What equipment do you need to teach a quality middle school PE program? Wouldn’t it be awesome if every school had an unlimited budget, and we all had fully-stocked equipment rooms with the latest and greatest equipment?
In 1992, I began my physical education career teaching kindergarten through 8th grade, and I am still at the same school today. Both my equipment room and my gym look a lot different now than they did the day I was hired. For the first seven years, I had a carpeted gym (and students with rug burns), but the carpeting was finally replaced with a floating wood floor. My equipment room and office doubled as a kitchen/concession stand, with little room for PE storage. My only PE equipment included five small mats (one of them was actually made of horsehair), a record player (with some old folk and square dance records), some beanbags, bats, softballs, fleece balls, and a small assortment of rubber basketballs, volleyballs, footballs, and playground balls. I had to figure out how to run my program with the existing equipment, basically no curriculum, and 18 different classes. Today, after continually building and promoting my PE program and acquiring many mini-grants and donations, I have a much bigger equipment room that is jam-packed with equipment for all grade levels. I now have enough equipment to allow every student to experience maximum participation in class.
Assuming most PE programs already have basic sports equipment, there are several items that can greatly enhance any middle school PE program. If I had to pick my 5 Must-Haves in Middle School PE equipment today, my list would include:
1. Sound System
A record player would not work for me, even back in 1992. One of the first things I added to my equipment was a sound system. Playing music during fitness workouts and other activities is a great motivator. In addition, I believe that dance is an important part of a middle school curriculum, so having a good sound system allows me to bring fun music to my dance curriculum. As an added bonus, having a Bluetooth-enabled system that allows the music to be controlled by my watch is a must to keep things moving during all of my activities.
2. Ultra-Tacky Poly Spots
I use cones for many activities, but I especially like the new ultra-tacky poly spots for indoor activities. These ultra-tacky poly spots are very useful for many activities. They make set-up quick, they are safer (since they don’t slide on the gym floor), and they come in 6 different colors to separate teams or stations. I wish I would have had these poly spots when I first started teaching!
3. Omnikin Ball
I love using a 48” Omnikin Ball for my middle school classes. There are so many activities for the Omnikin Ball to help build my class culture and climate by providing challenging and fun team activities. Students are excited every time they see the Omnikin Ball, and I have found it to be an important part of my curriculum.
4. Fitness Equipment
Developing fitness is important in all middle school curriculums, but I believe developing a passion for fitness activity is even more important. That means we need to make fitness fun by using a variety of equipment, rather than just doing push-ups, sit-ups, and running. Examples of fitness equipment items that help motivate my students to exercise are jump ropes, slam balls, ab wheels, jump balls, hoppity hops, dumbbells, resistance tubes, and bosu balls. These pieces of equipment can be used in a variety of stations and warm-up activities to develop important fitness skills, AND make fitness training fun for middle school students.
5. Team-Building Equipment
My team building unit is my favorite unit. Over the years, I have accumulated a collection of special equipment for exciting team-building activities. A couple of my favorite team-building activities include the cooperative maze game and the team walker sets, but several of my other equipment pieces were made by hand with the help of friends and family. A team-building unit is a great way to start the year to develop the culture and climate within my class. I believe teaching character education and important life skills through a team-building unit is probably the most important component of my physical education program.
Overall, a quality middle school PE program includes much more than these five suggestions, but each year you may be able to add something new to your equipment room. Please share your must-haves so all of us can continue to grow our programs and provide quality PE for all students.