No Gym, No Field, No Problem!
Don't have access to your gym or field for class today?
Here are a few great activity ideas for the days where the gym and field at your school are being used by other classes or departments!
Let’s face it; the gym is a popular place to host events other than our Physical Education classes. I cannot count the number of times our PE classes have been uprooted because of another event needing the space. Whether, it’s an assembly, a dress rehearsal for the school drama club, or Music class needing the stage, I always greet this problem outwardly with a smile and the willingness to be flexible. After all, we are all one school, right? There is no need to be upset or frustrated because it’s not going to change the fact that someone else needs the space. Internally however, I may be a little freaked out.
Why, you ask? Because going outside is not as easy as stated. I love how everybody thinks so: “Ah, just take the kids outside and let’em run around!” Sure. It might work out sometimes, but weather is unpredictable…and plan B sometimes just doesn’t work out. Bring on plan C: “No Gym, No Field, No Problem!”
At times, when uprooted from our gym space, I find us in the cafeteria, classroom, or hallway. Each having its own set of issues we have to plan around. So, if you find your PE classes in a similar situation, here is a list of activities for you to consider.
Stuck in the Hallway?
Hallway Foosball: Two teams of students are seated in a straight line facing opposite ways from each other. Using a ball of your choice: gator, beach ball, soccer ball…I prefer a playground ball. The students try to score by only using their inside hand, and moving the ball forward in the direction their line is sitting. After a few rounds, have the students rotate in their spot switching the direction of play and hand.
Hula Hoop Chain: Two teams of students holding hands and facing each other forming two parallel human chains. Start a hula-hoop on one end of each chain. On the word “go,” students climb through the hoop maintaining their chain allowing the hoop to travel down the line to each student. The first team to get their hoop all the way through their line wins!
Hop in a Hoop! Scatter hula-hoops around the hallway; give the students a locomotor skill, way of travel, or an exercise they need to perform. On the word “go,” students travel thru the hallway not touching any hoops performing the given movement. Call out a number and the students have to stop and find a hoop, filling the hoop with the number called. No more, no less. Once the hoop has the right number of students, students raise their hoop to their waist to prevent anyone else from entering into their hoop.
Fitness lines: Set up 1 piece of fitness equipment or given exercise in a straight line all the way down the hall. For example in one long straight line I may have the following spaced out appropriately: Aerobic step, jump jacks, bicep curls, calve raises, sit-ups, push-ups, lunges, water break, jog back to start, rest 30secs. Depending on the width of your hallway determines how many fitness lines you can have. Students rotate through the fitness line moving one spot up on the signal, once students finish their way through the line they walk/jog/sprint back to the begin, rest a rotation, and then start again.
Reaction Games: place a beanbag in the middle of partners and call out a way for the students to react. Example: Grab with Right hand, place beanbag on left knee OR have students in small groups and place a beanbag in the center. Call out different things like touch your ears, right hand on top of your head, hop up and down, students perform what is called and on the word “GO” students try to be the first to grab the beanbag.
Do you have tables in your way?
Try doing a rhythm activity using the popular cup song. This is my usual “we’re in the cafeteria today” activity. It’s simple, fun, and all you need is a cup per student. If you are unfamiliar with the cup song, YouTube would be a great resource for you. There are many different versions, it would be easier learned watching then me trying to explain it here. This activity can be done on the floor as well and afterwards, our students like to try and make up their own patterns.
Add It Together: This game is played like “rock, paper, scissor,” but it’s a game to practice math! To start have the students pair up together and sit down (if using desks, one stands and the other sits in the desk). Partners first need to determine which one will be even and which one will be odd. To begin play the students will say, “Add it together” and put up any number of fingers 1-5, then the two students add up their fingers and determine if it’s an odd number or an even number. The winner gets up and finds a new partner who is sitting down. Have older students? Change the game to Mul-ti-ply same game but students multiply the number together.
Speedstack Stations: this is another one of my go to activities when we have tables in the way. Set up a various stations and have students rotate through.
Access to technology?
I love it when I am able to incorporate technology into my PE classes. A PE in the classroom lifesaver is YouTube. There are tons of popular dance games from gaming systems where the students can follow a long. The Sid Shuffle is one of our favorites. Search for it.
So the next time you find your PE class displaced from your gym, and weather doesn’t cooperate, smile and know you have a plan C. No Gym, No Field, No Problem!
Teaching with Commands, Echoes, and Sound Effects
When thinking about all the great educators I have come across in my short career (9 years), I think about what makes them successful. How have they molded me to be the educator I am today? What do we have in common? Management. Classroom/Gym management. It doesn’t matter if you’re teaching a math class of 22 or a gym full of 88 students, if the teacher lacks management skills then learning may not take place or perhaps not be at the desired level of learning compared with a teacher who is very skilled in managing.
As I reflect on my own gym management, I realize I teach with commands, echoes, and more recently, sound effects. I find that having a set of key words and teaching students how to react to those key words, allows us to use our time effectively. I am able to transition my students from one activity to another quickly with a series of short phrases. This gives us the opportunity to spend more time in moderate to vigorous physical activity because time is not wasted during transition.
Commands are words that I use to move my students in and out of different formations for various activities or games. When giving a command to my students, I state the command first, allow a second for them to process how to react, then students began to move into action when I say, “go.” For example, if I need students to all have their own space in the gym I would say, “Scatter like Ants, GO!” followed by a short countdown for them to be in a spot ready and spread out. Some commands are used to get their attention, or to start and stop an activity. For example, to get my class’s attention I might say “Hey Hey Team!” and they would respond, “Hey Hey Coach!” and give their attention to me. Below is a list of commands that I use with my students and how my students respond to those key words or phrases.
- “Homebase” …Students go to their given seat or squad line
- “Peanut Butter and Jelly” …Students find a partner quickly and stand face to face
- “BLT” …Students find a small group of three
- “Short Stack” …Staying in their squad lines, students make 8 lines on one side of the gym leaving a large gaming area
- “Banana Split” …Splitting their squad lines in half, students make a total of 16 lines, 8 on each end of the gym leaving a gaming area in the middle.
- “Scatter like Ants” … Student spread out all over the gym
- “Face Off” … Students stand face to face in parallel lines
- “Circle Up” … Students get in one big circle in the middle of the gym
- When I want to start an activity: “All Set?” …They respond, “You Bet!” and starting playing
- When I need them to stop: “Freeze, hands on top,” …They respond with their hands on their head and say, “that means stop “
Echoes are very similar to commands, in that students complete an action upon hearing them. Although with echoes, the students repeat back the command while completing the action. I find echoes to be a great tool for teaching younger elementary students, PK-1st grade especially. I find that teaching with echoes keeps their attention and engagement, while helping those lost ones to follow suit. We have all had experience with students who may zone out or tune out the teacher’s directions, but when you have a whole gym full of students repeating them, it is a nice way to reengage or redirect negative behaviors. Below is a list of echoes I use with my students.
- “Stand up and freeze”…Stand up and freeze (with hands on top of head)
- “Rotate”… Rotate
- “Turn and Face”… Turn and Face (students go from facing one direction to another, south to north, etc.)
- “180”: 180 …same as turn and face, but with a jump spin
- “360”: 360 ... Just to for fun and to reengage students.
- “Eyes on me”… Eyes on you
- “Hands”… Hands (students show their hands), “Together”… Together (students inter lock them together), “Lock it”… Lock it (students place their hand in their lap)
Sound effects are a recent addition into our gym and I am having so much fun learning how to teach using them. Sound effects make for a joyful and amusing environment. They also help to keep students engaged and energetic about moving. Sound effects are when I move my hands a certain way and the students will respond by saying or doing a sound effect. It’s so FUN! When teaching the students the different ways to respond to my hand gestures or movements, its brought new energy into the gym. Below is a list of hand motions I do, followed by the sound effect my students say.
- Spiral my finger upward to the sky: “Whhhooooo Hoooooo!”
- Move my hand across the front of the body: “Whoooaaaa!”
- Fist Pump (waist high): “Yesssss!”
- Hands on face: “Gasp!”
- Hands move up and down three times: “Dun-Dun-Dunnnnn!”
Here is an example of dialog and how I used Sound Effects the other day when teaching a Christmas Dance. “Great Class, you just learned part 1 of Christmas Cookies.” (Whooooo Hooooo!) “But there’s a second part” (Whooooooaaa!) and it’s kind of hard (Gasp!) “If you don’t pay attention to the beat you’ll be lost” (Dun-Dun-Dunnnnn!) “Now let’s try it to music!” (Yesssss!)
By teaching with commands, echoes, and sound effects, I am able to capture and keep my students attention and most importantly, not waste time. My students know I am a mover and I am a doer. They know when I say or do certain things, they need to respond quickly so we can do more. They are proud we spend most of our time together active and moving.
To sum up great advice I was given by amazing educators: make your expectations known, define them and then raise the bar. I believe the more you expect, the better your results will be. I would love to hear your fabulous ideas and great managing tools used in your gym in the comments below or send to Shannon King email@example.com