Halloween scooter game


Halloween is just around the corner and we like to celebrate a bit in PE.  My younger classes absolutely love this scooter game we call “ghosts in the graveyard”.  They are already asking if we will be playing it for Halloween this year!

Equipment:  about 6 tall cones to mark teams, 1 scooter per team, 20+ small or rounded cones, 12 “ghosts” (I just copied and laminated a clip art), spooky music

Divide your class into small teams of 4-6 players.  Teams should line up on one side of the play area.  On the opposite side, scatter the round cones.  This is your “graveyard”.  Hide ghosts randomly under the cones or “tombstones”.  On signal (music starting), one person from each team will ride the scooter down and check under ONE cone.  If they find a ghost they bring it back with them.  Otherwise, they just scooter back.  Hand the scooter to the next person and repeat.  I play the length of one song or you can count ghosts as they are found and quit when they have all been collected.  Count up the ghosts, then have a few students help hide them again.  After they have been hidden, I have all my students close their eyes while I mix things up so no one knows where they are.  Repeat and repeat.  You could keep score but I just let them count and declare a winner each round.

Have a fun and active Halloween!

Posted in 1-2nd Grade, 3rd - 4th grade, Games, Latest Post | Leave a comment

Motivate families to move with a FUN RUN!


A fun run is a great way to motivate your students to move and to get their families involved.  If planning a fun run seems intimidating, here are some steps to break it down for you:

* Remember that it doesn’t need to be a huge event.  Keep it simple!

*Put a committee together.  Most people don’t mind helping if they just have a small chunk of the job to do.  Break things into smaller pieces and delegate.  Use the list below and give each committee member one assignment.

*Keep your purpose in mind.  This post is written for those wanting to inspire families to move together.  Make adjustments if you are trying to raise money, be competitive, or have other goals.  (fun runs can be multi-purpose)

Committee tasks:

  1.  Choose a date.  You can’t please everyone.  Remember your purpose.  Fall runs are great to kick off a year of activity.  Spring runs can give your students a goal to work for.
  2. Design your route.  For a fun run,  you do not need a certain distance (like a 5K).  Find a route that works and is safe for your area.  Avoid busy streets and too many confusing turns.  For an elementary run it is a good idea to have a short cut route for younger students and a longer, connected route for the older ones.  Check at your local city offices for regulations regarding events like this.  You will probably need approval.
  3. Advertise!  Flyers, pump up the kids at an assembly, posters around town, etc.  Make sure your whole school community is aware of your exciting event.
  4. Volunteers.  Beyond your planning committee you will need volunteers the day of the event.  Passing out any registration materials (if used), manning street corners and crossings, water and snack stations, and the finish line are places that volunteers can be used.  Having some cheerleaders along the route is also great (teachers with noise makers!)  Enlist the help of other teachers at your school, parents, and even older siblings.
  5. Water and snack stations.  Snacks are optional for a short run and do add expense.  You will want to plan one water station midway and one at the end for runners.  If your route has any challenging sections, you may want a boost for that area.  For example, you could give out a couple of pretzels at the top of a hill.
  6. Prizes.  Again, this is not necessary, but kids do love prizes.  Keep your run non-competitive for families by giving a prize to everyone who crosses the finish line.  Our school uses licorice ropes with a gold chocolate coin glued on like a medal.
  7. Timing.  Don’t worry about official timing or individual times.  Post a big timing clock and interested kids can see their time as they finish.  Simple!
  8. Registration.  This can also be eliminated to simplify.  If you want to charge a registration fee, I recommend charging a flat family rate to encourage all to participate.  Fee can include a racing number, coupon donations from local businesses, t-shirt or water bottle, etc.
  9. Make it an event.  Also optional, but it is motivating to have fun things for families to do as they finish the run.  Food trucks, a local band, game areas, stretching station with a local mascot, anything that makes finishing the race a party!

Don’t forget to practice for the fun run by doing some running in PE class.  This can be a great motivator.  Getting families moving together can be life changing for kids!

Posted in 1-2nd Grade, 3rd - 4th grade, 5th-6th Grade, Latest Post | Leave a comment

Hopscotch and Making Recess Better!

One of my goals this year is to improve recess time at my school.  The students are all expected to be outside during recess, but otherwise, they can do whatever they want.  Unfortunately, some do not choose to be active during that time.  So, from my corner of the world as PE teacher I am trying to help encourage activity.  Here are some things I have done:

First, I put together this awesome recess cart!


The school paid for the cart, and I had enough excess equipment to stock it.  I presented it to all my classes during the first week of school and talked about care and expectations with the equipment.  Now it is watched over by an aide at recess and students can check out any equipment.  I told my students it is like a “recess library”.

Next, after any activity we do at PE, I try and point out to them that this is something they could do at recess if they enjoyed it.  I want to expand their thinking on ways to be active.  Even if you don’t want to join in the soccer game, you can still be moving.

And, this week I have been teaching old-fashioned classic games that seem to have died off a bit.  I taught them 4 square.  This one is always popular, I just needed to clarify basic rules.  Then, I taught tetherball.  Our tether balls had been removed because the kids were sitting on them and snapped all the ropes.  Our custodian fixed them for me and I am trying to teach the kids how to play the game properly.  They are very excited about the tether balls joining the recess cart soon.

Finally, I taught them the real rules of hopscotch.  I attended a conference last fall and learned the “big kid” rules.  I couldn’t believe how fun and challenging it was!  I’ve gotten eye rolls from my 5th and 6th graders when I told them we were going to play hopscotch.  Once I teach them the kick-out method, they have loved the challenge and had a blast with it.  And, some of my more difficult, hard-to-move kids have found something they like!  I highly recommend this classic, fun, and challenging game.  You can watch a video of the kick-out method here

Hoppy taws are also available for purchase on the hoppy taws site.

Give it a try!  I bet your students will love these classic games too!


Posted in 1-2nd Grade, 3rd - 4th grade, 5th-6th Grade, Games, Kindergarten, Latest Post | 2 Comments

UNO movement

IMG_6385My youngest classes love dancing and moving to music.  I use music on a daily basis to add energy and enthusiasm.  Here is a fun and easy game that is great for a quick warm-up, time filler, or even a small space activity.

I use UNO cards, but any type of cards would do.  Assign each color a movement.  We did:




green=slither like a snake

wild=free choice

Pass each student a card and have them move into their own space.  When the music starts they do the movement assigned to their card color.  When the music stops, they freeze.  I then call out “trade” and they trade cards for a new color.  Repeat.

I used this during the first week of school to practice freezing on signal.  I made sure they were quiet and looking at me before we traded again. This made it a fun way to practice my rule of freezing when the music stops.  My 1st and 2nd graders loved it!


Posted in 1-2nd Grade, Games, Latest Post, small space, warm-ups | Leave a comment

Independent warm-up and assessment

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I usually lead my 1st – 4th grades in a warm-up routine.  This week I wanted to see what my 3rd and 4th graders had learned; so I gave them more independence allowing me to observe and assess.

Before starting I set out 4 cones.  As the class arrived, I instructed them to go sit by a cone with no more than 7 people at a cone (adjust numbers as needed for class size).  I use this method a lot when I want to start them out in groups so this is easy and quick for my classes.  Here is the warm-up activity:

Make a big circle with each small group.

Decide who will go first.  That person demonstrates a stretch or muscle movement that can be done in place.  Everyone joins in on the stretch and the group members count out loud slowly to 15.

Move around the circle giving everyone a turn to be the leader.  Be thinking about what your stretch will be so no time is wasted.  No repeats allowed.

When you are finished, send a representative from your group to me for your next instruction.  I gave them a sequence of 3 cardio activities to finish up.

This gave me an opportunity to watch and see what stretches they used and even circle around and ask what muscle they were stretching.  Great for assessment and the students enjoyed the independence.  I had zero discipline issues and they worked hard.

For more ideas for using students as leaders, check out this post: Team captains

Posted in 3rd - 4th grade, Latest Post, Lesson Ideas, stretching, warm-ups | Leave a comment

Rotating fitness challenge


I have some fitness testing coming up for my 5th and 6th grade classes.  I wanted to do something today to give them a good workout and help them prepare.  This lesson turned out great!

I have my classes divided into 4 groups of 7-8 students.  (read about my method here).  I had the students sit in their groups and assigned them each to write a fitness circuit.  Their circuit was to have 2 cardio and 2 strength activities.  We talked about what the word cardio means and some examples of both kinds of activities.  The circuit was to rotate in a cardio-strength-cardio-strength sequence.  They did not have to assign a number of reps because we would be timing the rotations for 1 minute.  I also told them that if they wanted equipment for their exercises I would get it out for them (jump ropes, yoga balls, etc).  I gave them half sheets of cardstock, a marker, and a cone to attach it to when done.

Once the circuits were written, groups began with their own.  I played music that paused every minute which signaled them to move on to the next exercise.  When they had finished their four exercises they moved to the next cone and started on that group’s circuit.  They continued to rotate around until they had completed all four circuits sets.  I rewarded them for working hard about halfway through by dropping the intervals to 30 seconds (they were getting tired!)

What made it great:

The kids loved writing their own circuits!   They were so proud of them and worked harder.

And they really did work super hard!  I’m not sure if it was the ownership that did it, but even my hardest to motivate put in a full effort.

Using a timer instead of a set number of reps allowed students to work at their own level and pace.

Easy!  I didn’t have to spend hours writing up exercises, cutting, laminating, etc.

Good for promoting teamwork.  I put the “warm-up captain” in charge and they love having a job to do.

As my students left class, they were commenting on how much fun it was and asking if we could do it again.  I love it when fitness turns fun!

Posted in 5th-6th Grade, Fitness Tests, Latest Post, Lesson Ideas | Leave a comment

Aerobic Challenge


I try to plan all my PE lessons so that my students are moving a lot and getting aerobic exercise while having fun.  Every once in a while, especially as they get older, I like to teach more pointedly about aerobic health.  I tried this lesson today with my 3rd and 4th grade and it went great!

Start with a warm-up that gives a lot of aerobic activity.  I used this game which my kids love.  I followed the warm-up by having the kids sit down and telling them that today we were going to do an aerobic challenge.  We talked about the word “aerobic” and what it means.  They knew that it meant some kind of exercise, but not that it was referring to exercise of the heart and lungs. We had a good mini discussion.  Then I gave them all a written aerobic challenge of about 10 activities. Instructions were to work on their own, to do the activities in a random order (to help space them out and share equipment), do exercises correctly, and to move clockwise for anything that asked them to move around the perimeter of the gym. I handed out the papers and let them work.  They worked really hard and had a great time.  I instructed them to pay attention to their heart and lungs working as well.

You can make-up your own aerobic challenge.  Mix in some fun activities that involve favorite equipment.  Here are some ideas:

jog around the perimeter of the gym 3 times

jump rope for 100 jumps

dribble a soccer ball (or deck ring) around the gym perimeter

toss and catch a yarn ball while moving around the perimeter

work on a trick with a hula hoop for 2 minutes

side slide around the gym

complete 35 jumping jacks

give 10 people a high five

hold a plank for 1 minute

grapevine around the perimeter 2 times

For fast finishers:  For fourth grade and up I gave them a piece of scratch paper and pencil.  They were told to write down their own exercise routine of 5 exercises that they could do at home.  I challenged them to do their routine every night.  If they had time, they could do their routine now.  For my third graders, I let them have free time with any equipment we had out (my fastest finishers had about 5 minutes of time left).

My students really dived into these activities and we had a fun and productive class.  Hopefully it will help them remember  the meaning of the word “aerobic”.

Posted in 3rd - 4th grade, 5th-6th Grade, Fitness Tests, Latest Post | Leave a comment

Mixing math and movement

Math and movement are easily combined to make cross-curricular games that reinforce principles learned and give skill practice in a fun way.  A math movement game works best when a math concept has been taught, is mainly understood, and just needs some more practice time.  I sometimes reinforce what is being learned in the classroom by adding some math to PE class.  These types of games also work well in the classroom.

My 3rd graders have been learning about comparing fractions in class.  I used this game to reinforce the learning.

I made about 40 cards with numbers on them, including fractions.  I made sure to include equivalent numbers and fractions and have a good variety applicable to the skill level.  My cards went from 1-10 with numbers such as 1/2, 2/1, 3/4, 3/3, 3/1, 5 5/5, 6, 6 1/2, etc.  I spread the cards upside down all over the gym floor.  I told the students we were going to make a human number line.  They were to choose a card and then find their place on the line.  I designated one side of our center line as zero and one side as 10.  I gave some instruction as to moving if someone joined the line that was less than your card.  If they had a card that was equivalent to another card, they were to give that card to the first person and either find another card or help someone else.  There was lots of thinking and discussion as the students arranged their human number line.

Here are some points that make this work well:

*If a student is not sure where their number goes, pre-instruct them that they can work together and ask a friend.  I also tell them they can ask me.  That gives me a chance to do a little teaching if a child is not sure about their number.  I carried a whiteboard so I could draw a visual to help students understand a number.

*Leftover students who have given their card to an equivalent partner, helped me check the number line to see if it was correct.  We ended up with a little group checking the line and discussing problems.

*Your brightest students are going to naturally take on a leadership role, telling others where to fit in.  Let them do this to an extent.  They are learning from each other.  Step in and pause the situation if you want another student to stop and think about where he/she fits in the line.


*Even though I tried to talk through it as I checked the number line for accuracy, not all students can see the final result.  In a classroom, I would solve this by having them line the numbers up on a board and then sit back down so all could see and participate at the end.


This game can easily be adapted to fit any grade level.  Upper grades can include cards that have both fractions, decimals, negative numbers, etc.  Younger grades could have just whole numbers.  Fit your curriculum.

Posted in 1-2nd Grade, 3rd - 4th grade, 5th-6th Grade, Games, Latest Post | Leave a comment

Noodles and Fitness

Foam pool noodles are great for many games and activities.  They are also fun for mixing rhythm and movement.  Cut pool noodles in half to make them the right size for your students and try some of these cardio/rhythm activities.  These moves really get your heart rate up!

Jumping Jacks:  Think of a regular jumping jack.  When hands are down, tap the floor.  Then click noodles overhead.  Students can match the beat of a song with the taps.  They love making a loud noise as the noodle hits the floor.

Partner Click:  Tap both noodles on the floor, then click your right noodle with the right noodle of a partner facing you.  Tap both noodles again and follow by clicking left noodles with your partner.  Repeat.

Rainbow:  Tap both noodles on the floor to your right, then swoosh the noodles overhead and tap on the left.  This looks really cool if everyone does this together.

Encourage big  exaggerated movements for extra cardio work.  Play fun music and have students match the beat with the noodle taps.  We  Will Rock You is a great song for these moves.

Now add some strength moves and you will have a very physical class period.

Push ups:  Lay a noodle on the ground and get in push up position with the noodle under your chest.  Touch your chest to the noodle on the down part of the push up.

Leg lift:  Sit on the floor with legs straight out in front of you.  Hold the noodle in between your feet with about 6 inches of the noodle sticking out from the sole of your shoe.  Lean back into a V position.  Raise and lower legs just touching the noodle to the floor and your legs go down.

Lunges:  Set the noodle on the floor and take a big step forward.  Lunge down and touch the noodle with your knee.  Switch legs and repeat.

Superman:  Lay on your stomach on the floor.  Hold your arms straight out in front of you and hold a noodle in your hands.  Raise chest and legs off the floor.  While holding this position pass the noodle hand to hand going around your back and then across the front.

This lesson is guaranteed to get your students working hard in a fun way!  Warning:  you’ll work hard too — this lesson leaves me exhausted!

Posted in 1-2nd Grade, 3rd - 4th grade, 5th-6th Grade, Latest Post, Lesson Ideas | Leave a comment

Create interest by adding a talent show to your lesson

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Do you want your students to deeply engage in a new skill?  Or want to encourage them to work harder and longer?  Try adding a “talent show” portion to your PE class.  I tried this last week with fun results.  I set out jump ropes and hula hoops in the gym.  I told my 3rd and 4th graders that I wanted them to become an expert at one trick.  They were to choose a piece of equipment and practice with it for about 18 minutes.  Their trick could be on their own or with a partner.  I saved about 10 minutes at the end of class for a “talent show”.  At talent show time I had them sit on the floor with hands off equipment.  We used the stage and had volunteers come up one or two at a time and show their trick.  Almost everyone volunteered.  We had some really fun and creative tricks!  The students loved showing their stuff and really worked hard during class time.  It also stopped the constant stream of kids trying to get me to come watch them during class.  You could try this with other types of equipment too.  Basketball dribbling tricks, tossing and catching tricks, etc.

Posted in 1-2nd Grade, 3rd - 4th grade, 5th-6th Grade, Latest Post, Lesson Ideas | Leave a comment