If your school is like mine, your PE budget is likely shrinking or does not exist. Or maybe you are on a rotation that sees you getting a budget every 3 to 5 years to purchase new equipment. And I am sure the big push is testing, testing, and more testing as well. How can every subject do its part to improve test scores?
The testing push is a hot topic and one that I have strong feelings for. One way to do our part—and convince administrators to spend a little extra money for the PE department—is to incorporate math and reading into PE activities. There are some outstanding activities that kids love to play that keep them active and engaged while mixing in math and reading.
1. Tossing, Shooting, and Mathematics
BasketBag Beanbag Toss is a great activity that works on tossing and shooting to a target, while also asking students to work on math. Group students into teams and give them a targeted number of points to earn while shooting the beanbags like a basketball or underhand tossing them into a goal from different numbered spots on the floor. Students are asked to either add to reach their goal or subtract from the goal. You can have younger students use paper and pencil or have older students work on mental math. You could also have students practice multiplication as well. The variety of options with this activity are tremendous! When I play this with students, we also incorporate time into the equation so students get an understanding of elapsed time and difference in time comparing one team to another in completion of the goal.
2. Competition + Activity + Math Problems = Mathopotamia!
Mathopotamia is another math game my students love. This game incorporates addition, subtraction, and multiplication. It also has some head-to-head competition as well. I like this one too because students can run, skip, jump, or perform any other locomotor movement you would like them to do when they are out. Students use dice to roll against an opponent in their hoop. You can have students either add, subtract, or multiply their dice to get an answer. Whoever gets the higher or lower number depending on what you state, wins and moves up a hoop. Something that I like about this game is it also allows for 2-person teams to go through the head-to-head challenges. This encourages students to problem check with their partner and decide if their answer is right before they compare with the opponent.
With Common Core Games, we want the focus to be fitness with a side dish of math, reading, science, anatomy, history, or really whatever subject you choose.
3. Incorporate Spelling Into PE
One way I like to incorporate spelling into my PE classes at the elementary level is to get the classroom teachers to send me class spelling lists. I take 3×5 index cards and write letters on them, side note, A LOT OF LETTERS! We do relay races to spell their words using different movements or equipment. You can also try Gopher’s Active Academics Scramble Game, which includes 98 ready-to-go letter tiles. My students love the crazy movements to get from one end to the other, plus the competitiveness of spelling the word correctly first as a team. And again, they were doing two tasks at one time!
The great part about reaching across curriculums is that when you really think about it, it does not take much work to get something in place. It can reach any grade level, and students are still having fun, learning, and being active.
I would love to hear what everyone else does to incorporate other curriculums into their PE classes. I think it is a great idea for PE teachers to share success stories!