Archive for the ‘Physical Education News’ Category


Just Dance: Improving a Child’s Emotional and Social Skills Through Dance

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

Dance class

There’s a reason why it feels so good when you have an uninhibited dance party in your bedroom. As well as being a great way to release tension — not to mention have a lot of fun — there are studies showing that dance is also an excellent way to foster the emotional and social growth of children.

Dancing combines all the benefits of physical activity with those of educating children about music and the arts. From an emotional and social standpoint, dance classes for kids between the ages of kindergarten and grade 12 are proven to have an impact when it comes to acceptance of others, respect, teamwork, and cooperation.

This could be because dance gives children the opportunity to express themselves freely and creatively, which allows an outlet for emotional and physical release. While children are still developing full cognitive abilities, it could be that they choose to send messages through dance rather than having to articulate their thoughts in speech.

Dance creates a social environment where kids need to cooperate with and trust one another to complete the moves and avoid stepping on toes. At a very young age, it also instills a greater respect for one’s body, and the bodies of others. Socially, it teaches children how to hold one another appropriately, how to be aware of someone else’s movement, and how to understand the physical abilities and limits of one’s own body.

Dance teaches the aforementioned skills in a language children understand: movement. Kids learn by doing, and there’s nothing better than moving through a dance routine to synthesize the lessons learned.

Bringing Dance to Schools

A survey conducted in 2014-2015 showed that 66% of LA-based schools that incorporated dancing reported seeing its students become more accepting of one another. This acceptance is important, especially in schools with at-risk students or communities where children come from diverse racial backgrounds. Dance, like music, is a universal language, and one that is relevant to every culture around the world. As research collected by NDEO states, dance can help at-risk students deal with more complex emotional and social conflicts, such as violence and race. By creating dance exercises that mirror the movements of different students, the head dancer is able to feel like a leader, and understands that they’re being accepted and respected by their peers.

As a bonus, participation in the arts is also shown to have a positive academic influence on children. A study on this topic found that students who took part in the arts performed better on standardized tests, had higher SAT and math scores, and were more focused in class. Dance can also have much needed health benefits at a time when 18% of American children aged 6 to 11 are obese and only 1 in 3 children are physically active on a daily basis.

If you’re wondering where to get started with bringing dance to your school, look no further than the SPARKdance DVD. Ideal for K-12 students, the DVD includes more than 20 dances and lesson guides so the benefits of the activity are within every educator’s grasp. There is also a Dance Decoded workshop for teachers who want to take their school’s physical education program to the next level.

Announcing the Specialty Workshop Contest Winner!

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

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In partnership with Let’s Move! Active Schools, we hosted the Sportime featuring SPARK Specialty Workshop Contest in the fall of 2016.

Educators were invited to enter the contest to win a Specialty Workshop and bring a past SHAPE America Teacher of the Year or SPARK Presenter to their school district for a unique hands-on professional development experience. Entries were open 10/6/16 – 12/10/16.

We received over 400 entries for the Specialty Workshop Contest! Thank you to all of the teachers who spent time completing the form for a chance to win.

Congratulations to the winning school!

Stetson Elementary School

Falcon School District 49

Colorado Springs, CO

Workshop: Magical MVPA Maximized!

“My students are cheerful, outgoing, competitive in a friendly way, have lots of energy, and have complete confidence in themselves. They are eager to learn new and creative ways to be active and stay healthy at school and for life-long living. The SPARK “Magical MVPA” workshop will provide me with the tools to teach those new and creative activities to the students. New equipment and resources are needed to enhance the Physical Education program at our school as well as replacing old equipment. Let’s Move, Get Active!”

— Matt Monfre, Stetson Elementary School

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The Winning School Receives:

  • (1) Specialty Workshop, brought to you by the SPARK Speakers Bureau. Click here to view our menu of Specialty Workshops to choose the best option for your school.
  • Presenter fees and travel are included in the award, value $2,200. The cost of substitute teachers or teacher stipends to attend the workshop are not included in the award, and are expected to be covered by the awardee.
  • (1) Sportime featuring SPARK voucher for PE supplies, value $800. Use the voucher to purchase instructional materials or PE equipment to support your program.

Total award value = $3,000

Search for other grant and funding opportunities on the SPARK Grant Finder.

We are proud to offer a wide selection of professional development workshops to fit the needs of your school or district! Presenters include past SHAPE America Teachers of the Year, SPARK trainers and program authors, and product experts. Click Here to view our full menu of training options.

Essential Equipment for a Physical Educator’s Home Gym

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

home workout

Many of us understand how important it is to maintain good health and fitness. Daily physical activity can help to reduce your risk of stroke and heart disease by boosting heart muscle strength, improving your good cholesterol levels, and lowering your blood pressure. On top of that, regular exercise promotes better blood flow, and helps to limit the threat of obesity. However, for physical educators, there’s one more essential aspect of regular fitness to consider: it gives you the strength to be better at your job.

Physical Education, or P.E., teachers need to consistently keep on top of their physical fitness if they want to continue offering exceptional guidance to young students. One of the best ways to make regular fitness a habit is to install all the equipment you might need into a space within your own home. A home gym can address all the needs that P.E. teachers encounter every day — from strength, to balance, speed, and determination.

Following, we’re going to examine just some of the essential pieces of equipment that every PE Teacher should have in their home gym — and consider why they’re so beneficial.

1. Medicine Balls


Whether you use medicine balls in your lessons or not, these fitness accessories can be the perfect way for Phys. Ed. teachers to build and improve their resilience. Medicine balls can help with improving careful throwing and catching techniquesan essential part of P.E. for students — as well as enhancing abdominal exercises. What’s more, medicine balls aren’t just about building strength — they help to promote strength and speed — both factors that will come in handy when teaching an active bunch of students.

2. Stability or “Exercise” Balls


Stability balls can be an excellent solution for abdominal workouts, stretches, and even adding an extra challenge to your weight lifting. For physical educators, these accessories help to encourage greater balance and posture. After all, when you lie across or sit on an exercise ball, you’re forced to engage every muscle in your core to support your weight. This will help you maintain good form when showing important exercises to children during lessons. What’s more, the balance and posture encouraged by exercise balls can help you cultivate a healthier spine — which means less back pain.

3. Yoga Mats


The chances are that you have soft mats at school where students can take part in floor-based exercises, like yoga. Yoga mats help to cushion your body from a hard floor, and provide more support than a standard carpet when you’re performing warm-up stretches or jumping exercises. Since physical education teachers regularly use these accessories during lessons, it makes sense to get used to them when you’re working out in your home gym, too. What’s more, for stressed P.E. teachers, yoga mats can roll up to offer lumbar support after a tough day.

4. Dumbbells


Perhaps some of the most versatile accessories in the fitness world, dumbbells are a fitness mainstay for any home gym. The exercises that you can do with a set of dumbbells are practically endless, and these crucial accessories are perfect for helping P.E. teachers build their strength and flexibility. The more you work on your strength as a physical educator, the more likely you are able to cope with the long, and sometimes grueling, lessons that you teach on a day-to-day basis. After all, strong muscles allow for greater energy and reduced aches and pains.

5. Pull-Up Bar


Ropes and pull-up bars aren’t always a solid favorite of physical education students — but these resources can be the ideal way to measure upper body and core strength. If you can accomplish incredible feats on a pull-up bar, then the chances are that you can also motivate your students to push themselves toward their fitness goals. One particularly useful aspect of pull-up bars is the fact that they’re so compact and easy to include in even the smallest home gym space. Installing one will help you to build the strength and resilience that you need in your upper body to demonstrate climbing techniques, and more.

6. Resistance Bands


Ideal for building muscle in advanced exercisers and beginners alike, resistance bands help you build muscle and improve balance and strength. If you’re wondering how a giant rubber band helps with building muscle — it’s simple. Unlike dumbbells or barbells, these accessories offer a way to establish constant tension through movement — enhancing the intensity of any exercise and the challenge that your muscles must overcome.

Building Your At-Home Gym


The accessories that you use in your at-home gym may differ per your specific fitness needs. However, the tools that we’ve outlined above are just some of the best solutions available for building the strength, balance, and resilience all physical education teachers need.

Do you have a favorite piece of home gym equipment that we haven’t mentioned here? Share your preferences with us in the comments section below!

Including Children with Special Needs Physical Education Plans

Thursday, October 27th, 2016

special needs

With physical education programs being reduced across the U.S., the crunch on activity in school is felt even more acutely by children with special needs. Research shows that students with disabilities receive 4.5 times less physical activity than their non disabled peers. And when they are in physical education class, children with special needs are often less likely to be selected for teams and directed to sit on the sidelines. This leads not only to a lack of social interaction, but also develops a negative association to the physical activity that can keep them healthy.

An inclusive physical education plan has the ability to shape the relationship a child with special needs has with sport and activity. Below are a few techniques to make sure no child gets left behind.

Create Smaller Groups

Large class sizes make it hard to give each student personal attention, not to mention a student with special needs.

Whether your physical education class is 20 students or 150, it’s important to break into smaller groups to ensure everyone participates and gets the attention they need. This can involve utilizing the skills of teacher helpers, special needs assistants, and student leaders, assigning them to supervise different groups of activities.

Team sports with a low number of players-per-team such as ball hockey can also better ensure all students are involved and active.

Adapt Existing Activities

Physical education teachers don’t need to reinvent the wheel in order to be inclusive. Adapted physical activity involves updating traditional team and individual sports in order to make the game better suited to students with motor and intellectual disabilities.

Adapting existing activities is a valuable tool for physical educators since the games can be played by all students as part of inclusion and universal design for learning.

Have the Right Equipment

This is another element of adapting activities for students with special needs.

A variety of specialized equipment can greatly impact a student’s ability to be involved in physical education activity. For example, children with coordination issues may have a difficult time with standard issue balls. Bean bags, nerf balls, and other options may be good alternatives that promote inclusion and success. Cones and spot markers may also be helpful in providing spatial boundary definition and play space area for students with sensory motor issues.

Consider padding play area surfaces for students with dyspraxia, and ensure an area is easy for students in wheelchairs to maneuver.

All-In Participation Activities

Another way of including children with special needs in physical education plans is to select team building activities that require participation from every student. Simple obstacle courses and relay races can be options, as can having small groups of students coach one another through basic yoga and aerobics moves. Having students help one another will create leadership skills and bonds between special needs students and their peers.
Before reworking any physical education plan, meet with your school’s special education team and the parents of students with disabilities. They will have a better sense of a child’s unique needs and how you can best accommodate them in your class.

East St. Louis School District 189 – PEP Grant Case Study

Friday, October 7th, 2016

East St Louis Blog pic 1

Putting Some PEP in Their Step

The East St. Louis School District didn’t have much of a PE program in its elementary schools; in fact, for over five years, it didn’t have any PE at all. Budget cuts and limited local funding for a school with a 100% free and reduced lunch rate led to the cutting of PE, which did not serve to improve an already high obesity rate among students. Things were about to change for the better in 2014 when the district applied for, and won, the Carol M. White PEP Grant.

East St. Louis School District 189 was in great need of evidence-based programming to transform their near non-existent PE program and student health statistics into an active, thriving, healthy program and student population. When they won the two-year grant, they sparked transformation right away in Year 1. Working with Cassie Wolvington, Sportime featuring SPARK Sales Representative, they ordered:

  • SPARK Curriculum Materials for K-12 Physical Education and After School,
  • Healthy Kids Challenge Nutrition Curriculum Materials for K-8
  • 5 Premium SPARK trainings for K-2, 3-6, Middle School, High School, After School
  • Modified Sportime equipment sets for K-12 and After School
  • Accusplit pedometers to track steps for grant reporting

To implement the new curriculum, training, and equipment, the district used PEP funding to hire four competent, creative, and energetic PE teachers.

Keeping up the positive momentum in Year 2, the district ordered:

  • Additional Curriculum Materials and Physical Education Equipment
  • SPARK Booster Trainings for K-2, 3-6, Middle School, High School, After School

Impressed with the great customer service and personal attention provided to them by their Sportime featuring SPARK Representative, they ordered an additional $145K worth of equipment.

Boys Track & Field Head Coach and PEP Grant Director Barry Malloyd commented on the experience, “Our district’s experience with SPARK has been life-changing for our PE teachers, students and parents. There is now a SPARK in our physical education programs like never before. The SPARK curriculum and trainings have provided our district with a SPARK of hope. The supplies, equipment, curriculum, trainings, and webinars that you provided us have catapulted our district’s PE program into the 21st Century. Our district administrators, PE teachers, students, and parents have given our PEP program a standing ovation because of our students’ drastic improvements in all areas of the GPRA Measures. It’s because of this SPARK that our district has some ‘PEP IN OUR STEPS!’”

Mr. Malloyd continued, “The benefits that our district is most excited about are the Fall and Spring SPARK trainings given to all of our district PE teachers and after school partners.  Also, the awesome supplies and equipment that you provide has made PE once again fun, exciting, and relevant in our school district. I could not and would not ever ask for another provider other than SPARK.”

From having no PE program to sparking a thriving, healthy, active PE program that is the envy of peer school districts – now that is a success story! Congratulations East St. Louis School District 189!

To learn more about the SPARK and PEP grant, click here.

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Sportime Celebrates 50 Years of Innovation in Physical Education

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

Strengthens partnership with SPARK™ to offer one stop shop for evidence-based PE solutions 

 Sportime & SPARK to honor 2016 Teachers of the Year at the SHAPE America National Convention

GREENVILLE, Wis., March 23, 2016 – Sportime®, the award-winning physical activity equipment brand of School Specialty, Inc., is proud to commemorate 50 years serving physical education teachers, youth & recreation leaders and child care providers with the most advanced, research-based physical activity products and resources. In recognition of this milestone, Sportime continues to expand its offering and build its partnership with the SPARK™ (Sports, Play and Active Recreation for Kids) PE curriculum, launching the new “Sportime featuring SPARK” virtual storefront at Sportime.com.

Various events throughout the year will highlight the brands’ remarkable achievements, including the exclusive, almost 30-year exclusive sponsorship of the SHAPE America National Teacher of the Year (TOY) program, which will take center stage at the SHAPE America National Convention & Expo to be held April 5-9 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Since 1966, Sportime has remained committed to enhancing the health and wellness of our nation’s youth by helping them move more. Through expert-developed physical education, fitness and sports equipment, Sportime has offered creative solutions inspired by PE teachers supporting children of all abilities. Over the years, Sportime has grown from its humble beginnings as a supplier of products to the niche summer camp market to becoming a leading provider of recreational and sports equipment to the larger K-12 physical education and physical activity market. The brand also has evolved from exclusively providing supplies and equipment to offering coordinated PE and health curricula through its alignment with SPARK.

Reflections on 50 Years of Sportime: A History of Helping Kids to Keep Moving

  • 1966: Sportime is founded by Larry Joseph as the Select Service & Supply Co. in Atlanta, GA to supply products and equipment to summer camps in the Northeast region of the U.S.
  • 1972: Company founder Larry Joseph and future Sportime President Peter Savitz set their sights on expanding market opportunities for products.
  • 1978: Transition to larger education market is completed with the launch of Sportime’s first catalog aimed at the K-12 PE community.
  • 1989: Sportime evolves to offer coordinated PE and health curricula in conjunction with PE supplies and equipment, through its partnership with SPARK — best known for its evidence-based curriculum and teacher training that ensure all students are actively engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity during PE classes. Sportime is selected as the official supplier of equipment used in the original SPARK research study.
  • 1989: Sportime and SPARK are awarded exclusive sponsorship of the SHAPE America Teacher of the Year program, which recognizes outstanding teacher performance and ability to motivate young students to participate in a lifetime of physical activity.
  • 1992: Sportime offers other specialized solutions to encourage physical and mental ability in children. The Company produces its first Abilitations catalog for physical and occupational therapists helping children with special needs.
  • 1999: School Specialty acquires Sportime.
  • 2001: Special needs offering expands with launch of the Integrations product line, which provides solutions for sensory integration challenges.
  • 2002: School Specialty acquires the licensing rights to become the exclusive distributor of SPARK.
  • 2006: School Specialty adds solutions in speech and language by acquiring the Speech Bin.
  • 2016: “Sportime featuring SPARK” virtual storefront is launched, providing a single source for everything needed to teach physical education and physical activity, and promote lifelong health and wellness.
  • 2016: SPARK and Sportime acquire rights to Healthy Kids Challenge® (HKC), a nationally recognized nutrition education program providing evidence-based information and best practices to help children develop skills for healthy eating and physical activity choices.

“This is truly a momentous occasion as we look back on 50 years of an incredible legacy in enhancing the well-being of our children through the power of physical activity, nutrition and education,” commented Dr. Kymm Ballard, Executive Director of SPARK. “We have made tremendous strides in developing and delivering research-based tools and curricula, and shaping best practices and standards that support and motivate our youth, the future producers and leaders, to pursue active and healthy lives. We have seen first-hand the transformative impact this has had on teachers, students and their families, including lower obesity rates which in turn have reduced the burden that communities carry in dealing with related chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. I’m enormously proud of our talented team and all their contributions to building the ground-breaking and holistic platform that Sportime, SPARK and now Healthy Kids Challenge is today. We look ahead to many more years of growth and success.”

 

Don’t Miss Sportime Featuring SPARK at the 2016 SHAPE America National Convention & Expo!

As part of the 50th anniversary celebration, Sportime and SPARK will be hosting a number of insightful presentations, product demonstrations, and fun drawings and giveaways at this year’s SHAPE America National Convention, the meeting place for educators and students in the fields of health, physical education, recreation and dance. Included will be special sessions with past and current Teachers of the Year; the Local Education Agency (LEA) Coordinators; and the SPARK Innovation Team, including Principal Dr. Thom McKenzie. Sportime and SPARK are also proud partners of the Let’s Move! Active Schools interactive session. Attendees are invited to visit the Sportime featuring SPARK booth (#401) and engage with the team during the Heart Zones and Speedstacks demos, as well as participate in daily games for a chance to win an Apple Watch and limited edition Sportime gear. Sportime and SPARK are especially honored to continue MVP sponsorship of the Convention, including the Hall of Fame Banquet where the 2016 Teacher of the Year winners will be announced.

“Celebrating five decades of Sportime is testament to the quality and depth of the brand and the people behind it who have been developing innovative physical education equipment for years,” stated Doug Welles, Vice President, Specialty Businesses. “Physical education represents one of School Specialty’s key growth initiatives and with Sportime, SPARK and the addition of HKC, we are uniquely positioned to offer our customers a blend of equipment and curriculum that fosters physical well-being and health. We continue to drive innovation in our offerings, support our customers with the domain expertise they require, and align ourselves with the right industry partners to help students and those responsible for their wellness. We look forward to the coming year and building upon our successes.”

For more information on Sportime & SPARK, go to www.Sportime.com and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Sportime-ft-SPARK-Active-Healthy-Happy

PhysEdSummit 2015

Monday, August 17th, 2015

Dear Colleagues,

I want to share a personal experience with you.  This weekend, I stepped out of my comfort zone to present online at the #PhysEdSummit 3.0.  It was scary yet exciting all at the same time. The core team is so knowledgeable and helpful, and they really did put me at ease to present. There is a wide audience of passionate health and physical education professionals in the world presenting and willing to give their time, resources, and friendship to help move physical education forward.  While the conference was live on Saturday, the good work will continue long after!

We know the brain carries out four functions:  gathering information (sensory cortex), making meaning of information (back integrative cortex), creating new ideas from these meanings (front integrative cortex), and acting on those ideas (motor cortex) (Zull, 2003.)

So, here is how you can continue to be involved and keep the learning from the conference alive all year.  Visit the website and gather information!  Process it!  Then create new ideas on how you can use the information in your class or school; and finally, act …  Practice using the ideas as well as share the information.  Share the resources with your colleagues, administrators, superintendents, professors, friends, coaches and parents.  Maybe highlight one presentation each month all year long!  Regardless of how you do it, get involved and share your new concepts and ideas.  Then, present next year in the conference.

http://physedagogy.com/physedsummit/

SPARK also has free resources to utilize, like our free webinars, free SPARKecademy.org professional development app (free and paid content provided), the SPARK scope and sequence and completed alignment to national and state standards.  Visit us soon for a look!  www.sparkpe.org

Yours for Healthy Active Children,

Dr. Kymm Ballard

SPARK Executive Director

About the #PhysEdSummit

The #PhysEdSummit is a FREE online conference put on by PE professionals for PE professionals.

Mission: To provide digital professional learning opportunities for physical education professionals by sharing, discussing, and reflecting on best practices.

#PhysEdSummit 3.0 | August 15, 2015

http://physedagogy.com/physedsummit/

Let’s Go Back to School with SPARKecademy!

Monday, August 10th, 2015

SPARK has a great new resource for teachers looking for ways to earn professional development credit hours.  As a physical education teacher, it can be difficult to find opportunities for professional development that apply to your content area.  I am sure you been forced to sit through countless hours of language arts and math workshops just to fill the time because districts rarely provide any kind of continuing education for their physical education/health teachers.

Here is where SPARK would like to help fill the void.  We hear what teachers are saying and we know the limitations of finding where/when to get your PD credit hours.  That is why we have created SPARKecademy.  Here you can earn your credit hours anytime, anywhere that you want. Sit on your couch, jump on in the middle of the night, even view it on your phone or tablet when you are running errands.  SPARKecademy.org is a web-based platform that provides an innovative menu of online courses for K-12 physical education teachers and health professionals. Courses include SPARK K-12 PE Workshops, timely topic monthly webinars, SPARK mini-units, podcasts, and technology/equipment tutorials.  We are building our library to provide resources for all 5 of our program areas; Physical Education, After School, Early Childhood, Classroom Activity & Recess, and Coordinated School Health.

Users receive a certificate of completion for each course and can track their professional development hours earned for the online courses as well as in-person sessions at SPARK workshops, and conference presentations.  Sign up your entire district and you can identify courses for your staff to take while being able to track and document their completed courses.  Sign up for your free account today! Go to SPARKecademy.org or download the SPARKecademy app from the App Store or Google Play Store.

Learn more about SPARKecademy!

SPARK hosted a live webinar on August 19th to preview the resources available on the SPARKecademy website and learn how to set up your free account.

Click Here to view the recording of this free webinar.

More questions? Contact us at visit http://www.sparkecademy.org/about or contact us at spark@sparkpe.org.

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The Best Apps for Keeping Kids Active

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

apps

It’s safe to say that the world around us is becoming increasingly mobile and tech-oriented. People of every age are falling in love with their smartphones, tablets, and laptops, which can result in a more lethargic lifestyle and shortened attention spans. Having a healthy approach to life prevents your children from packing on the pounds during adolescence and also gives them the tools they need to set up a life of choices catered to their enhanced wellbeing. According to a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine, the fate of a child’s weight can be determined by the time they turn five.

We all know that raising a healthy child is important, but that task can become more trying when you can’t pry them away from their smartphones. Perhaps the best way to deal with the issue is to use technology to your advantage.

Although too much screen time can be unhealthy for your children, innovative new concepts are emerging to help parents prompt their kids into physical activity. Health, nutrition, and fitness applications provide an education into how the body works, what makes it run better, and more, while feeding your child’s technology addiction.

Following are some of our favorite apps for keeping kids active.

Super Stretch Yoga HD

Super Stretch Yoga HD is a free application for the Apple iPad that works to teach children fun and easy yoga moves that they can try out themselves. Instead of simply watching cartoons on their iPad, your child can start trying out poses modeled by children of their own age, letting them stretch out their limbs and show off their skills. The application includes a total of twelve different yoga poses for your child to perfect, each with its own description and accompanying video.

Yoga is a great hobby to get your child interested in physical wellbeing and fitness. Not only does it improve strength and flexibility, but it’s also likely to be something that they continue to enjoy as they grow to later life. The videos included with this application offer reassurance to keep beginners trying time and after time, as well as advice on the best time of day to try out certain poses. You can even play the videos on your television with an Apple TV.

Strava

Are you the kind of parent that regularly walks their child to school or goes for small adventures on the weekend? Strava is an application that allows you to map your walks, bike rides, and hikes and time each journey, so you can show your children how much they’ve accomplished in a certain scope of time.

Typically, this application doesn’t market directly to children, but it is a great way to make walking to school and traveling to new places more fun. The further you go and the more you do, the more of an excuse your child has to be proud of themselves. You even get little notifications when you create a new personal best in your time, allowing you and your little one to celebrate each milestone together.

Iron Kids

Iron Kids is an application lovingly developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics to help children eight years and up get more exercise as they grow. In 2013, the Iron Kids application won it’s very own Web Health Award for providing young athletes with everything they need to safely and effectively improve their fitness, balance, and strength.

The app centers around nine exercises that involve the lower body, upper body, and core. Videos are included to help your kids understand how they can do the exercises and how those exercises benefit them.

Smash Your Food HD

An interactive and informative game intended to teach your children important real-life skills, such as how to read nutrition labels and what they should be eating, Smash Your Food HD is an impressive application for kids. Your child will enter their age and how much exercise they regularly get so that the app can calculate how much salt, sugar, and oil they should be consuming.

With the nutritional labels given for common fast foods as a guide, your kids will then need to estimate how much oil, sugar and salt is in each item. After they’ve submitted their answers, they’ll be able to find out whether the food they’re looking at is healthy for them. Finally, your young ones will get the opportunity to smash the food to pieces, watching a can of soda rip apart or a jelly donut burst!

Fitness Kids

Fitness Kids is an application designed by experts in the fields of pedagogy, physical education, and health. Packed with interesting exercises for children between the ages of 6 and eight, this app teaches children each movement through the use of colorful, engaging videos.

What makes Fitness Kids a little different from other applications is that it offers funky music and colorful backgrounds for a stimulating experience, and the exercises themselves are fun to do. Your kids will keep coming back for more as they figure out their favorite movements, such as the Conga or the Crab. Your children can also engage in competition with their friends, and their skill levels will improve as they continue to progress.

Keep Moving!

Getting your child to give up on technology might be an impossible task, but using that technology to your advantage could provide a safe and easy way to invest in their health. Think about how much time your child currently spends in front of a computer screen and ask yourself if you’d feel better knowing that they were playing a game designed to get them learning and moving.

The earlier your child starts to get in shape, the more chance they have of reducing their risk of certain illnesses. Kids who are frequently active experience:

  • A lower chance of becoming overweight
  • Stronger bones and muscles
  • Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Potentially lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels
  • Leaner physiques
  • Improved confidence

On top of this, the more active a child is, the better he or she will sleep, deal with emotional challenges, and manage physical strain.

Let us know if you’ve discovered any great applications tailored to children that get your young ones moving more often.

Resources:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brad-spirrison/kids-health-fitness-apps_b_3580013.html
http://www.parents.com/fun/sports/exercise/10-benefits-of-physical-activity/
http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/features/digital-home/3520917/how-much-screen-time-is-healthy-for-children/
http://www.naturalnews.com/043761_weight_fate_childhood_obesity_healthy_eating.html
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/super-stretch-yoga-hd/id456108738?mt=8
http://www.parents.com/fun/sports/exercise/the-benefits-of-yoga-for-kids/
http://www.strava.com/
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/iron-kids/id552037626?mt=8
http://www.foodnme.com/smash-your-food/
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/fitnesskids/id534467673?mt=8

10 Ways to Promote Safe Biking for National Bike Month

Friday, May 1st, 2015

bike riding

Around the country, bicyclers have been supporting National Bike Month every May since 1956. Sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists, May gives experienced and novice cyclists a chance to participate in bicycling events, try out biking for the first time, and promote safe bicycling practices. Want to participate in the fun? Here are 10 ways you can promote safe biking during National Bike Month.

Know and Follow Bike Safety Rules

Before you start having too much fun, you’ll want to review what safe biking actually entails. BikeLeague.org shares a list of safety tips and advice on how to maintain your bike. A few tips from their list to keep in mind include:

  • Keep your tires inflated to the pressure listed on your tire.
  • Inspect your brakes frequently to ensure they work properly.
  • In addition to always wearing a helmet, make sure your helmet fits properly.
  • If riding at night, be sure to wear bright and reflective colors.
  • When riding on a trail, stay to the right, pass on the left, and ensure you use a signal—such as a horn or your voice—to let other riders know when you’re about to pass.

Once you’ve reviewed these safety rules, be sure you’re following them at all times. Not only will it set an example for young riders, but it will ensure your safety along with the safety of others around you.

Help Educate Fellow Bikers and Non-Bikers About Rules and Etiquette

Now that you’re aware of common bike safety rules, you can share your knowledge with others. As you gear up for riding this May, make sure anyone else riding with you understands these safety rules. For instance, it might be a no-brainer to wear a helmet, but some riders—especially those who don’t bike often—may not know to call out “On your left” when passing other riders.

It’s also worth discussing these rules and etiquette with non-bicyclers as well. While they may never go riding, they’re likely to encounter other riders, and it’s worth knowing what “On your left” means before a biker passes you.

Print Out Promotional Materials to Share With Friends

If you’re not sure how you can help this National Bike Month, it’s as simple as printing out promotional materials and sharing them with family and friends or on promotional bulletin boards. These materials can cover anything from promoting biking events to sharing infographics covering safe biking practices. If you’re not sure where to get this material, check out BikeLeague.org’s promotional materials for National Bike Month.

Wear a Helmet

It’s one thing to know you should wear a helmet. It’s another to actually put it on. The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute reports that bicycle helmet use can reduce head injury risk by 85 percent. While it may seem like you don’t need one since you don’t reach high speeds while biking, accidents between cars and bicyclists are a real possibility.

As the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute reports, “During the past few years, no more than 17 percent of fatally injured bicyclists were wearing helmets.” This again highlights the importance of helmet use among riders of all ages.

Use Reflectors

PedBikeInfo.org reports that the most common source of injury for bikers is being hit by a car. On average, 69 percent of biker fatalities are in urban areas where there’s a lot of traffic. One way to add an extra layer of safety to your biking practices is to use reflectors. This will help drivers see you more clearly, especially at times of low visibility.

Most bicycles already come with reflectors, but it’s worth testing them out to ensure they function properly. You can also add reflector tape to your pedals and other areas of your bike to ensure a higher level of visibility. You might also consider an electric flashing reflector that will help drivers see you from a distance at night and in fog.

Keep Your Bike in Shape

Not only do you need to protect your body with a helmet and biking gear, but you’ll also want to protect your bicycle. A worn out bike can lead to faulty brakes, broken chains, and other problems that can cause wipeouts and crashes. A few tips to keep in mind:

  • Keep bolts, bearings, and chains greased.
  • Test your tire pressure frequently, and pump your tires if needed.
  • Before taking off, test your brakes. Replace your pads once there’s about a ¼ of the pad left.
  • Store your bike in a clean, dry place during the off-season to reduce rust and wear.

If all else fails, take your bicycle into a bike mechanic regularly to ensure everything is in working order. Check out more maintenance tips at REI.com.

Reach Out to Your Government for Better Biking Conditions

If there are a lot of people in your town who bike, it’s important that they’re biking under safe conditions. Oftentimes riders are left to share the road with cars, which can lead to accidents. Other times, sidewalks aren’t wide enough for bikers and pedestrians to share.

If you really want to make a difference this National Bike Month, talk with your local government about creating better biking conditions in your town, such as by adding a bike lane in areas of high traffic. Petitioning for bike lanes close to schools is a good way to encourage students to ride their bikes to school while providing a safe environment to do so.

Volunteer at a National Bike Month Event

National Bike Month is packed with fun events for bikers of all ages. May 15, for instance, is National Bike to Work Day this year, and May 6 is National Bike to School Day. Even if you can’t find a National Bike Month event in your area, you can always plan one yourself! BikeLeague.org shares a guide to helping you plan an event in your neighborhood. Some ideas include bike safety workshops, training classes, and bike races.

Host a Safety Assembly at Your Local School

Whether you’re a student looking to spread the word of safe bicycling or a concerned parent or teacher, you can reach a lot of potential cyclers by hosting a bicycling safety assembly at your school. See if you can get your local district to agree to a presentation. Share statistics, videos, and stories with students, and try to get both teachers and students actively involved.

Participate in a Ride Smart Class

The League of American Bicyclists has been focused on education since the 70s. Their Ride Smart class teaches bikers more about riding, and it helps connect them with other cyclists in their area. Take a look at BikeLeague.org’s map to find a Ride Smart class in your area.

We’re avid cyclists at SPARK PE and believe that safety is a priority for any physical activity. While bikers should be promoting safety practices all year round, National Bike Month helps raise awareness of these issues, and you can leverage this nationwide event to get the word out. What will you do this May to promote safe cycling practices?

Sources:

http://bikeleague.org/bikemonth

http://www.helmets.org/stats.htm

http://www.pedbikeinfo.org/data/factsheet_crash.cfm

http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/bike-maintenance.html

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net