Cat and Mouse Parachute Game

Parachute activities are a favorite with all my students.  They always cheer when I bring out the parachute!  This is our very favorite game:

Cat and Mouse

Class sits in a circle with the parachute covering their legs.

One child is the mouse and crawls under the parachute.

Another child is the cat and crawls on top of the parachute.

The rest of the class makes small waves with the parachute to hide the mouse.

The cat has to try and find the mouse and tag him/her.

Switch parts for cat and mouse and repeat.


The downside is that all the children want a turn to be the cat/mouse.  It does move fairly quickly and I can give most of my class a turn in about 10 minutes playing time.


Animal movement warm-up idea

Last week in class, I taught my animal movement lesson plan (see here).  Today I wanted to do something new with my warm-ups so I tried this:

Set up 6 cones spaced apart in the gym

Label each cone with an animal movement:  crab walk, frog hop, puppy run, etc

Let students choose a cone to start at (I limit the number of how many can start at the same cone)

Play fun music

Students move from cone to cone matching the animal movements on the cone.  Each time they reach a new cone, they change their movement.

It was a very successful warm-up.  Their favorite animal movement was the 3-legged dog!


Beginning Toss and Catch Lesson

I taught some beginning tossing and catching skills to my kindergarten classes this week.  The sequence went smooth and the students had a great time.  I began by placing poly spots around the floor and had them all sit on a spot.  I then demonstrated tossing a bean bag with one hand and catching it with two hands.  I had previously taught them levels for tossing:  low is eye level, medium is as high as you can reach, high is towards the ceiling.  For this activity, I told them to toss at a medium level.  I stressed for them to stay standing on their spot to encourage them to make careful and straight tosses up.  After a few minutes of practice, I showed them how to toss, clap hands once, and then catch.  They loved trying that one.  Next I collected bean bags from every other person and demonstrated tossing underhand to a partner.  The cues I taught were: swinging arm straight back, stepping onto opposite leg, ending with throwing hand pointing at partner.  More practice time.

For an ending activity we put the bean bags and poly-spots away and played a game called “Clean Your Room”.  I have also heard it called “Snowball Fight”.  Divide playing space in half.  Dump soft yarn or foam balls equally on both halves of the room.  I tell the students they are brothers and sisters and the gym is their bedroom that they share.  They all want their half of the room to be clean.  Class is divided in half and assigned a half of the gym to “clean”.  I start some fun music and they try and throw all the balls out of their half of the room.  When the music stops, they freeze and see who has the cleanest room.  It is crazy and fun!  We just played for a couple of minutes, but it was a happy and active way to end the lesson.  All classes asked to play it again next week.  *tip:  I have a rule that they can only touch one ball at a time

The lesson took about 25 minutes.  With a 5 minute warm-up it was perfect for a 30 minute class period.

Balancing Act

I tried a new lesson last week with my 1st and 2nd graders.  I drew up  balancing tricks on cards to have them work on body control.   Easy stick figures that show arm and leg positioning will work fine.  I tried the lesson 2 different ways:

Day 1:

I held the cards up and explained the move.  We all did the tricks together.  Then I put on some music and had them move like the animal I called out (see previous post).  When the music stopped, they would freeze in the position on the card I was holding up.  They got bored of it pretty quick and I felt like they weren’t trying very hard on the balancing poses.  So, the next day I mixed things up a bit with much better results (different kids, same age group)

Day 2:

I taped the cards to cones and divided the class into 12 small groups (about 3 kids each group).  They then rotated around to each cone and tried the pictured balance.  I would walk quickly around the circle and check each group, making suggestions and challenges as needed.  They loved it!  This day they were really engaged in holding the poses and challenging themselves.  I was able to give help when needed and everyone stayed busy.  With about 5 minutes left at the end of class, I gave them each a beanbag and challenged them to try balancing the bag on their head while walking or trying some of the poses we had just learned.  It was great to seem them remember the poses and try them again with the added challenge of keeping a bean bag in place.

I did the lesson this way the rest of the week and it went great every time.  Here is a list of the poses we tried:

Kimbo Stand:  arms crossed at chest, cross one leg over the other and touch toe to the ground

Front Scale:  lean forward, arms out to the sides, raise one leg straight behind

Backward Balance:  lean back, arms out to sides, raise one leg straight in front

Sideways Balance:  lean to one side, arms out, lift one leg to the side

Knee Raise:  bend knee, raise and hold

Stork:  place foot on opposite thigh, arms straight out to side

Head Touch:  kneel on ground, touch forehead to ground and raise arms above back

Knee Balance:  kneel on both knees, arms out, lift toes off the ground

One-Knee Balance:  same as above on one knee

Shoulder Press:  shoulders and feet on ground, raise hips up

Knee Stand:  on hands and knees, raise one leg straight behind and one arm straight in front

Challenge:  balance on one body part (2 body parts,etc)


Animal movement

This week I tried a fun new activity with 1st and 2nd grades. I placed poly-spots all around the gym floor. Each child stood on a spot. I then held up a card with an animal movement. When the music started, they had to move around the gym like that animal. When the music stopped, they froze on a poly-spot in a pose like that animal. I would walk around and comment on their poses (they loved that — trying to come up with a unique way to show the animal). It was a very active game with lots of different muscle use. They loved pretending to be the different animals.

Here are some of the animals we tried:
Kangaroo: long, big jumps
Puppy walk: on hands and feet, keep head up to see where you are going
Cat walk: like puppy, but try and arch back
Bear walk: heavy and slow on hands and feet
Frog jump: use hands to push off the floor, try and go high
Seal walk: bellies and legs on the floor, pull body with hands (flippers)
Elephant walk: stomp feet and use arms to make a trunk, slow and heavy
Donkey kick: kick back feet in the air (make sure and stay in your own space)
Inchworm: on hands and feet — walk feet to hands, then walk hands out, repeat
Crab walk: belly up using hands and feet

I let them make animal noises while they were moving. When the music stopped they had to completely freeze (voices too). It was perfect for this cold winter week when they haven’t even been able to go outside for recess!

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Scooter tip

I learned the greatest scooter tip at a collaboration meeting this week. I have always had trouble with the smaller children smashing their fingers when the scooter tips and they are holding on to the handles. Ouch! Another teacher suggested having them hold onto the seat; handles go out around the hand. It works great! If a scooter tips the handle actually protects the hand instead of smashing it. I used scooters today for the first time with kindergarten and had no smashed fingers.


I have been using scooters this week with my lower grades (K-4). The kids love the scooters! It was especially fun introducing them to kindergarten for the first time. I begin the lesson by demonstrating sitting on the scooter and pushing with feet or hands. Then I state 2 DON’Ts for scooter use: no standing, no running and jumping onto the scooter on belly or knees. I also give warning to watch out for hands as I have had a lot of little fingers get smashed by tipping scooters. Finally, I let the students know that when they hear my whistle, they are to get off their scooter, flip it over (wheels up) and sit cross-legged with their hands on their knees. Otherwise, it is impossible to get their attention again with all the noise. After instruction time, we follow this sequence:

1. Exploration: I let them get their scooter and do whatever they want for a few minutes. In my younger grades, I did this for the bulk of the time since they are just being introduced to the scooter and need time to experiment.

2. Stomach: I demonstrate riding the board on my stomach 3 ways . . . pushing with my hands, pushing with my feet, and pushing with both crocodile style. I also show them how to spin in a circle. Then we all experiment with those ideas for a few minutes.

3. Knees: I show them one knee on the board with the other foot pushing, two knees on the board and push with your hands, two knees on the board and move just by wiggling your body.

4. Tootsie Roll: Hands are in push-up position and toes are on the scooter pulling it along with you. This one has been new even to the older classes. It is harder to do, so they usually don’t last too long with it, but enjoy trying it out.

5. Shapes: I do this step just with my K-1. I have them imagine that there is a big shape or letter on the floor and trace it by scooting around on the imagined lines.

6: Scooter tag: Grades 1 & 2. I establish a scooter color that is “it”. If you get tagged by a tagger you must switch scooters and become a new tagger. I require them to be on their knees or sitting so that hands don’t get run over.

7. Bean Bag tag: Grades 3 & 4. I have started calling it “scooter dodge-ball” which makes them like it even more! There are 2 teams on opposite side of the gym. Each player has a scooter and a bean bag. I set up a “jail” with cones on each side. Players tag each other by sliding a bean bag into someone’s foot. If you get hit you must go to jail on the opposite side. Players can be rescued from jail by a teammate sliding a bean bag to them from their side of the gym. Once rescued, they can return to their team and resume play. I have them return by scooting with their bean bag held above their head as a free pass while they cross the gym. All players must be sitting on their scooter with feet on the ground. I encourage them to move around a lot. I help the game get moving by playing myself once a few kids are in jail and rescuing them so they understand that part.

It has been a fun week. I am going to use the scooters again next week starting with a repeat of the game already learned and then adding a new game.

*Note: One thing not to try is having them spin in circles on their scooters. A lot of them do this anyway and I allow it, but as a group I had a few children complain of sick stomachs after. Letting them come up with their own ideas here seems to eliminate those with sensitive tummies from trying it. Also, inchworm is the opposite of tootsie roll (hands on scooter in push-up position, feet pushing). This move led to a lot of running so I eliminated that one too.

Hula Hoops

I pulled out the hula hoops today with 1st and 2nd graders. They are a fun and active prop with a lot of possibilities. Here is the sequence we followed:
1. Explore: Give them all a hoop and let them try anything for a few minutes.
2. Jump: Use the hoop like a jump rope. Hold in front with two hands and turn overhead, jump as the hoop passes under your feet. Can also try turning the hoop backwards or going back and forth.
3. Spin: Traditional hula hooping, turning hoop around on hips. I also gave them the freedom to try spinning around one arm, on their neck, etc.
4. Roll: I set up two rows of cones and had them try rolling their hoop along the floor weaving in and out of cones.
5. Relay: Line the kids up in rows. 2 kids hold the hoop; one inside with hoop at waist and holding it in front of him/her, and one on the outside holding the hoop like reins. Run together down and around a cone and back, then pass to the next 2 team members.
6. Around: Have the children hold hands in a big circle. Place on hoop on the wrist of one child and have them pass the hoop all the way around the circle without letting go of hands.

All my students stayed active and involved. In between each activity I would blow my whistle. I had instructed them before we started that when the whistle blew, they were to drop their hoop and sit down inside it and freeze. It worked great for management!

bean bags

Here is a progressive lesson plan idea I did with my 1st and 2nd graders this week.

10 minutes: fitness
5 minutes: Give them each a bean bag and have them practice tossing and catching (to themselves). I stressed that the goal was to catch the bag not how high they could throw it. They needed to do a medium-high toss so that it stayed straight and they could do a good catch. I also set some ground rules such as no throwing at the basketball hoop.
5 minutes: I had them try different locomotor skills with their bean bag on their head such as walking, skipping, and galloping. I beat a drum at different speeds and they were to move along with the drum and freeze when the beat stopped without losing their bean bag. We also did a few with the bag on the shoulder (sliding), back (walking), and back of hand.
5 minutes: I divided them up into groups of 5-6 and had them line up behind a cone. Each group had a hula hoop a few feet in front of them. In turn, each child tried to toss the bean bag into the hoop. When each group member had tossed, they counted how many were in the hoop. Repeat.
5 minutes: I added a circular, bowl type cone a few feet in front of the hoops that were already there. I used a little imagination telling them they were crabs under a spell and the only way to become human again was to find a bean bag treasure and place it in the magical underwater shell. The game went like this: each team member, in turn, had to crab walk to the hula hoop from the cone. All the bean bags were in the hula hoop. They used their crab pincher to pick up a bag and place it on their stomach, then crab walk to the round cone (magical shell) and place their bag in it. Once it was there, they were human again and they could run back to their group and tag the next person to go. Goal was to get the whole team human again.

This lesson went like clock-work. All the kids were engaged and active the whole time.


It is time to introduce jump ropes to my little people (Kindergarten, first, second).  After 10 minutes of fitness, 25 minutes of jump rope was a little long so today I tried this:

We started on one side of the gym.  I told the children we were going to do an “all jumping” obstacle course.  I set up one row of jump ropes on the floor in a line.  Second row was hula hoops.  Third row was a line of cones.  Then I demonstrated the course:  jump side to side over the line of jump ropes.  The hula hoops were “lily pads”.  I told the students to frog jump from lily pad to lily pad.  This made for tired legs so I then told them to shake their legs out before starting the third row.  The final row was to jump high over each cone.  Then sit against the wall on the opposite wall.  Whenever we do obstacle courses, they get to start when I touch their head.  That way I can control the flow and keep things moving along.  It moves fairly quickly so there isn’t too much wait time.

After the obstacle course, I brought out the jump ropes.  I told them they had to try three things and pass them off . . . not to me, but to themselves in their head. 1. swing rope correctly over their head 2. swing rope, let it land, then jump over 3. swing and jump three times continuously.  Once they could do those three things, they could try a trick.  I demonstrated a “jumping jack” (feet in and out while jumping rope).  I passed out ropes and let them start working.  The sequence seemed to help those that haven’t jumped before while giving those experts something to work on.  Their is a huge variety of skill level at this age!  Every few minutes I stopped class and demonstrated a new trick (or let a student do it) for them to try.