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10 Tips for a Successful School Year

Posted 2 months ago - by Shannon Jarvis Irwin

Back to school season is right around the corner! Get ready with these 10 tips for a successful school year, including organization, attitude, planning, and equipment. Don't forget to share your tips below!

1. Be a team player.

As teachers, we need to be flexible and help others when we can. I am not just talking about with our students, but with our fellow teachers and administrators. Learn all new staff member’s names and take a moment to welcome them. Being in a new environment or school can be stressful; you can help ease some anxiety and create relationships that only be benefit a school by being united.

2. Organize your storage closet.

TRX Commercial Suspension TrainerStart your year off by knowing exactly what equipment you have and where it’s stored in your storage room. Label all boxes and containers clearly, so you don’t have to rummage through them looking for something. If you need boxes or storage containers always check with your cafeteria staff. They receive crates of all sizes and sturdy boxes in their weekly shipments.

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This is also a great time to take an inventory, so you know what your purchases needs are for the year and create that dream list. What’s on my dream list this year? TRX Commercial Trainer 12-Pack …I dream BIG.

Check out inventory tips here!

3. Be prepared.

Lesson plans are your friends. Know what objective you’re going to teach and what equipment you need to accomplish that. I keep a folder on my desktop, labeled “PE Activities”, and add to it year after year. Each game or activity is a separate word document complete with everything I need to know about how to play it, including the National and/or State Standards the game provides. Having this file makes piecing my lesson plans together a breeze, simply copy and paste.

4. Vertically align your lessons and equipment used for the week.

I teach grades K-8th and want to make my day go as smoothly as possible. Transitioning from one age group to the complete opposite end can present a challenge at times. I try to use the same equipment all day long but change the activities to fit the needs for the different levels.

For example, volleyball. Setting up the net and taking it down is not an easy task, so once it’s up we are keeping it up all day. Therefore, my lessons may look like this for the week:

  • 6th-8th Volleyball skills
  • 3rd-5th Nukem
  • K-2nd Clean your room

All of these lessons use the volleyball net, but provide a different activity that’s more age appropriate for my students.

5. Designate a space for equipment used that week.

Storage cart with equipmentFind an area, whether it be in your office, storage closet, or corner of your gym, to place all your equipment used for that week. This is a major saver for me! It helps to start my day off easier by having everything need for the week in one spot instead of having to hunt down various items from storage each day. At the end of the week, replace the items with the following week’s equipment.

6. Visualize and mentally walk through your weekly schedule.

Write it out and post it in several locations throughout your gym. This helps me to know at-a-glance when I need to transition equipment for a different age group and not be caught off guard. Every day of the week is a different schedule for me, so having it posted in more than one location helps me to stay on track.

7.Teach recess.

Sounds kind of silly, right? But seriously with all the easy access to technology at our fingertips, kids nowadays don’t know how to play and socially interact with one another on the playground. Teach them games they can play with no equipment. Show them what equipment is available for recess use and how to properly store the equipment after they are done. Also, explain that they need to notify someone if equipment breaks.

8. Be consistent and practice procedures.

Know what procedures you want to set in place before your students set foot in the gym. Take the extra time to practice them with your students. Don’t settle or move on until they do what’s expected. This may take extra time at the beginning of the year, but it will be worth it. 

9. Study the previous year’s yearbook.

Yearbooks are a great tool to refresh your memory or familiarize yourself with your students’ names and photos. Of course, not all your same students will be returning and there will be some new faces too, so don’t spend a lot of time memorizing.

One of my favorite things in the mornings is to greet kids at the crosswalk by their name. Emotions are all over the place the first week back to school, what a comforting feeling to the families and students too that you remember them and are excited to see them.

10. Smile.

The worst advice I hear given to teachers in my opinion, is to not smile until Christmas or else they’ll walk all over you. Wrong. You can be firm and let your students know you mean business and be nice about it. Children need to know they are loved. So smile, and be their example about how they should be treating others.

Writing this post makes me so excited for my upcoming school year. We have such a wonderful gift of opportunity to make a difference in our students’ lives. Take advantage of teaching the next generation how to live a healthy and active lifestyle. Good luck to you and have an amazing school year!

5 PE Fitness Stations with Slide Boards [Video]

Posted 5 months ago - by Shannon Jarvis Irwin

Slide boards are a great addition to physical education fitness stations! Transform classic fitness exercises like mountain climbers, bridge hold/hamstring curl, front lunges, side lunges, and shuffling by adding slide boards. I’ve also included a quick tutorial on how to make your own slide boards to help stretch those PE dollars!  

5 Fun Fitness Exercises Using Slide Boards:


Dimensions for the smaller slide boards shown in the video are 48” x 16” and the larger board is 2’ x 6’ with a piece of wooden molding attached to each end. This allows the students to push off to get momentum to slide.

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You can purchase slide boards here or I’ve included instructions for making your own below!

How to make a Slide Board:

Take a trip to your local hardware store and pick up a sheet of Smooth White Panel Board. Some stores may refer to it as Hard Board or Shower Board. It typically comes in a large 4ft x 8ft sheet for less than $15. You can even ask the store associate to cut it down to any size desired using their wall-mount saw; most of your major hardware stores have this option available. Score! No clean up on your end.

You will also need some type of cloth to use under your student’s shoes to help their feet slide on the board. I use 2 types with my students depending on the exercise: washcloths or a cloth book cover cut in half that the students can slip on over their shoes.

The slide boards will become less slippery the more they are used. TIP: Use Pledge furniture spray to wipe down your boards to regain its slick surface.



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

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3 Coated-Foam Ball Activities for Elementary PE (Video)

Posted 6 months ago - by Shannon Jarvis Irwin

As a presenter and mentor to other Physical Educators, I am often asked about equipment and what my favorites are. While I have many, coated-foam balls are, without a doubt, first on my list. I’m often surprised by the resistance I get back to that answer…  

“I don’t like dodgeball!” 

“We don’t play dodgeball at our school!”

“I can’t believe you play dodgeball!”

I have to laugh when this happens because I didn’t say anything about the game of dodgeball. Yes, coated-foam balls are often used in dodgeball, but there are so many other styles and types of games you can play that don’t involve students targeting other students. Best of all, these balls come in a variety of sizes, densities, and colors, so the gaming options are truly limitless!

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Here are 3 of my students’ favorite games using coated-foam balls (non-dodgeball, of course):

1. Knock Off



2. Backyard Bash



3. King Pin




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

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Fitness Station Rotation for Elementary PE

Posted 1 year ago - by Shannon Jarvis Irwin

Have you ever had a class that just doesn't understand how to rotate when doing fitness stations? You say “rotate”, and it's like you kicked an ant pile with kids scattering everywhere. I laughed when I typed that line, but this is a frustration that is real to us PE teachers.

I have often counseled or mentored other Physical Education teachers who have said, "They just can't do stations." I didn't come across this problem until after a few years into my teaching career. I couldn't figure out why this particular kindergarten class couldn't rotate correctly anytime we did stations. In years past I never had a struggle, I broke down the directions and got their attention before rotating. I even had students point to their new station and say, "Ready, go!" Still, it was like kicking that ant pile and then off they went mixing up their perfectly placed groups. After several failed attempts, I realized I needed to come up with an alternative way to do stations. I love stations way too much to let it go and not do them with all my students.

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The traditional way to rotate through stations is in a counter clockwise or clockwise circular movement. Simple, right? Stay with your group! (I even dressed my kindergartners in color-coded jerseys once, “RED rotate with RED”. Failed again. At least it was easy to spot where students were supposed to go.) Below are two not so traditional ways to rotate your PE stations. To better understand the two, you need to know that my students are assigned a squad letter and number at the beginning of the year that correlate to a grid arrangement/seating chart. We go to these spots every time we begin and end class, so students are very familiar with the other students they sit behind and who is to the left and right of them.

1. Straight Lines

Keeping in their squad lines, students rotate forward one space. Each piece of equipment for the stations is placed on A1, A2, A3, etc. On the stop signal, students reset equipment even with letter and number and rotate forward one spot. Front spots then rotate to the back.

2. Side-by-Side:

Keeping in their same number line students rotate one spot over. Each piece of equipment for the stations is placed on the same number of each squad letter. For example: A8, B8, C8, etc.

What tips or ideas do you have for helping elementary students rotate through stations?


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

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Fundraising Idea: Action Auction Parties

Posted 1 year ago - by Shannon Jarvis Irwin

Are you tired of your school's same old fundraising event? Are you wanting to incorporate physical activity into these fundraisers? Well I have the perfect solution for you – Action Auction Parties! 

Every year our school hosts an annual auction for our families to attend and help raise funds for our school. It’s a typical school auction, where each classroom contributes a handcrafted project that will go home with the highest bidder. 

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We are also known for what we call, "Wildcat Parties." These are fun planned outings sponsored by a family or a generous donor, where individuals can purchase a ticket to attend and all funds go straight back into the school. For example, 'Principle on the Patio' is a night out with administration and includes dinner hosted in someone's home. Another is a 'Mani/Pedi Night' hosted at a local spa. Tickets to attend typically are $25-$40 and parties vary year after year. I thought to myself, how can I get involved and raise funds in an active and healthy way? Action Auction Parties! Below you'll find the party ideas up for auction at my school this year.

Action Auction Party Ideas:

3rd Grade – ACTION! Drag'N Tails™

Students meet in the gym after school for two hours of play and have snacks. Cost is $20 with no limit on how many can attend; we typically have about 40+ attending. We run a game with the whole group for about 20 minutes, then run two separate (and smaller) games of Drag’N Tails™ and switch off opponents every 10-15 minutes.  

4th Grade – Human Foosball

Students meet on the field for two hours of fun and get pizza after. Cost is $25 and limited to 30 attendees. Check out ACTION!™ SynchroBall™ for your Human Foosball supply needs.

5th and 6th Grade – Gopher D-Lite™ Slip-N-Slide Kickball

These events will be held separately, but include the same idea for each grade level. This is our first time to try such an event like this. We got the idea from a YouTube video that went viral. If you have every tried this, I’d love to hear about your experience. This day lands on a half day, so students will bring a picnic lunch and we will play after for an hour and a half. Cost is $30 and limited to 30 students.

7th Grade – Human Hungry Hungry Hippos

This is based on another YouTube viral video idea. We will use the UltimateScooter™ Boards and the yellow balls from the ACTION!™ FoodFat™ Attack Set. Cost is $2 and limited to 32 students. See how to play here.

8th Grade – The Glow Games

We'll play glow in the dark dodgeball using FireFly™ Glow in the Dark Dodgeballs and glow in the dark Nine Square in the Air using a homemade PVC "court". This event has no limit and will be hosted at night for our students. Cost is $25. 


Comment below and share how your school raises funds!


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

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No More Draggin' with Drag'N Tails!

Posted 2 years ago - by Shannon Jarvis Irwin

Are you looking for the next big thing in the PE market? 

Searching for equipment that is new, innovative and exciting? What that awesome energy that gets your students excited about moving and working together?!

Well, stop looking because this set is for you! Gopher’s new ACTION!™ Drag’N Tails™ has been all the rage in our gym since it came out in January of 2015.

  Dragon Tails

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Drag’N Tails is a new and creative twist to flag belt games with flags that drag…that’s right, DRAG! These longer style vinyl flags are 60” and students use their feet to stomp and detach their opponents’ flag to create turnovers. Students use teamwork to advance the coated foam ball and score a point in their team’s goal. When you purchase Drag’N Tails, instructions for various games using the equipment are included. I have included even more games listed below, but the fun doesn’t stop there; the gaming possibilities with this equipment are endless. Imagine all flag belt games you already play with your you can play all those games with flags that drag!


I teach grades K-8th and we were able to adapt and modify this equipment set to play with all grades. I highly recommend this new product for your classes. Enjoy the games listed below!


Chasing Tails

Equipment: Drag'N Tails -- one long tail per set of partners

Activity: Have students gather in partners and spread out in the gym. Each partner should have their own Belt, and one partner should wear a long flag borrowed from the new game Drag’N Tails. Partners are only allowed to move in the small space given and turn on an axis. The partners without the flags try to stomp onto the flag to remove it from their partner’s belt. NO HANDS. If the flag comes off that partner takes a turn to wear the flag and vice versa. 


Chasing Drag'Ns

Equipment: Drag'N Tails Flags & Belts

Activity: Have all students with a long flag spread out in the gaming area. All other students form a line to wait their turn (line might seem long, but it will move fast as the game progresses). Students with flags are allowed to move anywhere in the gaming area and try to remove each other’s flags by stepping on them. Once you loose your tail, pick it up and bring it to the next person in line waiting their turn. 


  • Everybody vs. everybody
  • Yellow vs. green
  • Boys vs. girls
  • Homeroom vs. homeroom


May the Best Drag'N Win!

Equipment: Drag'N Tails Flags & Belts (enough for everybody)

Activity: (Elimination-style Game) Everybody has their own long flag and belt. Spread out into the gaming area. NO TEAMS. Everybody vs. Everybody trying to detach one another’s tails to eliminate them from the game. May the best Drag’N WIN!


  • All girls round
  • All boys round


Slaying Drag'Ns

Equipment: Drag'N Tails Flags & Belts (enough for everybody, minus 1)

Activity: Have all students with a long flag spread out in the gaming area. Choose one student to start without a flag. This student is the Slayer. The Slayer goes around trying to detach the Drag’N Tails. Once a Drag’N loses their tail, they become a Slayer too. Have students pick up their flag off the ground before they join the game as a Slayer for Safety. Play until all Drag’Ns have been slayed.


Drag'N Slayer

**Ideal for large class sizes where equipment is limited

Equipment: Drag'N Tails Flags & Belts (enough for half of the class)

Activity: (Elimination-style Game) Divide your class into two teams. One team wears the Drag’N Tail belts and flags. The team without the flags are the Slayers and try to eliminate the Drag’Ns by detaching their flags. Once your flag comes off you are out. Play until you have one Drag’N left and switch out the equipment between the teams to play again.


Check out this great informational video on Drag'N Tails!

Purchase Drag'N Tails™ for your program today!


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

Check out more Blogs by Shannon!







5 DIY Projects for the Best Field Day Ever!

Posted 2 years ago - by Shannon Jarvis Irwin

Are your students bored with the same field day activities year after year?

Bring excitement back to field day with 5 DIY projects for the best field day ever!

Field Day is my students’ favorite day of the year, and I am right there with them! It’s a day full of fun, excitement and friendly competition. A celebration that summer is almost here and all of our hard work throughout the school year comes to an end.

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Personally, I believe the wetter and messier the field day, the better! Many of my activities and stations are things I put together myself. Nothing too complicated you just have to be willing to put in a little time.

5 DIY Field Day Activities:

1. Jumbo Slip-N-Slide

Jumbo Slip-N-Slide first made its appearance in my field day about 9 years ago. It's super easy to assemble, and if done right, you can reuse it for next year! At my school, we have two Jumbo Slip-N-Slides in difference lengths, one for the lower grades, 1st-3rd that is about 25ft long and one for the older grades, 4th-8th that is about 35ft long. 


  • Pool Noodles, enough noodles to cover the perimeter of the slip-n-slide

  • Heavy Plastic Sheeting (higher MIL the better, I used 6mil)

  • Scissors

  • Strong Duct Tape

  • Medium Temp Glue Gun (optional)


  1. Roll out your sheeting and decide what length you want your slip-n-slide to be. Add about 3 extra feet (to roll the ends in later) and cut away the excess.

  2. Lay out the pool noodles to full desired length of your slip-n-slide, leaving the extra footage evenly on each end to roll later.

  3. Secure the noodles end to end to create one really long noodle by using duct tape.

  4. Secure the noodle to the plastic sheeting with your glue gun or by using duct tape about every 3 ft.

  5. Roll the long noodle inward. Make sure you roll it in at least 2 feet. Use glue gun or duct tape to secure about every 3 ft. Repeat on the other side

    • Tips: Seek out extra hands to help roll the noodle, keep the sheeting tight around the noodle, and remeber the more your roll, the narrower your slip-n-slide will be.

  6. Repeat the same process at each end of your slip-n-slide. When finished, it should look like a shallow pool.

  7. Seal and secure the entire slip-n-slide by using duct tape. Completely cover the inside perimeter of the slip-n-slide on the seams. Make sure you use duct tape all the way around the slip-n-slide, its important not to leave a gap where water can get in.

  8. Flip it upside down– this is the most important step! It took me years to figure that tip out, but by doing so, you should be able to get a couple years use out of the same slide.

  9. Add water, maybe a little baby oil, and let the fun begin!

2. Splash-A-Mole

Splash-a-mole is super fun and super easy to build! It's a watery twist to the popular arcarde game Whack-A-Mole. This activity made it's grand appearance into our field day in 2014. I first saw a similar activity on PE Universe as a game called Gopher Splash by John Theiss. I've found a few tweaks I will be making for next year and will include those below.


  • 6' x 8' Tarp
  • Scissors
  • Marker
  • 5 Gal. Bucket Lid
  • Zip-ties
  • PVC Stand (supply list below)


  1. Lay out your tarp flat on the ground.
  2. Use a 5-gal bucket lid and maker to trace circles on the tarp. Make sure your circles are not too close together or near the edges.
  3. Cut out your circles.
  4. Build your PVC pipe stand using the supplies below
  5. Attach tarp to stand with zip-ties

PVC Pip Stand Supplies: (all pipes are 1 ¼")

  • 1- 92" (Top Rail)
  • 1- 82 ¼" (Bottom Rail)
  • 2- 75 ½" (Side Rails)
  • 4- 12" (Foot Rails)
  • 2- 2 ½" (Foot Rails)
  • 4- Elbow Connectors
  • 4- End Cap Connectors
  • 2- Fout-Way Connectors


3. Giant Bubbles

Bubbles can be entertaining for all ages, even if you’re not the one making the bubbles. The amazed look faces when a BIG bubble is being made makes my day.

Here are some helpful tips if you want to incorporate a Giant Bubble station at your next field day.

First, you need to know that the ideal weather conditions for giant bubbles are a humid and overcast day. I teach in Texas, so humidity is not a problem, but that hot Texas sun can be. I generally have more stations than classes on field day, so I always make sure my classes visit this station early on before the sun gets too hot. Afternoon field days might be a little tricky with a bubble station. I would recommend putting the bubble station in a nice shaded area, if possible.

Second, the secret to creating a solution that will make BIG bubbles is glycerin. Glycerin can be found in the pharmacy section at most stores. Another secret to bigger bubbles is allowing your solution to settle for at least an hour before the first use, overnight is even better. 

Below you will find instructions to make your own bubble solution and large wands.


  • 5-Gallons Distilled Water
  • 12 Cups of Dawn Original Dish Soap
  • 18oz Glycerin 
  • Kiddie Pool
  • Butterfly Nets (from the Dollar Store is fine!)
  • Scissors


  1. Gently mix together the water, dish soap, and glycerin in a kiddie pool or other holding container
    • Be careful not to create a lot of foam/froth when mixing the bubble solution. Also try to keep students from shaking or swirling the wands in the solution
    • Cut bottoms off of butterfly nets. Leave some of the netting as it helps the solution stick to the butterfly net.

4. Snowball Fight

Snowball Fight is my absolute favorite field day station!

A snowball fight at the start of summer?? Yep, that’s right!!! Students throw snowballs at each other made from baking flour and panty hose. Messy? Yes. FUN? Oh yeah! 

This DIY project can be time consuming, so the more hands on deck helping make the snowballs the better. I recommend making one snowball per student. The same snowball can be used over and over again until all the flour runs out. Each time the snowball is thrown a little flour comes out through the panty hose, leaving a white mark on your hit target.

Your students will love this DIY field day project. All you need are the supplies listed below and follow the simple directions on the video.


  • Baking Flour
  • Panty Hose (Knee Highs are easier to work with)
  • Cup
  • Scissors

5. Car Wash

Creating things out of PVC pipes can be so easy! Check out this awesome carwash my eight year old son designed for our field day this year. I am so excited to see this in action. We order two large Viking Tricarts from Gopher for the students to ride on and go thru the carwash. So FUN! I am super stoked about these Tricarts too! They have been on my PE Equipment dream list for a couple of years now.

Below are pictures and all the items you need to put this awesome DIY field day project together. 


Supplies: (All PVC Pipes for this project are 1")

  • 36- 2½' Pipes
  • 7- 4' Pipes
  • 2- 1½ (Used at top front to hang sign)
  • 8- Four-Way Connectors
  • 15- T Connectors
  • 15- Elbow Connectors




Using the picture above, piece together all your cut PVC pipes and connectors. We used PVC glue and glued each upside U section together, leaving the sidebars unglued to help with storage, as soon in the picture below.

Water Valve Supplies and Assembly:

Once fully assembled, drill your holes using a 1/8th drill bit in your desired locations. We have some holes drilled on top crossbars to create a water curtain and some drilled on the sidebars for a side spray. Be careful not to over drill, so your water flow has enough pressure to go through all the pipes. That’s it; now you just add your decorations.

Suggested Decorations:

  • Mop Heads
  • LOTS of pool noodles
  • Car sponges
  • Regular sponges
  • Plastic table cloth
  • Heave duty string to hang items with
  • Scissors or electric knife to cut noodles

You most certainly can cut some cost by not covering the pipes with noodles and just adding the center decorations. I wanted the “wow” factor and went the extra mile with ours.

To cover the pipes with noodles, I just used an electric knife (scissors would work too) to cut the noodle in half and then sliced long ways down one side of the noodle. To create the sponge balls, I cut sponges into 1” strips and layered 6 strips in a crisscross pattern and used string to tie them together in the middle. Really the sky is the limit when it comes to decorating.

Have fun building your DIY Carwash! I would love to see pictures!! 

Create extra smiles this field day and try one of our DIY projects. I would love to hear about how it went. If you have a great DIY project yourself that you would like to share or have any questions, contact me

Check out these other great field day activities your students will love!


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

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5 Skill-Based Basketball Games for PE!

Posted 2 years ago - by Shannon Jarvis Irwin

I asked my K-8th grade students what their favorite basketball games are that we play in PE.
Below are their top f
ive picks, including a video demonstration of each!

Around the Gym Knockout

This game is played just like the original knockout game, where you try to get the person in front of you out by scoring a basket before them. However, in ‘Around the Gym Knockout’, when you are eliminated from one goal you move on to the next goal and join that game. In our gym, we use four to six basketball goals at a time. To start the game, we divide up among the goals and each goal is treated as a separate game. Students enjoy this game because they don’t have to wait till the end of the game to keep playing. Once eliminated, they move on to play with a new group of students at the next goal.   Check out Around the Gym Knockout in action!

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Team Knockout

Evenly divide your students into 6 lines; each line has their own basketball. It’s best to color code your equipment in this game to avoid confusion as seen in the video. On the whistle, the first person in each line takes one shot from their cone. If the basket is missed the students quickly rebound their ball and shoots from everywhere until a basket is made. The first of the six people to make a basket is safe and returns to the end of their line, while the others are out. Once out, the only way back into the game is if your teammate makes the first shot from the cone, all players from that team rejoin the game. **House Rule** If there is one player remaining from a team and they make their first shot by the cone, all players eliminated are back in the game regardless of their team color. 


Dribble Tip Over

Scatter cones all over the gym floor, various sizes if available. On signal students dribble around the gaming area tipping or set up cones on the various signals, then switching out with the next person in line. Variation: have two groups of students each with different jobs, picking up or tipping down cones.   Check out Dribble Tip Over in action!


Pass, Dribble, Shoot, SCORE!

Scatter polyspots on the gym floor surrounding the basketball goals. On the signal a student in front of each line passes the basketball over their head to the person behind them. The line continues to pass over their head until the last person in line receives the basketball. The last person then dribbles to any polyspot on the floor and shoots the basketball. If the student makes the shot, they pick up the polyspot and bring it back to their line. While the person is shooting the line moves back to make an empty spot at the front of the line for the shooter to start passing the ball overhead when they return. When all the polyspots are taken up, the game is called and a point value is given to the each different colored spot (Don’t give point values to the spots until the end, so students will focus on shooting not adding spots). Have the teams add up their spots, and the line with the most points wins the game.


Dribble Mania

Students dribble in the gaming area trying to stay in control of their ball. While dribbling with one hand, students use their other hand to knock away someone else’s ball. Students must remain in control of their ball. If a student loses control of their ball their turn is over. When your turn is over the student returns to their line and hands the ball to the next player.


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

Check out more Blogs by Shannon!


5 Easy and Equipment-Free Time Fillers!

Posted 2 years ago - by Shannon Jarvis Irwin

Lesson end earlier than planned? Teacher running late to pick up their class?
Class need re-energizing?

Check out these 5 easy time fillers that you can use anytime, anywhere without any equipment! 

PE Time Fillers, PE Time Filler, Timefiller

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Every great educator needs a few activities in their back pocket to pull out when needed. Something they can go to without any equipment, something quick, something easy, something to fill time.Time filler activities are great for when a lesson ends earlier then expected, or if a teacher is running late to pick up their class from gym. They’re also great to re-energize the group, transition to the next activity, or use them to warm up or close down a class. 

Here are some of my favorite back pocket activities...

What are you doing?:

Have students form a circle. Choose one student to start out in the middle of the circle and act out something, let’s say riding a bicycle. Another student calls out their name and says “What are you doing?” The person in the middle replies back, “I am not riding a bicycle, I am …..” Then that student goes to the middle and acts out whatever the person before them said.   


Count to Ten:

Have the group form a circle. Choose one person to start by saying one or two numbers consecutively counting to ten. For example: the first person can say “1” or “1, 2” …the next person counts in order choosing to say one number or two numbers. Whomever says “10” is out and has to sit down.



First choose a target number- Let’s say 4. The first student starts counting at one and the next student follows in order. When a student reaches a multiple of 4 or a number with 4 in it, he or she must say “buzz” or they are out. Keep the game rolling at a fast pace. To make the game more advanced, you can also require students to say “buzz” if the digits add up to the target number. For example Thirty-one (3+1=4) would be a “buzz.”


Circle Relay:

Have students stand in a circle. Choose one student to be the runner first, they run around the outside of the circle until they get back to their starting point and then the next person takes a turn and so forth.



Students perform an action move to word commands that are called out. You can see this activity in action on PE Universe!


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No Gym, No Field, No Problem!

Posted 3 years ago - by Shannon Jarvis Irwin

Don't have access to your gym or field for class today?
Here are a few great activity ideas for the days where the gym and field at your school are being used by other classes or departments!


School HallwayLet’s face it; the gym is a popular place to host events other than our Physical Education classes. I cannot count the number of times our PE classes have been uprooted because of another event needing the space. Whether, it’s an assembly, a dress rehearsal for the school drama club, or Music class needing the stage, I always greet this problem outwardly with a smile and the willingness to be flexible. After all, we are all one school, right? There is no need to be upset or frustrated because it’s not going to change the fact that someone else needs the space. Internally however, I may be a little freaked out.

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Why, you ask? Because going outside is not as easy as stated. I love how everybody thinks so: “Ah, just take the kids outside and let’em run around!” Sure. It might work out sometimes, but weather is unpredictable…and plan B sometimes just doesn’t work out. Bring on plan C: “No Gym, No Field, No Problem!”  

At times, when uprooted from our gym space, I find us in the cafeteria, classroom, or hallway. Each having its own set of issues we have to plan around. So, if you find your PE classes in a similar situation, here is a list of activities for you to consider.


Stuck in the Hallway?

Hallway Foosball: Two teams of students are seated in a straight line facing opposite ways from each other. Using a ball of your choice: gator/foam, beach ball, soccer ball…I prefer a playground ball. The students try to score by only using their inside hand, and moving the ball forward in the direction their line is sitting. After a few rounds, have the students rotate in their spot switching the direction of play and hand.

Hula Hoop Chain: Two teams of students holding hands and facing each other forming two parallel human chains. Start a hula-hoop on one end of each chain. On the word “go,” students climb through the hoop maintaining their chain allowing the hoop to travel down the line to each student. The first team to get their hoop all the way through their line wins!  

Hop in a Hoop! Scatter hula-hoops around the hallway; give the students a locomotor skill, way of travel, or an exercise they need to perform. On the word “go,” students travel thru the hallway not touching any hoops performing the given movement. Call out a number and the students have to stop and find a hoop, filling the hoop with the number called. No more, no less. Once the hoop has the right number of students, students raise their hoop to their waist to prevent anyone else from entering into their hoop.  

Fitness lines: Set up 1 piece of fitness equipment or given exercise in a straight line all the way down the hall. For example in one long straight line I may have the following spaced out appropriately: Aerobic step, jump jacks, bicep curls (dumbbells), calve raises, sit-ups, push-ups, lunges, water break, jog back to start, rest 30secs. Depending on the width of your hallway determines how many fitness lines you can have. Students rotate through the fitness line moving one spot up on the signal, once students finish their way through the line they walk/jog/sprint back to the begin, rest a rotation, and then start again.  

Reaction Games: place a beanbag in the middle of partners and call out a way for the students to react. Example: Grab with Right hand, place beanbag on left knee OR have students in small groups and place a beanbag in the center. Call out different things like touch your ears, right hand on top of your head, hop up and down, students perform what is called and on the word “GO” students try to be the first to grab the beanbag.


Do you have tables in your way?

Try doing a rhythm activity using the popular cup song. This is my usual “we’re in the cafeteria today” activity. It’s simple, fun, and all you need is a cup per student. If you are unfamiliar with the cup song, YouTube would be a great resource for you. There are many different versions, it would be easier learned watching then me trying to explain it here. This activity can be done on the floor as well and afterwards, our students like to try and make up their own patterns.

Add It Together: This game is played like “rock, paper, scissor,” but it’s a game to practice math! To start have the students pair up together and sit down (if using desks, one stands and the other sits in the desk). Partners first need to determine which one will be even and which one will be odd. To begin play the students will say, “Add it together” and put up any number of fingers 1-5, then the two students add up their fingers and determine if it’s an odd number or an even number. The winner gets up and finds a new partner who is sitting down. Have older students? Change the game to Mul-ti-ply same game but students multiply the number together.

Speedstack Stations: this is another one of my go to activities when we have tables in the way. Set up a various stations and have students rotate through.


Access to technology?

I love it when I am able to incorporate technology into my PE classes. A PE in the classroom lifesaver is YouTube. There are tons of popular dance games from gaming systems where the students can follow a long. The Sid Shuffle is one of our favorites. Search for it. 

So the next time you find your PE class displaced from your gym, and weather doesn’t cooperate, smile and know you have a plan C. No Gym, No Field, No Problem!


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