My classes have been practicing their frisbee skills — catching and throwing. I used this game as a final activity for my 3rd and 4th graders and as a lead-in to ultimate frisbee for my 5th and 6th.
Divide class into groups of 4 (groups of 3 or 5 also work). Each group makes a playing field by using poly-spots to mark corners of a 10×10 box (I teach them to take big steps and count off 10 paces). Each group has one person that is defense and the other 3 are offense. Offense tries to keep the frisbee from the defense. Basic rules are:
1. person with the frisbee may not take steps
2. must pass the frisbee within 3 seconds
3. players must stay 3 feet from each other
4. if the frisbee is thrown out-of-bounds, the thrower becomes the defense
5. if a catch is missed or dropped, the catcher becomes the defense
6. if the defense intercepts the pass, he or she chooses who becomes the next defensive player
I add the option that if I blow the whistle, a new person becomes the defensive player. With my younger classes, I had to help some groups understand the idea of the defense trying to get in the middle of the offensive players to intercept; and also showing the offensive players how to move around when they don’t have the frisbee in hand. Once they get the hang of it, they have a great time. My older classes were playing within seconds and kept an active game going. It was a fun spring-time activity.
Here is a fun, fast, and easy game idea:
I labeled old tennis balls with numbers 1-8 (or how ever many groups you want to have). Then labeled five or six extra balls with random symbols (triangle, smiley face, star, etc). I divide the class into groups and line them up behind cones. Each group draws a numbered tennis ball and that becomes their group number. I then throw all the tennis balls out into the gym. The first person in each line runs forward and tries to find their numbered ball. When they do they bring it to me and I give them a point value. The first person to bring me a ball gets 8 points, the second 7 points, and on down. After they have found their ball they can go and grab symbol balls one at a time. Each of these are worth 5 points. When all the balls have been picked up, I gather them, the team adds up their points and the next person moves forward in line. I throw the balls out and repeat. We play until each group member has had a turn to chase. The groups have to add on to their points each time so they use some math skills.
The main rule you have to emphasize is that they can only have one ball in their hands at a time. Depending on the level of competitiveness and the students’ ages you can let them toss or kick unwanted balls around the room making it harder for other groups to find their ball.
The kids really get running. It is mainly luck to find their ball so anyone can win the game. My class had a lot of fun playing it and all had their heart rates up. I love the math element with the points.
This year, our school was able to participate in the National Archery in the Schools Program. This program is designed to bring the sport of international style archery into the school-day (4-12 grades). Because I started knowing nothing about archery, I was not sure of how everything would work. I wanted to be involved in this program because I wanted to bring something into my PE program that was new and different and everyone would be starting as a beginner.
Archery became a favorite at our school! The students loved learning the sport during PE class and all were anxious to try and learn. We had try-outs for an after school team and over 100 students tried out (about 1/3 of the eligible students). 40 students made the final team and they practiced for 8 weeks before attending the state tournament. Our team took first in the state! It was a rewarding and a unique experience for so many of the students. I found that students succeeded in archery that struggle with every other sport. It turned things around for some of my more negative students.
The challenge of teaching archery during the school day was the size of our gym versus class size. I have about 36 students at a time and only 10 could shoot at once. I organized the classes into 4 groups. One group would be shooting at targets, one worked on archery-related fitness skills, one practiced the motions with string bows, and the last group was allowed to watch the shooters.
Our school was able to initiate this program due to a grant offered by the Utah Division of Natural Resources. The Utah DNR provided us with the equipment needed and also the training for me to become a certified instructor. Grants are available in many states.
To learn more about the NASP program, visit their webpage here.
Have you ever seen jump bands? They are a new piece of equipment I have been trying out. They are long, stretchy bands with a handle on each end. Two players stand across from each other and hook the handles of 2 bands over their feet (kind-of like chinese jump rope). Those two players then jump in rhythm — in, in, out, out, in , in, out, out (feet together, feet apart). The jumper(s) jump opposite the band holders — feet apart for 2 beats then together for 2 beats. It is a very active activity for both jumpers and holders. After my students got the basic rhythm down, I let them get creative. Some did cartwheels or break dancing moves through the moving bands. Other crossed four bands into an “x” and got a group going around in a circular motion. We ended by lining up 8-10 sets of bands on the gym floor. All holders jumped the rhythm together. The rest of the class lined up and went down the row with this rhythm — one foot in, 2nd foot in, 1st foot out, 2nd foot out. It was a lot of fun and great exercise.
This year I grouped my fifth and sixth grade classes into squads and it has been a great management, motivational, and learning tool.
Each class (about 36 students) is divided into 4 squads of 8-10 students. Each squad has a team captain, a warm-up captain, and as-needed, another sport-specialist captain. When they arrive at class they immediately put on a jersey in their assigned color. The warm-up captain leads the small group in stretches and other exercises for about 8-10 minutes. They remain in their squad the entire class period, usually participating as a team in the activity.
What I love about this:
-The teams are already divided so no class time is used to organize.
-I give points everyday for students being dressed to move, listening to directions, following warm-up leaders, good sportsmanship, etc. Every 6 weeks the winning team gets a prize so they are motivated in any area I emphasize by giving out points.
-Leadership training: The team captains have been amazing and really watch out for their teammates. The love having jobs to do and responsibilities. I change the captains every trimester.
-Sports captains: I have assigned each captain a sport-specific captain as needed. For example, when we did a soccer unit, each team had a soccer captain. The soccer captain moved his/her team thru drills and helped teach. They did a great job and it is a fantastic outlet for the athletically advanced students.
-Set-up and clean-up: I can set-up while the groups are warming up on their own. Each group is assigned a clean-up job and they get points for doing a good job so clean-up has become fast and easy.
-Sportsmanship: I give out points for sportsmanship and they are also given the opportunity to give points to each other as they play games if their opponent demonstrates good sportsmanship. I hear a lot more compliments and positive feedback as they try to earn those points.
I could go on and on because this system has made my life so much easier and I am so impressed with the students’ abilities to lead and work together. It took a little training, but has definitely been worth the effort.
This game worked out great as a follow-up to work with soccer skills. Some previous lessons and practice with dribbling, trapping, and punting make it a productive game.
Game was set up on a baseball diamond. Instead of bases I used hula hoops on the ground, with the exception of home plate which was a standard cone. Fielding team played traditional baseball positions. Kicking team needs 5 soccer balls. First kicker comes to home plate with 2 balls. The first ball is punted (I let them drop kick or kick from the ground as they are comfortable). The 2nd ball must be dribbled to 1st base and trapped in the hoop before the fielding team gets the punted ball trapped in the base. No hands are allowed — kicks only. Next kicker again has 2 balls, one punted & one dribbled to base. Fielding team can get either player out by trapping the punting ball into a base hoop. Game continues with the possibility of 5 balls being in play at once (1 on each base, kicker with punted ball and dribbling ball). To score at home, the dribbled ball had to hit the cone before the punted ball. It was a good paced game with some real focus on the dribbling and trapping. Everyone had a chance to kick and practice. Baseball and soccer fans alike seemed to enjoy the game.
*note: I had 8 players on a team. I did not play 3 outs. Every player kicked and then teams rotated. Strongest punter should kick last as they person needed “home run” to score.
The school year is coming to an end and I am trying out some new games with my classes — just some fun, active stuff to end the year. Today my 5th and 6th grade classes played this game of steal the flag with a twist:
1. Nerf footballs were used instead of flags
2. Divide the class into two equal teams and give each team different color flag belts
3. Set up field into a large rectangle with 4 cones then mark a middle line with another two cones. place a football near one corner cone and another in the opposite corner. The other two corner cones will act as a “jail”.
4. Team #1 tries to steal the football from team #2 by crossing over to their side of the field and grabbing the ball without getting their flag pulled. They can run the football back or pass it to another team player.
5. If a player has his/her flag pulled while holding the ball, the ball is placed where the flag was pulled.
6. If a pass is made that is not caught, the ball goes back to its home spot at the corner cone.
7. When a player has his/her flag pulled they go to jail on the opposite team’s field. They can be rescued by another team mate touching their hand and walking them back.
8. If the football makes it to the opposing team’s field without a flag pull it is a point for that team and both footballs go back to the starting position.
The kids had a lot of fun playing and most stayed involved. The passing gave the traditional game a new twist. There was a lot of running and activity.
I set the rule that the kids can’t “puppy-guard” the ball. They must stay at least 5 feet away. Still I always have a lot of arguing about this rule and one team thinking the other is too close, etc.
Playing volleyball with 36+ students in one small gym mandates some modifications. More than two teams are needed and I don’t like a lot of down time for waiting students. I am using rotations similar to what we did a couple of weeks ago with handball. I modified the rules to simplify things and involve as many students as possible.
I formed 4 teams of 9. Two teams are on the court with 3 rows of 3. Team 1 serves & when that ball hits the floor, Team 2 serves. Then, team 1 moves to team 2 side; team 2 goes out; team 3 comes in. Each team serves again. Team 1 rotates out, team 3 moves to the other court side; team 4 comes in. Repeat each 2 serves forming circle rotation. It goes quickly and smoothly once the kids get the hang of it.
1. Server gets 3 attempts. He/she can move closer to the net as needed. Cannot change servers in the middle of a turn.
2. A new person must serve each turn. The same person cannot serve twice until everyone has served once.
3. Play begins after a successful serve. Either team can score, not just the serving team. When the ball goes down, a point is scored.
4. Out-of-bounds is simply the walls, ceiling, steps. If it hits one of those things, it is a point for the opposing team. If the serve goes out, they get a re-try.
5. No double hits — same person cannot hit the ball twice in a row.
I start each team with 5 sportsmanship points. These points are lost if derogatory comments are made about a person’s team or teammate. This helps a lot to keep the atmosphere positive, especially when someone is unable to successfully serve the ball. I also remove a point if kids go on the court when their team is not up to play, etc.
Team captains are responsible for the rotation of players and making sure everyone has a chance to serve. I also encourage them to inspire sportsmanship within their team.
This turned out to be a lot of fun! I loved watching the kids help each other on their serves and cheering for each other. It moved really fast and as the rounds continued, they got better at hitting back and forth.
I have a lot of volleyball fans in my 6th grade classes. I wanted to work on the sport, but we really don’t have enough room for games; nor do we have very many volleyballs (only 1 real one!) I am planning on trying some modified games next week, but decided to do some skill work first. I divided the class into groups and had them rotate thru 5 stations. Each group had a leader that was experienced in volleyball so they could help out along the way. I like giving the kids leadership opportunities whenever possible. Here are the 5 stations we used:
#1: serve: underhand serve to the wall
#2: sets: one partner lay on their back on the floor. The other would drop the ball and they floor person would return it with a set. Repeat about 10 times then trade places
#3: bumps against the wall back and forth with a partner
#4: bumps: group in a big circle, bump the ball back and forth, call “mine”, try and keep the ball in the air
#5: workout: list of fitness activities to do (their workout for the day)
I rotated the stations every 5 minutes. I rotated through the room helping where needed, mainly with the “sets” as they had a hard time with these.
Cons of this lesson: There are always a few kids who goof off rather than following instructions at each station. As I mentioned, we are short volleyballs so we had to use blow-up beach balls for some stations and had trouble with those losing air. Short amount of time to work on skill
Pros of this lesson: Most of the kids stayed engaged. Group leaders could help with the skills. Gave the kids a touch of the sport in a fun way. A lot of movement, so those that weren’t interested in volleyball stayed involved.
All in all, this lesson doesn’t go too far with the sport; but for the setting I have it worked really well. I will follow it up with some modified volleyball games in the next weeks to practice the skills some more.
My 3rd and 4th graders wanted to learn how to double-dutch jump rope. I knew that to really master this skill it was going to take more instruction than one teacher could give. I arranged with the 6th grade teachers for small groups of 6th graders to come in during my younger classes and help out. This arrangement has been great for many reasons:
1. The 6th graders are better at jump rope than I am and are really necessary to help teach this skill.
2. Using these older kids as role models has increased interest with the young students. This is especially true with the boys. I make sure each set of mentors has at least one boy to spark interest with the 4th grade boys, who sometimes consider jump rope as a girl-thing.
3. 6th graders are learning important life skills on this end of a PE class. I talk to them before about how this experience will be frustrating at times because the skill is so new to these younger kids. They have handled things so well and are doing a great job as teachers. The 3rd and 4th graders have made huge progress in just one day.
4. It is fun to see the older and younger kids interact.
5. Behavior — the 6th grade students aren’t allowed to come help if things are up to par in their regular classroom. One of their teachers expressed to me how motivating it had been for a couple of her students.
6. Improved teacher-student ratio. Each of the 3rd and 4th graders is getting more attention and help.
This has definitely been a win-win experience! I am so proud of my 6th graders for the good work they are doing.