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Exercise in Disguise: Fun PE Games and Activities

Posted 2 months ago - by Carolyn Temertzoglou

“5 laps around the gym – Go!”

Is this a familiar command you recall when you entered the gymnasium for your Physical Education class in elementary school? Did it make you excited to take part in PE or did it raise anxiety and/or boredom as you dreaded the same old routine to start the PE lesson? If you answered the later, a common response, it may have led to a negative attitude towards physical activity, perhaps even a disengagement in PE because it wasn’t fun, enjoyable, and varied in its approach.

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Everyone should be able to associate physical activity as a fun, enjoyable experience and a necessary component of everyday life. 

With only 9% of Canadians kids aged 5 to 17 achieving 60 minutes of heart pumping exercise daily, and similar statistics in the United States, we need to change the way we get kids moving in PE and throughout the school day through fun games and activities. (ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth, 2015)

Have you ever thought about gamifying” your approach to teaching fundamental movement skills, personal fitness, and interpersonal skills? Developing more movement vocabulary and physical literacy opens up a gateway to active participation for life.

To “gamify” something means to turn an activity or task, such as physical activity, into a game or something resembling a game; usually making the activity more interesting. Here is an example gamifying a common paper and pencil game such as Tic Tac Toe into a dynamic warm up for a PE lesson.

Tic Tac Toe Relay

This game combines components of fitness such as speed, agility, cardiovascular fitness and problem solving skills. See video example!

 

 

Games permeate every aspect of school PE. Games can be used as warm-ups or modified instructional tools, as well as taught as complex activities. Games enable students of all ages and abilities to achieve a range of core competencies of a quality Health and Physical Education program. Through games students can:

  • Actively participate in sustained moderate to vigorous physical activity according their abilities and readiness level.
  • Demonstrate responsibility for their own safety and the safety of others.
  • Develop a range of movement skills (e.g., stability, locomotion and manipulative), concepts (e.g., body and spatial awareness) and strategies (e.g., rules and boundaries, conventions of fair play) to acquire movement competence and increased physical literacy
  • Develop personal, interpersonal skills and use critical thinking and problem solving skills.    

If games are taught well, students can improve their fitness, learn new skills, cooperate with team mates and challenge their intellect by solving problems of strategy and tactics. If games are taught poorly, students may learn that winning is everything and cheating is a viable strategy.

No doubt, the use of games can increase fun and student enjoyment in PE. Consider planning instruction of games with intent. Create guiding question(s) to frame the learning in a game/activity.

  • “Why do games have rules?” Ask yourself this if you want to emphasize conventions of fair play, structures of games.
  • “What makes a good team player?” Ask yourself this if you want to emphasize interpersonal skills and teambuilding skills.
  • “What skills from this activity can I transfer to another game or sport environment?” Ask yourself this if you want to emphasize the development of movement competence and personal fitness.

Useful Tip: Use novelty type equipment such as a rubber critters or throton, both are non-sport specific throwing objects. This can create a more inclusive learning environment and engage students of all readiness levels and skills to begin with, before progressing into more complex activities.
 

Here are some fun PE games to get you started:

  • Everybody Is It – At the start of the game everyone is it and every player tries to tag another player while trying not to be tagged. If tagged, players have to perform a task (e.g., choice of 5 stride jumps, 5 push-ups, 5 sit-ups, 5 tuck jumps) and then return to the game. If players, tag each other at the same time both perform a task. Continue for several minutes of fun and movement!
     
  • Triangle Tagimproves agility and coordination. 

         

Scatter 20-30 topple tubes (or cones) around the playing area in no particular order or color pattern. Divide the class into 2 teams. On the signal, players race to flip their team’s color to the top. If playing with cones players either race to flip the cones to standing upright (builders) or flip cones on their side (bulldozers). Players must only use their hands to flip the tubes or cones, not their feet. Play the game for a period of time and declare the winning team with the most standing tubes in its color “up” or the cones in the assigned position.

Check out Gopher's full selection of ACTION!™ Team Games! These games are designed to be action-packed, class oriented, teacher friendly, inclusive, and incorporate national standards! 

  • Flying Chicken Baseball – develops interpersonal skills and game sense for striking and fielding games.
     
  • Code Breaker – a team circuit game by Thompson Educational Publishing.
     
  • Minute to Win It – a fun circuit that appeals to students who love competition by Thompson Educational Publishing.
     
  • Rock, Paper, Scissors Games – a fun baseball favorite and more from CIRA Ontario.    
     

What fun games and activities are in your “PE tool kit” and why?

Be sure to check out my next blog in June featuring a fun filled game called Kin-Ball. It’s a game that emphasizes teamwork and develops movement vocabulary such as hand eye coordination, manipulative skills and spatial awareness, all in one! 

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Tabata Workout Ideas for Physical Education

Posted 2 months ago - by Maria Corte

Are you using tabata and interval training in your physical education classes? These training methods are a great way to burn calories, improve aerobic capacity, and keep students moving. Below I've outlined the benefits of using these training methods, how I use tabata in my PE classes, and additional tabata activities for PE. 

What is Tabata?

Tabata training is one of the most popular forms of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). It's 4 minutes of high-intensity training, alternating between 20 seconds of max training followed by a 10-second rest for a total of eight rounds. These workouts are fast-paced, fun, and burn tons of calories. It’s named after the researcher who first studied it and is gaining traction across the country. New research from the American Council on Exercise (ACE) shows that it can burn up to 15 calories per minute.

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What is interval training?

Interval training is simply alternating bursts of intense activity with intervals of lighter activity. For instance, if your exercise is walking—if you're in good shape, you might incorporate short bursts of jogging into your regular brisk walks. If you're less fit, you might alternate leisurely walking with periods of faster walking. For example, if you're walking outdoors, you could walk faster between certain mailboxes, trees or other landmarks.

 

What can interval training do for me?

According to the Mayo Clinic Staff’s article, Rev Up Your Workout with Interval Training, “Whether you're a novice exerciser or you've been exercising for years, interval training can help you jazz up your workout routine. Consider the benefits:

  • You'll burn more calories. The more vigorously you exercise, the more calories you'll burn—even if you increase intensity for just a few minutes at a time.
  • You'll improve your aerobic capacity. As your cardiovascular fitness improves, you'll be able to exercise longer or with more intensity. Imagine finishing your 60-minute walk in 45 minutes—or the additional calories you'll burn by keeping up the pace for the full 60 minutes.
  • You'll keep boredom at bay. Turning up your intensity in short intervals can add variety to your exercise routine.
  • You don't need special equipment. You can simply modify your current routine.”

 

How do I use Tabata in my PE class?

I use Tabata 2 ways:

  • With a timer: Using the Tabata Pro app, I project the timer from my iPhone onto the gym wall. All I need to do is hit start and the program timer runs itself through the entire series including warm up and cool down. With the app, I have the choice to use the preset traditional interval series or customize my own interval components. 
  • Without a timer: Use a Tabata music pre-mix to guide the students through their four-minute interval series. In the search box on iTunes®, type in Tabata workout music, or anything close to that, and you will find tons of pre-set/pre-mixed Tabata music choices on iTunes with voice overs included.

 

Tabata Workout Plans and Ideas for PE

Here are a few ways I use Tabata during my PE class. It works perfectly for warm-up or cool-down activities.

  • Get the students in groups of 4 and have them number themselves, 1-4.  Start the Tabata music mix from iTunes®. Instruct each student to choose an exercise for the rest of their group of 4 to do until the 20 seconds is up. During the 10-second rest, student #2 then chooses an exercise to lead. The students repeat this until all 4 students have had the opportunity to teach their peers 2 times each. This will be the 4-minute workout as stated above. As the instructor, you never need to start and stop the music… it’s all pre-set and recorded for you! 
  • I use the same Tabata music, but I lead the entire class and change the exercises at each interval. I’ll do medicine ball ab exercises, jogging/walking, body bar exercises, stretches, yoga poses etc…
  • I use the Tabata Pro app as a rotation device to guide students through various circuits. With the timer, I set the length of the workout to fit my needs. For example, the workout will be 5, 10, 15 or 20 minutes in length. With this approach, you may select your own music to be played while using the app. 

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Team Building Activities & Games for PE

Posted 2 months ago - by Jason Gemberling

One of the best ways to start your school year is to get your students active and working together! Team building activities and games, also referred to as cooperative learning activities, can be a great way to see which students work well with everyone, which work well with certain students, and which students struggle to work well with anyone. We all know we have the full range in any given class, so hopefully incorporating some team building activities and games will bring the entire class together.

 

Island Movers

One of my favorite cooperative games to do when I taught elementary students was Island Movers! The game involves as much or as little equipment as you want to allow.  The idea of the game is for students to use the equipment you give them to get everyone in their group from one end of the gymnasium to the other without anyone touching the “shark-infested waters,” aka the gym floor! Feel free to play some Jaws-themed music too! 

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  • Split class into small groups of 4 or 5 students each for the first couple of rounds. Then make the groups the larger as you go.
  • Start each group with one piece of equipment per person in the group. If they master that, remove a piece of equipment. Examples of equipment: poly spots, carpet squares, cones, jump ropes, scooters, cardboard boxes, etc. Ensure you give each group the same pieces of equipment. 
  • Allow students to work together to cross the shark-infested waters.
  • On the last day of this activity, I make this a class challenge and the entire class must work together to accomplish the task.
  • End each round with a quick debriefing. This is a time to ask your students to share what worked and what didn’t. It also allows students to try a different group’s idea.

Reminders:

  • This is a teamwork activity, so make sure that all groups realize this is NOT a race.
  • If a group is finished, encourage those students to cheer for the other groups.
  • Mix up the groups each round so the students get to work with everyone in the class.

 

Buddy Walking

buddy walking, team walkingAnother team building activity that I have done is called Buddy Walking. This is a fun activity that I encourage you to record on video the first and last day of the activity to see how far the students’ teamwork skills have grown and improved. Everyone will have a good laugh; and, to be quite honest, being able to laugh together is another great way to bond! 

I liked to use the Team Walker Sets from Gopher for this activity. However, if you are low on funds and handy, you can make your own set with some 2x4’s and rope. The idea is to get students to think, communicate, and walk as a group from Point A to Point B. Some students will take charge and lead their group in a cadenced march, while others will struggle to work together. Again, this is why debriefing is crucial!  It will allow students to hear success stories! 

 

Geocaching

Geocaching or treasure hunting is an activity that can be done in small groups or as a whole class and can be a tremendous amount of fun! You are in control of how complex you would like to make this adventurous lesson. I have never had GPS units in my PE closet, but if you can purchase a couple I would recommend it! The units range in cost and complexity, so pick what you feel comfortable using and teaching! And if you don’t have the funds to purchase GPS units, dig deep into your National Treasure skills and create maps of your own for your students to follow. The great part about creating clues to use is that you can pull classroom concepts into PE class, again this all depends on how elaborate you want to make the lesson/unit. I have done this as a search-and-rescue mission utilizing clues that they must follow to get to a specific destination. Along the way as they get to each clue, I like to add different exercises that they must complete as a group before moving onto the next clue. A word of caution, this is not the best thing to do within the halls of your school, it can be a little loud! Shop Geocaching supplies.

 

Team Counting Game

My last suggestion, and I still use this at the high school level, is a counting game. I call it team counting, and I would say this is better for your upper elementary students. There is no equipment necessary and you can use it inside or outside! 

If you have a class of 20 students, the idea is for the class to count from 1 to 20, but each student is allowed to call out only one number. Students sit or stand in a circle and are not permitted to count straight down the line or around the circle. If two students call out a number at the same time, they must start back at 1. If there is a long pause, I usually go with 3 or 4 seconds, then they must start over.  Depending on the class, this task can be done quickly or it may take them 10 minutes or they may never get it. I suggest not letting them struggle to the point where they don’t get it, give them some hints. The hint I use is that once a student has secured a number that they called out, they should always be the person to call that number. Again, debriefing with your class at the end is crucial, because you can talk about different strategies and how they as a class worked together to solve a tricky problem. As an extra little bonus, I use this with my track team and they must do wall sits while trying to work together to count from 1 to however many are in my sprinter/hurdler/jumper group.

I know the thought is to use team building activities and games at the beginning of the year and I agree it is important, but I would also gauge your classes throughout the year. I know when I taught elementary school PE, there were times in the year when I pulled these back out because I felt it was necessary to get everyone back together. This is especially true as they get older because hormones kick in, friendships form, and sometimes you can tell classes are excluding some kids. That never leads to anything positive! I also want to point out that these activities are meant to be fun, and if you notice your students getting frustrated just stop and have a debriefing session to talk things out. If your students are extremely frustrated and you don’t help them work through this, you will have accomplished nothing! Good Luck!

 

Shop team building equipment options.

Interested in more team building ideas? Check out these blogs:

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Rainy-Day Activities to Keep Students Moving

Posted 2 months ago - by Dr. Lisa Witherspoon


There are some days that you're left without your gymnasium or field, so how can you keep students moving when physical education is moved into a classroom?

When it comes to weather such as rain, snow, or extreme heat, sometimes it is difficult to find indoor activities that keep students motivated and moving. Some teachers do not have an indoor facility such as a gymnasium or multi-purpose room available, and for those that do, sometimes you're "kicked out" for a school assembly or other school-wide function. Many physical education teachers have experienced conducting their classes in a small classroom with desks. While this is sometimes a great opportunity to teach content involving wellness topics (nutrition, safety, health, etc.), many times we want students to be able to get up and move, which is difficult considering the physical environment available.

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Two activities that have become more popular and successful with teachers and students for an indoor activity are GoNoodle® and HOPSports Brain Breaks®.  Both simply require the Internet and a source to project what is displayed on a device (computer, tablet, smartphone) onto a large screen or wall space. Students are able to stand by their desk or in personal space to participate in the activities chosen.  See below a quick contribution and comparison of the two:

 

 

GoNoodle®

Brain Breaks®

Age-appropriate activities

 

Yes

Yes

Variety of activities

 

Yes

Yes

Available for classroom teachers to encourage more physical activity time

Yes

Yes

Teacher-friendly (usage)

 

Yes

Yes

Easy-to-follow for students

 

Yes

Yes

Unique content such as yoga, martial arts, and dance
 

Yes

(Not martial arts)

Yes

 

With the simple click on a device, both GoNoodle® and Brain Breaks® can offer teachers a large variety of activities for students. One unique feature with both websites is that teachers can choose content areas that they may not feel comfortable teaching, such as yoga and dance, so students are able to participate in these activities that are developmentally appropriate and healthy. Students simply follow the instructors on the screen while teachers are able to walk around and provide feedback to assist the students’ learning.

Another way teachers can implement these activities is through an instant activity or bell work before class instruction begins. Rainy or snowy days or limited space situations do not have to be bothersome. These are two of the many ideas teachers can explore to get their students up and moving while enjoying being physical active.

Learn more or shop Brain Breaks® today!

Looking for more ideas? Check out No Gym, No Field, No Problem! by Shannon Jarvis.

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Tips for Choosing the Perfect Coated-Foam Ball for PE Activities

Posted 2 months ago - by Gopher Community

Choosing the perfect size coated-foam ball for your class can be a little overwhelming. It can be difficult selecting the right ball without the ability to pick it up and feel how small or large it is in your hands. Gopher put together a size comparison guide with videos to help you determine which ball is the best fit for your needs. The activities below are just a few ideas to get you started. There are a ton of different ways to use coated-foam balls – be creative! If you have a unique idea, please share it in the comment section.

2.75” Diameter Ball

 

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Specs: Circumference = 8.64”, 21.95 cm
Size Comparison = Baseball (2.86” Dia.), Tennis Ball (2.7”)

This ball is the perfect ball for throwing, catching and hitting! Gopher’s ClassicCoat™ Bounce™ can be used for racket sports, floor hockey, golf, cricket and lacrosse. They are also the perfect size to practice juggling. These smaller balls take up very little storage space, but can have a large impact on your class!

 

3.5” Diameter Ball

 

Specs: Circumference = 11”, 27.94 cm
Size Comparison = Softball (3.8” Dia.)

The 3.5” diameter ball is equivalent to the size of a softball. Students can practice hitting and catching with more success. This is also a great size for introductory tennis and pickle ball. Practice target throwing and add them to knockdown games for more fun!

 

5” Diameter Ball

 

Specs: Circumference = 15.71”, 39.90 cm
Size Comparison = Gym Ball (12” – 16” Dia.)

Equivalent to the size of a gym ball, this 5” diameter ClassicCoat™ ball is a great size for softball training. Bring your shot put indoors with a similar diameter ball that won’t damage your gym floor. Lastly, supplement your Spikeball™ unit or sets with an introductory version using a DuraHoop™ Flat Hula Hoop and a 5” diameter ClassicCoat™ Versa™ ball.

 

6.3” Diameter Ball

 

Specs: Circumference = 19.79”, 50.27 cm
Size Comparison = Handball Junior Size (6.3” – 6.5” Dia)

The 6.3” diameter ball can be used for a variety of games and activities. Easier to grip for elementary students, this ball can be great for handball and knockdown games.

 

7” Diameter Ball

 

Specs: Circumference = 22”, 55.88 cm
Size Comparison = Soccer Ball (Size 3), Handball (Men’s)

Slightly larger than our 6.3” dia ball, this ball is more comfortable to throw for secondary students. Play handball, knockdown, and target games with the 7” dia ball.

 

8.25” Diameter Ball

 

Specs: Circumference = 25.92”, 65.84 cm
Size Comparison = Volleyball, Soccer Ball (Size 4), Official Adult Dodgeball Size

The 8.25” diameter coated-foam ball is extremely versatile. Use this ball for volleyball, bowling, soccer, kickball, four square and table ball. Shoot, spike, kick and roll this ball with ease. Increase confidence in soccer and volleyball with a less intimidating ball. 

 

10” Diameter Ball

 

Specs: Circumference = 31.42”, 79.81 cm
Size Comparison = Official Size Basketball

Our largest coated-foam ball is equivalent to an official size basketball. Great for teaching beginning basketball, soccer and volleyball skills. Add this ball to other activities to add a variety of rolling, throwing and blocking fun!

 

We’d love to hear from you! Please comment below if you have any recommendations of your own! 

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Action Packed Coated-Foam Ball Activities for PE

Posted 2 months ago - by Michael Beringer

Are you tired of playing the same activities with coated-foam ball year after year? If your answer is “YES!”, then this is the blog you want to read. Below, I compiled a list of top coated-foam ball activities that are sure to increase your students MVPA and have them begging you to play them over and over again.

Satellites

This is a great activity for throwing, rolling, offensive/defensive, and cooperation skills. The objective of the game is to get all Satellites down at the same time. Split your class into 2 teams and have a team on each side of the gym. Have the teams work together to make their Satellites. Making each Satellite take exactly 6 hoops. To start, place 1 hoop on the floor, then place 2on the inside and have them touch, place the other 2 on the other sides and have them touch, and place the last hoop on the top. I usually have each team make 5 Satellites. Depending on how many hoops you have and the size of your gym you can decide on how many Satellites you’d like to play with. Check out a video example by Craig Bleess!

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Catapult

The objective of the game is to be the first to knock down all the other team’s pins. This activity works on students’ throwing, offense, defense, and teamwork skills. To start, divide the class into 2 teams and place a team on each side of the gymnasium. Place 10 or more pins down the midline of the gym. Then have each team pair up with their teammates along their baselines. One partner will lay down facing the pins in the sit-up position. The other partner will be the ball retrievers who will collect the coated-foam balls for their sit-up partners. The sit-up partner will then do sit-ups while throwing the foam ball at the pins down the middle of the gym. Throughout the game have the partners switch roles so that they both get frequent turns participating in each role. The team that collects the most pin wins. Alternatively, have the team that knocks down the last pin win. Check out this video example provided by @MrSpringPE and @WHS44_PE!

Smash

The objective of this game is to advance beach balls over to the other team's side and get them to cross over the other team’s baseline using the coated-foam balls. This activity works on teamwork, cooperation, overhand throwing skills, and rolling skills. To begin, separate your class into two groups. Have each group spread out on the boundary line using the whole length of the gymnasium. Then place as many beach balls as you want down the midline. The number of beach balls you want to use is up to you. I like to use 5 to 10. Scatter the coated-foam balls all around the middle of the gymnasium.

Moveover (Baton)

The purpose of this activity is be the first group to move the baton over to the other side past the designated finish line. This activity is fantastic for the skill of overhand throwing and throwing for accuracy. First, tape a beach ball on the bottom of a baton. Then take a string and feed it through the baton. Make sure the string is long enough so that you can attach it to both basketball hoops on each side of the gym. Divide the class into two teams. Add some coated-foam balls and have the students overhand throw the foam balls at the beach ball. The baton will then glide across the gym depending on which side makes contact more. Check out these examples by @NorthPolkWestPE and @AAHemi!

Pop It

The objective of this activity is to pop the critter’s on the wall and move up to the next level. This game is awesome for the skill of overhand throwing. It may also be used as an instant activity. This activity requires that you have a projector, either a tablet, laptop, or phone, and internet access. Just download the app called Jitterbug by Friskies® and project it on a white screen or the gym wall. Roll out a bunch of coated-foam balls and let the students overhand throw at the bugs projected. You then control when the bugs pop from your electronic device allowing them to move up to the next level. This activity is definitely one that students love! Check out a video example! (@jcarder87 and @physedreview)

Holes

The objective of this game is to get a coated-foam ball into a hoop. The game works on the skills of throwing and/or striking. First, set up volleyball nets across the entire gym. Place 20 hoops on the floor on each side of the gym. Create 2 teams and place them on each side of the gym. The students will then strike the coated-foam balls with either the underhand or overhand serve or throw the balls overhand/underhand over the net to the other side. If the ball lands inside the hoop, the other team then takes that hula hoop out and places it in a designated area. The first team to remove all the hoops wins. You may also have the team place the hoops that they win on their side of the floor and the team with the most hula hoops after a certain amount of time wins. See a video example! Check out more from Benjamin Pirillo on his YouTube channel, TeachPhysEd!

Go Fish

The objective of this game is to collect as many hoops as you can. This game works on underhand throwing and rolling for accuracy. To begin, have the students get into partners and stand behind a cone. You can either use the width or the length of the gymnasium. It depends on how many students you have. Take hoops and scatter them all over the gym floor. On the signal, have the students take turns rolling the coated-foam balls at the hula hoops. If the ball goes into a hula hoop and stays, that group gets to keep the hula hoop. Play for a certain amount of time or until all the hula hoops are gone.

I hope your students enjoy these activities as much as my students do. These activities were found via searching and collaborating with P.E. professionals from all over the country either by google searches, social media sites, books, P.E. conventions, and more.

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3 Coated-Foam Ball Activities for Elementary PE (Video)

Posted 3 months ago - by Shannon Jarvis Irwin

As a presenter and mentor to other Physical Educators, I am often asked about equipment and what my favorites are. While I have many, coated-foam balls are, without a doubt, first on my list. I’m often surprised by the resistance I get back to that answer…  

“I don’t like dodgeball!” 

“We don’t play dodgeball at our school!”

“I can’t believe you play dodgeball!”

I have to laugh when this happens because I didn’t say anything about the game of dodgeball. Yes, coated-foam balls are often used in dodgeball, but there are so many other styles and types of games you can play that don’t involve students targeting other students. Best of all, these balls come in a variety of sizes, densities, and colors, so the gaming options are truly limitless!

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Here are 3 of my students’ favorite games using coated-foam balls (non-dodgeball, of course):

1. Knock Off

 

 

2. Backyard Bash

 

 

3. King Pin

 

 

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Recess: Observations, Considerations, and Lessons Learned

Posted 3 months ago - by Aaron Beighle

From legislatures considering state level laws, to schools examining recess policy, to the release of the CDC documents and suggestions for Strategies for Recess in Schools, recess has received a considerable amount of attention in recent months. Throughout my career I have had the chance to be involved in many facets of recess. They range from implementing strategies as a teacher, to conducting research, writing papers, helping develop policies, and discussing the use of recess as punishment with my daughters’ teachers. On this latter point I would love to be able to report that the teachers were thoroughly impressed with my expertise, data, and suggestions. Well...not so much. Based on my experience, my intent here is to provide my observations, considerations, and lessons learned to help physical education teachers and other school physical activity champions.

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Define recess

When creating laws and policies it is essential that within this process recess be defined. Further, the definition must include language to ensure students are allowed to engage in physical activity of their choosing. Without this language loopholes will be found. For instance, I have heard, “Yes they have to sit out but it’s still ‘recess’ from learning” or “I’m not taking activity time at recess away, they are walking laps because they forgot homework.” Anyone’s blood boiling yet? One definition that helps specify what recess is and avoid loopholes is provided by the Active Living Research Brief. It defines recess this way: “Recess is scheduled outside of class time and allows students to engage in physical and social activities of their choice.” This can be better worded to meet your needs. However, the key is to ensure students have the chance to engage in physical activity that they choose, obviously with parameters, and minimize the chance for less than desirable loopholes.
 

Change the recess environment

Take a look at the recess environment at your school. Would you want to go there to be active? If there were 400 of my peers with one supervisor and I wasn’t confident or was afraid of being picked on, I wouldn’t venture out into that abyss. If there were two basketballs, a jump rope, and a bunch of dead grass, that’s not the active environment I would choose. We have to consider this. The research is pretty clear that zoning the recess environment off, providing inexpensive recreational equipment (not playground sets), training staff, and painting the space to be more appealing, all increase activity levels. The research and summary of these can be found in the ALR brief mentioned above. Also, Gopher has an excellent program called Active and Healthy Schools that can assist you in making your recess environment more appealing.
 

Teach recess activities in physical education

Almost 15 years ago I stumbled onto this phenomenon. I was doing research on recess and I noticed that the students were playing Four Ball Soccer (or how many ever soccer balls they had that day). This seemed very odd because most students would not think of this. If there aren’t uniforms, lines, and adults there to ruin it, they don’t know how to play soccer. I asked the physical education teacher about it and he said, “Oh we teach a bunch of recess activities at the beginning of the year so they know some options.” GENIUS. Of course, he had been doing this for 20 years and I was late to the dance. This strategy does not take away from physical education time; in fact it lends itself to what we are supposed to be doing, promoting physical activity. This strategy also allows students to see the link between physical education lessons and physical activity beyond the gymnasium. Some examples of activities that can be taught in physical education and then used at recess are:

  • Four Ball Soccer – Played like normal soccer except there are four balls used rather than one. Also, the player who kicks the ball out of bounds has to chase it. This tends to cut down on players kicking as hard as they can.

  • Dance Party – Teach some dances during a physical education lesson. At recess, turn on the songs and let them dance. They can do the dances taught or make up their own… as long as they are appropriate.

  • Walking interview – Designate a walking trail on the playground and provide students with cards with questions. This will help get the conversation started.


Equipment checkout

When I was teaching, equipment loss at recess was always a challenge and costly. I believe there are still missing playground balls on the Dallas Tollway, which was just a fence and tiny road away from the playground. On a trip to England several years ago I was shown yet another GENIUS idea. The school had a small shed that housed the recess equipment. At the beginning of the year each student was given a small token. A piece of wood they can decorate and put their name on works perfectly. Each week a different class served in the shed as the equipment managers during recess. Typically, only one or two students were needed per day. Students then gave the managers their token in exchange for a piece of equipment. When the equipment was returned, so was the token. If equipment was not accounted for, the last user was known. This process virtually eliminated equipment loss and put ownership/responsibility on the students.

These are just a few ideas. I ran out of space and didn’t get to address more ideas like indoor recess, intramurals, and teacher engagement. All great ideas that I have stolen over time. Give the ideas here a shot and see if it helps maximize recess time. Thrive! 

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10 Favorite Coated-Foam Ball Ideas and Activities

Posted 3 months ago - by Jessica Shawley

Just picture it... you receive an equipment order and go to open the box. In it is a package of shiny, new Rainbow® Set of foam balls. Ah, the coveted coated-foam ball! No, it’s not a dodge ball. It’s a coated-foam ball that is used in boundless ways in a quality physical education program. A variety of quality foam balls are an important staple in any physical education teacher’s equipment room. You can use them for just about anything!

Attending professional development opportunities and participating in social media has allowed me the opportunity to grow my repertoire of foam-ball based usage and games to expand beyond the traditional “dodgeball-esque” games. There are so many wonderful activities and games using foam balls. Here are my top 10 favorite uses and some “go-to” games:

 

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1. Foam ball as a medicine ball

I don’t have enough medicine balls for each student to have one so I turn to the foam ball where everyone can learn the exercises correctly before using the medicine ball for resistance. A new favorite has been the “plank tunnel” where teams of students line up in plank position and race against each other to the be first team to pass a foam ball through its “tunnel” and back to the start while maintaining the plank hold.

 

 

2. Foam ball partner activities

Students are highly social and our classroom is an important setting to allow for social interaction. I use foam balls for wacky relays (think “under-over-under-over” races), partner passing for throwing and catching development, and curl-ups with chest pass. I like to even extend the partner chest pass to one done while balancing on a BOSU® Trainer. This one gets a real smile out of students!

 

3. Target practice

Whether rolling or throwing, using foam balls to knock down pins or cones, hit targets on the walls, and throw through hula-hoops are essential to target games. The foam ball is a safe way to allow for high repetition practice for throwing development.

 

 

4. Racquet sports or striking development

Use high-bounce, small foam balls for indoor tennis, pickleball, table ball, or handball.

 

 

 

5. Beginner basketball skills

Try a high-bounce, larger foam ball for dribbling and shooting.

 

 


 

6. Indoor soccer and hockey

Foam balls for indoor soccer or floor hockey also work well.

 

 

7. Softball skill development

Place a small foam ball on a tall cone for indoor batting practice, or baseball/cricket-style games such as womba-ball and bonkerball (bonus: softer to catch).

 

 

8. Nutrition themes

Use Rainbow® colored foam balls for nutrition-themed integration games. Reinforce the food groups while also playing a coated foam ball game. Gopher has a ton of nutrition-themed games to check out!

 

 

9. Spikeball™

Grab a hoop and a high-bounce foam ball and you’ve got yourself a makeshift Spikeball™ game. Before I had multiple sets of the original Spikeball™ game I supplemented my unit with skinny hula-hoops and a high-bounce foam ball. It is an excellent progression for younger students and Jo Dixon has a nice Spikeball™ blog to get you started.

 

 

10. Invasion games

Invasion style games such as SturTee™ and Coneball using a coated foam ball are an important part of my physical education program. Check out my previous blog on these two games. Using a foam ball is less intimidating for students while still maintaining the spirit of the game. These Ultimate Frisbee style games are a favorite with my students.

 

Continue the conversation: What are your favorite ways to use coated foam balls? #PEblog #physed @gophersport @JessicaShawley

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Screamin' Phys Ed Games Your Students Will Love

Posted 3 months ago - by Gopher Community

Team gym games are meant to be fun, active and a little out of control. We used Gopher’s Screamin’ activity balls, hoops, cones, and bowling sets to put together a list of phys ed games to play inside that are sure to make your kids scream with excitement! 

Pass, Protect and Score!

 

This fun PE game will have your students screamin' with excitment. Split students up into three teams. Students are assigned to be either a thrower, blocker (3 students) or receiver (3 students). Receivers hold a hula hoop above their head and are limited to a designated area. In order to score for their team, throwers must throw their team’s colored ball to score in their colored hoop. Blockers attempt to block the other team’s ball from scoring. The first team to score all of their colored balls is the winner. For a larger class, play on both ends of the gym!

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Circle Pin Protector

 

Students are split into three different teams and assigned to a Screamin' color. They must roll or throw the balls to knock down their opponent’s pins while trying to protect their own. Students must throw the ball within their team’s circle, but are able to leave the circle to retrieve balls.
 

Team Pin Knockdown

 

Place Screamin’ Cones along the center line and Screamin’ Pins on each side of the gym. Kids must use the Screamin’ Balls to either roll or throw to knock down all of their opponent’s pins. The team with pins still standing at the end of the game, wins!

 

Pin Defender

 

Students form a circle around a Screamin’ Hoop with a Screamin’ Bowling Pin in the middle. Students pass the ball around the circle while one student tries to prevent the pin from getting knocked over. If a player knocks a pin over, they earn a point for the offensive team. If a player attempts to knock a pin over and misses, the student must switch places with the student guarding the pin. If a player is the pin guard and the pin gets knocked over, they must subtract a point from their individual score. The first person to 10 points is the winner! This game is an adaptation from thePhysicalEducator.com, check out Joey Feith’s “Guard the Pin” skill progression here.
 

Pin Protector

 

Screamin’ Yellow, Orange, and Green pins are placed on the opposite side of the gym. Students must roll or throw to knock down their opponent’s pins. Once all of your pins have been knocked down, your team is eliminated from the game. The last team standing is the winner!

View Gopher's entire selection of Screamin’ equipment.

Do you have a game that your students love? Share them with the Gopher Community by commenting below!

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