Archive for the ‘PE Lesson Plans’ Category

Why Your Lesson Plans Should Include Non-Traditional Sports

Thursday, November 30th, 2017

two high school students throw a disc back and forth

Many schools across the country have relied on the same sporting activities for their PE classes for decades. But, while traditional lesson plans get children moving, they might not be keeping them interested in sports and fitness in the long-run.

By incorporating non-traditional sports into your PE classes, students are exposed to a whole new world of physical activity. This can help them stay engaged in class, become more interested in their health, and even find the sport they want to practice for the rest of their lives.

If you’re a physical educator looking to shake up your lesson plans with non-traditional sports, here are just some of the advantages for your students, plus some great tips for your next class.

Benefits of Breaking from Tradition

Even the most active kids in the class can grow tired of the same old PE classes.

An injection of non-traditional sports might be just what you need to keep your students on their toes. Not only will a new activity guarantee a more varied and exciting lesson, but it will also broaden children’s knowledge of sports (and even cultures if you try an activity from a far-flung country).

In fact, non-traditional sports are more than just another way to keep your students physically active – they also train different parts of their bodies. While classic games such as kickball and capture the flag boost cardiovascular strength, more unusual activities like yoga can teach children balance, breath control, and how to engage muscles that aren’t always trained. There is also an opportunity for students to develop their minds with non-traditional sports like geocaching and team juggling, because of the aspect of problem-solving and teamwork involved. The huge variety of sports you can try ensures something for every student – regardless of their capabilities – which is key to keeping your PE classes inclusive and fun for all.

Another benefit of introducing a range of activities into your PE lessons is that students have a better chance of becoming acquainted with their perfect sport. If a child finds an activity they really connect with, they will want to practice it regularly, and even into adulthood. That’s good news for their health at school and in the years to come.

Non-traditional sports can do more than just change up your PE lesson plans – they can change children’s whole approach to fitness and their appreciation of physical activity. Besides a bit of research, they’re not even very difficult to implement. So how can you set this kind of change in motion?

Non-Traditional Sports to Try in Class

There are a number of routes you can take to incorporate non-traditional activities into your PE lessons – it all depends on the skills you want to help your students develop.

World Sports for Cultural Awareness

World sports aren’t just fun to play, they’re a great way to learn about the culture of other countries. As well as discovering a new sport and working on new skills, you can also introduce the country of origin and a few fun facts for added geographical education. Your students will love the challenge of Sepak Takraw and the concept of Kin-Ball.

Problem-Solving and Teamwork Activities

Get kids thinking while they exercise with problem-solving and teamworking opportunities. Working with others is an important life skill to learn and traditional sports often pit students against one another instead of fostering collaboration and communication. What’s more, the gentler nature of this kind of physical activity is ideal for all students.

Creative Sports for Self-Expression

Dancing is an excellent way to keep kids active. Try playing school-appropriate hit songs – or even take requests – and teach your students the dance routine. Learning the moves is excellent brain-training, and you can even add an opportunity for freestyling to allow children to individually express themselves. The best part of this activity is that you only need speakers and a playlist.

Popular Fitness Movements

Let children safely practice non-traditional sports they’ve probably seen outside of school. Stunts and tumbling and ultimate flying disk are exciting activities that are sure to make your PE lesson a hit. It also provides students with a chance to try a sport they’re really interested in, which boosts in-class engagement.

Technology-Based Activities

Although students can get bored of the same PE routine, they still enjoy elements of the familiar. Gaming is a common hobby among many children today, so why not integrate technology into your PE class? Active gaming allows your class to apply their tech skills to a wide variety of interactive sports. It’s also the ideal PE activity for a rainy day.

Check out SPARK’s PE lesson plans today for more inspired PE activities to improve the long-term health and well-being of your students.

Keep Your PE Students Engaged with These 5 Tips

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

Kindergarten students sitting on the floor

It doesn’t matter how many activities you dedicate to building muscle groups or motor skills if you can’t get your students to care about doing them. If your kids seem to be going through the motions in your PE class, but aren’t really excited or engaged in learning the fitness concepts, they’re not going to take away long-term benefits from your lessons. Helping your students stay on track with fitness goals is a whole lot easier if they are actively engaged in your class.

If you notice students showing less interest during PE, the swiftest way to get their attention is to do something unexpected — switch up their routine. Through the use of invigorating warm-ups, creative fitness circuits, and innovative activities, you can get students amped to participate in class. Here are five tips for keeping your students engaged and active.

1. Divide Students into Groups

Managing a large group of students is a challenge for any teacher, but especially in PE where kids are up and moving for most of the class period. In a large class, your students may be more likely to get distracted, and you are probably less likely to notice. Try dividing your students into smaller, more manageable groups when focusing on an activity. If splitting up your class will result in too many groups to monitor closely, consider utilizing aides or nominating student ambassadors to keep groups on task.

2. Implement Creative Warm-Ups

Before you begin the day’s activities, lead a creative and high-energy warm-up. Not only will your students reap the physical benefits of stretching their muscles before they begin the day’s work, but an interesting warm-up helps students get focused and engaged. Aside from stretching, warm-ups can include dancing, jumping in place, and other movements that get blood flowing. Think outside the box to stimulate their muscles and pique their interests right at the beginning of class.

3. Create Fitness Circuits

Fitness circuits are a great way to keep small groups of students focused and challenged during PE. To set up circuits, you’ll need enough space to spread each student group into a large circle, some cones, and flash cards with instructions. In this activity, students will move at your cue from station to station, engaging in a different exercise at each station. To set up fitness circuits:

  • Place the cones, equally spaced, in a large circle. Attach an instruction card to each cone, describing the activity for that station.
  • Alternate high-intensity and low-intensity cone stations around the circle.
  • Decide how long groups will stay at each station (no more than a few minutes).
  • Use a whistle or music over a speaker system, so you have an audible cue to let students know when to move to the next circuit station.

You can set up all types of circuits, which is another advantage to the system. Popular types of circuits include:

  • Track and field circuits (for outdoor classes). Stations include long jump, sprint, and triple jump.
  • Learning and fitness circuits. Combine stations featuring endurance exercises with stations where students must answer a series of questions about healthy diets.
  • Muscle building circuits. Alternate stretching and weight lifting stations.
  • Play Music: Adding music can be a great way to encourage students, and dancing is a great workout!
  • Make it fun: Fun should be at the core of all of your classes, so always remember to emphasize having fun!

4. Provide New and Challenging Activities

Keep your classes feeling fresh and intriguing by adding new activities periodically. When you keep your students on their toes with new challenges to navigate, they are more likely to pay attention in class. Challenges may be related to building varied skills, or advancing the level of difficulty of your previous activities. Keep the new challenge in your schedule for a month or so, and then start rotating in new exercises or levels to give your students both mental and physical stimulation.

5. Get Feedback

Perhaps the most important way to figure out how to get students engaged is to ask them for honest feedback about class. A lack of engagement in class may be fixed with a solution you didn’t think up on your own. Ask which parts of the fitness circuits your students enjoy most. Are they more interested in organized sports? Do they enjoy setting up drills, splitting into stations, or pairing mental puzzles and challenges with physical exercises? Your students may give you some great ideas for activities they want to do. Plus, gauging the interest of your students on a regular basis will help you monitor when their engagement is dipping, giving you a heads up about when to switch the routine again.

Improving Student Engagement Benefits Them Outside of Class, Too

As much as you can plan well-balanced activities to teach your class about fitness and nutrition, it’s the student engagement that makes or breaks any PE class. Stimulate your students’ brains by introducing fresh activities, crafting challenges that require mental concentration as well as physical skills, and switching up the routine periodically so it doesn’t feel boring.

Not only will students enjoy better fitness outcomes when they are fully engaged, but they may gain an interest in athletics that transcends PE and leads them to join in a sports team, new school activity, or active hobby. Remember, one of your biggest tasks as a physical educator is to not just make your year with them an active one, but to help give students lifelong knowledge and appreciation for fitness.

13 Spooky Lesson Plans

Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

13 Spooky Lesson Plans

While September may find your students invigorated with the energy of a fresh start, by October, the excitement of beginning a new school year has usually begun to fade. Put some pep back in their step, with a little spook factor!

Halloween is a great time of year to re-engage your PE classes with some seasonal fun. SPARK’s PE lesson plans already offer a wealth of exciting activities, so don’t be afraid to get creative and add a spine-tingling new twist to one of your tried-and-true lesson plans.

Here are a few examples for your inspiration. Many of these activities already have a holiday twist, so it’s easy to transform their theme from Thanksgiving to Halloween with seasonal toys and props, or just a simple name change.

1. Capture the Jack-O’-Lantern

Turn this fun Capture the Turkey activity into Capture the Jack-o’-Lantern by exchanging the toy turkey for a rubber jack-o’-lantern toy. A rubber skull works just as well, and you’re sure to delight your students with a spooky game of Capture the Jack-o’-Lantern.

2. Zombie Tag

Use a Halloween toy to turn Turkey Tag into Zombie Tag. Have students who are tagged lurch around like zombies, until they are tapped on the shoulder to be ‘awakened’ or ‘cured’ from their zombie infection.

3. The Monster Mash

Combine a Halloween-themed toy (rubber skeletons would work well) and a spooky playlist, and you can easily turn the Turkey Trot into the Monster Mash. When they’re tagged, have your “Fleer” students act like classic monsters, before they become the “Chasers.”

4. Mummy Bowling

You don’t need a new toy to turn Aerobic Bowling into Mummy Bowling. Simply change the names of the bowling pins (or lightweight cones, if you choose) into mummies. If you want to get crafty, glue some googly eyes to the bowling pins to give the ‘mummies’ a face! Students must roll balls to knock the mummies down before they can come to life and chase their classmates.

5. Monsters Alive

Grades K-2 will enjoy Monsters Alive, a Halloween twist on Toys Alive. The students have to act like Halloween characters (think monsters, mummies, witches…), but can only move when the PE teacher isn’t looking — and must freeze in their pose when the teacher turns around.

6. Ghost Tag

Update the theme of Triangle Tag to transform it into Ghost Tag — this one’s ideal for grades 3-6. In this version, players can be renamed as Halloween characters (such as Dracula, Frankenstein, or Casper the Ghost!), and live out a Halloween-inspired story.

7. Vampire Tag

Convert the tried and true Rock-Paper-Scissors Tag into Vampire Tag. The winner of each rock-paper-scissors match becomes a vampire, who must chase his or her partner.

8. Tiny Pumpkin

Changing the game of Tiny Soccer into Tiny Pumpkin is as simple as a name switch! Just call your paper balls ‘pumpkins’ instead of soccer balls. No adjustments to the rules are needed.

9. Lava Aerobics

All grade levels can do Lava Aerobics, an exciting version of Paper Plate Aerobics. The object is to do the aerobic moves while keeping your feet on the paper plates, which are your only protection because the floor is lava — yikes!

10. Werewolf Tag

With a little imagination, Hospital Tag becomes Werewolf Tag. This game is suited for grades 3-6. The rules are as follows: If you get one “bite,” you must use your other hand; the second bite sends you to the hospital (sidelines) to get treatment, so you won’t turn into a werewolf.

11. Spiderwebs

To turn this fun Hearty Hoopla game into a spooky Spiderwebs game, consider the hoops as spiderwebs. The goal is for each team to try to collect as many rubber spider toys as possible from the other team’s webs.

12. Spider Boogie

Grades K-2 can play Spider Boogie by substituting a rubber spider toy for the beanbag traditionally used in Line Boogie. If you can’t get your hands on a fun toy, simply refer to the beanbag as a spider.

13. Werewolf Puppy Chase

Elementary aged students may love Werewolf Puppy Chase, a Halloween version of Catch and Chase that’s much more cute than scary. Play as usual, but when the music stops, the student holding the ball turns into a werewolf puppy and chases the other partner, trying to tag them (safely and softly — these pups are just playing).

The Right Spooky Atmosphere for Each Age Group

Think about age appropriateness when catering these activities — not only to avoid making things too scary in your younger classes, but also to ensure that you make activities intriguing enough to hold the interest of your older students.

For elementary students, exercises involving role playing and sound effects lend themselves well to young minds. Students can pretend to be monsters, or role play as the character they intend to choose for their Halloween costume. SPARK’s Superhero lesson plan suggestions offer a number of ideas that would also work for Halloween, and can suit all ages.

Middle school students could try a Halloween-inspired track and field day. Think of the fun students can have when Team Vampire, Team Werewolf, and Team Zombie compete in relay races and obstacle courses.

High school students may enjoy a lesson plan infused with a scary narrative. Everyone knows you need excellent cardio in order to run from a monster attack. Perhaps you could frame all your class activities as training exercises to practice different ways to escape from hordes of zombies.

5 Research-Driven Tactics to Improve Your PE Class

Thursday, October 5th, 2017

Gym teacher helping student climb gymnasium climbing equipmentIt’s recommended that kids in elementary school spend at least 150 minutes per week in a physical education class (this jumps to 225 minutes for middle school and high school students). In order to make the most of those minutes, physical educators must be strategic in designing lesson plans and structured activities. The goal should be to provide students with as much value to their long-term health and fitness as you can fit into your weekly lesson times.

Research shows that well-structured PE classes not only boost physical health, but can also supplement academic performance by increasing concentration in class and supporting cognitive growth. What does a well-structured PE class look like? Lesson plans can take many forms, but the key factor connecting all good PE classes is that the methods used are supported by studies and research with proven benefits for students.

Here, we’ll look at just 5 research-backed tactics that could improve the value of your PE lessons.

1. Maintain Activity at Least 50% of the Time

PE classes aren’t just about teaching students the facts and figures surrounding health and fitness; your class should also provide an active contrast to the hours of static learning that students engage in each day. Unfortunately, studies show that almost half the schools in the US have no PE curriculum, leaving educators struggling to optimize their classes for success. How much time should be spent playing kickball or introducing concepts surrounding heart health and nutrition?

Overall, the CDC recommends that all PE lessons should focus on keeping students active at least 50% of the class time. To increase the amount of your class time dedicated to getting your students up and moving, consider the following strategies:

2. Teach the Science Behind Active Lifestyles and Exercise

The exercises and drills in physical education class can feel like chores when children don’t know why they’re doing them. Help your students understand the science behind why physical activity is so important to their health. By incorporating a small health lesson with your exercise plans, you can boost their motivation in class while providing them with supplemental knowledge about their own bodies.

According to a meta-analysis by Lonsdale et al, physical education lessons that outline the health benefits of activity can significantly increase the amount of dedication children show towards fitness — helping to foster a commitment to regular exercise. Controlled randomized studies also show that teaching the reasons behind activity in PE made students more motivated to engage in physical activities.

Consider outlining the health benefits of an activity at the beginning of each lesson, and ask your students to reiterate those benefits at the end of the exercise.

3. Use Circuit Training to Reduce Boredom

Boredom is a sneaky opponent to physical activity. Many adults struggle to stay motivated when their workout becomes repetitive and predictable — young children are even more susceptible to this kind of distraction and lack of interest. Circuit training can be effective at eliminating boredom and improving student engagement. It can also be a good way to differentiate learning by giving two choices of activity at each station.

Circuit training involves moving quickly from one physical activity to another in the form of a circuit. Because there’s a clear pattern in these lessons, it can be easier for educators to measure progress, or pinpoint children that are struggling and offer additional help. You can even implement cognitive learning into circuit training; amid physical exercise stations, include stations where students take a quick break from activity to answer questions or discuss the physical benefits they’re getting from each exercise.

4. Introduce Cooperative Learning

The concept of “cooperative learning” stems from the premise that developing self-knowledge is important to students’ lifelong skills for functioning in group situations. A lot of teaching and learning in PE classes happens in small team and group situations. Good group experiences can empower your students as they work towards team goals.

Cooperative learning programs aim to teach:

  • Positive interdependence — students take on key roles in a group to achieve common goals.
  • Accountability — students recognize their place in contributing to the success of a team.
  • Group processing — students reflect on where they need to improve as a group.
  • Developing social skills and leadership skills within students.

Find games and activities that require students to work together cohesively as a team. For instance, students in a game of “kin-ball” will need to work together to transfer a ball into a hoop as a team. This motivates individuals to become productive team members.

5. Implement the Public Health Approach

The “Public Health” approach focuses on helping students develop active habits both inside and outside of the PE classroom. For instance, the “Sports, Play and Active Recreation for Kids!” curriculum by SPARK delivers physical activity to lessons beyond just PE, expanding fitness into academic classes, as well.

According to a study by Locke & Lambdin, elementary students involved in SPARK PE programs showed an increase in physical activity. Additionally, a study by Sallis et al found that students taught with the SPARK curriculum spent more minutes per week being physically active.

Aside from implementing more movement into classroom settings, fitness habits can also be introduced in after school activities. For instance, SPARK After School research can contribute to greater fitness scores in children, better nutrition knowledge, and reduced sedentary behavior.

These five methods are just a sampling of the many research-based tactics out there for improving value in PE classes. Take your newfound knowledge and data-driven strategies, and apply these to your own physical education lesson plans to get your kids more engaged, interested, and committed to their own health!

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 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:


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


  • 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


  • 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.

Developing a Learning Roadmap – What Is It and How Can It Help?

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

Teacher sitting in front of eager students

A learning roadmap is a corporate technique that’s becoming more and more popular in educational institutions.

In the corporate world, it refers to an individual plan for your career and professional development, and in schools it’s much the same. At its simplest, a roadmap will identify milestones that the district, school, educator, or individual student should achieve. Those milestones are broken down into clear steps and components to achieve those milestones.

The learning roadmap can be especially helpful for students and educators to navigate physical education together. But how do you create a learning roadmap, and more importantly, how will it help with your physical education classes?

Developing a Learning Roadmap

A good place to start when developing your learning roadmap is by unpacking the national standards for physical education. With this approach, you can identify the actions of the curriculum outcomes and break them down into smaller parts.

Breaking down each physical education goal into individual components can make it easier to track a student’s progress and to understand where they need to improve. You can even break the learning roadmaps down into visual rubrics that explain in detail what defines progress. This way, you and your students can clearly see the different levels of physical education activities and what is required for each one.

Turning Goals into Components

So, how might you break physical education activities down into clear and effective components?

If the curriculum requires students to participate in 60 minutes of daily exercise, they’ll have to learn how to exercise first. To begin with, they’ll need to learn the basics, from good posture, to running, to throwing. Then, they can mix these basic skills together into different movements or activities, like playing baseball or even a game of tag. Creating a roadmap will allow you to guide your students through this development and inspire your lesson plans along the way.

Another curriculum requirement might be that students showcase fitness literacy, the evidence of which being that they can “demonstrate, with teacher direction, the health-related fitness components.” You could break that down into a spectrum, from a level one student who “cannot list or define the components of fitness,” to a top-level student who “can list the components of fitness and can provide a basic definition of each.”

In this example, the priority becomes teaching the students the components of fitness and their definitions. It helps if you focus your lessons on these components to ensure students reach the overall objective of improved fitness literacy.

How a Learning Roadmap Helps

At the end of the day, a learning roadmap should help schools meet the needs of today’s physical education students and prepare them for their future. This planning tool can be used as a flexible, forward-thinking accompaniment to the traditional curriculum.

As a physical educator, building a learning roadmap will help you define goals for your students, which can be broken down into components that will shape your lesson plans. This will steadily improve students’ understanding of fitness, as well as their overall fitness literacy, ultimately empowering them to take control of their learning. After all, when students have something to work towards, they make more visible progress.

One of the more long-term benefits of adopting a learning roadmap is that students will be ready to bring those skills out of the classroom and into the real world when they graduate. In that sense, the technique comes full circle to the corporate world from where it originated!

Contact SPARK today to speak with our knowledgeable team about other physical education innovations you can incorporate into your classes.


Up, Up, and Away! Superhero Lesson Plans

Monday, August 21st, 2017


If you can’t get your students into being more active, maybe Superman can!

If there’s one thing kids these days love, it’s superheroes. Even when you limit their screen time and they haven’t seen the movies, chances are they’ve still heard about Iron Man or Wonder Woman from one of their friends.

Fortunately, as a physical educator, you can harness this enthusiasm into some super lessons of your own.

Superhero Skills

Role playing in your class can be a great way to introduce younger students to basic fitness concepts and movements.

Start by having your students come up with their own superhero name based on a particular athletic skill like jumping, balancing or throwing. Suggest ideas based on the curriculum you are using, or find inspiration through other lesson plans for elementary-age students.

Next, have them invent a scenario where they need to use that skill. For example, maybe “Jumping Jane” needs to jump over a river to help her friend, or “Throwing Boy” needs to throw a life preserver to someone in the water. Help individual students perfect a signature move with your guidance for proper form.

Once their backstory is established, have each student share their superhero and their signature move with the class. At this point, all of your students should try out this move. Help them as needed to ensure they’re using proper form. You can even use the associated rubrics to score students based on this exercise.

Superhero Sounds

Boom! Pow! Zap!

Having students act out typical superhero sounds effects is another elementary-age technique that can be used alone or integrated into lesson plans like the one above.

Work with students to decide what physical movement each sound evokes: whether a big jump for “boom!”, a kickbox-style punch for “pow!”, or a double spin for “zap!” Decide on a series of sound actions and teach them to your whole class before integrating them into an exciting story. Your students have to act out each sound when they hear you say it.

Storytime just got a whole new twist!

Superhero Day

For older students, you can make a whole day out of superhero physical activities.

Try reframing the traditional track and field day as a superhero day. With a pinch of imagination and any middle school lesson plan, you can create a day-long mission requiring superheroes. Just make sure you relate the activities back to your school and district’s specific curriculum.

Start by setting the mood with superhero-themed teams and colored t-shirts to match. Divide the class into groups like the green Hulks, blue Wonder Kids, and red Iron People. Then, make a list of the skills and activities you’re due to complete and transform them into a day of superhero activities. You’ll turn traditional track and field on its head – superhero style!

A regular sprint and jump circuit fulfills National Standards elements of “running, jumping, analyzing and correcting movement errors” and “participation in physical activity, conditioning application.” But a Ninja Turtle circuit, where students sprint pizza boxes to their fellow “turtles” and jump over obstacles along the way, fulfills the fun requirements that National Standards might not cover.

It’s the perfect way to enjoy an entertaining, yet effective, day of physical education.

Superhero Sports

Every high school has a football team, but how many have an elite alien-neutralizing task force?

Something that works for K-12 students is turning their favorite sport into a superhero narrative.

Reimagining a football as an alien object that needs to be neutralized across the line adds an element of fun and imagination to a familiar game. Turning badminton rackets into Spider-Man’s extensions can do much the same. Take a look at some of the lesson plans for high school-age students that incorporate specific sports, and try to think of ways they can be reframed as superhero activities.

Just because students aren’t in elementary school anymore doesn’t mean they can’t use their imagination. Integrating imagination and creativity into physical education lesson plans at all levels has the potential to boost student participation and make physical education more fun.

But, at the end of the day, an educator who gets kids more involved in fitness is the real superhero!

Contact SPARK today to speak to our expert team about more lesson plans for your physical education classes.

No Gym? No Sweat: Physical Education Ideas Fit for Any Space

Monday, August 14th, 2017

Kids stretching in empty room on yoga mats

The word gymnasium suggests basketball hoops, climbing ropes, and other tools that help keep active bodies and active minds fit and busy. It’s a classroom like any other; where vital skills like teamwork, commitment, and leadership are learned. In a way, the gym is the fitness center for the mind: “Movement activates all the brain cells kids are using to learn,” John Ratey, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, says. “It wakes up the brain.”

But in many schools, the gym is a multi-purpose facility; the setting for assemblies, science fairs, concerts and drama productions, and other activities that, while central to the daily life of the school, can leave physical education teachers scrambling. (This sort of thing never happens in chemistry class.)

So, what do you do when your gym class suddenly has no gym? It’s often not as simple as opening the door and turning the kids loose outside. Not every school has a playing field, and even those that do are always at the mercy of Mother Nature. Sometimes, the cafeteria, an empty classroom, or even the hallway will have to do. Use these SPARK lesson plans to turn just about any space into an ad hoc gym with just a little bit of equipment and a whole lot of imagination.

Squirrels in the Trees

What you need: Nothing at all!

Set ‘em up: Establish a mid-sized playing area of about 20 paces by 20 paces. Break the students up into groups of three, with one group member designated as the “squirrel” and the other two as “trees.”

How to play:

  1. Facing each other, the trees join hands. The squirrel stands outside the trees.
  2. On the teacher’s signal, the trees lift their arms and the squirrel moves under them to the other side. Then, the trees squat down and hold their arms low to the ground while the squirrel moves over them. Next, the trees stand up again and the squirrel moves around them on the outside. Finally, the trees crouch while holding one arm up and one down while the squirrel moves through the space between them. The full sequence should take about 30 seconds.
  3. The teacher signals again, one tree switches roles with the squirrel, and the cycle repeats.
  4. After one more signal, the last tree gets a turn at being the squirrel.

Musical Hoops

What you need: One standard hula-hoop per every two students; a device to play music.

Set ‘em up: Scatter students and hoops around the space. Use as much of the room as you can to encourage movement.

How to play:

  1. When the music starts, move about the room. Watch out for other students and try to look for open space.
  2. When it stops, get inside the nearest hoop as quickly as you can. (If you can’t find your own hoop, share with someone else; you just have to have one foot inside the hoop.)
  3. Once the music starts again, step out of your hoop and keep moving. This is where it gets interesting: The teacher will remove one hoop from the playing area!
  4. At the end of each round, there will be fewer and fewer hoops to squeeze into. Will everyone fit inside?

Grab the Apple

What you need: One beanbag (or similarly graspable item) per every two students; a device to play music.

Set ‘em up: Set the students up in pairs sitting cross-legged on the floor and facing each other. Place a beanbag between each pair.

How to play:

  1. The students sit facing each other with their hands on their knees while the music plays. When the music stops, the first one to snatch up the beanbag wins the round.
  2. In each new round, the students move into a different position and perform an exercise of the teacher’s choice while the music plays. One round could be situps to the beat of the music, followed by pushups, then leg pumps from a pushup position. Get creative and see what your kids can do!

Need ideas to keep your students fit, happy, and eager to learn? SPARK can help. We work hard to create best research-based physical education programs for kids from pre-K through grade 12. Discover the curriculum, training, and equipment that best fits your class.

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.