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Mat Mayhem: P.E. Game Ideas with Mats

Posted 1 month ago - by Jason Gemberling

Almost all elementary P.E. teachers have gymnastic mats in their storage closets, but do they get used for any activities other than a gymnastics unit? Why not try to get more use out of those mats that you probably had to fight to keep in your budget! And if you don’t have mats currently because of budget deficits, try explaining to your administration that gymnastics mats can be used for a wide variety of activities, therefore making them a great item to purchase in a tight budget!

Here are a couple of activities/games when you can utilize these mats! 

1. Barrel Racing

 

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In the part of the country that I teach, horse riding is popular and with that comes rodeos! At the rodeo one of the events is barrel racing, which is a fast sprint around three barrels in a specific order to get back to the finish line. So why not barrel race with your students?! 

Take three mats and set them upright and in a circle to look like a barrel. Then, space the barrels in the pattern below, or you can do this in any pattern you choose, just make sure the start and finish are in the same spot. Students sprint, or gallop like a horse, in the direction of the arrows. 

Variations:

  • Relay-race style
  • Practice different body movements by having students walk like different animals. I mean really what kid doesn’t like to learn how to walk like a crab?!? 
  • If you have more than 3 mats, make multiple race loops or give them more barrels to round.

2. Battleship

 

Another game you could play is Battleship!  Give each team 3 or 4 mats to set up at their end as screens. Then give each team 10-15 bowling pins, or if you don’t have bowling pins start saving plastic water bottles. The students will set up the pins in rows of 3 or more in the space behind their screens as “battleships.” They can have as many “battleships” as they can create in the space with the number of pins provided. Each team gets an evenly divided number of coated-foam balls to use as the missiles.

On your “go,” students start firing their missiles over the screen of the other team. When one of the teams’ ships is sunk they must yell, “you sank our ship”, and then immediately everyone on the team has to do a designated exercise, such as dive bomber push-ups. When all of a teams’ ships have been sunk the team yells, “we surrender!” This ends the round and all of the ships are reset and you play again. 

3. Gladiators

 

My final suggestion is a throwback to one of my favorite shows as kid, American Gladiators! One of the games they played had contestants trying to score points by running around a designated area and throwing a ball into a cylindrical goal. Now, in the show they were brutally defending these goals, but I do NOT recommend that in your PE classes. 

I set up the goals, which would again be your mats on edge formed in circles, and have teams. Play with rules similar to basketball in that you can defend and steal the ball, but there is NO contact or there is a foul called. This is a NO dribbling game and I encourage the use of at least 10 foam balls. After all of the foam balls are scored in a goal, the game is over. The team that scores the most goals is the winner for that round. Then you get set up and start again.

4. Introductory Basketball Hoops

 

Mats make great basketball hoops for younger elementary classes. The lower height allows students to experience success with shooting a basketball and allows them to practice using the correct shooting form. We all know that young students struggle to shoot at a regulation basketball hoop using correct form, so again stand you mats on edge and curl them into a circle.

Three or four students can use one mat at one time, and if you have enough round objects that are light, then they can all shoot at one time. You can also set up different stations around the gym and have students shoot from different distances to help build their confidence and reinforce shooting with correct form.

 

These are just a couple games that utilize mats in different ways, but there are tons more! As P.E. teachers, if you can be creative, you can create many games utilizing equipment in ways other than its intended use to allow you to maximize what you have! And please when you come up with a new way of using not only gym mats, but any of your equipment, SHARE, SHARE, SHARE those ideas with the rest of the P.E. world!  

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Refine Sport Skills with Tchoukball & Sabakiball

Posted 2 months ago - by Jason Gemberling

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

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. 

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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

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! 

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P.E. Activities with Cones, Hoops, and Poly Spots

Posted 3 months ago - by Michael Beringer

Every Physical Education teacher has equipment that they use on a daily basis. Whether they are teaching indoors, outdoors, or in an alternative space or location, these must-have pieces of equipment are always within reach. You know, those items you replenish every year because you use them ALL of the time? However, not every P.E. teacher’s list of essential equipment is going to look the same. Here our my most commonly used pieces of equipment (in no particular order) and 5 fun P.E. activities using them:

  • Poly Spots
  • Cones
  • Hula Hoops

Maze – Cooperative Activity

My favorite poly spot activity is a cooperative activity called Maze. You will need 30 poly spots and several already made maze cards for each group. Divide your class into 6 groups with about 5 students in each.

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How to Play:
The students set the 30 poly spots into a 6 x 5 grid. One student in each group holds the pre-made maze cards on one side of the poly spot grid and the other 4 students stand on the opposite side. One student at a time picks a poly spot that they think will get them through the maze. If correct, they can keep picking. If they are wrong, they go back to the end of the line and the next person goes. This keeps going until all the team members get out of the maze.

 

Musical Fitness

My second favorite activity that includes poly spots is Musical Fitness. All you need to play this activity is 30-40 poly spots and 30-40 fitness exercise cards. Place the exercise cards in a circle around the perimeter of the gym. Then place the ploy spots on top of the exercise cards. 

How to Play:
On the signal, have the students jog around the poly spots until the music tops. Whatever poly spot they stopped by is the exercise they need to perform. After 30-60 seconds, play the music again and have the students jog or perform a different movement activity around the ploy spots. Continue for 5-10 minutes. This activity is great for an instant activity/warm-up/ASAP to start class. 
 

Flip It Fitness

My favorite activity to play with my students involving cones is Flip It Fitness. Kevin Tiller created this idea and the overall objective of the game is modeled after the bottle flip craze. As your students enter the gym, have them pair up and go to a set of cones.

How to Play:
At the signal, each pair of students starts to flip their cones. The first one to flip their cone and land it wins. The student that wins does a victory push-up and the other person does jumping jacks until a new challenger arrives.  You can also do this activity in partner relay lines. In addition, you can write exercises on the cones themselves and have them perform the exercises when a cone flips and lands.

 

Target Holders

Another favorite use for cones is as target holders. Cones are great for all target games. You can use many skills including rolling, overhand throwing, and underhand throwing in order to get the students to hit the targets. You can also use a variety of equipment including throwing discs, foam dice, foam balls, etc.

 

Fitness Timer

My favorite hula-hoop activity is Hula Hoop Timer. Hand each student a hoop as they enter the gymnasium. You should have a series of exercises written on a whiteboard, a sheet of paper, or just have the students pick their own exercise.

How to Play:
At the signal, the students spin their hoop. While the hula hoops spins, the students perform the exercise until the hoop completely stops. You can also have them do this activity in pairs and you can specify what component of fitness they must perform. Look at a great video of this activity by Justin Cahill. 

For additional P.E. activities featuring hoops and poly spots, check out these blogs:

* Disclaimer: The activities described above are common P.E. Activities and are not my own creations.

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Team Building Activities & Games for PE

Posted 4 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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Tips for Choosing the Perfect Coated-Foam Ball for PE Activities

Posted 4 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 4 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 4 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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10 Favorite Coated-Foam Ball Ideas and Activities

Posted 5 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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MVPA Hops to New Heights with Jump Rope Program (Video)

Posted 6 months ago - by Gopher Community
 

Jumping rope is an excellent exercise for increasing activity time, coordination and confidence. While jumping rope is often used as a warm-up activity, one professor studied the health and social benefits of an after school jump rope program.

Minnesota State University Physiology professor, Dr. Jessica Albers, studied students as they spent 2 hours after school learning how to jump rope.

“It’s one of the more high-intensity activities that you can participate in,” Dr. Albers said. “You wouldn’t think that jumping this high over and over again would get your heart rate up that fast, but it does.”

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Students between the ages of 8-12 learned and mastered different jump rope skills throughout the 12-week program. At the end, students performed a group routine at the local high school.
 

Increasing MVPA through Jumping Rope:

Jumping ropeWhile Dr. Albers used a more scientific approach to determine MVPA (Accelerometer counts and intensity cut points developed by Freedson et al), Gopher’s FITstep™ Pedometers track step count, total activity time, and total time within the moderate to very vigorous activity zone. With the FITstep™ Pro Pedometer, teachers are able to upload data into the FITstep™ software to organize into printable reports.

“What it’s looking at are the intensity levels of your activity,” Dr. Albers said, “If you want to actually see changes in the cardiovascular system within the respiratory system and even musculatory system, depending on the type of activity you’re doing, you need to be at these higher intensities.”

She tested students three times throughout the 12-week, 90-minute program and concluded the following activity results:

  • 9.7 minutes (10.8%) in very vigorous activity
  • 7.6 minutes (8.4%) in vigorous activity
  • 28 minutes (31.2%) in moderate activity
  • 8.0 minutes (8.9%) in light activity
  • 36.7 minutes (40.7%) in sedentary

Dr. Albers admits that most of the sedentary time was spent learning new skills and the group routine.  

“When we broke down, just for sense of time, MVPA specifically - moderate, vigorous and very vigorous - they were meeting their recommendations.” Dr. Albers said.

Albers was surprised with how much very vigorous activity time students were getting and thinks jumping rope is a great way to keep students motived throughout the entire class period. 

“We could just make kids run for 30 minutes a day. PE - go run for 30 minutes a day! But that’s no fun.” Dr. Albers said, “With jump rope, hopefully you keep it interesting enough that they continue to be active enough during that period of time.”

 

Other Benefits of Jumping Rope

Beyond physical fitness, Dr. Albers explained that there may be other benefits to jumping rope.

“Jump roping is so unique, you learn skills every single day.” Dr. Albers said. “If you have success in something, it overall increases your self-competence, and then with that, you are more likely to try something multiple times.”

Dr. Albers uses Harter’s Competence Motivation Theory as a large motivation for her reasoning. According to Oxford Reference, Harter’s Competence Theory explains that a person’s confidence increases after they master a task, encouraging them to take on more challenges in the future.

“You master so many things [in jumping rope], as opposed to some sports, you might take longer to see those mastery attempts be successful.” Dr. Albers said.

 

Getting Started with your Jump Rope Program

Dr. Albers currently teaches a jump rope class at Minnesota State University – Mankato and has worked with multiple schools to expand their PE curriculum or add an after-school jump rope program.

 “I encourage you to just go try it and be out there with your students.” Dr. Albers said, “Kids figure out things faster than you would think. Even showing them a video, they can kind of figure out some things on their own pretty fast, which is always fun.”

Dr. Albers recommends using the photos and videos at Jump Rope for Heart to learn different skills and techniques. You can also use Gopher’s JumpSkillz™ Mountain, a 6’L x 4’W banner that offers step-by-step instruction for 20 progressive drills and is a great resource for increasing jump rope instruction into your program. Need to replace broken jump ropes or add more to your storage room? Check out these Jump Ropes all backed by an Unconditional 100% Satisfaction Guarantee! 

How do you use jumping rope in your PE curriculum? Share your ideas for increasing activity time by commenting below!

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Enhance PE Best Practices with Pedometers

Posted 6 months ago - by Jessica Shawley

If you ever have the chance to attend a workshop featuring high school physical education teacher Maria Corte, you need to do so. She is one of the most highly respected workshop presenters I’ve ever met. She teaches physical education best practices through her “M’s” of quality physical education: Manage, Move, and Motivate. We’ve got to be able to manage, move, and motivate our students. I would also add to this list: Measure. How do we measure student progress or program impact? There’s one measurement tool that has been a game-changer for my program when it comes to achieving the “M’s” of quality physical education, and that’s the FITstep™ Pro Uploadable Pedometer.

I classify the FITstep™ Pro Uploadable Pedometer as one of the most applicable and affordable teaching tools available today. It was specifically designed for physical education. I recommend it to anyone wanting to add meaningful technology to their program, especially one that measures student progress and can easily report this data to students, parents, and administrators. Data is a powerful tool.

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A few of my favorite FITstep™ Pro Pedometer features include:

  • In less than 2 minutes, an entire class of 30+ can download their data.
  • The software program is free. No annual fees.
  • Students get immediate feedback: How active was I today? How do I feel?
  • I get immediate feedback: Did my lesson go as planned? How active was it?
  • I can print customized reports for each student, class or both.
  • I can use them in PE, for take-home projects, or staff wellness challenges.

I’m now expanding the use of pedometers to outside the general physical education classroom. Last spring my classes cycled through wearing a pedometer home for the week. Students filled in an activity log and analyzed their data in a Physical Activity Reflection assignment. This helped them develop a plan toward achieving the “60 Minutes a Day of Play” recommendation. Some of my special education students now wear the pedometers all day to measure daily physical activity levels at school. They enjoy the privilege of having their own pedometers. The purpose of expanding pedometer use outside of physical education is to help students begin to connect what they are learning in class to their personal lives. I want them to develop a physical activity plan that supports health-related fitness and achieves moderate-to-vigorous intensity levels in activities. The pedometers help teach these concepts. I want students to identify what they enjoy, the health benefits of these choices, and where they can access it outside of school.

The research shows active students are better learners. Elementary classrooms now have students wear pedometers all day to motivate students to be more active, help them reflect upon their activity choices in school, and help teachers integrate more movement-based teaching practices and activity breaks. Integrating movement in the classroom is now a respected best practice.

The opportunities pedometers can provide school systems are many. What an amazing time in our profession! Check out my website’s pedometer resource section for more ideas.

The FITstep™ Pro with the "M's" of Quality Physical Education:

MEASUREMENT

  • Simultaneously captures THREE Modes: Steps, MVPA, and Activity Time.
  • Achieve national and state standards to measure 50% or more MVPA time in class.
  • The free customized tracking software comes with free upgrades. No annual fees.
  • Data downloads in less than 2 seconds, maximizing class physical activity time.
  • Customizable reports for parents, students and administration are easy to create.
 

MOVEMENT

  • Analyze student and class activity time immediately. Are students really moving?
  • Concrete data. No more guessing.
  • Reflect upon MVPA & activity time. Did I implement an effective lesson?
  • Helps students understand what intensity levels they are moving at.
  • Helps students set movement goals and can challenge them to keep moving!


     

MOTIVATION

  • Students are empowered with the instant feedback from the pedometer.
  • Students can set goals, see if they are achieved and reflect upon the results.
  • These pedometers are very accurate. Reliable data helps motivate students.
  • The pedometer can be personalized to a child’s MVPA threshold each class, allowing for more success other single-mode pedometer.


MANAGEMENT

  • Attendance is quickly taken with the pedometers, helping lessons begin faster and reducing discipline issues.
  • Students put the pedometer on and can begin moving instantly.
  • The pedometers can be used each class period for different students.  
  • Students of all abilities can use this pedometer easily.

 

*Table information adapted from Gopher website

 

Today’s physical education programs must know how to effectively “Manage, Move, and Motivate” students. Programs must also be able to Measure student progress. The FITstep™ Pro Uploadable Pedometer supports all of these areas.

  • What is your current system for achieving the “M’s” of quality physical education? How might pedometers help you advance your teaching? 
  • Looking to purchase pedometers? Check out local grant opportunities through your hospitals and insurance agencies. Look into Donors Choose, Fuel Up to Play 60, and become a Let’s Move Active Schools champion. Many grant opportunities are available here and can include pedometer technology.
  • There is a Voxer group for physical education teachers using FITstep™ Pro pedometers or wanting to learn more about pedometers in physical education. Check out the FITstep™ Pro Pedometer group on Voxer

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