My main goal in PE class is to keep the kids moving while they are with me. In addition, I am trying to fit in some mini lessons this year that help my students gain an understanding of fitness and give them tools to pursue health and fitness on their own. I keep them short and simple to minimize the time they have to sit and listen. Today I taught a mini lesson on heart rate to my 3rd and 4th graders. I went really well. Here is an outline:
As students arrive I had them lie down on the gym floor and relax. We call this “hawaii” in my class. I timed them lying down for 2 minutes while I talked to them about relaxing each muscle, taking deep breaths, etc. Then I had them sit up slowly and find the pulse in their neck. I explained that the pulse would tell them how fast or slow their heart was beating. Some had a hard time finding it, but hopefully that will improve with practice.
Once everyone had found their pulse, I timed them for 6 seconds while they silently counted beats and then had them multiply their number by 10 to find their heartbeats per minute. I explained the concept of resting heart rate and what it meant.
Then we all stood up and did jumping jacks for one minute. After the minute we took our heart rate again. It was much easier to find this time. We compared the numbers and talked about active heart rate and why we needed to get our hearts there.
I then had them lay down again for 1 minute. Following that minute we took heart rates and compared numbers again. I talked to them about recovery and how healthy hearts could recover quickly.
This was about a 10 minute lesson. I plan to follow up by having them take their heart rates more regularly in class now that they have been taught how. I also talked with them about heart rate as being a way to tell if they were working hard enough (or too hard) during PE. Hopefully it will be a valuable addition to our class time.