Archive for the ‘Physical Activity’ Category


iRun 201

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

Happy high school student standing on track before big race

By: Dr. Derek J. Mohr & Dr. J. Scott Townsend, Appalachian State University

In our last blog, iRun 101, we outlined the scientific training principles, fitness guidelines, and training methods used to help students create individualized training programs, be active on a regular basis at an appropriate level, and achieve their personal fitness goals. Today we will extend the conversation, focusing on how the SPARK HS iRun unit specifically applies these principles, guidelines and methods.

101 Refresher

The SPARK iRun unit is a fitness-based unit designed to promote personal health, fitness and running performance. This unit challenges students to create a personalized aerobic training program based on their personal fitness level and goals.

iRun in SPARK High School PE

iRun is the latest SPARK HS PE program web unit and can accessed on SPARKfamily.com. iRun is considered a hybrid unit, combining aspects of both integrated fitness and games-based units in one. iRun is similar in structure to group fitness units (implements SPARK Fitness Instructor Certification and includes Basic Training and Create Your Own lesson formats) and uses lesson formats from games-based units (Personal Best, Fun-day-mentals Jigsaw, Adventure Race, Event). This unit draws on the best of both unit types to create an inspiring and supportive atmosphere where each student’s goal is to be their personal best.

iRun is comprised of user-friendly activity plans, instructional materials and assessments. iRun addresses SHAPE Standards 1-5.

1. Activity Plans

SPARK iRun Activity Plans follow a step-by-step process to ensure students and teachers are successful.

Step 1. Design – Students work individually or in similar fitness level groups to master aerobic training methods by creating personalized training programs to improve their current fitness levels.

Step 2. Practice & Refine – Students perform their personal workouts and adjust as necessary based on training principles and fitness guidelines.

Step 3. Compete – The unit culminates with a race (5k or other distance determined by teacher and students) where students are challenged to set and meet or beat their own personal goal time.

2. Instructional Materials

SPARK provides all necessary resources to support the successful implementation of activity plans.

  1. Content Cards – Defines components of health-related fitness, training methods and running form.
  2. Scorecards – Organizes multiple team scores and collects running times on one page.
  3. Workout Wristbands – Daily workout plan designed to be worn on student’s wrist, which provides quick and easy access to pacing information.
  4. Racing Bibs – Pre-made racing numbers for use in culminating event.

3. Authentic Assessment: Create a Program

In SPARK iRun, students are challenged to create a program that includes continuous, interval and circuit training workouts. Students create this personalized program by applying fundamentals mastered in basic training instruction. As part of the process, students practice, refine and, if they choose, lead classmates through their created workouts. iRun Create a Program focuses on SHAPE Standards 4 and 5.

iRun Teaching Tips

  • Utilize iRun Pace Chart to ensure accurate calculations as students develop workout pace.
  • Make sure students are racing the clock, not each other.
  • Encourage students to drink water before, during and after a run to ensure proper hydration.
  • Remind students to modify their programs as they become increasingly fit.

Get Equipped

Share Your Knowledge

Have you used a unit similar to iRun? What’s your experience? Any tips or hints you could share? Post a response below and let us know!

Current SPARKfamily members with High School access can find the new iRun unit under High School Web-Based Units. If you are not a current SPARKfamily member, you will receive 3-year access to the digital content when you purchase a SPARK High School curriculum set.

iRun 101

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

High school athletes at starting line for track meet race

By: Dr. J. Scott Townsend & Dr. Derek J. Mohr, Appalachian State University

iRun 101 is the first installment of a two-part blog series highlighting the latest SPARK High School web-unit: iRun.

R.U.N. SHAPE?

SPARK HS’s newest web-only addition, iRun, is a fitness-based running unit designed to promote personal health, fitness and running performance. Regardless of your students’ current fitness levels, iRun will inspire and support each individual student on the pathway to personal success.

iRun takes scientific training principles, fitness guidelines, and training methods and makes them easy to understand so that students can create individualized training programs, be active on a regular basis at an appropriate level, and achieve their personal fitness goals. Read on to learn more about the foundational components of the iRun unit:

Training Principles

A system for developing long-term changes and improvements in fitness levels:

  • Overload – adding resistance or increasing difficulty
  • Progression – rate of overload, resistance or difficulty
  • Individuality – personalized goals
  • Specificity – align program and exercises to personalized goals
  • Reversibility – use it or lose it

FITT Guidelines

Recommendations for providing details to a program:

  • Frequency – how often to workout
  • Intensity – how hard to workout
  • Time – how long to workout
  • Type – which method of training to use

Aerobic Training Methods

The approaches for applying training principles and FITT guidelines:

  1. Continuous – single activity, moderate intensity, extended period of time with no rest.
  2. Interval – single activity, short bursts of high intensity alternated with brief rest periods.
  3. Circuit – a series of different activities performed at high intensity, brief rest at end of series.

Moving On!

Be on the lookout for the iRun 201 blog where we will look at the specifics of the SPARK HS iRun unit, illustrate strategies and identify resources to assist you in successfully implementing this unit in your own program.

Share Your Knowledge!

What are your experiences using aerobic conditioning programs? What advice would you give to someone who is planning to use this type program for the first time? Post a response below and let us know!

Current SPARKfamily members with High School access can find the new iRun unit under High School Web-Based Units. If you are not a current SPARKfamily member, you will receive 3-year access to the digital content when you purchase a SPARK High School curriculum set.

SportFIT 201

Monday, September 11th, 2017

Group of young girls spinning on bicycles in gym

By: Dr. Derek J. Mohr & Dr. J. Scott Townsend, Appalachian State University

Welcome back! In our last blog, SportFIT 101, we provided an overview of SportFIT, which is SPARK’s High School PE high intensity, sport-like training program located on SPARKfamily.com. In this blog, we will showcase the SportFIT unit by sharing resources and tips to help you successfully implement this unit in your own program.

SportFIT Unit Overview

To foster an experience that is authentic, personally meaningful and fun, the SportFIT unit is formatted like a season. The season sequence is outlined below:

Pre-Season

  • Personal Best: Presidential Youth Fitness Program health-related fitness pre-assessment
  • Fun-day-mentals Jigsaw: Students learn and teach each other functional fitness moves

In-Season

  • Basic Training: five lessons, each with exercises to master and a workout to perform
  • Create Your Own: Students design their own SportFIT workouts
  • Adventure Race: SportFIT teams cooperate to complete a series of fitness challenges

Post-Season

  • SPARK Event: Culminating experience designed to bring the unit to a festive end

SportFIT Resources

Like all SPARK HS units, SportFIT is comprised of user-friendly activity plans, instructional materials and assessments. SportFIT addresses SHAPE National PE Standards 1-5.

  1. Activity Plans

SPARK SportFIT Activity Plans follow a step-by-step process to ensure students and teachers are successful. For example, Basic Training Activity Plans include four steps:

Step 1. ASAP. Students begin the day by completing previously mastered functional fitness moves as an Active Soon As Possible warm-up.
Step 2. Basic Training. Students practice, master and assess one another on the day’s exercises.
Step 3. SportFIT Workout Challenge. Students complete a workout using one of three formats: How many? How fast? How heavy?

  1. Instructional Materials

SPARK provides all necessary resources to support the successful implementation of activity plans.

1. Content Cards. Provides pictures and cues for each exercise.
2. Practice Plans. Includes sequential learning tasks and teaching tips for student coaches.

  1. Authentic Assessment

Multiple authentic assessments are provided in the SportFIT unit. An example of one such assessment is the SportFIT Performance Log. As part of daily practice during Basic Training, students are challenged to master the assigned primary exercise (PX), using the log to evaluate form, safety and etiquette. In addition, students calculate an estimated 1-repetition maximum weight for the PX. This assessment process engages students and makes learning more personally meaningful.

SportFIT Teaching Tips

Use the tips below to promote movement competence and confidence in SportFIT, giving students yet another great option for leading an active lifestyle.

  • Maximize Activity. Avoid waiting time by staging teams at different exercise stations.
  • Safety is Critical! Monitor students at all times to ensure safety cues are followed.
  • Technique is Key! Require students to use lighter weights until they master technique.
  • Modify Exercises. Match activities to students’ fitness levels and increase difficulty as students progress.

Get Equipped

Share Your Knowledge

Have you taught a unit similar to SportFIT? What’s your experience? Any tips or hints you could share? Post a response below and let us know!

Current SPARKfamily members with High School access can find the new SportFIT unit under High School Web-Based Units. If you are not a current SPARKfamily member, you will receive 3-year access to the digital content when you purchase a SPARK High School curriculum set.

SportFIT 101

Monday, September 4th, 2017

Three fit and beautiful young women lifting weights in a fitness club. Focus on the first girl in front.

By: Dr. J. Scott Townsend & Dr. Derek J. Mohr, Appalachian State University

SportFIT 101 is the first installment of a two-part blog series highlighting the latest SPARK High School web-unit: SportFIT.

Sport of Fitness

What would you get if you combined the best aspects of sport with the best aspects of fitness-based activities? You would get SportFIT!

SportFIT is SPARK’s high intensity, sport-like training program designed to improve each participant’s overall fitness. SportFIT relies on the unique characteristics of sport to motivate participants to fully engage in fitness-based activities, making the experience more authentic, personally meaningful and fun. For example, the SportFIT unit is configured like a sport season with pre- in- and post-phases, participants are called “athletes” and are part of a team, workouts are formatted as individualized, formal competitions, and the season ends with a festive culminating event to celebrate each athlete’s progress.

SportFIT Focus

In SportFIT, athletes address a wide range of fitness including:

  • Health-related: aerobic fitness, muscle endurance, strength and flexibility.
  • Skill-related: skill or task-specific fitness such as power, speed, balance, agility, etc.
  • Functional: daily-living fitness to perform activities like bending and lifting without fatigue.

SportFIT Workouts

Individualized workouts in SportFIT follow one of three formats:

  • How Many? A series of exercises is repeated as many times as possible in a set amount of time.
  • How Fast? Defined sets and reps of multiple exercises are completed as quickly as possible.
  • How Heavy? Defined sets and reps of one exercise using heaviest weight possible while maintaining proper form is completed.

Types of Exercises

SportFIT workouts include any or all of these types of exercises:

  • Cardio: performed for extended time; rope jump, running, cycling, rowing, etc.
  • Bodyweight: uses own weight for resistance; push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, lunges, etc.
  • Weight-based: uses equipment for resistance; kettlebells, medicine balls, dumbbells, etc.

Get Your FIT On!

Stay tuned for SportFIT 201, where we will showcase the SPARK HS SportFIT unit, sharing strategies and resources to help you successfully implement this unit in your own program.

Share Your Experience!

What are your experiences using or participating in the sport of fitness? What advice would you give to someone who is planning to implement this type of unit for the first time? Post a response below and let us know!

Current SPARKfamily members with High School access can find the new SportFIT unit under High School Web-Based Units. If you are not a current SPARKfamily member, you will receive 3-year access to the digital content when you purchase a SPARK High School curriculum set.

Tabata 201

Monday, August 7th, 2017

young woman using a skipping rope

By: Dr. Derek J. Mohr & Dr. J. Scott Townsend, Appalachian State University

In our last blog, Tabata 101, we discussed the Tabata Protocol. Today we will extend the conversation, focusing on how to teach Tabata in a physical education setting.

Imagination Station

Imagine a PE class that operates like a wellness center (see this blog for more details)… one where motivated students choose from and enjoy participating in a variety of fitness stations (weight training, yoga, Tabata, fitness walking, cycling, etc.), where each station is led by certified student-instructors, focused on helping their peers develop personal fitness skills, knowledge and confidence. Read on to make this dream your reality…

Tabata Refresher

Tabata is a high intensity interval training (HIIT) program designed to get maximum fitness benefits in a short duration workout, making it a great option when you are pressed for time or want to add variety to a training program. Accordingly, Tabata can be a meaningful part of a well-rounded HS PE program.

Tabata in SPARK High School PE

In the SPARK HS PE program, Tabata is part of a larger unit called Group Fitness. As such, Tabata, like all other group fitness “mini-units,” consists of two progressive instructional activities:

  1. Basic Training

Here students master fundamental safety protocols and movement techniques associated with the unit content. In SPARK Tabata, students use the Content Cards to experiment with and master basic exercises. This may take multiple lessons as the teacher leads students through the mastery process. Tabata Basic Training focuses on SHAPE Standards 1, 2 and 3.

  1. Create a Workout

Here students create a series of personalized Tabata workouts by applying fundamentals mastered in basic training. As part of the process, students practice, refine and then lead classmates through their created workouts. In SPARK Tabata, students are challenged to create nine 4-minute Tabata workouts (3 workouts with 2 exercises, 3 with 4 exercises and 3 with 8 exercises). Tabata Create a Workout focuses on SHAPE Standards 4 and 5.

Tabata Teaching Tips

  • Encourage students to give Tabata a chance to help them improve aerobic and muscle fitness.
  • Focus students on safety, performance cues and personal fitness goals.
  • Modify activities to ensure safety, individual success and motivation.

Get Equipped

Share Your Knowledge

What are your experiences teaching Tabata? What advice would you give to someone who has never taught Tabata, but wants to? Post a response below and let us know!

Current SPARKfamily members with High School access can find the new Tabata unit under High School Web-Based Units. If you are not a current SPARKfamily member, you will receive 3-year access to the digital content when you purchase a SPARK High School curriculum set.

Tabata 101

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

People exercising with dumbbell at gym

By: Dr. J. Scott Townsend & Dr. Derek J. Mohr, Appalachian State University

Tabata 101 is the first installment of a two-part blog series highlighting the latest web-unit addition to the SPARK High School PE Group Fitness Unit.

Tabata… a HIIT for getting fit.

Tabata is a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) program designed to get maximum fitness benefits in a short duration workout, making it a great option when you are pressed for time or want a change from more traditional workout programs.

The Protocol

A single Tabata workout is 4 minutes in duration and consists of two parts: work and rest.

  1. Work: 20 seconds of full effort
  2. Rest: 10 seconds recovery
  3. Repeat: Complete workout/rest cycle 8 times
  4. Exercises: 1, 2, 4 or 8 exercises can be included per workout

An Example

  1. Push-up (20 sec), Rest (10 sec)
  1. Jumping Jacks (20 sec), Rest (10 sec)
  1. Air Squat (20 sec), Rest (10 sec)
  1. Jump Rope (20 sec), Rest (10 sec)
  1. Repeat 1-4 (4 min)

A Bit-a Tabata History

  • Who: The Tabata protocol was developed by researcher Izumi Tabata.
  • How: His landmark study compared the following training programs:
    • Traditional aerobic training: 5X/Week @ 60 min/workout
    • HIIT: 20 sec work, 10 sec rest repeated 8X
  • Results: HIIT and traditional trainings equally improved aerobic endurance. Tabata also improved anaerobic capacity while the traditional did not.
  • Summary: Tabata is an effective training protocol for improving aerobic and anaerobic fitness.

Try Tabata

Follow the guidelines below and give Tabata a try.

  • Bod Squad: Use body-weight exercises to reduce the need for specialized equipment.
  • Experiment: Try Tabata at a lower intensity to get comfortable with the protocol.
  • Choose Wisely: Select exercises you can perform safely and that match your fitness goals.
  • Modify: Alter exercises to match your current fitness level and progress as your fitness improves.
  • Stack It: When ready, try multiple Tabatas back-to-back with a brief rest (1-3 min) between each.
  • Warm-Up & Down: Use a dynamic, full body warm-up before and warm down afterwards.
  • Tech Support: Use a Tabata app to: select exercises, and add music to and/or time your workout.

Share Your Tabata Thoughts!

Stay tuned to for our next Tabata blog. In the meantime, we’re interested to know… What are your experiences engaging in Tabata? What advice would you give to someone who has never engaged in Tabata? Post a response below and let us know!

Current SPARKfamily members with High School access can find the new Tabata unit under High School Web-Based Units. If you are not a current SPARKfamily member, you will receive 3-year access to the digital content when you purchase a SPARK High School curriculum set.

4 Fun Lesson Plans to Keep Kids Active During Physical Activity Month

Monday, May 15th, 2017

 

Kids learning from teacher while sitting in a circle

Today, many schools are reducing their opportunities for physical activity, limiting recess, restricting physical education lessons, and keeping youngsters anchored to their desks for hours each day. Although this might seem like the easiest way to ensure a constant focus on academics, research indicates that physical activity and cognition go hand in hand.

May is officially recognized as National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. That makes now the perfect time for schools across the country to begin re-assessing their options for encouraging activity inside and outside of the classroom.

In the past, we at SPARK have drawn attention to the fact that students at every level desperately need movement to thrive in any school setting. Read on to discover some of our simple and effective lesson plans for instant and ongoing classroom physical activity you can start using today.

1. STEM Fitness Training

“STEM” Fitness Training lesson plans focus on fun facts about science, technology, engineering and math, while encouraging physical movement. Using a combination of markers, STEM Fitness Training cards and up-tempo music, teachers can encourage their students to actively pursue a deeper understanding of crucial topics as they get their blood pumping.

STEM Fitness Training involves quick cues, challenges and in-depth discussions between students as they move through aerobic fitness segments that support the mind/body connection. Try using SPARKabc’s Instructional Materials, which include three years of access to SPARKabc’s materials, along with STEM integration solutions, task cards and teaching resources.

2. Social Studies Fitness Relay

The Social Studies Fitness Relay lesson plan looks at the eight basic locomotor skills and helps develop peripheral vision in students. Using markers, the Social Study Fitness Relay state list and state cards, teachers can encourage children to expand their minds and enhance their understanding of crucial topics, while building a healthy vision.

As students spend more time staring at screens with their eyes fixed in distant vision mode, peripheral vision enhancement can help strengthen their eye muscles and improve reading comfort. The instructional materials set contains all the resources educators need to introduce Social Studies Fitness Relay solutions into their classrooms.

3. Nutrition Mix-Up

The Nutrition Mix-Up lesson plan teaches children about the five crucial “MyPlate” food groups, while promoting physical activity. The objective is for each student to identify themselves as a different food. They will then move quickly from one spot to another when the teacher calls their group.

Nutrition Mix-up is a fun and simple lesson solution that helps teachers emphasize the important connections between exercise and diet. The goal is to improve the positive relationships that children have with movement and healthy food, as well as to highlight the impact these elements have on their development and cognition. The Healthy Kids Challenge Wellness Solutions Toolkit can be an incredible supplement to the Nutrition Mix-Up, or any other nutrition-focused lesson plan.

4. Active as Soon as Possible Activities

A full lesson doesn’t need to center around physical activity in order to get students moving. Sometimes teachers will be able to recognize that their students are losing focus or becoming restless. And that’s where Active as Soon as Possible (ASAP) plans come into play. You can incorporate ASAP activities into the lesson plan around the times when children begin to become most lethargic. Each teacher should be able to pinpoint the perfect timing for their class.

Activities such as Invisible Jump Rope and Go Bananas! shake children out of their mid-day slump and get their hearts pumping. The rush of activity ensures an oxygen boost to the brain, which promotes energy and concentration. SPARK musical collections and instructional materials can help craft exciting ASAP activities to engage and revitalize students.

Planning for Physical Activity

As research continues to show the importance of physical activity in relation to brain function, it’s easy to see why teachers should incorporate more movement into their lesson plans. With physical activity lesson plans, educators can ensure that health and fitness don’t take a back seat to education. Instead, academics and activity can blend seamlessly together in an environment that encourages healthier development and better learning for children of all ages.

5 Ways to Promote Physical Activity Month at Your School

Monday, May 8th, 2017

Young kids in gym uniform follow gym instructor

Today, most parents and educators alike know that children need at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each day. While encouraging children to spend an hour being active might not seem like much of a challenge, the truth is that we’re living in a world where youngsters are spending more time glued to television screens and rooted to classroom desks.

Around 3 out of 4 children are getting less than an hour of physical activity each day. This problem can link back to a reduced number of physical education classes, diminished recess opportunities, and the fact that children are spending around 30 hours per week on “screen time.”

May is “National Physical Fitness and Sports Month,” which makes it the perfect time for schools to start prioritizing activity and introducing the benefits of regular movement to their students. Here are 5 ways you can celebrate the advantages of an active lifestyle at your school to help develop a culture of fitness for the future.

1. Introduce In-Lesson Physical Activity

Today, school administrators across the United States are restricting opportunities for physical activity in classrooms. In an effort to push more focus on academic achievement, recess has fallen to minutes per day, and physical education classes are becoming increasingly less frequent.

Unfortunately, research suggests that P.E. and recess aren’t just crucial for fighting obesity and other common weight-related health problems, they’re also essential for boosting cognitive development. Regular physical activity promotes greater circulation and blood flow throughout the body, helps to enhance focus, and assists children in performing better academically. One way for teachers to overcome this issue is to build physical activity into their lesson plans.

During National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, educators can begin introducing STEM Fitness Training and Social Studies Fitness Relays, designed to get children up and moving while they learn. These solutions can make lessons more fun and engaging, while combining academic achievement with physical fitness.

2. Celebrate Fitness with Special Events

All children love a chance to celebrate something – even physical activity. That’s why National Physical Fitness and Sports Month is a great time to get them involved with special days and community events. On May 10, children from around the country can join families and community partners by walking or biking to school. Schools across the U.S. can register their 2017 event to enter into free prize draws for helmets and bikes.

Alongside a “bike or walk to school” day, you can also encourage parents and students in your school to help you come up with additional events and fundraisers. From a jog-a-thon to a hula hooping money-raising event, the whole community can get involved with exercise-friendly fun. What’s more, these fundraising opportunities will give you a chance to build the cash you need to invest in new materials that can help put fitness first.

3. Invest in New Materials

Sometimes, improving the active culture in a school environment is all about making sure you have the right resources. There are various low-cost and high-reward materials available that are already aligned to national and state physical education standards.

Digital programs, music, and even simple task cards can help teachers start developing new curriculums and lesson plans for a more active future. During National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, schools could examine the resources they already have by reaching out to fitness experts in the community and the school. A little investment and some research could open the door to dozens of new and healthy educational programs.

4. Get Creative

We’ve already established that teachers don’t need to restrict physical activity to P.E. lessons and recess. The time between lessons can be used to ensure physical activity throughout the whole day, without detracting from instructional periods. For instance, you could:

  • Use fitness activities to get students moving during advisory or homeroom periods.
  • Play uplifting music to promote movement during breaks.
  • Make exercise programs available during lunch periods, as well as before and after school.

5. Encourage Students to Take Charge

Finally, remember that National Physical Fitness and Sports Month is the perfect time for teachers and parents to encourage students to take charge of their own healthy habits. If educators can help children understand the benefits of regular movement and offer interesting ways for them to get active, they’ll be more likely to try it.

Students Taking Charge” is the Action for Healthy Kids framework that allows high school students to find ways to create and lead their own projects for nutrition and physical activity initiatives with help from adults and teachers. Student teams can build their own programs from scratch and transform the way they look at fitness with groups and activities that appeal to them.

In a world where it’s becoming more difficult to engage students in physical activity, allowing them to take control of their fitness is the perfect way to promote positive habits. Don’t miss out on all the advantages of promoting National Physical Fitness and Sports Month at your school.

When Kids are Physically Active at School, #WellnessWins

Friday, April 28th, 2017

RockinghamCo2RockinghamCo1

By Deirdre Moyer, Student Wellness Coordinator, Rockingham County Schools, Rockingham, NC

We’ve all heard the saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” What if the same could be true for 60 minutes of physical activity a day?

Through quality physical education, kids learn how to move their bodies fluently and develop the necessary skills to lead an active life. In Rockingham County Schools, more than 12,000 students can count on opportunities to be active each and every day – thanks, in part, to our wellness policy.

A strong district wellness policy is an essential part of creating a healthy school district by establishing policies and practices that empower students and staff to make healthy choices at school. By including physical education and physical activity in our wellness policy, we’re showing parents, community members, teachers and administrators that we’re making it a priority to equip students with the basic skills and knowledge they need to be active throughout their lives.

Our updated wellness policy is on schedule to be approved by the USDA’s June 30 deadline, and features several guidelines for physical activity including:

  • School personnel should strive to provide opportunities for age- and developmentally-appropriate physical activity during the day for all students
  • Schools must provide at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily for K-8 grade students, achieved through P.E. class, recess or classroom energizers
  • Principals shall work with teachers to ensure students meet minimum physical activity requirements
  • Students should have ongoing opportunities for physical activity, which cannot be taken away as a form of punishment

The result? We’re seeing first-hand the benefits of enabling students to move more throughout the day. When kids are physically active, they are more attentive in class, perform better on tests and behave better.

Our biggest challenge in implementing a stronger wellness policy has been time; these changes don’t happen overnight. We utilized many resources to reach our wellness goals, including the SPARK curriculum to assist teachers in meeting national and state standards for physical education and activity, and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s school health experts, who reviewed our policy to ensure it complied with federal standards.

Now, I’m thrilled to share an exciting new resource: the #WellnessWins campaign.

Launched by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and American Heart Association’s Voices for Healthy Kids initiative, #WellnessWins celebrates wellness policy successes like ours and helps other district leaders take action. WellnessWins.org features tips, resources and a ready-to-use model wellness policy that can help your district meet its health and wellness goals.

Are you ready to make moves with your wellness policy? Visit WellnessWins.org and get started today!

 

 

Tips for a Successful Field Day this Spring

Friday, April 7th, 2017

Parachute

By: BJ Williston, SPARK Trainer and Curriculum Development Consultant

Every spring all over the world, schools are preparing to put on a Field Day for their students. When done well, Field Days can be an active and fun time for everyone. In this blog, I’ll give those in charge of Field Day some tips to make it successful.

Preparation:

  • Plan well in advance (6-8 weeks minimum). You will need to get approval, get the word out, create materials (e.g. T-shirts, etc.) communicate with staff, volunteers, parents and students about the event.
  • It takes a lot of minds and bodies to put together a successful Field Day. Call for parents and teachers to create a committee to bring ideas, additional volunteers, resources for donations, etc.
  • Invite all parents and community members for their input on making it a fun day for all. Be sure everyone who wants to be involved knows about the meetings.
  • Decide what you need volunteers to do before, during, and after the Field Day (e.g. lead activities, escort students to the bathroom, set-up, take-down, deliver water and supplies, etc.). Use a web sign-up to make it easy for them to choose the tasks they are willing to do and the time slots they can be there for. Examples of these are SignUpGenius and SignUp. Best to have two volunteers per activity so they can support one another. Have a paper version in the front office for folks who are unable to use the web options.
  • Come up with a Field Day theme to pull it all together.
  • Plan the activities with the goals of fun and activity in mind. Keep them simple and age-appropriate.
  • When considering activity ideas, be line conscious: Don’t have kids stand in line for long. A field day should be full of fun and action, not standing around watching others.
  • Listen to feedback for past Field Days. Keep the things that worked and ditch those that didn’t.
  • Consider breaking up the day with a K-2 Field Day in the morning and a 3-5 one in the afternoon.
  • Include water games (if your climate allows). Kids go nuts over these and they are typically a smash hit. Plan to have these near the hose.
  • Think of unique activities that are cooperative in nature, rather than competitive. Have a good mix of activity types.
  • Don’t focus on awards for the “winners.” Field Days are more fun when the focus is on participation, not who was 1st, 2nd and 3rd.
  • Be prepared to adapt activities where necessary to enable all students with disabilities to participate and have fun.
  • Schedule the day to include breaks, rotation, activity names, etc.
  • Create a map to show where each activity will be at the school.
  • Ask for volunteers to photograph the activities and to share photos with parents and teachers.
  • Coordinate classes to create signs for each station.
  • Provide ideas for healthy snacks to serve during Field Day. See if you can help find a donor from a local grocery store or restaurant.
  • Include the school’s nurse or health aide to create a first aid station.
  • The day before, remind children of the importance of being well-rested and fed, and to be dressed for action and fun. Them bringing a towel and change of clothes is also a great idea.

The Day of:

  • Have volunteers set up as much as possible the night before.
  • Have a final meeting with all volunteers prior to the start to cover the main goals of the day and details about safety.
  • Have a large group “Welcome” to Field Day and discuss the rotation and the goals of the Field Day. The focus is on fun and safety. Announce the location of the first aid station.
  • A lot can happen that varies from the plan. It’s OK to adapt and go with the flow, if necessary.
  • Provide enough equipment to maximize participation so lines are short or non-existent.
  • Include breaks for volunteers every 90 minutes or so.
  • For students who are physically unable to participate (injuries, etc.), provide them with a safe task to keep them involved.
  • Work to ensure all children are having a good time. You should see lots of smiles!
  • Prompt volunteers to keep their eyes and ears open (no holding cell phones!) and to catch and stop any inappropriate behavior quickly.

Post Field Day:

  • Clean and dry all equipment and store for next year’s Field Day.
  • Send out a survey for volunteers to give feedback on their experience. Which activities worked? Which didn’t? Why?
  • Send thank you notes to those who volunteered and donated their time and goods.

The keys to a fabulous and fun Field Day are preparation and a focus on fun. It should be a safe and enjoyable day for all!

Click here for more tips and a discount on Field Day equipment, and click here to view Sportime featuring SPARK’s Field Day Activity Guide.