Step Count vs. Activity Time in PE
Are you tracking step count or activity time in your physical education classes? Dr. Robert Pangrazi explains why activity time is a more fair and accurate measure for students.
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MVPA Hops to New Heights with Jump Rope Program (Video)
Jumping rope is an excellent exercise for increasing activity time, coordination and confidence. While jumping rope is often used as a warm-up activity, one professor studied the health and social benefits of an after school jump rope program.
Minnesota State University Physiology professor, Dr. Jessica Albers, studied students as they spent 2 hours after school learning how to jump rope.
“It’s one of the more high-intensity activities that you can participate in,” Dr. Albers said. “You wouldn’t think that jumping this high over and over again would get your heart rate up that fast, but it does.”
Students between the ages of 8-12 learned and mastered different jump rope skills throughout the 12-week program. At the end, students performed a group routine at the local high school.
Increasing MVPA through Jumping Rope:
While Dr. Albers used a more scientific approach to determine MVPA (Accelerometer counts and intensity cut points developed by Freedson et al), Gopher’s FITstep™ Pedometers track step count, total activity time, and total time within the moderate to very vigorous activity zone. With the FITstep™ Pro Pedometer, teachers are able to upload data into the FITstep™ software to organize into printable reports.
“What it’s looking at are the intensity levels of your activity,” Dr. Albers said, “If you want to actually see changes in the cardiovascular system within the respiratory system and even musculatory system, depending on the type of activity you’re doing, you need to be at these higher intensities.”
She tested students three times throughout the 12-week, 90-minute program and concluded the following activity results:
- 9.7 minutes (10.8%) in very vigorous activity
- 7.6 minutes (8.4%) in vigorous activity
- 28 minutes (31.2%) in moderate activity
- 8.0 minutes (8.9%) in light activity
- 36.7 minutes (40.7%) in sedentary
Dr. Albers admits that most of the sedentary time was spent learning new skills and the group routine.
“When we broke down, just for sense of time, MVPA specifically - moderate, vigorous and very vigorous - they were meeting their recommendations.” Dr. Albers said.
Albers was surprised with how much very vigorous activity time students were getting and thinks jumping rope is a great way to keep students motived throughout the entire class period.
“We could just make kids run for 30 minutes a day. PE - go run for 30 minutes a day! But that’s no fun.” Dr. Albers said, “With jump rope, hopefully you keep it interesting enough that they continue to be active enough during that period of time.”
Other Benefits of Jumping Rope
Beyond physical fitness, Dr. Albers explained that there may be other benefits to jumping rope.
“Jump roping is so unique, you learn skills every single day.” Dr. Albers said. “If you have success in something, it overall increases your self-competence, and then with that, you are more likely to try something multiple times.”
Dr. Albers uses Harter’s Competence Motivation Theory as a large motivation for her reasoning. According to Oxford Reference, Harter’s Competence Theory explains that a person’s confidence increases after they master a task, encouraging them to take on more challenges in the future.
“You master so many things [in jumping rope], as opposed to some sports, you might take longer to see those mastery attempts be successful.” Dr. Albers said.
Getting Started with your Jump Rope Program
Dr. Albers currently teaches a jump rope class at Minnesota State University – Mankato and has worked with multiple schools to expand their PE curriculum or add an after-school jump rope program.
“I encourage you to just go try it and be out there with your students.” Dr. Albers said, “Kids figure out things faster than you would think. Even showing them a video, they can kind of figure out some things on their own pretty fast, which is always fun.”
Dr. Albers recommends using the photos and videos at Jump Rope for Heart to learn different skills and techniques. You can also use Gopher’s JumpSkillz™ Mountain, a 6’L x 4’W banner that offers step-by-step instruction for 20 progressive drills and is a great resource for increasing jump rope instruction into your program. Need to replace broken jump ropes or add more to your storage room? Check out these Jump Ropes all backed by an Unconditional 100% Satisfaction Guarantee!
How do you use jumping rope in your PE curriculum? Share your ideas for increasing activity time by commenting below!
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Enhance PE Best Practices with Pedometers
If you ever have the chance to attend a workshop featuring high school physical education teacher Maria Corte, you need to do so. She is one of the most highly respected workshop presenters I’ve ever met. She teaches physical education best practices through her “M’s” of quality physical education: Manage, Move, and Motivate. We’ve got to be able to manage, move, and motivate our students. I would also add to this list: Measure. How do we measure student progress or program impact? There’s one measurement tool that has been a game-changer for my program when it comes to achieving the “M’s” of quality physical education, and that’s the FITstep™ Pro Uploadable Pedometer.
I classify the FITstep™ Pro Uploadable Pedometer as one of the most applicable and affordable teaching tools available today. It was specifically designed for physical education. I recommend it to anyone wanting to add meaningful technology to their program, especially one that measures student progress and can easily report this data to students, parents, and administrators. Data is a powerful tool.
A few of my favorite FITstep™ Pro Pedometer features include:
- In less than 2 minutes, an entire class of 30+ can download their data.
- The software program is free. No annual fees.
- Students get immediate feedback: How active was I today? How do I feel?
- I get immediate feedback: Did my lesson go as planned? How active was it?
- I can print customized reports for each student, class or both.
- I can use them in PE, for take-home projects, or staff wellness challenges.
I’m now expanding the use of pedometers to outside the general physical education classroom. Last spring my classes cycled through wearing a pedometer home for the week. Students filled in an activity log and analyzed their data in a Physical Activity Reflection assignment. This helped them develop a plan toward achieving the “60 Minutes a Day of Play” recommendation. Some of my special education students now wear the pedometers all day to measure daily physical activity levels at school. They enjoy the privilege of having their own pedometers. The purpose of expanding pedometer use outside of physical education is to help students begin to connect what they are learning in class to their personal lives. I want them to develop a physical activity plan that supports health-related fitness and achieves moderate-to-vigorous intensity levels in activities. The pedometers help teach these concepts. I want students to identify what they enjoy, the health benefits of these choices, and where they can access it outside of school.
The research shows active students are better learners. Elementary classrooms now have students wear pedometers all day to motivate students to be more active, help them reflect upon their activity choices in school, and help teachers integrate more movement-based teaching practices and activity breaks. Integrating movement in the classroom is now a respected best practice.
The opportunities pedometers can provide school systems are many. What an amazing time in our profession! Check out my website’s pedometer resource section for more ideas.
The FITstep™ Pro with the "M's" of Quality Physical Education:
*Table information adapted from Gopher website.
Today’s physical education programs must know how to effectively “Manage, Move, and Motivate” students. Programs must also be able to Measure student progress. The FITstep™ Pro Uploadable Pedometer supports all of these areas.
- What is your current system for achieving the “M’s” of quality physical education? How might pedometers help you advance your teaching?
- Looking to purchase pedometers? Check out local grant opportunities through your hospitals and insurance agencies. Look into Donors Choose, Fuel Up to Play 60, and become a Let’s Move Active Schools champion. Many grant opportunities are available here and can include pedometer technology.
- There is a Voxer group for physical education teachers using FITstep™ Pro pedometers or wanting to learn more about pedometers in physical education. Check out the FITstep™ Pro Pedometer group on Voxer!
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Utilizing Pedometers and MVPA in PE
For almost 10 years, I taught high school physical education wondering what I could use to help measure student participation and at the same time justify student grades. While attending a conference, I was introduced to pedometers and using MVPA, moderate to vigorous physical activity, and how utilizing this small, easy-to-use device could help put my physical education program on the right path.
Let’s start by talking about a couple pedometers that I have used in the past couple years. We have used both the Gopher FITstep™ Plus and the Gopher FITstep™ Pro. Both pedometers are extremely reliable and calculate steps, active time, and most importantly MVPA time. We switched to the FITstep™ Pro for its uploading capability, which allows us to collect data on individual students as well as entire classes and even our entire school. We have taken our FITstep™ Plus pedometers to our elementary and middle school classes to get our students familiar with the pedometers at a young age, as well as allowing our PE staff at those buildings to utilize the pedometers in their grading and evaluation of students.
So, how is MVPA calculated? MVPA is based on the number of steps taken per minute. The great part about both of these pedometers is that you have control over what the average number of steps per minute is set for the MVPA timer to run. And the timer only runs when your students are walking or running at or above the set number of steps per minute. As soon as your students drop below the average that you set, their timer stops running. It has taken our students a little time to get used to this fact, but they have caught on and do a fantastic job. Our students are assigned a pedometer number and are permitted to put their pedometer on as soon as they get into our gym. I smile and laugh every time I enter the gym and see 9th through 12th grade students walking in place or around the gym as I take attendance. I call it organized chaos! My administration loves it too, which is a huge help for our program!
I have been asked many times while presenting to groups on how we use pedometers. How often do you use pedometers? What is the biggest problem with using pedometers? We use pedometers every day we are outside for class. Our program offers our students a lot of choices to be active, especially when we are outside. When we come back inside for the long winter stretch in Central PA, the pedometers hibernate for the winter! Our students appreciate the break and with the choices they have inside the pedometers don’t always work depending on the activity.
As for problems, we have a little trouble keeping students from breaking pedometers during some of our activities, mainly flag football and tchoukball. For flag football, the pedometers are breaking as belts are being pulled off, so we have been trying to figure out a way to avoid this problem and if anyone out there has any suggestions, please share! Tchoukball is not as rough on pedometers, but we have several students that go all out and land on the pedometers while diving to catch the tchoukball. This one is not a problem for me, just because I love the enthusiasm! Now for our biggest issue, trying to get our students to understand that MVPA is based off of steps per minute and that everyone walks at different rates with different stride lengths. We go over this with our students all of the time and they still struggle to understand why someone who is 6’ tall with long strides walking with someone 5’ with short strides will have a different amount of MVPA time if they walk at the shorter person’s stride. I am pretty sure we will be dealing with this one for all of time with some students!
For us, one of the best things about using the FITstep™ Pro pedometers is they allow our students to self-monitor during class, so they know what they need to do to earn credit for class. We created charts that our students and parents are made aware of at the beginning of the school year, indicating how much MVPA time they need to get in order to earn full credit. Please feel free to take a look at the chart we use most often and make it your own! Another great part of using pedometers is parents can understand our system and expectation much better than when it was based solely off of what the teacher felt the student’s effort was in class.
We also have Pedometer Rules posted that we expect students to follow:
- Treat the pedometer with respect!
- FInd your assigned pedometer (double check!!)
- Place pedometer on waistband (not on or in pockets)
- At the end of class, upload your pedometer
I also love that pedometers are very low maintenance, which means less work for you! I have used heart rate monitors before but the upkeep with chest straps and keeping them clean and the time commitment is just not worth it to me! Now with that said I am looking for feedback from anyone how they like strapless heart rate monitors and if they are effective, because we are always looking for new ways to assess our students!
Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more trends, tips, and ideas!
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Tips for Getting Students Excited About Tracking MVPA and Heart Rate (Video)
Wearing chest straps, syncing heart rate devices, and calibrating pedometers can be extra work and very time consuming for your students. Tracking activity time is important for measuring growth, but how can you get your students excited about wearing heart rate monitors and pedometers? We asked Minnesota State University – Mankato Physiology Professor, Dr. Jessica Albers, to give us her insight on how to get your students excited about aerobic exercise and tracking their improvement.
1. Explain what they're tracking
A deeper understand of what students are tracking and why they’re tracking it can be a great motivator. We asked Dr. Albers how she would explain MVPA and heart rate to an elementary student, see her response:
2. Long-term benefits of a healthy heart
It’s hard to get students excited about long-term health benefits. See Dr. Albers recommendations and tips for talking to your students about their long-term health here:
3. Visually tracking growth
When students are able to see their MVPA minutes increase or heart rate fluctuate, it’s a great visual motivator. Dr. Albers discusses that training with heart rate monitors can get your students to think about their activity level intensity, even outside of PE.
4. Preparing for fitness testing
We asked Dr. Albers how using pedometers and heart rate monitors can prepare students for fitness testing.
5. Muscles won't work without oxygen
Dr. Albers explains how you can motivate athletes to care about heart rate when they participate in anaerobic activities.
The ability to efficiently and accurately track MVPA and/or heart rate is key to getting students excited about exercise and tracking their progress throughout class and over time.
Gopher offers a wide variety of equipment to that makes tracking activity time easy and hassle-free for teachers and students. Our line of FITstep™ Pedometers track steps, activity time, and MVPA. The FITstep™ Pro Pedometer uploads data into the FITstep™ Software, allowing you to organize data and print reports. It’s a great way to track your student’s growth throughout the year. Click here for all Pedometer options.
If you’re looking to track heart rate, the Optic™ Strapless Heart Rate Monitor instantly gathers student heart rate data and continuously tracks and displays it in real time. Use the AssessPro™ iPad app to collect heart rate data and email reports. Click here for all Heart Rate Monitor options.
Training with Tires – 5 Fresh Ideas to Add to Your PE Curriculum! (Video)
Get your students moving with indoor tire-style training designed for beginners! Gopher’s Rainbow® IntroFit™ Flip’T™ Tire Trainers are a non-intimidating, safe way to introduce students to a new weight training method. The Flip’T™ trainers are soft for younger students and are safe for indoor use.
Here are 5 unique activity ideas that will ensure your students have fun while training with tires!
1. Flip'T™ Relay
In a relay format, students run down to the other end of the gym to flip their team’s trainer back to their home base. Teams can either choose to flip their trainer forward once or another team’s trainer backwards once. The first team to Flip its trainer to the finish is the winner!
2. Flip'T™ Beanbag Rally
In this relay style game, students run down to the opposite end of the gym to flip their team’s trainer on its side. Once on its side, students can throw a beanbag (one beanbag per person) through the trainer to score a point for their team. Watch out, other teams can knock your Flip’T™ trainer over to prevent you from scoring points. The first team to score all five of their beanbags is the winner!
3. Pyramid Stack
In this cooperative activity, students flip the trainer from one end of the gym to the other. Once all of the trainers have reached the other end, students must work together to stack the Flip’T™ trainers in the shape of pyramid. Unstack the pyramid and flip the trainers back to the beginning for the next groups turn.
4. Musical Chair Plyometrics
Much like the traditional game of music chairs, students run around the gym waiting for the music to stop. Once the music stops, players must run to the nearest Flip’T™ trainer to perform toe touches. Only three players are allowed on each trainer. Students who miss out on a trainer are out of the game. As the game continues, limit the number of spots available on a trainer from 3, to 2, to 1. Variation: Remove a Flip’T™ trainer from the gameplay area to decrease the spots available.
5. Flip'T™ Fitness Exercises
Perform a variety of traditional tire-trainer exercises including flips, burpies, pushes, partners flips and partner fireman carries.
IntroFit™ Flip’T™ Tire Trainers are 25 lbs and can be purchased in a rainbow set. For a more intense workout or to train with older students, check out the full size Flip’T™ Tire Trainers. They are available in 50, 90, 130 and 175 lbs.
Enriching Participation in P.E. with Progressions & Equipment
Though fitness is a primary focus of my middle school physical education program, I also teach a lot of skill development through sports-based (team and dual) activities. A foundation of my program includes a large selection of versatile equipment. I wish I would have known earlier in my career how to identify and purchase the right equipment to adapt and use in a variety of ways to meet the needs of my students; in other words, how equipment could be used in multiple areas and not just for its original purpose. Below I provide some insight.
The equipment selection I inherited was very traditional even though my student’s ability levels were extremely diverse. Through ongoing experimentation, including many trips to the local “dollar” store, tracking the superstore sales racks, and gathering ideas at conferences and via social media, I have compiled a large variety. Having diverse options, choices, or levels of equipment helps keep activities interesting, provides differentiation, and challenges students in a fun way.
Activity and Equipment Examples:
- When teaching softball, my progression starts with large cones (Oversized Cones) as batting tees and a safety bat and ball (Rainbow® UltraGrip™ Foam Baseball Bats). What’s nice about the tall cones is their versatility; they can be used throughout the year for stations, goal posts, agility course markers, and a million other things! Students hit off the tall cone for batting practice warm-ups and in small-sided game play before playing the larger game. I also use hoops (an equipment staple for most) as an on-deck batting circle and larger bases in modified games that sometimes allow multiple people on a base or can be used as the pitcher’s circle.
- A specific small-sided game example is “Cricket-style softball,” where students hit off the cone and run back and forth between two cones to score points while the defense fields the ball and makes a specific number of throws before running in to touch the home plate cone to stop the play.
- Another idea to include once you work into the larger softball game format is to allow “Freebies to first base.” The batter becomes a live runner at first, even if they get out. This allows the batter to do more than just go back to the end of the line after getting out and challenges the defense with runners on base. If first base was already occupied during the out, you can bump up the runners to the next base. The possibilities are endless and having progressions keep things engaging and fun within the spirit of the game.
- In target games, one of my go-to choices is the Elite Hoop Disc Target Set. It provides a variety of target heights and works for multiple activities including Disc Golf and Disc Lacrosse, as well as modified Handball goals or small-sided Speedball hoops. The targets also work for general throwing games, yard game targets, and for “Creation Stations” where students design the activities. Students think they are very “Harry Potter-like” and ask if they are playing Quidditch!
- Along the lines of disc/Frisbee® activities, offering large or soft discs is important and helps when you need an indoor option. If you have never played Speedball, check out Joey Feith’s breakdown via www.thephysicaleducator.com.
As you can see, a few pieces of select equipment (tall cones, targets, and hoops) have become critical in enhancing several activities in my curriculum. The versatility of equipment also helps stretch my budget. I enjoy perusing through equipment catalogs for new ideas and more efficient choices.
Finally, there are a few questions I use to prioritize my purchases. When planning lessons and progressions, I now think about...
- How can I change the size, speed, color, and feel of the object, goal, or target?
- How can I modify the game so everyone will be successful and be able to choose their level of challenge while maintaining the spirit of the game?
This thought process is not just for my special needs students with physical limitations, it’s for all students. I’ve seen a greater return on student participation levels and overall enjoyment of trying a new activity.
I look forward to sharing more ideas on adaptations and progressions in upcoming blogs. Thanks for reading!
Considerations for progressions:
Continue the conversation: There are many creative equipment hacks that help teachers utilize equipment in a variety of ways. What are your favorites? #PEblog #physed #PEhacks #physedhacks @gophersport @JessicaShawley
5 Ways to Increase Activity in PE with Poly Spots (Video)
This is the third blog in our three-part series featuring unique lesson plan activity ideas using essential equipment for Physical Education. For more PE game ideas, visit our blogs that feature hula hoops and bean bags.
Get your students up and moving with throw-down spots! While typically used for markers and boundaries, we’ve compiled 5 fun physical education games using Rainbow® DuoDots™. DuoDots™ are unique because they feature a different color on each side of the spot allowing you to add variety to your activities. The games below can be modified to be played using standard poly spots.
1. Musical Dots
Assign students a color and scatter the DuoDots™ around the gym. Have students walk, run, hop or skip around the play area. Once the music stops, players race to find their colored spot to stay in the game. Remove a spot after each round. Add a challenge to the game by flipping the spots to a new color to mix up the play area!
2. Flip Spot
This is a great warm up game! Assign players to be on either the warm team (red, orange and yellow) or the cool team (green, blue and purple). Scatter the spots around the play area and have students race around the gym to flip the DuoDot™ over to their team’s color. At the end of a designated time, the team with the most spots with their team’s color facing up is the winner! (Activity Idea – Jeanne Morgan)
3. Pin Protector
Scatter the poly spots around the gym and place one bowling pin on each spot. Assign players to be on the warm team or the cool team. Teams race around the gym trying to knock down the other team’s pins while protecting their own! If a player is able to knock a pin over, they flip the poly spot to their team’s color, set the pin back up and begin protecting it. The team with the most pins under their team’s control after 5 minutes is the winner!
4. Strategic Spot
Players are separated into cold and warm teams. DuoDots™ are placed along the half court line of a basketball court. In a relay style, players run to the poly spots to complete one of three moves:
- Place their team's colored bean bag on their team's poly spot
- Remove an opponent's bean bag and bring it back to their team
- If no bean bags occupy their oponent's poly spot, slip the spot over to claim the sport for their team
The object of the game is to have the most colored bean bags and spots in play at the end of 5 minutes. (Activity Idea - Shannon Jarvis)
5. Twister Tag
Assign players to a color and place DuoDots™ around the gym. Students play tag, but can use their color’s DuoDot™ as a safe spot. Once a student is safe, the tagger must go after someone else. Students can only stay on the poly spot for 5 seconds and must flip the spot over to the other color once they leave. Some teams might have a ton of safe spot options but others might not have any! (Activity Idea - Shannon Jarvis)
Do you have any poly spot game ideas? Join the discussion and comment below to share!
Did You Make a P.E. New Year's Resolution?
We recently ushered 2016 out of the gym, and I'm sure many of you prepared a New Year’s Resolution to do something great in your PE or Health classes. Maybe you have two or three resolutions you're using to improve your program and help your students reach new personal fitness goals? Or perhaps you decided to make a leap and try a brand new lesson? Whatever it is, I encourage you to go for it! And on top of that share with as many people as you can, you never know your resolution could go viral!
Here are a couple of my PE resolutions for 2017:
1. Attend a health and P.E. conference or convention
I want to give myself the opportunity to find new ideas and talk with other fantastic health and physical education teachers. As health and physical educators, we all have several great lesson ideas or activities that our students experience success and gain knowledge; so, we all need to find time to get to a conference or convention and share our successes with others! Building a community for the greater good is one way we can all make a difference!
2. Share at least 1 new fitness activity with my students
My goal here is to find an activity that might get more students physically active every day. It may be that I try PiYo® for my yoga loving students or Zumba® for those that might like fitness-based, high-energy dance. I could also look to add suspension training with a TRX® trainer set. My hope is that the more types of physical activity that I can expose my students to, the better chance that I hit something they may enjoy and continue to do throughout their lives!
3. Start a school-wide fitness initiative
My last resolution for the upcoming year is a big one and I will try my best to make it come to fruition. I would like to start a school-wide fitness initiative to get not just my students, but all of the teachers and school personnel physically active on a daily basis. This may be done through monthly themes or contests in an effort to jumpstart the campaign. It may not happen until the start of the next school year and culminate with a 5k fun run or color run at the conclusion of next school year, but this is something that I feel will bring the students and staff together for one common goal of getting healthier and more fit!
I would love to hear your resolutions and I encourage you to try something new! And if you are looking for ideas, please search through the amazing blog posts on this site and see what you can make work in your class!
May 2017 be a GREAT year for you all!
Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more ideas, trends, and tips!
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5 Beanbag Warm-Up Activities (Video)
This is the second blog in our three-part series featuring unique activity ideas with essential P.E. equipment like hoops, beanbags, and poly spots. Check out out first blog, Hula Hoop Activity Ideas for PE, and don't forget to stop back next week for unique game ideas with poly spots.
Beanbags are a must have in every equipment room or storage closet! They’re easy to store and can be used for beanbag tossing, as well as movement and collection games. These 5 beanbag games feature Gopher’s Rainbow® DoubleUp™ Beanbags that double the fun with a different color on each side! All activities can be adapted for use with standard beanbags.
1. Catch Me If You Can
This is a great game to warm up students’ minds and bodies. Each player selects a color on the beanbag. Partners take turns throwing the beanbag into the air. Whichever color lands facing up, that player has to chase their partner back to a predetermined area. If a student tags their partner before reaching the finish line they win a point. First player to 5 points is the winner!
2. Beanbag Relay
Players race to the other end of the playing area and either place a beanbag into their goal to add a point to their team’s score or place it in their opponent’s goal to subtract a point. After all bags are in play, players can race to flip their beanbags over to turn negative points into positive ones! We played this game with only two colors, but use all six colors at once to increase the chaos and fun!
3. Beanbag Hunt
Scatter multiple cones around the play area and place a beanbag under each cone. Six teams, one for each Rainbow color, run in a relay style to lift the cone up to reveal the beanbag. If the beanbag is their team’s color, grab the beanbag, knock the cone over, and bring it bag back to their team. If it’s not their color, flip the beanbag over to the opposite color to change the playing field. First team to collect all of their beanbags is the winner! (PE Universe / Angela Michel)
4. Beanbag Toss
Rainbow® DoubleUp™ Beanbags offer a great variation to traditional beanbag toss activities! Toss the beanbag into the air or at a target, but only score if the correct color is facing up!
5. Beanbag Frenzy
Players are spread out along the gym and assigned a hula hoop with three beanbags inside. The objective of this game is to get rid of all of your beanbags by running, skipping, shuffling or hopping to the other colored hula hoops to drop them off. Players are only able to pass beanbags to the colored hoop that matches the colored beanbag. The team with the least number of beanbags after 5 minutes is the winner! Students will love this fast-paced strategy game!
Do you have any beanbag activity ideas? Join the discussion and comment below to share!
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