As we head into the months ahead, it is looking more likely that schools in our country will begin to switch to remote instruction due to the surge of the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote instruction certainly presents a lot of challenges, but it also presents a lot of opportunities.
We as P.E. teachers have often relied on the use of equipment for us to be able to do our jobs. Many of our SHAPE America Grade Level Outcomes call for students to be able to access and use equipment in order to demonstrate competency in a variety of skills. During remote instruction, we still want our students to be pursuing skill competency through the activities they are engaged in, but one of the potential barriers to this is that while at home, students may not have access to the traditional equipment they would typically use when present in face-to-face instruction.
As a result, this barrier becomes one that P.E. teachers need to overcome. We need to think outside the box and get really creative in relation to how students can use non-traditional, common household items as equipment in place of what they would normally use in our gyms.
One of the most versatile pieces of at-home P.E. equipment I have utilized in my own remote instruction over the past few months has been towels. A large towel (like you would use at the beach or when you got out of the shower) is something that the overwhelming majority of students have easy access to in their homes and it can be used in so many different ways in at-home P.E. activities.
These are the thoughts that inspired this blog and in the next few paragraphs, I will share 3 of my favorite uses for using towels during remote instruction!
Towels as a Jump Rope!
Rope jumping skills are some of the most important our students can practice. It helps students to improve coordination, rhythm, timing and aerobic capacity, but a regular jump rope may not be something that your students have access to at home during times of remote instruction.
Teach your students how to continually fold their large towel lengthwise to make it as skinny as possible so it looks and acts similar to a jump rope! Need some ideas of what to do once their jump ropes are made? Use this Dynamic P.E. ASAP lesson for some inspiration!
Towels as a Floor Target!
Lots of the manipulative skills we teach in P.E. involving sending an object towards a target (throwing, tossing, kicking, striking, rolling, shooting, etc.). While there are lots of common household items students can use as a target, using a towel in this way is beneficial for many reasons. A towel’s shape can change rather easily and as such, gives you and your students many options when using it for easy differentiation.
Have your students that need more of a challenge fold their floor towel to make it smaller and harder to hit/land an object on. For students that need to find more success, have them stretch their floor towel out to make it bigger and easier to hit/land an object on.
Students can even mold their towel into the shape of a circle and use it to try and land their object inside of when practicing manipulative skills!
Towels as a Balance Mat!
Balancing is a skill that is perfect for students to work on while engaged in remote instruction for P.E. It is a skill that can be practiced within minimal space and allows for students to express creativity in a variety of ways.
When having students practice balancing at school, you probably have them use gymnastics mats or yoga mats for safety and to provide a bit of cushioning from the hard floor of your gym. While these equipment items aren’t accessible for students while at home, a towel can be a good supplement for students to use!
A large towel has become a staple of my students’ at-home “P.E. Equipment Bag” that they have added to over the past few months. Have any of you used towels as an equipment item during remote instruction? How have you and your students used towels? Comment below and share!