards. Be sure to instruct your students on scooter safety prior to use.

 7. Plastic Scoops

scoopsFor years, plastic scoops sat in my PE storage room gathering dust. It was until recently that I discovered numerous practical uses for them. I’ve discovered ways to sprinkle in the scoops throughout our PE curriculum. Check out a previous post called 8 Group Games Using SCOOPS in PE. Here you will discover simple games to help students enhance their hand-eye coordination and tossing and catching fundamentals.

 8. Hula Hoops

HoopsTry placing a stack of hula hoops out for a station during one of your PE classes. Give the students simple instructions such as,  “How many ways can you and your group use the hula hoops?” You’ll be blown away by the jumping, spinning, building, and overall creativity that will ensue. The versatility of a hoop is limitless. My students have used them as targets, bases, steering wheels, goals, obstacles, agility patterns and much more. Try a few of these games found within a post called 11 Hula Hoop Activities You May Not Know About.

9. Screen/Projector

Our screen and projector hanging in our gym has been a godsend. Great for our visual learners, our screen allows us to project our daily lessons, directions to an activity, timers, scoreboards, rubrics, and expectations. It works wonders for instant activities! Students enter the gymnasium, and automatically check the screen for their first task of the class.

  10. Cones

low COnes.jpg

We have cones of all colors, shapes, and sizes. Primarily used to make boundaries, cones can also serve as batting tees, megaphones, targets, and hurdles.  Bonus!  Turn the cone into a  sign holder by taping a rubber band to the back of your sign, and  slip it over a cone!

 

Did any of my equipment make your list? Share your Top 5 with your PE teaching peers. Let us know what we might be missing.


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Blowing Off S.T.E.A.M. in Physical Education: Make Your Own Jump Rope

The year was 1995, my first year teaching physical education in a public school in Washington, DC. I was young and inexperienced yet eager to make a difference in the lives of my students. During my first weeks of school I was informed by the principal that the school had an annual tradition of participating in the American Heart Association’s Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser. This was great news. Not only would we be raising money for a great cause, but my students would have the opportunity to enhance a skill combining fitness and coordination. With this, I set out a goal to help improve my 3rd-5th grade students’ ability to jump rope. I allotted time during each class for them to practice.  I also encouraged them to jump rope at home with their own ropes.

(Click Blowing Off STEAM in PE for an editable copy of the challenge!)

Much to my surprise, I soon realized that more than half my students didn’t have their own jump ropes, and unfortunately, with a limited budget, I didn’t have enough ropes to loan them. Jokingly, I mentioned to one of my 4th grade classes, “I guess you’ll just have to make your own.”

With unexpected delight, the very next day, one student walked into class with a jump rope she had made at home. Amanda proudly pulled from a plastic bag a jump rope completely made of rubber bands. I was so impressed with Amanda’s  “no excuses” mentality.  After Amanda shared her creation with her classmates, a second girl, Bronwyn, said she too made her own jump rope but needed to retrieve it from her classroom.  When she returned, she unveiled her creation made of large paperclips.

I’ll never forget Amanda and Bronwyn for their determination to improve their jump rope skills. They were prime examples of the old adage, where there’s a will there’s a way.

STEAM 2

22 years later, I still remain inspired by Amanda and Bronwyn. I’ve decided to challenge my students in 1st-6th grades to make their own jump ropes by presenting them with a S.T.E.A.M. challenge.

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STOPWATCH – The Great Motivator

stopwatch old school

“What is the one piece of equipment you must have as a physical education teacher?” This is a question that frequently comes up on social media or through casual conversation with peers. I love having great music in the gym. Students respond well to an updated playlist on a kicking sound system. Equipment like hula hoops and swim noodles are so versatile, with countless fitness, cooperative, and competitive applications. And of course, there are jump ropes. Jumping rope is like riding a bike, every child should be able to do it.  However, without hesitation, my answer is a stopwatch. I couldn’t imagine teaching PE without my Timex watch.

I remember when my own three children were young, very young. They were 6, 5, and 3 years old when I created a backyard obstacle course for them. The set up was not fancy and rather simple. They’d playfully run through the course, taking their time crawling under, jumping over, climbing through and sprinting across a variety of obstacles before crossing a finish line. Eventually they would grow bored of the sequence of prepositional challenges. That is, until I introduced them to my stopwatch. “How fast can you get through the course? I’ll time you.” Immediately, this simple question changed the level of competition in the Cahill household forever. My kids were obsessed with attempting to set a new personal best, then later with beating each other’s record. To this day, now 14, 13, and 11 years old, my kids still enjoy being timed, whether its crushing a mountain bike course, running the bases, or swimming a lap in the pool. “Can you time me to see how long it takes me to get ready for bed?”

Our students are equally motivated by a stopwatch. At Trinity School, we discuss the importance of the personal best rather than comparing oneself to the other students. (However, we’re not naïve to the natural instinct to see how you stack up to your peers.) “How many times can you and a partner toss and catch a disc successfully in 45 seconds?” “How long can you hold a plank?” “Can you touch the four walls of the gym in less than 10 seconds?” “When I say go, you have 35 seconds to pick up all the equipment, place it in its correct container, then line up quietly.” Often, during my morning running program, students will ask, “Can you time me to see how long it takes me to run a lap?”

Along with the above examples, there are countless other ways to motivate students using a stopwatch throughout each and every day. Below you will find two of my all time favorite uses for a stopwatch.

My Top Two Favorite Stopwatch Challenges

1.  The 150 Lap Challenge (adjust the number of laps based on class size, age level, and lap distance)

Along with a little pep talk on teamwork, this challenge is sure to get your students amped up to run. The goal is for the class, as a team, to complete 150 laps as quickly as possible. It’s even more motivational if you have the capability to connect an iPad timer to a projector so the students can watch the seconds tick by.  However, I promise they’ll be energized if you use your stopwatch like me. I tally their cumulative laps and give updates along the way. “25 laps completed…75 laps completed…150 laps complete…etc.  Once they hit 150 laps, I stop the clock and give them their time.  I’ll log their score for a future 150 lap challenge.  Sometimes, I’ll post each class’ score in the gym. This sets up some friendly class versus class competitions for the future.

2.  Beat the Clock

I religiously use this game to reinforce signals and formations throughout the year. First, I’ll ask the class to perform a certain locomotor skill. On a given signal (music, whistle, etc.) the students stop, look, and listen. I’ll then give the class a task to complete in set amount of time. “You have 10 seconds to form a perfect circle around me.” “You have 12 seconds to quietly line up at the door in boy, girl formation.” “You have 7 seconds to stand in your own personal space.” As the year progresses I give them less time and/or more complicated challenges.  After each challenge I’ll playfully give a score update. The class receives a point if they “beat the clock, and I receive one if they don’t.  You won’t regret this challenge, especially the first several weeks of school.

Bonus Game: Omnikin Beachball Challenge

This is a quick challenge to attempt to keep the ball in the air as long as possible. I always ask the class to shoot for a personal best, but also give them the school record for added motivation.  After three or four initial attempts, the group will sit in a circle to discuss what worked and what didn’t work. This is where they come up with a strategy to hopefully beat their personal record.

You may be thinking about all the fancy timer applications you can find on your devices. One particular favorite is the Tabata Pro timer, which has countless features. I have it and use it frequently. But there’s something real and challenging about a good old-fashioned stopwatch strapped to your wrist, ready to BEEP! It’s always there for you, it never has to be charged, and it is so very easy to use.

After reading this post, how long will it take you to comment on how you challenge your students with a stopwatch in your classes?

Ready, set, GO!


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September’s Back to School Fitness Challenge

Once again this year, I’ll be creating a monthly take-home fitness challenge for my students. The goal is to introduce a variety of exercises and routines that are quick, easy, and fun to perform, yet challenging enough to increase heart rates and help build strength. Ultimately, promoting lifelong fitness and its countless health related benefits will hopefully be a main take away for our students and families.

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For the month of September, students will be challenged with an AMRAP (as many repetitions as possible). I will spend the week prior to the challenge discussing the workout and practicing the four exercises that make up the AMRAP during PE class. This allows me to help them with form before setting them off to do the workout at home. I also encourage the students to teach their parents the workout. Many parents inform me that they too take the monthly challenges!

At the end of the month, students turn in their calendars. In return they each receive an award certificate with either a gold, silver or bronze sticker and a plastic shoe token.

For an editable copy, click Back to School Challenge.

For and editable copy of the award certificate, click Back to School Challenge Certificate.

 


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P.E. Games – Inspired by Students

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Have you ever observed your students while at recess? I mean really taken the time to walk around and soak in all the different areas of the playground to get a feel for how students are taking advantage of their precious free time.  As I’ve mentioned in a previous post called, Recess: Lessons from the Playground, “From a teacher’s perspective, recess duty is an opportunity to watch students grow physically, emotionally, and socially, in an unstructured environment.  It’s a time when we put the plan book away and allow PLAY to provide the lesson.”

Kids are constantly adapting rules, making teams, problem solving, exploring, and creating new games and activities.  In my opinion, students learn valuable skills in this type of unstructured, self-guided environment.

How can I take advantage of this powerful learning tool as a physical education teacher? 

Within my curriculum, I set aside days where students have the opportunity to explore and create.  I’ll set up seven stations, each with its own set of equipment.  I’ll divide the class into small groups, then send each group to one of the stations.  For three minutes per rotation, students work collaboratively to develop an activity using the given equipment.

On many occasions, groups will come up with the obvious ideas for games. For example, if a station has a pile of hoops, students will individually spin the hoop on various body parts.  This is fine, since they are using the hoop, they are moving, and most likely, their wheels are turning, thinking of something else to try.  Other groups may dig deeper into their cognition and build an elaborate hula hoop fortress with an accompanying story, while other students use the hoops as stepping stones to cross a toxic river.

The Magic of Floor Ball

Recently, as one of the exploration stations, I spread out three cones in a row, each connected with jump ropes.  Along the wall I placed a gator skin ball, three foam paddles, and a foam tennis ball.  I figured each group would use the paddles and the foam tennis ball to volley over the net.  To my surprise, the very first group developed what they called Floor Ball in just three minutes.  The rules were so simple.  The object of the game was to strike the ball under the rope, past the opposing player to receive a point.  Brilliant!

The next group must have been intrigued by the first group, as they decided to build on the rules. In doing so, they added the “two touch” rule.  A player could block the ball (one touch) then strike it (second touch) under the net.  They also added a special rule for games of two players versus one.  If playing as a single player, you can strike the ball to the left or the right of the center cone.  Teams of two had to stand side by side and could only strike the ball through their side of the center cone.  What a great way to balance the two player advantage!  Again, genius!

Floor ball continued to evolve throughout the class, with each group devising their own set of unique rules.

Scoop Shoes – another 1st grade creation enjoyed by all our students.

Another exploration station consisted of a three plastic scoops, three yarn balls, a plastic pool, and several hula hoops.  Again, in only three minutes, a group of 1st grade students created Scoop Shoes.  Based on horse shoes, the three students set up their hoops in a triangle.  Each player stood behind their own hoop.  One player at a time would underhand toss the yarn ball with the scoop to the hoop to their right.  Two points are scored when a ball lands inside the hula hoop and one point is scored when the ball stops less than a scoops length away from the hoop.  Beautiful!  Yet another student-created game I can share with the rest of my students!

So next time you are on the playground, walk around and watch the creative, young minds at work.  You’ll be sure to witness the pervasive benefits unstructured play provides for children, and the amazing value it will add to your curriculum.


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