Gymnastics Activities for Beginners
Gymnastics and tumbling are a great way for students to learn fundamental skills like balancing and rolling, while strengthening their bodies.
It is great to begin a gymnastics lesson with stretching to warm-up arms, legs, and calf muscles. Next, have students partner stretch to practice balance and gain confidence in beginner stunts such as the Partner Chair Balance, the Partner “V” Lean Back, and the Partner “V” Lean Side.
- Partner Chair Balance: Partners face each other and hold hands. Their knees bend and they squat as if sitting in a chair.
- Partner “V” Lean Back: Partners face each other and hold hands. They lean back until their arms are fully extended.
- Partner “V” Lean Side: Partners stand side-by-side and hold one of their partner’s hands. They continue to lean until that arm is fully extended.
Having students hold stunt poses with a partner challenges communication and strength.
Next, have students practice balancing on their own. Have them practice balancing on one foot and walking foward and backwards in a straight line.
- Balancing something, such as a beanbag, on their head can help them keep their chin up, implementing good posture
- Use jump ropes, floor tape, or chalk to create lines of various shapes
- Keep tumbling mats folded for safe practice of balancing on an elevated surface
- Challenge them to balance on various body parts, supporting themselves in more ways than the typical two feet. Hold poses for 10 seconds.
Once they are comfortable walking in a straight line and holding poses, teach your students how to roll across the tumbling mat. The Log Roll, Forward Roll, Straddle Roll, and Cartwheels are fun challenges!
- Log Roll: Students lie on a mat with their arms straight above their head, rolling on their side, back, side, and continuously moving in this circular motion. They should try rolling in a straight line.
- Forward Roll: Students balance on the balls of their feet and extend their arms out. Then, their hands move to the mat as they tuck their chin to their chest and tighten their abdominal muscles. Students who struggle tucking their chin can practice holding a beanbag underneath their chin. Students roll forward on their shoulders, by pushing off their feet.
- Straddle Roll: Start with legs far apart. Bend at the waist, placing hands down on the mat. Their chin should tuck to their chest to protect their head and neck. Roll forward on their shoulders; push off with hands and feet.
- Cartwheels: Students can begin practicing cartwheels by learning the hand, hand, foot, foot sequence. Next, have them focus on keeping their legs straight up in a “V”. Trying to perform cartwheels in a straight line will help them perfect the skill, strengthen arms, and increase balance.
Once they have mastered balancing, rolling, and tumbling, they can build their endurance by practicing them all in a continuous sequence. Creating sequences offers students the chance to be creative, have fun, and build confidence in their gymnastic skills.
Teaching gymnastics in your P.E. class allows your students to safely learn skills, strengthen muscles, and motivate themselves through new challenges. Share your favorite gymnastics activities for physical education below!
Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more tips, ideas, and trends!
Check out more Blogs by Gopher Community!
Yoga: Strike a Pose in P.E.
What is a “Downward Dog”, “Child’s Pose”, or “Mountain Pose”? The answer by many would be yoga poses, which is correct. But, what is yoga?
Some would simply define the term "yoga” as stretching. Others would dig a bit deeper and add the mental or spiritual benefit through the physical practice of yoga poses. Regardless, the discipline that originated in ancient India has been around for over 5,000 years and has now become an extremely popular part of a healthy fitness regimen all over the world. In fact, incorporating yoga as part of a quality physical education program is no longer considered a modern practice.
Yoga enriches a physical education curriculum in many ways.
- First, yoga is relevant to all ages, skill levels, and diverse cultures
- In addition, the discipline is developmentally appropriate and can easily translate from a school environment to a home environment
- Furthermore, the practice of yoga builds basic physical fitness (muscle strength, bone strength, balance, flexibility, etc.) and mental wellness
With all of the known benefits of yoga, why wouldn’t all physical education teachers currently be incorporating yoga in their curriculum? One defined answer: Yoga is not always easy to teach. Many teachers feel unable to discuss and demonstrate the many poses. The good news is that with our society being immersed in apps, teachers no longer have to feel uncomfortable adding the beneficial practice into lesson plans.
Below is a list of yoga apps that can assist teachers with learning more about yoga and/or providing visual demonstrations for students to follow. Keep in mind, this is a short list and does not include all of the apps available for teachers to consider.
Close to 40 poses for children to learn and follow.
Series of four 10-minutes videos for children to follow.
Aimed for ages 4-8. Visual examples of a variety of poses.
Includes storytelling, animation, and video examples.
Easy-to-follow videos in the yoga channel
Provides a kids’ yoga journey and
65 ready-made yoga and meditation classes on video. Library of over 280 poses with instructions.
Description of over 30 poses and 3
Great for students to follow for an instant activity or bell work.
Describes a variety of poses and visual examples of how to perform the poses.
* Prices as of 06/17
Although this list is, as mentioned above, just a few of the many yoga apps available, it is a great way to start searching and learning more about how these apps may be able to help incorporate yoga in the classroom. If there is still uncertainty, it is best to start with a free app and use the app personally to get a better feeling of how to incorporate yoga in the curriculum. Instead of planning an entire lesson around the yoga app, it can be used as an instant activity or a station as part of a fitness lesson until the students demonstrate success and a positive reaction to the content. Regardless, there is a yoga app available for any device, and the content provided can be extremely valuable for a teacher when incorporating yoga in the classroom.
Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more tips, trends, and ideas!
Check out more blogs by Dr. Lisa Witherspoon!
Refine Sport Skills with Tchoukball & Sabakiball
Speed, agility, strategy, teamwork, and hand-eye coordination are all keep skills for almost all traditional American sports, such as basketball, football, and baseball, and all of these skills are brought into play in Tchoukball and Sabakiball.
Tchoukball and Sabakiball are 2 of the more popular units in our high school physical education classes. And as teachers, we love both of these games as well because of all of the skills mentioned PLUS the tremendous amount of cardio our students get while playing.
Tchoukball is a game that reminds me of basketball, but more intense! This game is extremely fast and goes end to end in the blink of an eye. Another great aspect of Tchoukball is that there is NO defending, which allows students to feel more comfortable playing the game. Teams are throwing at a target, which is a rebounder that kicks the ball back into play for the opposing team to try and catch before it contacts the floor.
This game requires teams to work on spacing on the floor to cover more area, communication on who is going for the ball, and speed and agility to react to the ball as it comes off of the rebounder. And that is just the team on defense! Offensively, the idea is to trick your opponent and shoot at the rebounder using angles avoid giving the opposing team the opportunity to catch the ball before it hits the floor. One very unique piece to the game is that teams can shoot at either end of the floor, so again it requires excellent communication and floor spacing.
As a former basketball coach, I would love my players to play Tchoukball while working on spacing and communication! As a PE teacher, I encourage you to put pedometers or heart rate monitors on your students while they play Tchoukball, you will be amazed at the results!
Want to add Tchoukball to your classes? Get the complete pack or a rebounder here!
Sabakiball is a game similar to basketball again with a little soccer thrown in if needed. Two teams defend a pin at their ends of the court. Players must move the ball down the court, passing with their hands or feet. But before they shoot at the baki-pin, they must complete at least three consecutive passes using only their hands. Again, floor spacing is a crucial element to this game and translates very well to basketball or soccer. Teams may play defense in Sabakiball and as soon as a steal is made, just like in basketball or soccer, teams must transition to offense. Defensively, teams have a goalie, who just like in soccer will try to defend the baki-pin by any means. Sabakiball is another fast-paced game designed to increase students’ heart rate and get students working on game strategy and communication.
For both Tchoukball and Sabakiball, my students have created plays and set themselves up in different formations to be as effective as possible. This is another beautiful piece to these games, because I do not give them the answers to strategy. We go over the rules to the games and talk about teamwork and communication, but after that they play and slowly learn the nuances to the game as a team and as a class. It is amazing to watch as students form the plays and positioning and work together to fine tune their plans!
I encourage you all to jump onto YouTube and search for videos on Tchoukball and Sabakiball. It is amazing to watch videos of these games being played at extremely high levels, some internationally! I have taken time to show my students some of these videos at the beginning of these units in an effort to generate some excitement! My students can’t believe the athleticism of these players!
Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more tips, tricks, and ideas!
Check out more Blogs by Jason!
What Can I Do to Help 50 Million Strong by 2029 Succeed? (Part 1)
It’s been a couple of years since SHAPE America announced 50 Million Strong by 2029. If you are a SHAPE America member, you will have heard about 50 Million Strong. If you aren’t a member and would like to learn more I’ve written about 50 Million Strong in past Gopher blogs and on PHE America. You can also learn more about it on SHAPE America's website.
50 Million Strong is a bold vision for the future of our profession. Similar to President Kennedy’s 1960’s courageous “moonshot” vision of getting a man safely to the moon and back within a decade, succeeding with 50 Million Strong is by no means guaranteed. In fact, success is unlikely if not all of us who teach physical education or health education fully support it. The question is how? What can you and I do?
50 Million Strong’s vision is for the physical education and health education professions to take leadership for changing the physical activity and health habits of America’s 50 million school-attending students within the next 12 years. It’s a daunting, if not mind-boggling, task. How can our profession possibly transform the behaviors of 50 million youngsters?
The Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu reportedly wrote, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Today, people talk the same way about climbing mountains or succeeding at anything. It’s a simple message: Don’t let yourself be put off by imagined problems. Get started, give it your best effort, and see how far you can get. 50 Million Strong is no different. We know it’s going to be hard. If it were easy, someone else would have already done it. They haven’t. When Kennedy spoke about going to the moon he said:
“We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win.”
In thinking about succeeding with the vision of 50 Million Strong – making physically active lives and healthy choices the norm for future generations – there’s no one better prepared to lead this health revolution than us. No one. However, all of us must take that first critical step. So, if you teach health or physical education, here’s how you can start your journey.
- First, don’t concern yourself thinking about 50 million students. Instead, think specifically about those that you personally teach. It’s probably a few hundred students each year. It’s this group you are responsible for, not the remaining millions. That’s someone else’s job. The way for 50 Million Strong to succeed is for each of us to achieve the vision of active and healthy youngsters with those that we teach. If all of us do this, 50 million students win.
- Second, the starting point for any teacher who wants to support the 50 Million Strong vision is to commit. Pledge that starting tomorrow, you will do your very best to transform the physical activity and health habits of all of your students. Remembering ALL is critical here. Fortunately, some of your students will already live physically active lives and make mostly healthy choices. That’s great and a good beginning. However, your new mission must be to make this the norm for all of your students regardless of their family circumstance, opportunities, and challenges.
- Third, succeeding with 50 Million Strong demands that you and I must prioritize what we do. It’s going to involve making some choices because there’s not enough time for us to do everything we’d like. 50 Million Strong identifies the main purpose for our teaching: Preparing our students with the skills, knowledge, desire, and motivation to lead physically active and healthy lives.
There’s no doubt that what we do can help our students with reading, writing, and math, prevent bullying, improve fitness and friendships, increase test scores, and much more. But that can’t be your main purpose if you are to have any chance of getting all your students motivated to be regularly physically active and healthy. For many teachers, this will take a change in thinking and acting. And probably the longer you’ve taught the harder it will be. But without making this change nothing else is going to change. Doing what we’ve done won’t get us different results.
Finding reasons not to make these changes is easy. Few school administrators see physical activity and health as their responsibility. Test scores and academic performance concerns keep them awake at night. This preoccupation with academics has led many of us off course. We’ve attempted to do too many things, done nothing exceptionally well, and struggled to get support for our programs.
We all know that physically active and healthy students do better at everything. Not just academics but socially and emotionally. If you did just this one thing well in your school, it would solve many of the challenges you and your students face. Your students would thrive and the importance of physical education and health education to your school administrators, board members, teachers, parents, students, and the community would become obvious.
Next time, some suggestions for programmatic and teaching changes you can make to advance your personal 50 Million Strong commitment.
Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more ideas, tips, and trends!
Check out more Blogs by Dr. Steve Jefferies!
Curriculum Organization Tips for Physical Education
Purposeful planning, organizing, and reflection are key components to quality teaching. I’m always asking myself: How can I be more mindful in enhancing the learning experience for my students? The answers to this question help refine my curriculum organization practices. It is important for teachers to develop an organized and dynamic curriculum, one that can be modified and grow with time. Teachers must have a plan for implementing and assessing curriculum progressions to help students achieve learning outcomes. So how do I keep it all organized? Here’s a look into a few of my curriculum organization practices.
1. Develop a purposeful plan
Identify the key standards and grade-level outcomes you will be addressing or measuring. Determine how you will measure this. Develop learning activities to help students achieve these outcomes. My department has created a curriculum map. It’s a large document that has all the nitty-gritty details of everything we want to do including learning targets, essential questions, learning activities, assessments, and a timeline. From this larger curriculum map, I created an “at-a-glance” chart that acts like my Cliff Notes. This helps me see overall progressions quickly to assist my lesson planning. All documents are in a shared Google Drive folder (there is a Team Drive option if you collaborate with others or a department). This allows our department to collaborate easily. There are a lot of resources available on how to map out a curriculum and design-standards-based lessons. Here are just a few:
- Seattle Public Schools Curriculum Map Sample
- At-a-glance chart Sample
- SHAPE America Explore Physical Education Resources Page
2. Develop a lesson plan library
Now that I have a curriculum map and “at-a-glance” chart in hand, I need to organize all my ideas, lessons, and activities and link them together for easy access. Everything is saved in the shared Google Drive folder mentioned earlier. The warm-ups are in a “warm-ups library” folder, fitness activities are in the “fitness library” folder and these are linked to the headers in my “at-a-glance” chart so I can easily access them from one main planning document. Check out the screenshot below to help clarify. Physical Education Specialist, Kevin Tiller, has a YouTube video explaining his Google Drive Lesson Plan Library organization here. It is similar to how I organize my folders that I link to my overall planning documents – the curriculum map and “at-a-glance” chart. Terri Drain has an excellent video on “Planning a Standards Based Lesson” on YouTube if you’d like more on that topic as well.
3. Post essential questions and learning targets
What does it mean to be fit? Why should I be fit? How will I know if I am fit? These are important essential questions for students to think about in physical education. Fitness is a year-round focus in my physical education program. It manifests itself through a variety of activities. Some activities may or may not look like “traditional fitness” yet all activities are designed to help students achieve the goal of lifelong fitness. My learning activities help students reflect upon their interests, strengths, and weaknesses and help them develop a lifelong fitness plan.
Having essential questions and learning targets in view helps communicate what students need to know and be able to do. This information also guides my opening and closing class discussions. Utilizing essential questions and learning targets are an important component to your teaching. Use them! I have fallen in love with the ClassCue Sign Holder to post my learning targets, essential questions, and station signs. It is the feature image for this blog.
4. Reflect and Record
Reflect upon your planning and implementation and record it so you can enhance the learning experience next time. I use Google Drive to develop and organize my lesson content. I write lesson Cliff Notes and reflections in a small notebook that accompanies me wherever I go along with my iPad open to my Google Drive app lesson content. I write follow-up notes and reflections in my small notebook. I then transfer the notes to my Google Drive lesson plan library. When I go to teach this content again, I know how to make it better.
Bonus Tip: Relationships. In all things, it always comes back to relationships. It starts with us. The teacher is the catalyst for the positive learning environment. Regardless of learning outcome, the curriculum content, or the weather, the teacher’s mindset lays the foundation for success. Build relationships with your students. Be positive and have fun teaching!
If you need new curriculum ideas, here are two great places to start:
- SHAPE America offers awesome webinars, trainings, and their Exchange forum allows you to post questions where you receive supporting answers and ideas from other professional members.
- The Voxer Physical Education community is very supportive, and you can join in discussion groups to gain new ideas. You can also check out a previous post “My Web-Based Toolbox for Professional Development” for more ideas on how to keep learning.
Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more ideas, tips, and trends!
Check out more Blogs by Jessica!
Team Building Activities & Games for PE
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.
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!
- 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.
- 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.
Another 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 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!
Interested in more team building ideas? Check out these blogs:
- Back-to-School Icebreakers and Team Building Activities by Maria Corte
- Break the Ice! Team Building 101 by Chad Triolet
- Creative Ways to Integrate Fitness with Team Building into PE by Jessica Shawley
Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more ideas, tips, and trends!
Check out more Blogs by Jason!
Rainy-Day Activities to Keep Students Moving
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.
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:
Variety of activities
Available for classroom teachers to encourage more physical activity time
Easy-to-follow for students
Unique content such as yoga, martial arts, and dance
(Not martial arts)
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.
Looking for more ideas? Check out No Gym, No Field, No Problem! by Shannon Jarvis.
Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more ideas, tips, and trends!
Check out more Blogs by Lisa!
Tips for Choosing the Perfect Coated-Foam Ball for PE Activities
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
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)
7” Diameter Ball
Specs: Circumference = 22”, 55.88 cm
Size Comparison = Soccer Ball (Size 3), Handball (Men’s)
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!
Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more ideas, tips, and trends!
Check out more Blogs by the Gopher Community!
Action Packed Coated-Foam Ball Activities for PE
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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)
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!
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.
Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more ideas, tips, and trends!
Check out more Blogs by Michael!
Recess: Observations, Considerations, and Lessons Learned
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.
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.
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!
Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more ideas, tips, and trends!
Check out more Blogs by Aaron!