Archive for the ‘SPARK Blog’ Category


Taking the Fear Out of Physical Education

Thursday, August 10th, 2017

A woman trainer at the gym helps her student lift weights.

An educator’s job goes beyond ensuring students learn particular facts and develop certain skills. Instead, educators play a critical role in instilling their students with a love of learning, discovery and exploration.

Ideally, an enthusiastic and skilled educator can help a student not only remember the year the Constitution was written or the Civil War broke out, but also imbue them with a sense of wonder and make them want to learn more about history.

Yet physical education is a subject where many educators can inadvertently have the exact opposite effect, making their students flee from the subject. Negative experiences in gym class as a child can make a person less likely to engage in physical activity as an adult.

What can physical educators do to ensure their classes are the start of a lifelong enjoyment of physical activity? And how can adults who are still intimidated by negative experiences in gym class learn to love exercise for the first time?

What Educators Can Do for Students

A bad physical education teacher doesn’t only scare kids away from gym class — he or she can also make them throw in the towel for the rest of their lives.

A 2009 study in the academic journal Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise found negative experiences in gym class as children keeps people far away from team sports for years. As one study participant said, “[physical education] robbed me of the joy of physical activity for many years…It destroyed my physical confidence.”

Another study examined the practice of picking teams in physical education class, and found this caused “real and long-lasting harm to people’s psyches and their physical activity participation levels.”

Doing the wrong thing can cause a lot of harm. So, what are the right things that physical educators should do?

Keep the Goal in Mind

As a physical educator, sometimes it’s easy to forget what the end goal is. Teaching children sports is not the end goal — teaching them teamwork and physical coordination and improving their physical strength and health are the end goals. Sports are one means to this end.

Keeping this in mind will change the way you approach teaching physical education. It will minimize the importance of winning and losing, and will help you adopt more creative ways of teaching skills.

Consider the example of teaching a child to dribble a basketball. The important thing is not that they know how to dribble a basketball; rather, it’s that they improve their hand-eye coordination. Having them dribble through a course of pylons is one way of helping them improve their hand-eye coordination, but there are many other drills and activities that can use a basketball to achieve the same ends. The trick is finding the activities that your students will find enjoyable rather than excruciating.

Make It Fun

The thought of physical activity shouldn’t induce feelings of apprehension or fear. It should be fun! A 2014 study of youth athletes found the overwhelming reason they played sports was because it was fun. When it’s no longer fun, the main reason to play is gone.

An important way to keep sports and physical activity fun is to minimize attention on outcomes. Avoid keeping score. Offer positive reinforcement. Make having fun a more important goal than winning. Emphasize self-improvement rather than competitiveness. Encourage your students to do better at a physical activity than they did the time before, rather than comparing them to other students.

These are particularly important principles when teaching physical education at the younger ages, but the overarching goal of encouraging fun is important to keep in mind at all ages.

Remember That Your Attitude Matters

Physical educators are often people who care a lot about sports and take profound satisfaction in athletic achievement. Sometimes this makes them too quick to push children harder and farther than children are ready to go.

Remember, the role of a physical educator is different than that of a coach. Children don’t need a drill sergeant, they need an educator who cares about creating a safe and fun environment for them to learn.

With your words and actions, demonstrate that effort is more important than perfection, and fun is more important than winning. Your attitude will set the tone for the class, and ultimately make a huge difference in how your students feel about physical activity.

Think Beyond Sports

Sports are great, and team sports in particular impart many important skills. All the same, some students will not gravitate towards sports as much as to other physical activities. It is important for them to understand that physical activity is not limited to competitive sports.

Introduce your students to other physical activities like dance, wall climbing, archery, aerobics, yoga and outdoor activities like canoeing. You’ll broaden their understanding of physical activity and make it more likely they hit on an activity they’ll enjoy enough to make a lifelong hobby.

Eliminate Picking Teams

One last suggestion: don’t let your students pick teams. Students who are picked last describe the experience as embarrassing, alienating and frustrating. It can invoke strong feelings of sadness, shame and even anger.

None of these are emotions you want your students to associate with physical education. When playing sports, make the teams yourself. As the educator, you will probably be much better at creating teams and making for a more enjoyable experience for the entire class.

How Adults Can Overcome Negative Experiences

If you’ve had a bad childhood experience with physical education, it can shape the way you view physical activity for the rest of your life. You may feel intimidated by the very idea of going to the gym or joining a sports team.

There a few ways you can overcome these feelings. For example, if you want to begin weightlifting, but find the gym an intimidating place, you can set up a home gym. Another option is to could go the gym with someone you trust, who can help make you feel more at ease. Even doing a few sessions with a personal trainer can help many people feel more comfortable.

It’s also worthwhile to think about the activities you have negative associations with. If you found team sports stressful and unenjoyable, consider trying solo sports like cycling, golf or swimming.

Don’t let a bad gym teacher from your childhood ruin a lifetime of physical activity. There is an incredible range of physical activities suited to everyone’s skills and interests. Find the one that you’ll enjoy today to have a healthy hobby for life.

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.

Add These 7 Things to Next Year’s Equipment Wish List

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

PE teachers holds a stopwatch while a young girl climbs a wall

Today’s educators are beginning to recognize the connection between physical activity and cognitive function in the classroom. This means that all teachers, not just physical educators, are searching for new resources that might help them to encourage brain-boosting movement throughout the school day.

One of the best ways to make sure that students stay engaged during PE lessons and other academic experiences is to have the right resources at hand. The following items are some of the best, most effective pieces of equipment that you can have on your wish list. Here, we’re going to introduce you to a range of items and offer ideas for how you can use these products to cultivate a healthier school culture.

1. School Smart Coated Foam Balls

When it comes to essential resources for any physical education class, it’s hard to overlook the value of foam balls. This School Smart set includes a range of colors, perfect for bouncing, throwing, catching and volleying with racquets and paddles.

During early childhood, when children are most engaged by colors and sensory experiences, a collection of School Smart coated foam balls can help educators to plan lessons like “Bounce and Catch.” These lessons can help children develop basic motor skills, while introducing them to colors, numbers and more.

2. Volley SuperSkin Flying Discs

Perfect for both indoor and outdoor use, Volley SuperSkin Flying Discs come in a range of colors and feature peel-proof, super-durable skins for a longer lifetime in classrooms. These discs work perfectly either as part of standard throwing and catching games, or as part of a game of “All-Run Flying Disc Baseball.”

All-Run Flying Disc Baseball is a great way to get students of all ages working together to pass and throw discs between members of a small team. This game encourages teamwork, boosts aerobic ability, and helps to build up endurance, too.

3. Sportime Stopwatches

A simple set of Sportime Timetracker stopwatches can help students and teachers alike track their progress during timed games and races. Educators can share these stopwatches with students to encourage them to set their own fitness goals.

One particularly good use of the Sportime stopwatch is for Social Studies Fitness Relay lessons. Being able to view the amount of time each student spends within different fitness relay sections can help to encourage a balanced development of skills.

4. Sportime High School Fitness Station Pack

The Sportime High School Fitness Station Pack is a comprehensive collection of equipment designed to get students moving, and it comes with a SPARK digital curriculum, too! The collection includes foam balls, cones and exercise mats, ideal for building new high school lesson plans.

The Sportime Fitness Station Pack could be a great way to start introducing students to new skills, like yoga. With the mats in hand, and some yoga content cards, students can learn how to manage stress and improve flexibility with simple yoga poses.

5. Poly Enterprises Classic Game Cones

Cones might seem like a simple resource, but they often make up a fundamental part of most team-based games in a physical education lesson. These Poly Enterprises Classic Game Cones come in a variety of sizes and colors to suit any lesson plan.

Cones can be a vital part of a STEM Fitness Training session, helping to create different activity stations for students around the room. With STEM, children can get active, while learning facts about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

6. School Smart Parachute

The School Smart Parachute is a high-quality piece of equipment, complete with a drawstring carrying bag for easier storage. These parachutes are a fantastic way to encourage collaboration through team-based games, while promoting coordination and rhythm in PE environments.

Students can use parachutes to play “Parachute Switcheroo,” a recess, after-school, or lesson-based program for students that teaches coordination and teamwork. In Parachute Switcheroo, students learn how to cooperate, focus, and organize themselves as part of a group.

7. Pull-Buoy No-Kink Hoops

The Pull-Buoy No-Kink Hoops are lightweight and durable hoops that use a special formula to avoid bending and breaking. These 30-inch options are ideal for educators who want to create lesson plans based around gymnastics, aerobics and teamwork. A single set contains a range of colors for students to choose from.

One great way to boost your lesson plan with No-Kink Hoops is to introduce your students to “Cooperative Golf” or Kin-Ball. This exciting game is a great way to keep kids active, while teaching them how to work together toward a universal goal. What’s more, this activity is a great way to teach children about games played throughout the world.

Your Equipment Wish List

Chances are your wish list will depend on your existing resources and the new lesson plans you hope to implement in the year ahead. But, by implementing just a few of the suggestions outlined above you could find new and engaging ways to keep your students active, both inside and outside of PE lessons.

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.

6 Strategies for PE Teachers to Stay Inspired Over Summer

Thursday, July 27th, 2017

PE teachers

Summer break isn’t just a great opportunity for your students to relax, enjoy some sunshine, and come back to the classroom feeling refreshed. Summer is also a great time for you, the teacher, to discover new and effective ways of expanding your skills, updating your lesson plans, and acquiring resources for the year ahead.

It’s hard to understate the importance of a good physical education program. In an era where children are becoming progressively less active, today’s physical educators need to be constantly searching for new ways to get youngsters involved in healthy habits. From attending conferences to earning a new certification, we’ll cover 6 inspiring ways that you can prepare for the new school year.

1. Pinpoint Areas to Improve

The first step in upgrading your PE program involves looking back over the previous school year and considering both your accomplishments and challenges. Chances are you’ll find at least a few lesson plans that need improvement. While these plans might only need a little tweaking to meet with the modern standards of active education, consider looking into new resources and tools that you can use to upgrade the experience for your students.

While you’re researching resources, try to go beyond the lesson and think about other ways you can promote a healthier lifestyle for the children you teach. For instance, could you get parents involved and ask them to follow up with PE concepts at home?

2. Head to Conferences

Conferences, workshops, and networking events are still some of the best places for educators to expand their knowledge and make some crucial connections. During a conference, you could learn all about the latest health and fitness regulations in your area, and discover new ideas to get students moving.

Beyond the seminars and classes that might be available to teachers, you’ll also be able to build your knowledge through the conversations you have with other educators, who may even be able to give you some advice on where you can improve your lesson plans.

3. Watch TED Talks

TED talks aren’t just for scientists. Technology, Entertainment, and Design videos are an incredible resource for PE teachers who want to expand their knowledge and learn about the latest developments in the educational space. These talks come from teachers, CEOs, and even athletes, all sharing their insights into physical education.

One particularly good TED talk titled, “Run, Jump, Learn! How Exercise can Transform our Schools,” covers how exercise can raise test scores, reduce problems with behavior, and upgrade student wellbeing. This talk by Dr. John Ratey could give you the inspiration you need not only to enhance PE classes, but also to create a culture of physical health throughout your school.

4. Develop New Skills

Though PE teachers may be eager to learn new skills, it’s difficult to find the time for training in between classes and lesson plans. The summer represents the perfect opportunity for accessing new knowledge and skills, which will help upgrade your classroom environment.

You could read books about how to improve your teaching methods. Alternatively, you could learn about new activities you can then introduce into the classroom. You might also consider upgrading your knowledge of yoga, or learning about the different games played around the world.

5. Earn a New Certification

The best way to take your understanding of a new skill even further is to earn a new certification. PE teachers can use the free time they have during the summer to expand their own education and improve their resume. For instance, you might consider becoming a SPARK certified instructor.

Certified instructors with SPARK get the opportunity to engage in a short, yet effective period of intensive training, designed to improve early childhood lesson programs. After 12 hours of training, successful candidates are eligible for a graduate credit straight from San Diego State University.

6. Stay Informed

It’s safe to say that the world of education is constantly changing. As scientists and researchers discover new facts about the way children learn and the importance of physical activity in combination with cognition, it’s likely that the PE landscape will evolve too. The best way for educators to stay ahead of the curve is to make sure that they’re always reading the latest case studies, white papers, and articles in their industry.

The more you learn about the changing state of physical education, the more you can adapt your lesson plans accordingly. You can even collaborate with other teachers in your school to create an education plan that combines movement and academics more effectively.

Be Inspired this Summer

Summer is a great time for PE teachers to explore their skills, update their lesson plans, and expand their knowledge. In fact, every fall should be an opportunity to return to your school with more information than you had when you left for the summer break.

For more inspiration, check out our exciting lesson plans.

Updated Standards in Online SPARK Manuals

Friday, July 7th, 2017

SPARK_burst_graphic

One hallmark of the SPARK K-12 Physical Education programs is the alignment with National and State Physical Education standards. These standards help guide the planning, implementation, and assessment of student learning. With expectations mapped out, teachers can focus on learning targets designed to enhance student learning. By using a standards-based program, teachers can plan focused lessons to meet specific needs of students.

SPARK understands that teachers use a variety of standards – district, state or national standards – so a one-size-fits-all methodology doesn’t serve everyone’s diverse needs. Though possible, we also know it’s not efficient to sort through an exhaustive list of standards. To that end, we have flipped our standards alignment around to list the grade level outcomes so that you can now match the outcomes with your specific set of standards.

By listing the outcomes – divided into the three categories of Movement and Skills; Fitness; and Social and Personal – you can see that the lesson you are teaching is aligning with the standards you are looking to address in the day’s lesson. Now you are in the driver’s seat to choose the lessons that meet your specific standards!

The revised lessons with outcomes are available online today at SPARKfamily.org with your SPARK K-2, 3-6, Middle School, or High School PE subscription!

If you are not a current SPARKfamily member, you will receive 3-year access to the digital content when you purchase a SPARK PE curriculum set.

Summer Treats to Beat the Heat: 6 Healthy Snacks Your Kids Will Love

Wednesday, July 5th, 2017

kids eating healthy and refreshing juice popsicles

The summer heat can be tough to deal with, especially for kids who are running around in the hot sun all day. Coupling cool snacks with healthy treats can require a bit of creativity, but it’s not impossible to encourage healthy eating over the summer break. To help your kids cool down and stay hydrated, consider these six healthy snacks that are great on hot summer days.

Fruit Salad

Fruit salad is one of the easiest recipes to prepare during the summer. All it takes is some chilled mixed fruit, and it’s perfect for breakfast, lunch or a snack. There are practically no limits to fruit salad, whether you want to pair melon, strawberries and grapes together or even throw in a bit of chopped papaya, kiwi, blueberry or oranges. Toss in a bit of lemon juice to keep the fruit from browning, or add a bit of orange juice for extra flavor.

Frozen Juice Pops

Popsicles are a staple for hot summer days to help you cool down, but they’re usually packed with sugar. The healthy alternative is frozen juice pops. Simply blend your favorite fruits or vegetables together in a food processor, pour the liquid mixture into popsicle molds, and freeze. Not only does this cut out the added sugar, but these types of pops are full of other healthy nutrients — and your kids won’t know the difference.

Pineapple Sorbet

Another frozen treat that will help your kids cool down is this healthy sorbet recipe. Start with one pineapple and scoop out the flesh, placing it in a blender. Add two tablespoons of agave or maple syrup, one cup of water, and the juice from one lemon. Blend until smooth, and then freeze. Once frozen, let the mixture thaw slightly, and then blend it again until you reach a sorbet-like consistency. That’s it! For extra fun, you can serve the sorbet in a half of the pineapple shell. It’s a tasty chilled treat your kids will love.

Guacamole

Guacamole is an avocado dip that is packed with nutrients. It’s made by mashing avocados and combining them with lemon juice, chopped red onions, garlic, salt, black pepper and diced tomatoes. You can use it as a dip with whole grain corn chips, as a spread on sandwiches and wraps, or mixed with cooked egg yolks as an alternative to mayonnaise when making deviled eggs.

Potato Salad

Potato salad is a great way to pack vegetables into your diet during the summer. Because it’s so tasty, easy and nutritious, it’s perfect for family summer potlucks and barbecues. There are tons of potato salad recipes you can turn to, and many people are lucky enough to have a secret family recipe they use. Even if you’ve never made your own potato salad before, with potatoes, celery, onion and eggs, you just can’t go wrong.

Chicken Wraps

The great thing about wraps is that there are endless delicious and healthy combinations. A basic wrap starts with a tortilla, lettuce, cheese and chicken, with additional fillings such as onion, tomato, bell peppers and avocado. To make it even healthier, opt for high-fiber tortillas, spinach tortillas or whole grain tortillas. Try experimenting with hummus, spinach, cucumbers, corn and beans as you please. You can even swap out the chicken for other lean meats, fish, or vegetarian alternatives.

Getting your kids interested in healthy eating this summer doesn’t have to be hard work. With these summer recipes, your kids will be able to cool off while filling their bellies with something healthy and delicious.

What’s your go-to healthy summer snack?

15 Reflection Questions for the Physical Educator [INFOGRAPHIC]

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

three gym teachers stand and smile for the camera

Just like our students, educators should never stop learning.

As the school year comes to a close, reflect on your year as a physical educator — areas where you shined and areas you can improve, to help both you and your students get the most out of the year ahead.

Here’s the physical educator’s checklist for self-reflection

An infographic displaying how teachers can reflect on their school year to prepare for the next one

Share This Infographic On Your Site

Spend Time on Past Successes

  1. What was your best teaching moment of the year?
  2. When did you implement/learn/experience something new?
  3. What did you improve upon this year that you are proud of?
  4. In what areas did you achieve last year’s goals?
  5. What was your most notable growth as a physical educator this year?

 

Consider the Challenges

  1. What was your worst teaching moment of the year?
  2. What challenged you most?
  3. What do you feel you need to improve upon next year?
    Choose one curriculum, one interpersonal (student or staff), and one professional element.
  4. Where did you fall short of last year’s goals?
  5. Where do you feel there is still room to grow as a physical educator?

 

Gain Clarity on the Goals Ahead

  1. What did you learn from your best/worst moments this year?
  2. What plans do you have for your professional development and continued education?
  3. What specifically do you plan to improve upon next year?
  4. What can you do to improve your students’ experience and engagement levels next year?
  5. What did your students struggle with most last year, and how can you improve their success in the year ahead?

Just a few moments of introspection on the year can help you highlight and celebrate your successes, and take note of how you can continue growing next year.

Brought to you by SPARK | http://www.sparkpe.org

A Parent’s Guide to Physical Education Programs in Schools

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

physical education

American children aren’t getting the physical activity they need. Only a third of children are physically active on a daily basis, even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 60 minutes of physical activity per day.

Taking action during the summer break can set your kids up for quality physical education when the school year begins. Read on to discover the questions parents frequently ask to better understand PE programs in schools so they can elicit real change.

What’s the Difference Between Physical Activity and Physical Education?

It’s a common mistake to assume the terms “physical activity” and “physical education” refer to the same thing. Though both contribute to a child’s healthy development, the terms are not interchangeable.

Physical activity is a behavior. It refers to any sort of movement of the body. Children may engage in physical activity during gym class, at recess or at home. Physical education, on the other hand, refers to a subject in school that includes physical activity in the curriculum. Physical education classes teach through physical activity. Some skills taught in PE include teamwork, social interaction and motor skills — all while improving students’ fitness.

What Does a Comprehensive Physical Education Program Require?

Implementing a comprehensive physical education program into schools is an approach that allows students to build a strong relationship with physical activity that will encourage them to remain active throughout their lives.

School districts that use a comprehensive physical education program begin with physical activity as the foundation of their program. Through a multi-component approach, the school works to engage the students in physical activity by involving the staff, the students’ family and the community. PE class isn’t the only time kids should be up and moving. A comprehensive physical education program includes physical activities before, during and after school to help kids reach the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity.

How Can I Assess a Physical Education Curriculum?

Before you take action to help improve your child’s physical education program, it helps to first assess where the school’s physical education curriculum stands and how it could be improved.

That’s where the PECAT and HECAT come in. These stand for the Physical Education Curriculum Analysis Tool (PECAT) and the Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool (HECAT). These tools have been created and provided by the CDC to help individuals see how their school’s physical education curriculum stacks up against the National Physical Education Standards.

How Can I Advocate Better Physical Education at My Child’s School?

After assessing the PE curriculum at your child’s school, you may want to get involved with changes to the program. We suggest doing so in three steps, by advocating, ensuring and insisting.

Start by making sure your voice is heard. Talk with school officials and become a part of your school’s parent-teacher organization. Rally together other parents who feel strongly about your cause. Advocate for daily physical education taught by a PE teacher with the proper credentials.

Second, ensure teachers are working with the parents and administration to build a curriculum that aligns with these physical education goals. Meet with your child’s PE teacher to discuss your concerns and ideas, and then bring the solution to other teachers who can help their students enjoy physical activity in the classroom.

Finally, insist that teachers in every grade have access to the resources they need to achieve these goals. That means they need professional development opportunities and training programs that will teach them the content and strategies to execute their part in an effective comprehensive PE program.

By getting involved this summer, you can help build a better and more well-rounded PE program ready for when your child returns to school in the fall.

Awesome Activities for the Last PE Lesson of the School Year

Thursday, June 15th, 2017

gym teacher holds a basketball in front of his young students

PE classes are a great way to end the school year on a high note and get children in the habit of staying active over the summer.

As PE teachers already know, encouraging kids to stay active should entail a lot of fun. The key is creating activities that are physically demanding, while also being entertaining and engaging. Read on to discover exciting games that will make the end of the school year more of a celebration and less of a chore.

Scavenger Hunts

Armed with imagination, energetic workout routines and a few fun clues, students will be instantly inspired to embark on whatever adventure you choose to send them on. Students will learn the value of teamwork while cheering on teammates during challenges, and improve their cognitive and reasoning skills as they decipher clues to keep moving forward.

What You’ll Need:

  • Written clues to lead students to destinations where they will perform exercises (one for each student)
  • Exercise sets which have been carefully thought out and planned ahead of time (one for each student)
  • Colored markers that students will locate at their assigned tasks (one color for each team, one marker of that color for each team member)

How to Play:

Prior to starting the game, instructors hide the markers at each “challenge area.” At the start of gameplay, decide the order in which students will perform tasks. Give them the first exercise at their “home base,” such as 20 jumping jacks, and award them with their first clue. Students must then decipher the clue as a team. This will lead them to their first location, where they will hunt for their team’s colored marker.

 

Upon returning to the “homebase” with the marker, the next student performs the next set of exercises for the next clue. This is repeated until each student has had a turn, each clue has been given out and gameplay is concluded.

 

Dance Parties

It’s no secret that grade school children love to dance, but did you know that dance improves emotional and social skills, as well? Why not turn their favorite activity into a fun end-of-year extravaganza? Students will happily try out complex cardiovascular fitness routines when they’re having a blast. So, find some upbeat music and make it a memorable last day of class.

What You’ll Need:

  • A device with a speaker to play positive music which is suitable for school and ideal for dancing. You can even take music requests from students beforehand.
  • A few carefully choreographed, age-appropriate fitness routines. Modern dance crazes like the Cupid Shuffle, Whip/Nae Nae or the Cha-Cha Slide are easy to learn and probably already familiar to some students.

How to Play:

This activity is as simple as pressing play on a music device. Try adding a little extra difficulty by instructing the kids to freeze every time the music stops – it’s amazing how long a child can stand still for competitive reasons.

Old-Fashioned Field Games

Set up some Field Day favorites, like sack races and egg-and-spoon races. Have stations for kids to try all the activities and either keep score on teams, or just make it about having fun. The great thing about these games is that most students won’t know how to do them well, so it will be an even playing field for everyone.

What You’ll Need:

  • Potato sacks
  • Eggs or ping pong balls
  • Spoons
  • Any other items for your Field Day ideas

How to Play:

Decide which Field Day activities you want to include, and then go online to find out the official rules and supplies. Feel free to tweak the games to fit the children’s age or interests.

The last days of school should favor fun, and with these great PE activities your students are sure to start the summer with a smile. Check out our lesson plans for more PE inspiration.