This topic is interesting to me because many times I’ve heard comments such as, “exercise grows brain cells”, “exercise does a body good”, and “active kids make better learners”. So, I decided that if this is true, let’s get it going! I knew that my students were getting quality physical education activities and lessons. So, my hypothesis was that by the end of the school year my students were going to be more intelligent. Those classroom teachers were going to be so proud of my contribution to increasing testing scores. Well, just wait a minute; I knew that my students were getting the physical activity component yet what about the core subjects criteria? Did I really know if the students were mastering skills and on task? Did they understand math and science and could they express themselves in a written assignment? No, I did not have that vital and important information.
I then questioned myself, “if our students are healthy in gym class how could I bring in the healthy mind component?” I knew that would come from collaborating with the classroom teachers. When the teachers brought their students out to physical education class I asked the question, “Is there a certain task, skill or subject that your students are quite not grasping?” Their first reply was why and I then said that I would like to help them (teachers as well as students) by integrating physical education with other subjects. The classroom teachers were excited and volunteered the information I needed. I did explain that I would incorporate different subjects and skills depending on the physical education activity and it would not be every day. They were grateful and eager to help especially after I mentioned our goal was to increase student learning. I shared with them that physical activity made them more alert and the students could focus more on the challenging tasks.
Like the passionate and enthusiastic person that I am, I started researching information on exercise and learning, attended conventions and discussed ideas with other physical education colleagues. This is where I learned that integrating physical education with other subjects could be as simple and creative as you want it to be to develop a healthy mind.
I will share one game that a colleague of mine shared at an in-service that helped students with science, math, sport skills and conditioning.
The name of the activity is called $10.00 and a Bone. The activity can be used with all grades K-5 with adaptations. Before starting this activity we discussed the skeletal system and function of the bones. Next we practiced counting play money (all dollars). Then students were divided into teams of 5 or any number that accommodates your class size. Each team gets a colored, laminated skeleton that is cut into segments. They will be working together to build a skeleton. We reminded the students that there would be stations all around the gym and when they performed and completed an activity they must come to the banker (coaches) that will give them $1.00. In my class $5.00 buys a bone. So the team members can put their money together to buy a bone to start their skeleton. The first team to build the skeleton and all the bones are in the appropriate places wins! The students learn science terms, bone functions, perform math functions and a get moderate to vigorous workout. These students go back to the classroom alert and ready to learn. So we developed a healthy mind and a healthy body by combining physical activity and core subjects. Give it a try! Ignite some minds and bodies!