We have started a basketball unit in 5th and 6th grades. I wanted a fun way for them to work on the skills before we jumped into games. I have my classes previously divided up into 4 groups (see this post). I made four sets of game cards. Each card had a skill to work on, a points value, and how I wanted the group to work on it (either individually, partners, or as a team). Each of my teams has a basketball captain and a team captain. I chose basketball captains who had previous basketball experience. The basketball captain would select a card, read it and demonstrate the skill. The team then followed the directions on the card to practice the skill. The team captain recorded the points earned from completing the card.
Some examples of cards:
Partners: practice chest passes with a partner for 2 minutes. (the captains had timers so they could time the group)
Team: score 20 points as a team, use correct shooting form, each person on the team must complete at least one basket
Individual: dribble a basketball waist high to the music trailer and back
I also included cards that were fitness based like running around the field, doing wall push-ups with a basketball in your hands, curl-ups, etc.
The activity was very successful. The teams all worked hard and the students responded well to learning from each other. I circled the groups and gave help as needed. My principal even walked by one day and commented on how productive and organized the class was. She asked me later to explain the system to her. I was also impressed with how the students interacted with each other. I teach a boy who is deaf and handicapped. His team captains worked together to make sure he stayed involved and was part of the group. It was impressive!
We did this activity for two weeks (each class has 30 minutes per week). Then we began small 3 on 3 games. All the students were ready to play and had some understanding and comfort with the game so they could all be involved. Ideally, I would have stayed with the skills activity for another 2 weeks. However, time constraints permit me from staying on one unit for too long.
I divide my 5th and 6th grade classes into 4 teams or squads (about 8 students per team). I assign each team a captain. I have found this to be helpful in so many ways. I live in a very active sports-oriented community. By 5th grade many of my students have been playing organized sports for years and are very skilled. Some of these highly skilled students can be a behavior problem for me. They can be cocky, intimidating to others, like to show-off or goof off, etc. This is not always the case, but it is a common management problem I have faced. Giving some of these kids an important job makes a world of difference. I spend a bit of time at the first of the year talking about the importance of teamwork and what I will see a good team doing. I talk about how important the captain is and how much extra work I give them and how I need their help. The following week, I divided up my groups and announce the captains. It literally changes how these kids act and work in class. They become wonderful leaders! The job focuses them on helping other students and helping their team succeed.
Some of the things I have my captains do:
Teach skills: I will demonstrate a new skill and then have each team shadow their captain a certain number of times to practice. Or, have the captain work with their team to practice something we are learning.
Score keep: If we are playing a game, I give the captain a notebook and have him/her keep score.
Timers: For an activity that requires a timer, I will give my captain a timer and have him/her be in charge of keeping time for their team.
Clean-up: I leave a note in their notebooks about what their teams’ clean-up job is. They pass the info onto their team and lead the clean-up.
Assigning others: If it seems as if the captain is doing too much, I just ask him/her to give the job to someone else. “choose someone on your team who has been working hard and have them be in charge of the timer”
I rotate captains about every 2 months so that many get a chance during the year to have the job. My students will work hard for the honor of being the captain. I don’t always just choose skilled students, but look for those that can lead and are good team players.
Other class jobs are warm-up leaders, and skill-specific captains.
My students have really responded to this system. I love to see the leadership emerge!
Today was the first day of school. One of the things I like to work on with my students as we begin PE class is finding partners quickly. I also like to mix movement in with learning the rules. This game helped give us some movement today, practice staying in our own space, and practice finding a partner quickly.
Begin by having your class spread out onto your gym space. I talk to them about staying in their own “bubble” and not interfering with anyone else. Play music and have them walk around staying in their space. When the music stops, they freeze toe-to-toe with the closest person. Shake hands with that person while saying “my name is ______ and I like to _________”. The partner then responds with their name and something they like to do. Start the music again and repeat. As partners are found, I teach them to come to the middle if they do not have a partner. As they arrive in the middle, partners can easily be found. I also work with them on inviting someone in to their partnership if there is an odd number and someone left out.
Some things I watch for and comment on as we play:
How are they moving? Some of my students will walk like they are in the hallway with arms folded, slow walk. This is PE! You move your arms in here! By the end they are really moving and laughing.
Are they partnering with only girls-to-girls and boys-to-boys? You can mix things up by requiring students to find a partner with the same color shirt, same height, etc.
Are the following the established guidelines? If I have told them to walk, they must walk and not run.
Are they staying in their own space? Running into walls or onto the stage steps is not acceptable. Arm in arm with another person is not acceptable.
It is a great time to establish some boundaries while having fun and mixing with their new classmates.
Once they learn how to find a partner quickly, dividing them throughout the year becomes easier. Next week we will practice in a similar fashion, but vary the number in the group.
Sharks and Lifeguards is a classic parachute game. I have been hesitant to play it in the past due to the potential roughness of the game. I decided to give it a try this year with some added caution. It was very successful and a favorite for my students.
Students sit in a circle around the parachute with their legs straight out in front of them. Their legs are underneath the parachute. A few students (I started with 3) are “sharks” and swim underneath the parachute. The sharks try and pull beach dwellers under the chute by grabbing their legs. A few students (equal in number to starting sharks) are “lifeguards”. The lifeguards circle the parachute on foot and rescue those being pulled under. I instructed my students that if they felt themselves being pulled under, they must let go of the parachute and raise both hands and call to a lifeguard for help. They cannot kick at the shark or hold on to anything, but they can try to scoot away and get extra help from the lifeguards. The lifeguards help by grabbing the victim’s arms and pulling. Once a player is pulled under, they become a shark. If they are saved, they stay in position with legs under the chute. As the game goes on more and more players become sharks. When 90% of the group is under the chute, I blow my whistle for everyone to come out and we start a new round.
Play outside on the grass versus inside on a hard gym floor
Instruct sharks that they may initially only grab one leg — this way the person being pulled will not get yanked too hard and bump their head on the ground
Have those sitting around the parachute wave it up and down slightly to keep air moving underneath — it gets hot under there!
I played the game with 2nd thru 5th grade and they all had a blast!
Here is a quick and easy game that doesn’t require a lot of equipment. It also can be done in small spaces so it works well for classroom teachers that want to get kids moving a bit.
Students get in groups of 5-6. They form a big circle facing in and take a wide stance with the side edges of their feet touching. Place a playground ball in the center of the circle. Players try to score a “goal” by rolling the ball between someone else’s legs. They can block with their hands, but cannot move their feet. They should try and keep the ball rolling, not bouncing in the air (for safety).
My students had a lot of fun with this once they got the ball rolling fast. You can add movement by having the student who lets a goal get by run a lap, etc. Scoring is optional depending on the level of competition you want to have. Quick and easy games like this are great to have in your head when you need a quick filler.
We have some fun new equipment at our school this year: plastic scoops and wiffle balls. I used the equipment in two separate lessons with my youngest classes.
Each person has a scoop and their own ball. I start by having them roll the ball on the floor and try and scoop it up without using their hands. I demonstrate that they need to scoop the opposite direction from where the ball is rolling. That way it rolls into their scoop. Next we toss the ball out of our scoop, let it bounce once or twice on the floor and then catch. For those that get comfortable with that, I show them how to toss, spin around, and then catch off the 2nd or 3rd bounce. Finally, we move into tossing and catching without a bounce. We start with low tosses (head high), then move to medium (high as you can reach), and then high tosses. This lesson works best indoors on a gym floor.
This lesson moves the students into using the scoops and balls with a partner. I start by having them all choose a scoop. Then I have them find a partner that has a different color scoop (good way to mix them up!). You can then move the students through a sequence of activities. Vary your sequence depending on time, ability, and interest.
1. roll the ball to your partner — scoop it up without using hands
2. low toss the ball to your partner; if you catch it take a baby step farther away and try again
3. repeat #2 with higher tosses
4. stand back to back with your partner, each take a giant step away from each other, the partner without the ball turns and faces their partner’s back, the partner with the ball tosses the ball over head for their partner to catch
5. try jogging slowly and tossing the ball back and forth
I did this lesson outside on the grass. My students especially like #4. Fun for a spring day!
This game is a favorite with my classes and is especially effective with 3rd and 4th grades. It is good for cardio exercise and to get the class mixing together and playing with lots of different friends. It is also a fun use of new equipment.
I use pool noodles for this game. I buy them on clearance at the end of the summer and then cut them in half. For less than $20 I have a class set.
Game: Give each student 1 noodle. Students meet with a partner and tap their noodles 3 times together. They then try and bop their partner’s ankle or foot. Each time a foot is hit, start a new round. At the end of three rounds students must find a new partner. When they need a new partner, I have them go to the center of the room and hold their noodle in the air as a signal. Since the rounds go so fast, they are constantly mixing and finding new partners.
Management: When teaching the game, I demonstrate what is an appropriate hit and what is not. Be specific on rules! I also spend some time on the method for finding a new partner. I stress that they duel with the first person to become available. Once these things have been taught, you can throw out the noodles and have a quick 3 minute game whenever needed.
Notes: I have found that 1st and 2nd graders have a hard time holding on to the noodles; their hands are too small. The game has also worked well with my 5th graders. My 6th graders tend to get aggressive fast so keep the time played short. The game is fun outside or in. As always, fun music adds to the energy.
I pulled out an old set of “UNO” cards this week and used them for a quick and easy warm-up with my K, 1, and 2 classes.
Give each child an UNO card. Assign each color a locomotor movement. For example:
green = slither like a snake
blue=swim (arm motion)
Start some fun music and the children perform the locomotor movement associated with their card. When the music stops, they must trade cards with someone. Repeat about every 30 seconds. Not only was this a good warm-up, but a chance for me to assess locomotor skills. I focused on the skip and watched those students only. If someone was having a hard time with it, I could step in and help them out and the rest of the class was still busy and active.
Does anyone else have young classes that are obsessed with the movie Frozen? My students love it when I put on Frozen music for them to listen to while we are doing our activities. We have danced with ribbon wands to Frozen, learned to scarf juggle to Frozen, rolled balls, etc, etc. They can’t get enough of that soundtrack! And while I am getting sick of it, I love it when they are all engaged in a physical activity while singing at the top of their lungs a Frozen song! So, here is an old game with a new Frozen twist . . .
The game is usually called “stuck in the mud”. I changed it to “frozen tag” and we listen to “Frozen Heart” while we play. Choose 3-4 children to be taggers. I use a yarn ball for them to tag with. When the music begins, they try and tag other students. When you are tagged you must freeze with your legs spread apart into a bridge. To get “unfrozen” another student must crawl under your legs. Play for a few minutes and then change-up who your taggers are. You can also designate the movement used — instead of running you must fast-walk, skip, gallop, etc.
I usually play tag games only outdoors, not in the gym, to avoid injuries on the hard floor. I found that using this music, which has a slow beat, slows the game down enough to keep the movement at a safe level for indoors.
In 5th and 6th grade we have been working on the volleyball skills of bump and set. At the end of each class period we played this game with a beach ball to practice the skills in a fun way.
Divide gym space into 4 squares. I did this using poly-spots. Class is divided into 4 equal teams (about 8 students per team) and each team positions themselves in one of the squares. I serve a beach ball into the playing area. Teams try and keep the ball from hitting the ground in their square using sets and bumps. We also practice a couple of volleyball rules: no double hits and no carrying the ball. Anytime the ball hits the ground the team in that square gets a point (least points wins) and the ball returns to the side to be served in. By serving the ball in myself I can vary the area the ball begins in to maximize keeping all students involved. My students have gotten quite good at keeping the ball in the air and loved playing this game. We played it for just five minutes at the end of each class. It is quick to set up and clean up as well as lots of fun.
I also tried it with multiple balls in the air — doesn’t work as good, too confusing
Could potentially try it using a real volleyball