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
I have been doing more circuit work this year and the kids really like it. Warm-up circuits are great because they give my students some autonomy (they choose where to start), are fast paced, and get everyone moving. When my students enter on circuit day, they see 10-12 cones set up in a big circle. They can choose where they start, but I give a limit to how many can be at one cone (usually 3-4 students per cone). Each cone is labeled with an exercise. As students move around the circle they should be alternating between a stretch, a cardio exercise, and a strength exercise. For example, calf stretch – jumping jacks – plank. Once the students have chosen their beginning cone, I give a start signal. Every 30 seconds I give the signal to move to the next cone. Use a timer or music with interval breaks to keep consistency on the time. I walk around and correct form as much as I can. When students have gone all the way around the circle, warm-up is done! My students look forward to circuit day and they always work hard.
This year in PE we are focusing on a different muscle every month. Since I don’t want to spend any movement time having my students sit and listen, I talk about our muscle as we do our stretches. Here is an example of a mini lesson I did this week focusing on the calf muscle.
Introduction: We are starting a new month today so that means we have a new muscle to learn. What was our muscle last month? (quadricep) Where is the quadricep? This month we are going to learn about the calf. When I stand on tip toes you will be able to see my calf muscle. Stand in front of the group flat footed, and then go to tip toe. Did you see the calf muscle engage?
Activity: Everyone stand up right where you are and try standing on your tip toes. Do you feel you muscle engaging. Can you see the outline of your calf muscle.
Activity: Teach a stretch for the calf muscle: Take a big step back. Make sure both toes point forward with your body. Push your back heel to the ground. Bend your back knee a little if you need to to feel the stretch. I walk around and correct form. Talk about the need to keep toes pointing forward to actually stretch the right muscle since this is a common mistake in form I see with my students.
Activity: Ask for suggestions of motions that use the calf muscle and do some of them such as running or jumping rope.
As the month goes on, we will repeat our calf stretch every class period and emphasize movement activities that engage the calf muscle.
My students are loving this. They were actually the ones who reminded me that it was a new month and asked what our new muscle would be!