Muscle mini lesson

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This year in PE we are focusing on a different muscle every month.  Since I don’t want to spend any movement time having my students sit and listen, I talk about our muscle as we do our stretches.  Here is an example of a mini lesson I did this week focusing on the calf muscle.

Introduction:  We are starting a new month today so that means we have a new muscle to learn.  What was our muscle last month? (quadricep)  Where is the quadricep? This month we are going to learn about the calf.  When I stand on tip toes you will be able to see my calf muscle.  Stand in front of the group flat footed, and then go to tip toe.  Did you see the calf muscle engage?

Activity:  Everyone stand up right where you are and try standing on your tip toes.  Do you feel you muscle engaging.  Can you see the outline of your calf muscle.

Activity:  Teach a stretch for the calf muscle:  Take a big step back.  Make sure both toes point forward with your body.  Push your back heel to the ground.  Bend your back knee a little if you need to to feel the stretch.  I walk around and correct form.  Talk about the need to keep toes pointing forward to actually stretch the right muscle since this is a common mistake in form I see with my students.

Activity:  Ask for suggestions of motions that use the calf muscle and do some of them such as running or jumping rope.

As the month goes on, we will repeat our calf stretch every class period and emphasize movement activities that engage the calf muscle.

My students are loving this.  They were actually the ones who reminded me that it was a new month and asked what our new muscle would be!

Fire and Ice Tag game

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My first and second graders love tag games.  This is a fun spin on frozen tag.

4-5 blue yarn balls

3 red yarn balls

The blue yarn balls represent “ice”.  Students with ice are “it” and try and tag others.  If you are tagged by ice you must freeze.  I have them put their arms up so everyone can tell they are frozen.  The red balls represent “fire”.  Students with fire try and save frozen students by unthawing the ice (tagging with red ball).  Stop the game every 3-4 minutes and trade out who is playing fire and ice.

Visual aids for PE

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I am working this year to add some science into my PE classes so I decided to focus on learning the names of major muscle groups.  I made this fun bulletin board to add interest and add a fun visual image to my gym.  As you can see, we are going to focus on a muscle group each month.  As the school year moves along, I will add more labels to my HULK visual.  This popular character not only catches the attention of my young students, but his bulk makes the muscle groups easy to see.  I also showed my students a realistic photo of the muscular system inside a human body as I taught a mini lesson on muscles.  When we do our warm-up session, I focus on some stretches and activities that use the quadricep and talk as we stretch.  It has been a fun way to introduce some vocabulary.

How was your summer?

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School is back in session and at my school PE specialty starts the very first day.  I like to get the kids moving in between some talking about rules and expectations.  This is a game I played on the first day, very first thing as the students walk in my door.

I spread poly spots randomly around the gym.  1 poly spot per student, no extras.

As the students arrive, I instruct them to stand on a spot and freeze.

I start the game by saying something I did during the summer.  For example, “this summer I went swimming”, “this summer I ate a popsicle”.  Then everyone who also did that thing has to move off their spot and quickly find another spot.  The person left without a spot gives the next summer activity and everyone moves again.  I encourage them to use broad statements so that lots of people have to move.

It is a fun, simple game with no “outs”.  The students like sharing their summer activities.  We played for about 5 minutes to get things going this year.

organizing teams

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I teach over 800 students every week, 30 minute classes, about 30 students per class.  I need efficient ways to divide my students into different size groups for different activities.  Sometimes I want like abilities together  and sometimes I like to mix skill levels.  Here are a couple ideas I use to divide classes up into teams:

1.  Play music and have the students just walk or dance around the room.  When the music stops they stand toe to toe with # (designate size of group by holding up number of fingers) of people.  I sometimes add restrictions such as wearing the same color, #boys#girls, etc.  Sometimes I repeat 2 or 3 times, telling them each time that they can’t have someone in their group who was in it the last round (good way to mix up friends)

2.  For outside, as the class arrives I give them a fitness task to complete.  As each child finishes I hand them a jersey to put on.  I have all my colors out and pre-counted so that as I hand them a jersey, I can mix up who is wearing what color.  Since my most athletic kids tend to finish the fitness task first, I can give each one a new color and have them evenly distributed.  Same idea with my slow students.  I end up with teams evenly divided and marked.  I sometimes have them do an activity with a partner wearing a different color jersey to keep them guessing!

These are my favorite and easiest team divisors.  How do you divide classes?

Pass the Pig

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I like games that disguise that we are working on fitness.  In other words, I like to get them moving in a fun way so that they don’t realize they are working out.  This is a fun and easy game that targets core fitness.

Divide class up into teams of about 5.  Teams lie down on their backs in a line with shoulders touching.  I use a rubber pig or chicken (1 per team).  My students love any game where they get to use these — they are just fun!  Beginning player puts the pig in between his/her feet and passes it to the next person.  No hands are allowed!  If the pig gets dropped, it must be picked up with feet.  Once a player has passed the pig, they get up and run to the end of the line so that the line keeps rotating centipede style.  I play music and see how far down the gym each team can get their pig before the music stops.  If they get to the end, they must start the pig coming back.

It is a quick 5-minute game that my students really like.

Builders and bulldozers

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This is a commonly played game with many different names, including “wreck-it-ralph”.  If you haven’t tried it, the game is very active and always a favorite with my littlest students.

Set-up cones and/or bowling pins randomly around the play space.  Assign about one-third of the class to be “bulldozers”.  The bulldozers run around and knock over the pins.  They may only use one hand and no kicking is allowed.  The rest of the class play the “builders”.  The builders set up the cones knocked over by the bulldozers.  I use fun music as a start/stop signal.  Play several short rounds trading the builders and bulldozers every time.  They all love being the bulldozers!

My classes love this game!  It really gets the heart rate up too!  My dislike is the amount of equipment for just a short game.  You need a lot of cones/pins.  I usually tie it with another activity where we already have those items out.  Have each student grab one or two pins and set them somewhere on the floor to make set-up easy.

Show Me the Money

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Show Me the Money is a fun warm-up game that incorporates a little math.  I used fake bills in $1, $5, $10, $20, and $50 denominations.  Each bill had and exercise written on the back such as “complete 20 jumping jacks” or ” do a wall sit for 60 seconds”, etc.  Higher value bills equal harder exercises.  I laminated mine for extra durability and multiple uses.

I divided the class into groups of 4-5 students per group.  An easy way to do this is to space cones around the gym.  As the students arrive, I instruct them to sit by a cone with no more than 4 people at a cone.  On my signal, one person from each group runs to the money pile and chooses a bill.  They return to their group and the entire group completes the listed exercise.  Another group member then runs to the pile for another bill.  At the end of the designated time, the groups add up their money and see which group has the largest amount.

This was a fun and engaging warm-up activity for my 3rd and 4th grade classes.

9 Square — with a twist!

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IMG_3166This is a fun indoor game idea that my students absolutely loved!  It is a take-off from traditional 4 square and made use of the large stability exercise ball that I bought last year.  You need stability balls for each player and one beach ball per grid.

I made 3 9-square game boards on the gym floor using floor tape.  Each individual square was 4 feet by 4 feet in a 3×3 grid.  Each square holds a player sitting on a stability ball.  The center square is the “9” or king spot.  The king serves a beach ball by tossing it in the air.  The goal of the game is to keep the ball in the game grid and in the air.  A player is out if they:  catch the ball, double hit, spike ball to the ground, let it hit the floor in their square, or hit it out of bounds.  When a player gets out, that player moves out of the grid, a waiting player moves into the “1” spot (right corner) and all lower numbers than the out player rotate up.  The rotation starts in the right corner and moves around the edge and into the middle.  The game is that simple.  It is easy to explain and get the students going.  My kids voted to have hits with the head legal, but knees and below were out.

I made 3 grids in my gym so 27 students are playing at a time.  I usually have 1 player per group that is “out”.  The rotations happen fast so no one is sitting out for long.  They loved the game just for the novelty of bouncing on the stability ball while they played.  Now that the marking is done and the game familiar, it is a favorite go-to game when we have a few extra minutes.  Even my most reluctant players had fun with the game.  The beach ball is a non-threatening piece of equipment for those that are timid around balls.  I actually have a student with a ball-phobia who played the game with no stress.  9-square is a new favorite in my gym!


Crazy basketball

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This is a just-for-fun type game I used to round up my basketball unit.  My 5th and 6th grade students had fun with it and it scaled the competitiveness down for my more timid students.

Each team had 2 lists, 6 types of balls, and two die.  One list had 6 possible choices of where to shoot the ball.  The other had 6 possible types of ball they could use.  Person 1 rolled the first die and selected the matching ball.  Then they rolled the second die to find where they would be shooting the ball.  They would then attempt to make that shot.  If they missed, the same shot/ball selection went to the next person on the team.  Repeat until the shot was made.  Once a team member made the shot, the next person up would roll again and the team began attempting the next shot.  I had a scoreboard in the middle where they would run and add their points as shots where made.  Shots were worth 2 points except for the 3 point option that was worth 3 points.

Example of lists:

1. pig                                                              1.  corner shot

2. basketball                                                 2.  free throw line

3.  small foam ball                                        3.  middle lane (inside key)

4.  mini kick ball                                         4.  3 point line

5.  football                                                    5.  lay-up

6.  dodgeball                                               6.  free choice

*note:  “pig” referred to some rubber pigs that I have.  My students always love mixing them into a game; they are just funny.  However, we ended up taking them out of this game because they just kept getting stuck in the net.  I changed #1 to “free choice”.

Review:  I liked that the game reinforced some of the court positions.  Some of my students still didn’t know what a lay-up was, so it gave me a chance to do some re-teaching where it had been missed.  I also liked the team factor as the students worked well together and had fun.  The negative was that it didn’t get them moving as much as I usually like to do and it encouraged some bad shooting form when using alternate types of balls.