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Enriching Participation in P.E. with Progressions & Equipment

Posted 8 months ago - by Jessica Shawley

Though fitness is a primary focus of my middle school physical education program, I also teach a lot of skill development through sports-based (team and dual) activities. A foundation of my program includes a large selection of versatile equipment. I wish I would have known earlier in my career how to identify and purchase the right equipment to adapt and use in a variety of ways to meet the needs of my students; in other words, how equipment could be used in multiple areas and not just for its original purpose. Below I provide some insight.

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The equipment selection I inherited was very traditional even though my student’s ability levels were extremely diverse. Through ongoing experimentation, including many trips to the local “dollar” store, tracking the superstore sales racks, and gathering ideas at conferences and via social media, I have compiled a large variety. Having diverse options, choices, or levels of equipment helps keep activities interesting, provides differentiation, and challenges students in a fun way. 

Activity and Equipment Examples:

  1. When teaching softball, my progression starts with large cones (Oversized Cones) as batting tees and a safety bat and ball (Rainbow® UltraGrip™ Foam Baseball Bats). What’s nice about the tall cones is their versatility; they can be used throughout the year for stations, goal posts, agility course markers, and a million other things! Students hit off the tall cone for batting practice warm-ups and in small-sided game play before playing the larger game. I also use hoops (an equipment staple for most) as an on-deck batting circle and larger bases in modified games that sometimes allow multiple people on a base or can be used as the pitcher’s circle. 
  2. A specific small-sided game example is “Cricket-style softball,” where students hit off the cone and run back and forth between two cones to score points while the defense fields the ball and makes a specific number of throws before running in to touch the home plate cone to stop the play. 
  3. Another idea to include once you work into the larger softball game format is to allow “Freebies to first base.” The batter becomes a live runner at first, even if they get out. This allows the batter to do more than just go back to the end of the line after getting out and challenges the defense with runners on base. If first base was already occupied during the out, you can bump up the runners to the next base. The possibilities are endless and having progressions keep things engaging and fun within the spirit of the game. 
  4. In target games, one of my go-to choices is the Elite Hoop Disc Target Set. It provides a variety of target heights and works for multiple activities including Disc Golf and Disc Lacrosse, as well as modified Handball goals or small-sided Speedball hoops. The targets also work for general throwing games, yard game targets, and for “Creation Stations” where students design the activities. Students think they are very “Harry Potter-like” and ask if they are playing Quidditch! 
  5. Along the lines of disc/Frisbee® activities, offering large or soft discs is important and helps when you need an indoor option. If you have never played Speedball, check out Joey Feith’s breakdown via

As you can see, a few pieces of select equipment (tall cones, targets, and hoops) have become critical in enhancing several activities in my curriculum. The versatility of equipment also helps stretch my budget. I enjoy perusing through equipment catalogs for new ideas and more efficient choices.

Finally, there are a few questions I use to prioritize my purchases. When planning lessons and progressions, I now think about...

  • How can I change the size, speed, color, and feel of the object, goal, or target?
  • How can I modify the game so everyone will be successful and be able to choose their level of challenge while maintaining the spirit of the game?

This thought process is not just for my special needs students with physical limitations, it’s for all students. I’ve seen a greater return on student participation levels and overall enjoyment of trying a new activity.

I look forward to sharing more ideas on adaptations and progressions in upcoming blogs. Thanks for reading!   

Considerations for progressions:

  • Provide various levels of challenge in the activity while still maintaining the spirit of the game.
  • Vary the speed of game (fast, slow), and intensity level of defense (hot, cold). Provide scoring variations.
  • Vary the size of space and teams (small, large). Develop small-sided progressions: 1 vs. 1, 2 vs. 1, 2 vs. 2, 3 vs. 3 and so on.
  • Versatility: Equipment may be used in several situations.
  • Have choices in overall size (small, big), height (short, tall), color, feel, or size of objects and types of goals or targets.


Continue the conversation: There are many creative equipment hacks that help teachers utilize equipment in a variety of ways. What are your favorites? #PEblog #physed #PEhacks #physedhacks @gophersport @JessicaShawley


Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more ideas, trends, and tips!
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5 Ways to Increase Activity in Phys Ed with Poly Spots (Video)

Posted 8 months ago - by Gopher Community

This is the third blog in our three-part series featuring unique lesson plan activity ideas using essential equipment for Physical Education. For more PE game ideas, visit our blogs that feature hula hoops and bean bags.

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Get your students up and moving with throw-down spots! While typically used for markers and boundaries, we’ve compiled 5 fun physical education games using Rainbow® DuoDots™. DuoDots™ are unique because they feature a different color on each side of the spot allowing you to add variety to your activities. The games below can be modified to be played using standard poly spots.

1. Musical Dots


Assign students a color and scatter the DuoDots™ around the gym. Have students walk, run, hop or skip around the play area. Once the music stops, players race to find their colored spot to stay in the game. Remove a spot after each round. Add a challenge to the game by flipping the spots to a new color to mix up the play area! 

2. Flip Spot


This is a great warm up game! Assign players to be on either the warm team (red, orange and yellow) or the cool team (green, blue and purple). Scatter the spots around the play area and have students race around the gym to flip the DuoDot™ over to their team’s color. At the end of a designated time, the team with the most spots with their team’s color facing up is the winner! (Activity Idea – Jeanne Morgan)

3. Pin Protector


Scatter the poly spots around the gym and place one bowling pin on each spot. Assign players to be on the warm team or the cool team. Teams race around the gym trying to knock down the other team’s pins while protecting their own! If a player is able to knock a pin over, they flip the poly spot to their team’s color, set the pin back up and begin protecting it. The team with the most pins under their team’s control after 5 minutes is the winner!

4. Strategic Spot


Players are separated into cold and warm teams. DuoDots™ are placed along the half court line of a basketball court. In a relay style, players run to the poly spots to complete one of three moves:

  • Place their team's colored bean bag on their team's poly spot
  • Remove an opponent's bean bag and bring it back to their team
  • If no bean bags occupy their oponent's poly spot, slip the spot over to claim the sport for their team

The object of the game is to have the most colored bean bags and spots in play at the end of 5 minutes. (Activity Idea - Shannon Jarvis)

5. Twister Tag


Assign players to a color and place DuoDots™ around the gym. Students play tag, but can use their color’s DuoDot™ as a safe spot. Once a student is safe, the tagger must go after someone else. Students can only stay on the poly spot for 5 seconds and must flip the spot over to the other color once they leave. Some teams might have a ton of safe spot options but others might not have any! (Activity Idea - Shannon Jarvis)


Do you have any poly spot game ideas? Join the discussion and comment below to share! 


Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more ideas, trends, and tips!
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Did You Make a P.E. New Year's Resolution?

Posted 8 months ago - by Jason Gemberling

We recently ushered 2016 out of the gym, and I'm sure many of you prepared a New Year’s Resolution to do something great in your PE or Health classes. Maybe you have two or three resolutions you're using to improve your program and help your students reach new personal fitness goals? Or perhaps you decided to make a leap and try a brand new lesson? Whatever it is, I encourage you to go for it! And on top of that share with as many people as you can, you never know your resolution could go viral! 

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Here are a couple of my PE resolutions for 2017:

1. Attend a health and P.E. conference or convention

I want to give myself the opportunity to find new ideas and talk with other fantastic health and physical education teachers. As health and physical educators, we all have several great lesson ideas or activities that our students experience success and gain knowledge; so, we all need to find time to get to a conference or convention and share our successes with others! Building a community for the greater good is one way we can all make a difference!

2. Share at least 1 new fitness activity with my students

My goal here is to find an activity that might get more students physically active every day. It may be that I try PiYo® for my yoga loving students or Zumba® for those that might like fitness-based, high-energy dance. I could also look to add suspension training with a TRX® trainer set. My hope is that the more types of physical activity that I can expose my students to, the better chance that I hit something they may enjoy and continue to do throughout their lives!

3. Start a school-wide fitness initiative

My last resolution for the upcoming year is a big one and I will try my best to make it come to fruition. I would like to start a school-wide fitness initiative to get not just my students, but all of the teachers and school personnel physically active on a daily basis. This may be done through monthly themes or contests in an effort to jumpstart the campaign. It may not happen until the start of the next school year and culminate with a 5k fun run or color run at the conclusion of next school year, but this is something that I feel will bring the students and staff together for one common goal of getting healthier and more fit!

I would love to hear your resolutions and I encourage you to try something new! And if you are looking for ideas, please search through the amazing blog posts on this site and see what you can make work in your class!

May 2017 be a GREAT year for you all!


Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more ideas, trends, and tips!

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5 Beanbag Warm-Up Activities (Video)

Posted 9 months ago - by Gopher Community

This is the second blog in our three-part series featuring unique activity ideas with essential P.E. equipment like hoops, beanbags, and poly spots. Check out out first blog, Hula Hoop Activity Ideas for PE, and don't forget to stop back next week for unique game ideas with poly spots.

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Beanbags are a must have in every equipment room or storage closet! They’re easy to store and can be used for beanbag tossing, as well as movement and collection games. These 5 beanbag games feature Gopher’s Rainbow® DoubleUp™ Beanbags that double the fun with a different color on each side! All activities can be adapted for use with standard beanbags

1. Catch Me If You Can


This is a great game to warm up students’ minds and bodies. Each player selects a color on the beanbag. Partners take turns throwing the beanbag into the air. Whichever color lands facing up, that player has to chase their partner back to a predetermined area. If a student tags their partner before reaching the finish line they win a point. First player to 5 points is the winner!

2. Beanbag Relay


Players race to the other end of the playing area and either place a beanbag into their goal to add a point to their team’s score or place it in their opponent’s goal to subtract a point. After all bags are in play, players can race to flip their beanbags over to turn negative points into positive ones! We played this game with only two colors, but use all six colors at once to increase the chaos and fun! 

3. Beanbag Hunt


Scatter multiple cones around the play area and place a beanbag under each cone. Six teams, one for each Rainbow color, run in a relay style to lift the cone up to reveal the beanbag. If the beanbag is their team’s color, grab the beanbag, knock the cone over, and bring it bag back to their team. If it’s not their color, flip the beanbag over to the opposite color to change the playing field. First team to collect all of their beanbags is the winner! (PE Universe / Angela Michel)

4. Beanbag Toss


Rainbow® DoubleUp™ Beanbags offer a great variation to traditional beanbag toss activities! Toss the beanbag into the air or at a target, but only score if the correct color is facing up!

5. Beanbag Frenzy


Players are spread out along the gym and assigned a hula hoop with three beanbags inside. The objective of this game is to get rid of all of your beanbags by running, skipping, shuffling or hopping to the other colored hula hoops to drop them off. Players are only able to pass beanbags to the colored hoop that matches the colored beanbag. The team with the least number of beanbags after 5 minutes is the winner! Students will love this fast-paced strategy game!

Do you have any beanbag activity ideas? Join the discussion and comment below to share!


Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more ideas, trends, and tips!

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Hula Hoop Activity Ideas for PE (Video)

Posted 9 months ago - by Gopher Community

Thanks for checking out the first blog in our three-part series featuring unique activity ideas utilizing P.E. essentials like hoops, beanbags, and poly spots!

Hula Hoops are a staple in most PE classes. Nearly every Elementary P.E. program has them, but are you using them to their fullest potential? Besides performing traditional Hula Hooping, hoops can be used as targets, spots, obstacles, agility, and team building activities for plenty of hula hooping exercise! We searched through PE Universe and compiled the top 5 hula hoop games for students!

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1. Fitness Hula Hoop Timer


Spin the Hoop while you and your partner perform an activity until the hoop lies flat on the ground. Run around the hoop, perform burpees, or other warm-up activities! Variation: Place your class in a large circle, have each group spin their hoop and try to run and grab another team’s hoop before it falls flat. For an added challenge, require teams to grab a hoop that is not one of their neighboring hoops. 

2. Hula Cars


This is a great warm-up activity that allows students to get loose without bumping into each other! Students hold the hoop around their body and run around the gym driving their car. Call out different signals to have your students perform new exercises! 

Bumpy Road = Skipping, Flat Tire = Gallop, Stop Light = Stop in place, Spin Out = Hula Hoop. Call out different roadways or speed limits to have students adjust their speed! Freeway = Run, Residential = Jog, School Zone = Walk. (PEUniverse – Jerad Hampton)

3. The Hula Jive


Perform a unique hula hoop dance with your hoops! Students can dance with the hoop around them or place the hoop on the ground and jump in and out. Shannon Jarvis has an awesome video on PE Universe of her students Hula Hooping the Cha Cha Slide. (PEUniverse – Shannon Jarvis)

4. Hula Huts


Students love building Hula Huts! Stack Six hula hoops on top of each other to build a hut. These huts make perfect targets for knockdown and team building games! The PE Specialist, Ben Landers, demonstrates his unique game, Hula Hut Throwdown.

5. Fishing with Hoops 


This is a fun physical education game! Students work in teams to roll their Hoop out to capture items in the playing field (cones/balls/buckets/any other equipment you can find!) Capture an item and bring it back to your team to score points. Variation: If an opponent captures an item, roll your hoop to try and hit them on their way back. If players are hit while carrying their winning item, they must forfeit their item to the team that hit them. (Activity Idea: Shannon Jarvis)


Do you have any Hula Hoop activity ideas? Join the discussion and comment below to share!

P.S. – Don’t forget to check back next week for fun beanbag activities that get your entire class moving!


Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more ideas, trends, and tips!

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5 Tips for Effective P.E. Class Management

Posted 9 months ago - by Peter Boucher

Hello fellow PE, Fitness & Wellness Teachers, or aspiring movement instructors! As a PE Teacher of 20+ years who evolved into administration as a Principal and K-12 Wellness Director/Athletic Director, I can absolutely attest that teaching Physical Education Class is an amazing and rewarding teaching position!  However, as we all know this Physical Educator position does require a very particular skill set. 

Most “strictly academic” teachers shudder at the thought of covering a PE class and most substitutes do not really want to be a substitute for Physical Education.  The large open spaces, the students’ ability to move around freely, and the potential for students to jump off task so quickly can intimidate most teachers. This is completely understandable if a teacher has not been properly trained to handle movement activities in multiple large open area arenas (gym, multipurpose room, track, outdoor fields, pool, fitness center, etc…)

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So, armed with this information, what are some critical skills or components that a new or even a veteran PE teacher could incorporate to help maximize ALT (Active Learning Time)? I went into my notes and archives to grab the “Top 5” management skills that I share with our K-12 Wellness/PE staff.  Take a read and see what you think:

1. Engage immediately and know names

I grouped these together as I believe them to be symbiotic and critical! It is so important to know EVERY student’s name! All current data indicates that students respond so much better when they are directed by name rather than a “hey, you”, “friend”, or any other type of general label.

This can be difficult for elementary PE Teachers as they typically instruct the entire school (which can be as much or beyond 500+ students) however it is still super helpful to know their names.  I also encourage the PE Teacher to engage the students the moment they enter the instructional environment (and engage them by name of course.) Immediate warm-ups, some sort of dynamic or static stretch, or a quick regimented sport specific movement sends a message that “what we are doing is important” and “we can’t afford to waste ANY time…so let’s get moving now!” 

2. Organization, routines, and start on time  

These skill springboard off of #1, as I feel it is important to have a routine opening class exercise/warm-up that is familiar and known to the students.  This creates an immediate and specific message that you are starting class and is less intimidating to students of all ages as they know and expect what is coming for a warm-up before any new material/movement is broached. 

Another routine that data shows to be important is “framing the lesson.” Quickly explaining the 1-2 or even 3 lesson goals AND the activities that you’ll be using to achieve those goals will decrease student anxiety and hopefully increase enthusiasm related to what is coming next for movement. A skilled PE teacher can “frame the lesson” in 1-2 minutes and then get the class moving.  Some teachers even frame the lesson during warm-ups/stretching.


3. Plenty of perfect practice

I remember learning this at Bridgewater State during my undergrad years for Physical Education and I still utilize it to this day.  Basically, what we are encouraging is that students should be practicing (“Skill & Drill”) in a fun movement session as much as possible during the class. Maximizing movement (fitness) and skill development is integral in the 21st Century educational world.  More student movement and repetition increases the student’s ability to grasp the skill and improve their fitness and skill level which in turn will increase their confidence in the intended movement or skill.


4. Organization! (Color coding and coordination)

This recommendation also connects with Organization (#2) and Plenty of Practice (#3). Organization is paramount to an efficient and effective lesson and it is the one component that if not deployed properly can derail a lesson into the Physical Education abyss.  Basically, the more organized you can be with your equipment and the more organized you are with your students then the better the lesson should progress. 

I have become a big fan of “color coding” student groups and even equipment if you can do so. This is especially important for the elementary levels where organization can complicate their movements and stunt a lesson.  I purchase colored or rainbow sets of equipment for our staff whenever possible to help maximize our efficiency and organization. For example, the “blue team” would utilize the “blue basketballs” while the red team would use the “red basketballs” in a particular lesson.  It’s much easier for the students to follow along.  Another great example would be color-coordinated cones as this helps frame practices.  The options are endless with the colored sets of equipment and being organized in every way imaginable can only increase Active Learning Time for students. For a wide-variety of equipment in Rainbow colors, look here


5. Have a back-up plan… always!

Having a back-up plan and some ancillary activities ready to go in a heartbeat should be common for every lesson every day.  So many PE plans can get disrupted by inclement weather (a planned outdoor lesson that needs to move inside for example), unforeseen speed bumps in the schedule (fire drill), technology not working, and any number of other hurdles that could present themselves.  A strong PE Instructor will have back-up plans that coincide with the planned goals of the day to make sure that students are receiving the physical, affective, and cognitive activities that they need and deserve.

How about you and your classroom? What are some other Fantastic PE Class Management tips? I know there are far more than five, what are some that you feel are critical too? Thanks for sharing…


Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more ideas, trends, and tips!

Check out more Blogs by Peter!

5 New Game Ideas to Get Students Moving

Posted 9 months ago - by Gopher Community

Get students moving with new activity games from Gopher! We compiled five of our newest games that get your students' heart rates up and their feet moving.



1. ACTION!™ DigitDrop™

DigitDrop™ is a math game that’s active and fun! Three teams bowl to knock over the six-sided numbered pins to get the highest pin total. Once all 6 pins are knocked over, teams can choose the lowest numbered pin to stand back up and hit again for a higher score. The team with the highest pin total at the end of a designated time is the winner! Learn more about DigitDrop™!

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2. ACTION!™ ScootPursuit™

How many laps can you finish without getting your targets knocked out? In ScootPursuit™, players race around the track on scooters to complete as many laps as they can while keeping their targets intact. This game is perfect for drivers to develop speed and directional control on scooters, while the “Pit Crew” practices their throwing accuracy. Learn more about ScootPursuit™!


3. ACTION!™ SquaredOff™

Work as a team to place lines and build as many squares as possible! This game is a perfect way to get kids moving in small indoor spaces. Students work together to build squares with their team’s colors. But, watch out, the other team can also build off of your team’s lines to complete squares. The team to complete the most number of squares wins! Learn more about SquaredOff™!


4. ACTION!™ ScatterScore™

It’s a race to score the most points in this arcade-style action game! Two teams face off head-to-head to see who can toss their ball or beanbag into the target and score the highest point total! This tossing game for kids is a great way to keep them moving while practicing accuracy and tossing skills. As a variation, adjust the tossing line or vary the style of movement. Learn more about ScatterScore™!


5. ACTION!™ Handquet™

Unique hand paddles give players complete control while playing a classic racquet sport game! Players hit the balls with their hand paddle to the other side, attempting to keep as few balls as possible on their side. The team with the least amount of balls on its side at the end wins! Hanquet™ is a great way to develop eye-hand coordination and racquet skills. A great addition to any racket sport unit! Learn more about Handquet™!

Check out more ACTION!™ games!


Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more ideas, trends, and tips!

Inventory Tips to Keep P.E. Equipment Organized

Posted 9 months ago - by Aaron Beighle

As a young teacher, “Let’s take inventory” might have been my least favorite quote from my co-teachers. Fortunately, as I have aged, I have come to realize its importance. In physical education, pieces of equipment represent our “instructional supplies,” and to meet our program objectives sufficient equipment is essential. Given its importance, it would follow that we take great care in knowing what we have. But, do we always know what equipment we have? If it is in working order, and is it really meeting our needs? This blog will discuss one strategy to help with this process and ensure we know what we have and what we need, at all times.

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Several years ago a new teacher asked me to help her with her equipment. When I arrived at the school the first thing I noticed is that she had over 100 hula hoops. I also noticed about the same number of Frisbee® discs spread around the equipment room. In our discussion, it became clear that she was extremely proud of a new Disc Golf Kit she had purchased. It came with Frisbees, plastic strips to be made into hoops, and cones. I asked her how she purchased the equipment and she said, “My principal said to get something I needed and I thought this would be good.” Several things went through my mind including “you already had what you need for Frisbee Golf” and “What did your inventory suggest you need?” I didn’t say the former, but I did ask the latter. Needless to say, she didn’t have an inventory. She didn’t know what she needed or even what equipment she had. Since this time, I have met and worked with several new teachers in hopes of avoiding this situation and maximizing equipment purchases.

When I was teaching, I was fortunate enough to work with two P.E. teachers who taught me the importance of a meticulous inventory. We did inventory twice a year and counted EVERYTHING. This allowed us to know exactly what we had, what we needed, and to ensure our equipment was safe. An up-to-date inventory allowed us to prioritize our needs and wants (this was tough for a 24-year-old) as to maximize our allocated funds. We could go to the principal and say, “We used to have 40 coated-foam balls, but 5 are worn after years of use. We need at least 36 to teach our lessons appropriately, maximize student activity, and ensure all students are learning. Are there funds available to purchase these supplies for the students?” If awarded a grant, or by chance (don’t laugh too hard hear) a building administrator came to us with some extra money, or the PTA wanted to support us with some funding, we always had a list that we could provide immediately before their generosity disappeared.

As I said earlier, equipment is essential for student learning in physical education. Because it is so important, we must know what we have and the only way I know to do this is with an inventory list. Here are some recommended steps for taking an inventory of equipment:

  1. Create an Inventory Sheet

    • Below is a snipet of the equipment needed to teach the curriculum we used as our foundation (Pangrazi & Beighle, 2016). This list is also in order of utility. That is, the first item is the piece of equipment we use the most, second, etc. The second part of the list is higher priced items that are not replaced as often, sometimes referred to as Capital-Outlay Items. Also note, there is a column to indicate the condition of the equipment, how many pieces we currently have, how many are ideal to teach a class of 36, and how many we need. 

      Condition:         G = Good                                T = Trash

                              F = Fair                                   D = Donate

                              P = Poor 
      From: Dynamic Physical Education for Elementary School Children (18e). Pangrazi & Beighle. Pearson.

  2. Take Inventory
    • ​​​Allocate ample time to count EVERYTHING. This can be tedious at times, but it is so worth the time. Count everything. Yes, we counted all of the scarves and every jump rope. We also made sure the beaded ropes were not broken. We blew up beach balls to make sure they held air. Inspecting the equipment while counting allows teachers to know what they have and avoids situations such as pulling out scooters for a lesson only to realize five scooters have broken wheels.
  3. Enter Inventory
    • ​​I have to admit, we didn’t always do this, but if we would have ever lost our inventory, it would have wasted a lot of time having to redo it. With technology today, entering inventory in Excel or another program as you go is advised. This will expedite the process if available. With the data entered, it is simple to calculate costs to replace, how to spend money, etc.
  4. Determine Needs
    • ​The above three steps make it simple to quickly determine what is needed. If placed in an excel file with pricing information, teachers can quickly determine how much it would cost to get “enough” of a specific item. Or if told there is $200 to spend, a decision can quickly be made to purchase the highest priority item in that spending range.

This was a tedious process, but well worth it. In my experiences doing inventories for several schools, here are a few tips that help expedite this process and make the constant battle of having enough equipment a bit more palatable.

  • Organize Equipment

    • Use shelving bins, carts, and shelving will help keep your equipment organized and in great condition. Cardboard boxes work well, temporarily, but eventually fall apart. Plastic containers with lids or even milk crates can work too. 
  • Label Equipment
    • This makes it easy to find equipment, especially if you use containers with lids. For instance, labeling ropes by length is much easier than having to separate them and then count them. A “friend” had to do that several times before learning his lesson.
  • Determine District Policies
    • Find out your districts purchasing policies early on. This could impact how you create your inventory list. It’s always best to find out these processes early to avoid double the work.
  • Separate Recess and P.E. Equipment
    • This allows you to make sure you know what equipment is used for P.E. and ensures you use appropriately allocated funds for P.E. equipment. Hopefully separate funds are allocated for P.E. and recess.

Since sufficient equipment is essential for a quality program, it is important that we care for this equipment and keep an up to date inventory so we know what we have. Know this information can impact planning, lessons content, and ultimately student experiences during physical education. THRIVE!


Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more tips and ideas!

Check out more Blogs by Aaron!

3 Types of Adventure Programming for P.E.

Posted 10 months ago - by Peter Boucher

Physical Education and Wellness classes have come a long, long way in the 21st Century.  Gone are the “Friday Dodgeball” bashes from the 1970s-80s – they’ve been replaced with a healthy smattering of fitness, team and collaborative sports, and individual skills classes.  Much of the credit for these improved physical offerings goes to the colleges training our PE/Wellness teachers, improved knowledge/technology, Wellness Directors leading the curriculums, and certainly the physical education teachers whom are deploying and designing these types of cutting-edge classes. And there certainly is worthy acknowledgement to the administration and communities that have demanded and/or supported these types of Wellness classes.

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However, there is one offering that I’d like to encourage teachers to consider— adventure programming.  This programming has multiple references; many would know it as “Project Adventure,” which is the name of the group that pioneered this type of curriculum back in the 1970s and continues as a leader in the field today.  Many schools, camps, businesses, and community/recreation programs have adopted and utilized adventure programming with great success and tremendous feedback.  Adventure Programming is a “challenge by choice” type of fun, experiential, learn-by-doing series of sequential activities that EVERYONE can participate in. There are 3 major types of adventure programming that I am familiar with and very supportive of at all levels:

Adventure-Fitness Programming

The basic premise of these types of lessons and programming is perpetual movement in fun, challenging activities where all students/campers are included for the entire duration of the activity.  Teachers are taught to combine fitness principles with adventure philosophies in some of the most fun and creative activities I’ve ever seen, taught, or experienced. And there is a cognitive/academic connection, too, with body awareness and the 5 major fitness principles.  It’s a fun and creative way to teach fitness where the students/campers don’t really know they were working on cardio until the class is over.

Social/Emotional Programming

This is an incredibly powerful programming model that teaches self-efficacy, empathy, and overall teamwork and cooperation. Social Emotional Learning (SEL) strategies are introduced along with academic content in an adventurous, fun, and exciting movement manner. Students are challenged and learn through sequential thought-provoking physical initiatives designed to encourage teamwork, cooperation, and collaboration. Goal setting, decision-making, and teamwork are essential components and outcomes of this type of curriculum.

Adventure-Based Programming

This is probably the more “traditional” adventure programming that people visualize when they hear “project adventure”. Ropes, carabiners, harnesses, helmets, belaying, etc. But there is so much more to it than the rope climbing and it doesn’t need to be so expensive or so high off the ground. Ropes courses are definitely a worthy financial endeavor; however there are low-element, ground games, and lead-up activities that do not require such a financial commitment.  The low element and ground games can be so powerful for students to learn problem-solving and teamwork in a fashion that other physical activites simply cannot offer. This type of programming is the type of programming that can reach and positively impact many students’ lives due to the adventure it offers and confidence it creates. 


Adventure programming opened my eyes to a whole new world of learning for me, my students, and my colleagues. This type of programming can and will engage EVERY student in your classroom.  If delivered with knowledge, confidence, and enthusiasm this type of programming can truly transform some of your students and help them to grow and mature socially, emotionally, and also from an activity standpoint, too.  I encourage you to do a little investigating and research on adventure programming and “take the leap” – pun intended! It will be an exciting journey for you and your students. 


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No matter your political preference, the results of the 2016 election surprised everyone. And while I don't claim to be a political pundit – why would I since pretty much every prediction was wrong – I believe physical and health educators should learn an important lesson from this recent election.

Regardless of what you might think about the qualifications of either candidate or the two parties they represent, what’s striking is how effective Mr. Trump was and how ineffective Mrs. Clinton was in capturing voting support.

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A few weeks ago (on PHE America), I noted the success that Mrs. Clinton's husband Bill had in his campaign many years ago. It's widely agreed that one of the great reasons for Mr. Clinton’s success was due to his campaign’s effective messaging. Among the many issues that then-candidate Bill Clinton could have discussed, for a variety of reasons, he chose to target the economy. The slogan, "It's the economy, stupid" became the strategic focus of Clinton and his staff.

Fast forward almost 25 years and what did we see in the recent election? Based on the results, it's clear that Mrs. Clinton's message did not capture the hearts, minds, and voting fingers of the electorate. In contrast — despite widely-held negative perceptions about the messenger — Mr. Trump's messaging proved effective.

What was the Trump message? As others are now reporting, it focused on distrust, dissatisfaction, and the urgency to change the Washington political environment. It didn't much matter what direction or topic Mr. Trump talked about, he repeatedly emphasized the need for change. And perhaps most importantly, he linked his change message to the lives of the voters. It worked.

What was Mrs. Clinton’s message? She spoke about many issues, all of which appealed to some but none that appealed to all. Many people couldn't see their lives changing for the better due to the Clinton promises. In contrast, despite concerns about the uncertain outcome of electing Mr. Trump, voters were assured of change. Unpredictable change perhaps, but change nonetheless, and it turned out to be incredibly effective messaging. So then, what can physical and health educators learn from the Trump victory?

Clearly, the public, and even many within our profession, aren’t clear about the purpose and value of what we do. Mired in confusion, it makes complete sense why we lack widespread public support or respect for our teaching. Ineffective messaging was both the root cause of the recent Clinton failure and the reason why our profession continues to struggle.

Don’t believe me? Go ahead and try it out. Ask a neighbor or teacher to tell you what they see as the purpose of physical education. Ask five people and I'm betting you'll get very different responses, yet all related to student health and physical activity. Some might express alarm about the so-called obesity crisis, others will not, but what you and I know is that obesity is the more visible symptom of a sedentary society and a world in which making unhealthy choices is easier than making good ones.

So again, much like a broken record that repeats its refrain, I point out the value, indeed the simple brilliance, of SHAPE America's efforts to transform and elevate the profession through its commitment to the vision of 50 Million Strong: A vision of a society in which young people – through our instructional efforts – acquire the knowledge, skills, commitment, and desire to lead physically-active lives and make healthy lifestyle choices.

We are now in the second year of SHAPE America’s commitment to 50 Million Strong. Many state conferences have used 50 Million Strong as the event theme, but still as a profession, our message isn’t clear. Until you, I, and our colleagues with a single voice, shout out to the world that our goal is to prepare ALL students to live physically-active and healthy lives, we won’t capture the hearts, minds, and support of parents, the public, school administrators, and most importantly, our students. By now the winners and losers of the 2016 election clearly understand the consequences of choosing the right message and repeating it everywhere and to everyone. It’s a lesson we should learn too before it’s too late.


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