Archive for September, 2015

Tips to Prevent Bullying in Recess

Monday, September 28th, 2015

Two Boys Fighting In School Playground

Bullying can threaten students’ physical and emotional safety at school and affect their ability to learn and concentrate in class. Opportunities for bullying are found all over the school campus but in this blog we’ll focus on steps we can take to prevent bullying during recess.

Recess is the time when students get a break in their day to connect with their friends, participate in unstructured physical activity and get some sunshine and fresh air. Kids look forward to recess and are excited to get outside to play, but it is not a positive experience for everybody. With a large number of kids and a limited number of adults, recess has a lot of time and many opportunities for bullying to occur. It doesn’t have to be that way.  Here are some strategies to prevent bullying at recess and allow all kids to move and have fun.

Provide age-appropriate activities and equipment

  • Students should feel comfortable participating and have access to developmentally appropriate games, equipment and facilities
  • Need some ideas? Ask your PE teacher for activities and check out the SPARKabc’s program, including resources for recess.

Provide a variety of activities

  • Teach students a variety of activities to play during recess because they spend so much less time outdoors they haven’t learned the types of activities to do during unstructured times- outside of team sports
  • Set up activities for students to encourage them to participate in a new game- maybe something they haven’t experienced before

Active supervision

  • Encourage supervisors to be mobile, constantly moving around the playground area so they are visible and kids know that they have support nearby
  • Teach students how to identify problems and the process for communicating issues with recess supervisors

By keeping students engaged and active we can work to prevent bullying before it starts so kids can be physically active, have fun and feel successful during every school day.

For additional bullying prevention resources, visit the new School Specialty Blog:

For additional recess resources, read this article on the SPARK Blog:

Tips to Prevent Bullying in Physical Education

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

High school sports

Bullying can threaten students’ physical and emotional safety at school and affect their ability to learn and concentrate in class. Opportunities for bullying are found all over the school campus but in this blog we’ll focus on steps we can take to prevent bullying during physical education class.

There have been numerous studies about bullying in PE and one of the common findings is that children who are bullied during physical education class are less likely to be active.  Not only less active in their current PE class, but as adults later in life as well.

Why does bullying occur and what does it look like in physical education?  Students get picked on for being overweight, having lower skills than others and for being picked last when it is time to choose groups or teams.  Types of bullying include verbal attacks, excessive aggressiveness, or exclusion or avoidance during activities. As a teacher, with so much activity going on and kids moving around the gym, it can be challenging to always see or hear it happening in your classes.  So instead of reacting to the problems, how can we prevent them?

Choose activities that keep all students active

  • When students are engaged in activity they are moving and having fun which reduces the amount of time they have to watch and critique others.  Bullying happens during down time so keep transitions short and lessons active!

Assign groups and partners before class

  • This reduces the chances of the same person always being left out, picked last, or stuck with the same partner or group every time

Teach and reinforce social skills

  • By increasing appropriate behavior, we can teach kids how to demonstrate the social skills we expect of them.  Teach these skills throughout the school year and look for examples of them during the lessons that you teach.

For additional bullying prevention resources, visit the new School Specialty Blog:

Sportime Innovations Leader Passes

Friday, September 18th, 2015

BTraub photo

Barry Traub, longtime Sportime development leader and product innovator extraordinaire, has passed away after many years of battling the effects of a serious diving accident in the early 1990’s. The injury slowed him, but never stopped his passion for product development. Barry was instrumental in the growth of Sportime into an internationally known Physical Education leader. He also launched the Abilitations Special Needs catalog following many conversations with his physical therapist during rehab after his accident.

His passion for wanting to change the way PE is taught was always burning bright. He was responsible for hundreds of product introductions and innovations over the years, as well as patents and copyright registrations of catchy product names. Barry will be missed by his Sportime/SPARK/School Specialty friends, his PE teacher friends, and, unknown to them, by students of all ages who had a chance to be more successful at learning skills because of his innovative mind.

Barry’s legacy will live on in the strength of the Sportime PE and Abilitations Special Needs brands. School Specialty is committed to reinvigorating these beloved brands, and to providing innovative solutions for educators so that students of all ages and abilities can learn and succeed.

4 Tips to Motivate Kids to Be Active

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015

You’ve likely heard the statistic before: over one-third of children and adolescents are overweight. That number has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the last 30 years, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This government agency suggests lowering the risk of obesity and its associated health problems through a healthy diet and increased physical activity.

motivating kids to be active

Schools play a vital role in establishing these healthy habits and helping children develop a positive relationship with their health. When thinking about the physical activity side of health, consider these ways you and your fellow educators can help motivate kids to be more active.

Promote Game Play

Physical education is great for children and adults alike, but when children develop a poor relationship with exercise, they’re unlikely to maintain an active lifestyle later in life. That’s why physical activity has to be fun. When it feels more like a game than a chore, students will be excited to get moving!

For instance, physical activity shouldn’t be all about running laps. While running is excellent for your health, few kids will find any meaning behind it. Instead, give them an objective by playing games with them on the playground and in the gym. An aerobic game, such as Aerobic Bowling, will get students running around, but they’ll be more engaged since the game has a sense of purpose and strategy to it.

Don’t forget that you don’t need a gym or playing field to get kids to be active. Kids can get moving with limited space, even if that means minor activities like standing or jumping. For instance, have your students stand in a circle and toss a ball or bean bag to each other. The one holding the object must answer the next question in your lesson. It may not seem like a lot, but simply standing can help combat some of the health issues associated with prolonged sitting, such as issues with blood glucose control, says For more ideas for physical education and activity in tight spaces, see the recent SPARK webinar “No Gym? No Problem!” presented by Chairman Sutherland. You can view the free recorded webinar on

Avoid Using Physical Activity to Reinforce Behavior

Why do you think some students are reluctant to engage in physical activity? Is it perhaps because they view it as a punishment? When educators and parents use it as a punishment, it becomes that in a child’s mind.

For instance, when a student is late for practice, a coach might tell him to do 20 pushups. If they’re taught that physical activity is a punishment for their actions, do you think they’ll continue to enjoy it?

Likewise, the Tennessean points out that withholding physical activity doesn’t help the situation, either. For instance, holding a child in from recess may teach him that physical activity and play aren’t important to his overall well-being.

Don’t Make Everything a Competition

While many games played in PE class are all about one team winning or losing, it’s important that students understand that not all forms of physical activity require competition. If they grow up learning that physical activity is all about the competition, how many do you think will develop a habit of activity when there aren’t sports teams available to them?

Instead, encourage children to find and pursue activities they enjoy. The more they like it, the more they’ll be motivated to do it. For instance, while you can compete in swimming and biking, these can also be individual sports that are a lot of fun when done by yourself.

While a healthy dose of competition is good, it’s also worth exploring ways to promote individualized activities or those that are simply fun to do, like skating.

Consider the Students’ Ages

Each age group requires a different approach to physical activity since they’re all at different levels. Consider these guidelines.

3-5 year olds:

  • Get kids moving every 30 minutes or so.

  • Focus on the fun instead of competition, such as dancing.

  • Limit time spent with technology.

6-9 year olds:

  • Help children set physical activity goals for themselves, and let them pick those goals.

  • Explore numerous sports and activity options so children can decide what they like best.

  • Focus on sportsmanship and personal growth instead of competition.

10-14 year olds:

  • Teach children about their physical activity needs.

  • Begin helping refine movements, such as practicing free-throws instead of simply throwing the ball at the basket.

  • Help children track their goals.

Motivating kids to be active starts with making activity a fun and rewarding experience. How will you motivate your students to be more active?