Posts Tagged ‘Physical Activity’


Physical Education vs. Physical Activity [INFOGRAPHIC]

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

The two terms are often used interchangeably, but they’re not the same thing! Although they work together like peanut butter and jelly, Physical Education and Physical Activity are two separate things — and it’s important for teachers and parents to understand the difference.

physical activity vs physical education

 

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Physical Activity

— any bodily movement that involves physical exertion

  • A physical activity program gets you up and moving, in some form. This can include recreational sports, fitness classes, after-school programs, and recess.
  • Physical activity is unstructured
    • Kids can make their own choices and create their own rules
    • Helpful for learning social skills and problem solving techniques
  • Just some of the things that count as physical activity…
    • Dancing
    • Walking the dog
    • Doing push-ups
    • Throwing a baseball
    • Playing tag at recess
    • And much more!
  • Physical activity is one part of a physical education program — but physical activity can be found in many areas outside of physical education.
  • Physical activity should be incorporated throughout the day: before and after school, and during recess

Physical Education

— curriculum-based program that teaches students the benefits of physical activity, builds techniques for leading an active lifestyle, and promotes lifelong healthy habits.

  • A physical education program not only gets children moving, but also teaches them why that activity is important, what types of activity benefit your body, and how you can stay active throughout your life.
  • Physical education is structured
    • Students are taught how to play and skills needed to play
    • Students learn the rules for how to play games and participate
    • There is a structured warm-up and cool down
  • Physical education teaches children the importance of being physically active and about the human body and body systems
  • Physical education programs include:
    • A written curriculum, with clear objectives
    • Some form of grading or assessment
    • Standards and Grade-Level Outcomes
    • Physical activity for most of the class time
    • Lessons in ways to lead a healthy lifestyle through physical activity, nutrition, fitness, and social responsibility
  • Physical education incorporates physical activity, along with many other things, to form a complete program.

Do You Need Both?

Yes, you do!

According to SHAPE America, physical activity should make up at least 50% of a physical education program.

Benefits of Physical Activity:

  • Releases endorphins
    • Children who get at least 15 minutes of recess a day behave better in class than students who get less than 15 minutes a day.
  • Strengthens muscles / bone density
    • Children ages 6-17 should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day, according to the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.
  • Reduces risk for diabetes, obesity, depression, and heart disease
  • Enhances cognition
    • Children respond to cognitive tasks faster and with greater accuracy after a session of physical activity.

Benefits of Physical Education:

  • Teaches safe and correct exercise techniques
  • Promotes good nutrition and understanding of the body
  • Encourages lifelong health habits, decreases chances of unhealthy adult lifestyle
    • Overweight teens have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults.
  • Enhances academic performance
    • Endurance exercise increases oxygen to the brain, strengthens neurotransmitters, and stimulates brain growth — improving your ability to think, learn, and retain information.
    • In physically fit children, the hippocampus (region of the brain affecting learning and memory) is roughly 12% larger than less fit children.
    • In a study of D.C. schools, students received higher standardized math scores when schools provided at least 90 minutes of physical education per week.
  • Builds skills in setting and achieving goals

Staying Active in Winter: Tips and Tricks for Kids

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

active

Staying active in the winter months can be a daunting task. Most people would just rather stay inside, veg out on the couch, and call it a day. But these kinds of activities aren’t good for your physical or mental health. Fortunately, there are numerous indoor activities that can be a good substitute for more typical outdoor sports during the winter months.

SPARK Lesson Plans

If your students are unwilling to go outside, there are several different games/activities that can be played indoors with little equipment.

We’ve put together collection of lesson plans that are perfect for indoor winter activities. Here are a few worth your attention:

Rock-Paper-Scissors Tag

In this game, kids partner up, play rock-paper-scissors at the midline, then whoever wins is “IT.” This person chases other players towards the endline. A point goes to the chaser if they tag a runner; a point goes to the runner if they make it safely to the endline. You’ll need cones, and flag belts are suggested.

Paper Plate Aerobics

In this game, kids have to keep a paper plate underneath each foot while doing some sort of movement. Examples include lunges, push-ups, and crunches. You could also have students use a softball and play catch with a couple others, without lifting feet off the plates.

Toy’s Alive!

In this game, everyone spreads out and pretends they are a toy (like in Toy Story). When they hear “Andy’s coming!” they must freeze in position. Students count down from three to one, and wait to hear “All Clear!” to move again. In order to move, they must use a bean bag as a “battery,” balanced on their head or shoulder. If the bean bag falls, the student must freeze until another toy-student helps them out. You’ll need cones and bean bags for this activity.

YMCA’s, Open Gyms, and Community Centers

Encourage students to take fitness into their own hands, outside of school. During the winter season, there’s a lot of time over break that should be used to constructively balance holiday indulgence.

YMCA’s offer a multitude of options for indoor activities, that vary depending on the location. A few different things that may be available at your local YMCA:

  • Gymnastics, swim classes, youth fitness classes (yoga, dance, Zumba)
  • Sports; basketball, flag football, volleyball, martial arts, running

Besides YMCA’s, open gyms, usually reserved for basketball, are “open” for anyone to use. They can also have space for gymnastics or volleyball nets. This is a great option to suggest to students with specific activity preferences.

Local community centers offer a variety of different activity options that are similar to what a local YMCA might provide. A local community center might offer martial arts, dance classes, and various sports teams to sign up for. But staying active doesn’t always mean doing a sport or exercise class. Another “activity” might be something like taking a cooking class as a family at a community center.

Bowling/Indoor Rollerblading/Indoor Trampoline

The best way to get a student to exercise? Make it seem like something that’s more “fun” than “work.” A few ideas to suggest for staying active in winter:

Bowling

Bowling gets you up and moving, plus it’s fun. You don’t have to be great at bowling, and there are bumpers on the lanes for kids. It’s also relatively inexpensive!

Indoor Rollerblading

Students may claim it’s too cold to go outside to ice skate, so encourage them to opt instead for indoor rollerblading. There are many health benefits associated with rollerblading: it’s easier on the joints, improves your overall mood, and can also help with endurance and agility.

Indoor Trampoline: Indoor trampoline parks are getting more and more popular. It’s an indoor park composed of trampolines and a pit of foam cubes to jump into. Trampolining is a great way to get kids active! Did you know that a ten minute bounce is the same as a half hour run?

Outdoor Activities

Just because it’s winter, doesn’t mean you HAVE to be stuck inside! There are many activities to do outside that kids, and parents, can enjoy. Some suggestions:

  • Build a snowman or snow fort
  • Go skiing, sledding, or snowboarding
  • Bundle up and go for a walk

Indoor Activities

We aren’t out of ideas for staying active in the winter yet! Here are some indoor activities to suggest to students that will probably please their parents.

Cleaning the House

It doesn’t have to be a chore! You can do a couple things to make this fun:

  1. Make it a game: whoever cleans their bedroom the fastest (an adult has to approve of thoroughness) gets a simple reward (like their choice for dinner).
  2. Turn the cleaning into a dance party and blast some tunes.

Cooking/Baking

Cooking and baking can really get you moving in the kitchen. You can turn it into family time, as well and cook/bake together. If it’s around the holiday time, encourage parents to bake cookies and decorate them with the kids. Learning to cook and manage your nutrition is not only a valuable skill, it’s also something fun to do when it’s freezing outside.

Active Video Games

Many gaming consoles have active video game titles kids can play. From Nintendo’s Wii Sports, to Xbox’s Kinect, there are plenty of options. You might also suggest dancing games like Zumba and Just Dance.

Staying active during the winter is difficult for many, and being cooped up isn’t fun either.  But staying active in winter helps physical health as well as mental health. You will have more energy and be less lethargic if you use some of these tips!

How Much Activity Do Young Children Need?

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

exercise

Physical activity is an important factor in the healthy development of children. Inadequate physical activity negatively impacts childhood development and puts children at risk to become obese, develop Type II diabetes, and cardiovascular health risks, Unfortunately, many parents underestimate the role that activity  plays in keeping children happy and healthy. According to a recent survey outlined by WebMD, only 15% of parents regard overall physical health as a primary concern for their children.

Young children have an inherent desire to be active, which can be fostered by parents and caregivers. Strategies for encouraging positive activity and nutritional behaviors should start during early childhood because this stage of development is a critical period learning.  Inactivity becomes the norm when children are not giving opportunity for movement. Physical activity activity time is rapidly being replaced with “screen time” (television and computers). Major cities and towns have become less physically active friendly with  automobile commutes where children are confined to car seats for long periods of time.  

Parents, caregivers, and early childhood learning centers should provide environments that promote structured and unstructured physical activity time. Structured activity is teacher/adult led through a curriculum ensuring both a physically and emotionally safe environment, Unstructured physical activity is “free play” or recess.

What Do the Experts Say?

According to SHAPE America (The Society of Health and Physical Educators) , toddlers should be engaged in at least 30 minutes of structured physical activity and  preschoolers 60 minutes of structured physical activity.  Both groups should have a minimum of 60 minutes of unstructured physical activity time and should not be sedentary for more than 60 minutes at a time except when sleeping. These activity times can be divided into smaller blocks of time throughout the day to avoid large periods of time when children are sedentary.  

The American Heart Association suggests that a sedentary lifestyle represents a significant risk factor for the development of coronary artery disease and may boost the risk of significant cardiovascular threats, such as low HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, and obesity. The AHA agrees that all children above the age of two should be getting at least 60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per day. Their guidelines also suggest splitting the full activity hour into several shorter periods for children who struggle to exercise for extended periods of time.

What Should the Recommended 60 Minutes Include?

Parents and caregivers can help shape a child’s attitudes towards physical activity by encouraging young children to be physically active. Children require a variety of activities to maintain and promote physical health.

The SPARK Programs (Sports, Play, and Active Recreation for Kids) encourages that Early Childhood structured physical activity time engage children in moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA)  at least 50% of the session time. Moderate physical activity is the equivalent of a fast walk while vigorous physical activity is similar to a jog.

SHAPE America also recommends “Preschoolers should be encouraged to develop competence in fundamental motor skills that will serve as the building blocks for future motor skillfulness and physical activity.”  These fundamental motor skills include locomotor skills and object control skills.

Physical activity programs like SPARK Early Childhood include academic integration during physical activity that focus on readiness skills such as listening, following direction, colors, numbers, shapes, literature, science, social skills, and rhythmic activities. SPARK Early Childhood also includes Family activities, simple fun activities that can be done with parents or caregivers, that require little or no planning.

Promoting Healthy Growth

If you’re concerned about how to incorporate such a wide range of exercise opportunities into your child’s day – remember it’s not as tough as it seems.  Learn what your child likes to do and get creative. For instance, if your child likes to explore, head for the nearest jungle gym. If your little one prefers creative activities, then go on a nature hike and collect leaves for a picture. SPARK suggests simple as turning on music and dancing or imitating animal movements instead of turning on a “screen” are wonderful ways to incorporate movement.  If your child is enrolled in an early childhood program, inquire about the physical activity program offered at the site to see if it meets the recommendations of SHAPE America and includes important school readiness skills.

It doesn’t matter how your child gets their recommended activity each day — what matters is exercise and movement are given the attention that they deserve.

Adapted Physical Activities for Recess

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

physical activities

Recess can be the most fun part of a child’s school day, and it’s important for any planned activities to be inclusive for all students.

That’s where adapted physical activities come in. These are activities that have been changed in one way or another to accommodate students who have sensory, motor and/or intellectual disabilities. The tools used in adapted physical activities are also often changed to fit students’ needs, and can include the use of textured sensory balls and padded equipment.

Adapted physical activities aren’t just for students with disabilities, and the right activity can be fun for all students to play together. They key is to have the proper equipment and supervision on hand so that all children participate equally.

Schoolyard Soccer

Soccer is one of the most popular recess sports, and can be easily adapted to allow for inclusion. Some strategies include:

  • Have students walk rather than run;
  • Use a slightly deflated ball, it rolls slower; or adapted equipment that is brightly colored, softer, larger, and/or is textured;
  • Make the playing area smaller and have less students on the field;
  • Ensure a teacher or student is on hand to blow a whistle or call out when a goal has been scored.

The above strategies aren’t dramatic shifts from soccer as we know it, but they do make the game more approachable for students with mobility issues and visual impairments.

Jump Rope

Jump rope can be an excellent way to increase both cardio levels and coordination. It can also be an excellent adapted physical education activity for recess.

One adapted technique is to have students change the way they move the rope. Rather than moving it in circles, try instead having two students hold the rope stationary at a height low to the ground. Students can then jump over the unmoving rope, mastering the movement it takes to jump rope the traditional way. Students without disabilities can be challenged by having the rope raised higher and higher with each subsequent jump. Students holding the rope need to hold it loosely that it comes out of their hands if a jumper trips over the rope, especially for students with limited gross motor skills.

For students who want to jump rope the traditional way, brightly colored ropes or a beaded rope can help increase awareness of when a child needs to successfully jump. The students turning the rope can also call out each time a student’s feet are supposed to leave the ground.

SHAPE America recommends ditching the skipping rope all together. By drawing a target on the ground, students can pretend to jump rope while hopping on and off that specific marker. That allows children to attain the same level of fitness and improve their coordination, without the pressure or frustration of having to keep the rope moving.

For students who can’t jump or children in wheelchairs, jump ropes can be an excellent tool to create a simple obstacle course on a smooth playground surface. Create a series of wavy lines or circles using the rope and have children run, walk, or wheel alongside that course.

Softball

Like soccer, this is another popular recess sport that can be made more inclusive. Recess supervisors should consider the following adaptations:

  • Use a velcro ball and provide those students with gross motor delays a velcro mitt;
  • Limit the pitching distance and have a batting tee on hand for students who have trouble with hand-eye coordination;
  • Reduce the distance between bases and have students without disabilities give tagging leeway for their classmates with a disability;
  • Replace bats with a tennis racquet for students who may have a hard time hitting the ball;
  • Have a bright colored, soft, or beeping ball that is better seen and heard by students with a visual impairment.

Since softball places the focus on one student at a time, it’s an easier activity to adapt for a child’s individual needs, regardless of whether or not they have a disability.

The key to incorporating adapted physical activity into recess is to ensure there’s buy-in from all children. This should be no problem at all if you maintain the tried and true elements of play: movement, laughter, and the opportunity to have fun.

 

Speak Up for Active Latino Kids!

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

Young Children With Bikes And Scooters In Park Smiling To Camera

Latino kids and teens don’t get enough physical activity, which is critical for a healthy weight and proper physical and mental growth and development.

But you have an opportunity to speak up for active kids!

Public comments are being sought for the second edition of the U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which sets vital activity recommendations for those ages 6 and up.

Add your public comment now: salud.to/activecomment

Not sure what to say?

Use this example comment from Salud America!, a national Latino childhood obesity prevention network based at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio:

Salud America! led a research review (http://www.communitycommons.org/groups/salud-america/big-bets/sa-active-spaces/) that found Latino children in underserved communities often have limited opportunities for physical activity. To be able to stay their healthiest, Latino children and their families need safe places to walk, roll, bike, swim, and play. Safe routes and shared or open use agreements are evidence-based strategies to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety, as well as increase equitable access to playgrounds, pools, and sports fields in order to increase physical activity among the underserved. This can help Latino children and families access the physical, mental, social, and health benefits of play and contribute to a culture of health in the United States.

Post this comment now: salud.to/activecomment

Learn more about Latinos and active spaces in your community here!

Parents: 3 Easy Actions You Can Take to Boost Play for Kids!

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

Fish-eye view of children on play equipment

School is back in session. But too many schoolyards are LOCKED UP after classes, especially in Latino neighborhoods, and families often lack safe places to play.

That’s why Salud America! has a new campaign urging schools to boost public access to recreational facilities. Salud America!, led by health researcher Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation national program. It was created to prevent Latino childhood obesity and is based at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio (@SaludToday on social media).

Here are three actions all parents can take today to boost play for kids:

DOWNLOAD our free toolkit for parents with easy steps to achieve open use of school rec facilities!

SIGN our letter campaign to urge your state PTA association to help schools develop shared or open policies for recreational facilities!

SHARE photos on social media of recreational facilities you want kids to be able to play on, tag with #ActiveSpaces, and enter a random drawing for a free Jawbone fitness tracker!

Open and shared use policies can increase opportunities for physical activity and play among families.

Schools can adopt an “open use” policy to formally grant public access to its recreational facilities after school hours. Schools also can work with other groups to develop a “shared use agreement,” a contract that allows the sharing of school facilities for the public or groups after hours.

Don’t miss this opportunity to download our toolkit, sign the letter, and learn more about sharing active spaces photos to show support for these healthy school changes.

The future health and weight of Latino and all children depends on accessible opportunities for physical activity and play!

This post has been provided by Salud America!

Learn more at salud-america.org.

Fun Physical Activities for Summer

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

Fun_Physical_Activities_for_Summer

By: BJ Williston, SPARK Trainer and Curriculum Development Consultant

Include physical activity into every family event (e.g. parties, picnics, reunions, vacations, etc.). Choose activities that are fun for everyone; remember these do not need to be competitive or sports-oriented. You may have to invest in a few equipment items to help with this; some examples are flying discs, a smashball set, a soft volleyball and net, a croquet or Bocce ball set, kites, a boogie board, an inflatable dinghy, some bikes, etc. These will obviously depend on your family’s activity preferences, weather, and where you live. Choose activities the whole family enjoys, and do them together. This month we include three activity suggestions plus a SPARK Summer BINGO card to help you stay active throughout the summer. Try them all!

Roll the Dice Fitness

Grade level: K-1

Need: One die

Youngest in the family rolls the die. All players complete the activity below for the # showing.

  1. Hop on one foot 10X
  2. Jump side-to-side 10X
  3. Skip down the hall and back
  4. Sit and reach your hands toward your feet while singing the ABC song
  5. Walk like your favorite animal
  6. Complete five push-ups (from your knees or feet)

Hopscotch

Grade level: 2-3

Need: Chalk, a small rock (or any small tossable) per player, and a cement slab (driveway, sidewalk, etc.)

Create your own hopscotch court on the sidewalk or driveway using the chalk. Make it as long or as short as you like and be sure to include single and double spaces. Second or third grader goes first; he/she tosses the rock to the first spot on the court. Challenge him/her to hop and jump to the end and back, always skipping over any spaces with a rock. Each person in the family takes a turn, starting with youngest on up to the oldest. When it comes back to the second/third grader, he/she now throws to the #2 spot. Continue through to the last spot, alternating players each round.

Disc Golf

Grade level: 4-5

Need: One flying disc per player, an outdoor area (like a park or the beach) with various objects to use as targets.

The object of the game is to reach the “hole” with your disc from the starting point in as few throws as possible. Start by choosing a target for the “hole” (like a tree or fence post) that will be challenging to reach in 2-4 throws. All players begin at the same spot, beginning with the youngest and continuing to the oldest. After all have tossed, they move quickly to their discs and the player farthest from the “hole” throws next. All watch out for incoming discs! Continue until all have reached the target and everyone counts how many throws it took to get there.

Choose another object and begin on next “hole,” and after completing, continue for a total of 9 or 18 “holes.” Afterwards, everyone tallies their total score, adds their age, and that is their final score. Lower scores are the goal.

Try to improve each time you play, and change the course to make it easier or more challenging each time.

Staying Active over Summer Break

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

Staying_Active_over_Summer_Break

By: BJ Williston, SPARK Trainer and Curriculum Development Consultant

It’s finally summer break! Your kids have been working hard all school year long and now they get to sleep in and veg out all day, right? Well, while they technically could do that, they really shouldn’t! Having so much free time over the summer is a nice break from the constant go, go, go! scheduling that often occurs during the school year. But rather than seeing summer as an opportunity to be more physically active, many see it as a chance to do…nothing. All that hard-earned fitness goes straight out the window. It must be remembered that the recommendation for 60 minutes or more of daily physical activity for children is not just for during the school year; it’s for ALL year! So, while there may not be recess or PE time scheduled into their days, children still need to get outside and get active doing something they enjoy in order to stay healthy and maintain their fitness throughout the year. Here are some tips for making that happen:

Be Supportive

If you need to be at work and your kids are too young to be at home unsupervised, summer camps that promote physical activity are a great way to keep your children active through the summer.

If at least one parent can be at home with the kids, offer to support them by:

  • Allowing your children to get together with friends to make physical activity more fun.
  • Providing toys that encourage their activity like a jump rope, bicycle, balls, flying discs, etc.
  • Providing transportation to and from physical activity venues when you can.
  • Engaging in physical activity with your children. This not only makes it more fun for them, it also gets you active as well!
  • Doing anything you can! Studies show children who feel supported are more likely to be physically active.

Plan Ahead

If your goal is to be active at least 60 minutes each day, you are going to need to schedule time for that. If you don’t, the day fills up with your errands and household chores, and kids end up settling in for hours of sedentary activities like watching TV or playing video games. Remember, though, that you don’t need to be active for 60 minutes all in one bout. In order to break it up, you could plan something in the morning and something in the evening, when it’s cooler.

To mix it up and keep it fresh, try rotating activities each day. Plan each week with your children so everyone gets a say in what you all do. When children are part of the decision-making there’s a bit more buy-in. Here’s a sample of a weekly plan with input from the whole family:

Monday: Take a dog walk in the a.m. and play basketball in the p.m.

Tuesday: Take a bike ride in the a.m. and a hike in the p.m.

Wednesday: Play catch in the a.m. and take a dog walk in the p.m.

Thursday: Go to the playground in the a.m. and swim at the beach or pool in the p.m.

Friday: Take a walk in the a.m. and kick a soccer ball around in the p.m.

Saturday: Go to the beach, a lake, or a park and bring lots of toys for activity!

Sunday: Take a hike

Everything may not go as planned, but do the best you can to keep physical activity a top priority each day and you’ll be giving your kids a better chance to reach their 60 minute goal.

Set Limits

Limit your children’s (and the whole family’s) screen time. The number of minutes is up to you, but the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a limit of 1-2 hours each day. This includes all types of screens including TV, movies, phones, tablets, computers, etc. Kids who are in front of screens more than 2 hours a day have a higher risk of being overweight and may have irregular sleep patterns.

Keeping TV, phones, tablets, and computers out of your children’s rooms is a big help. Those who have them in their room spend an extra 90 minutes glued to them than children without.

When children are watching TV, set a rule that there is no sitting during commercials. It helps to break up their screen time and limit the consecutive minutes seated.

Have Fun!

Keeping your activities fun is a great way to ensure your children will be active now as well as in the future. You want them to associate activity with enjoyment. Getting their input is important, but also exposing them to a variety of activities allows them to get a little taste of everything and find which ones they enjoy the most. Here is a list of some fun ways to be active:

  • Play volleyball with a beach ball or volleyball in the backyard or park.
  • Challenge the kids to a create-your-own obstacle course at the playground.
  • Take a family walk and prompt your kids to balance walk the curb and short walls as you go along.
  • Shoot baskets with an age-appropriate ball and basket.
  • Play a tag game at the park.
  • Take a nature walk at a park or preserve.
  • Play create-your-own golf using flying discs or soccer balls at your local park.
  • Take a family bike ride.
  • Have a nature scavenger hunt looking for things like feathers, rocks, seeds, leaves, etc.
  • Jump rope; either short or long ropes depending on everyone’s skill level.

Whatever you decide to do this summer, be sure to keep it fun and active. Your children will have a healthier, happier summer if you do!

Quidditch – Should You Embrace the Global Craze?

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

quidditch

Many real-life events inspire works of fiction, but now and then, fiction inspires real life. Quidditch, the flying broomstick sport made popular in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series of books, is now played outside of those pages (with a few adaptations for non-wizards). Of course, players are limited by the constraints of gravity and must avoid the signature bludger instruments made famous in the bloody matches in the book; the basics of Quidditch are happening globally though, on the ground and in safe ways.

The Guardian reports that in the past decade, Muggle Quidditch (or Quidditch for people who are not actually wizards) has ignited fans worldwide. The game is played on six continents, in 20 countries, and at more than 1,200 schools. There are also college-level and adult leagues for the sport. The appeal of the game is multi-faceted and is not dependent on having knowledge of the book series that made it famous. Kids and adults at all fitness levels can participate together in Quidditch in some way, thanks to its variation of player roles.

The Basics of Muggle Quidditch

There are seven players on each team, just like the book version. Those players are divided up like this:

  • Three chasers on each team – players who carry or pass the ball on the way to the goal.
  • Two beaters on each team – players who throw dodge balls at opposing players to disqualify them from the field for a specified time period.
  • One keeper on each team – a goalie, basically.
  • One snitch runner, not assigned to a team – a player who tucks the snitch (in this version, a tennis ball in a sock) in his or her shorts, and who is not required to ride a broomstick.
  • One seeker on each team – a player that hunts the snitch runner and tries to steal the snitch.

Throughout the game, points are earned on both teams when goal hoops are made (10 points per goal). The game ends when a seeker catches the snitch runner, and successfully steals the snitch. The team of the victorious seeker earns 30 points. The winning team is the one with the most points at the end of the game.

The game is complex and calls on a lot of different skill sets, making it ideal for large group fitness sessions. Speed and strength must combine with strategy for a win, making it a more inclusive game than some traditional physical education class options.

Quidditch is Adaptable

Students are so excited by Muggle Quidditch that it’s popping up in physical education curriculum all over the country. The Harry Potter series inspires the game, of course, but students and teachers can adapt the way it’s played based on creativity, and the equipment and resources available to them.

Muggle – or Earthbound – Quidditch is scalable based on the age of the participants, too. Younger kids can play it without broomsticks, for example, while middle and high schoolers can add that level of difficulty. Even kids who have decided they are “too old” for Harry Potter can get excited about the physicality of Quidditch. It’s a fun and challenging approach to physical education – giving Quidditch wide appeal.

More Than Just a Game

Since posting the rules for her “Earthbound Quidditch” game on a health and physical education site in 2001, Ohio P.E. teacher Jodi Palmer says the page has seen nearly 60,000 views. In an interview with AthleticBusiness.com, Palmer says that some teachers are intimidated at first by the rules and complexity of Quidditch on paper, but that once kids actually get up and moving, it all comes together.

The unusual nature of the sport makes it interesting to kids from many different backgrounds, often bringing together players who don’t have much in common off the field. Being part of a team in a game that’s unabashedly out of the ordinary can instill confidence in children, and help them to feel more comfortable in their own skin. The basis in Harry Potter attracts many book-lovers, including kids who may not otherwise take part in athletics. On the flip side, the physical challenge of the sport is appealing to active children and can become a gateway for kids previously uninterested in reading to get excited about the book series. As Harrison Homel, executive director of the International Quidditch Association, explained, “It turns readers into athletes, and athletes into readers.” The magic of Quidditch in real life is the way that it brings players together to share in a fun and unique experience; it’s not held to any preconceptions our society may hold about more traditional sports.

Ready to give the down-to-earth version of Quidditch a shot in your P.E. class? Visit the International Quidditch Association website to download rules, safety guidelines, and tips for getting kids excited about participating.

50 Activation Grant Winners Announced

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

lmas-grant-winner

Sportime featuring SPARK Announces 50 Activation Grant Winners

May 26, 2016

San Diego, CA – In celebration of Sportime’s 50th anniversary and in partnership with Let’s Move! Active Schools, Sportime featuring SPARK is proud to announce (50) Activation Grant awards to schools nationwide to help students get active before, during, and after school.

Let’s Move! Active Schools is part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative dedicated to ensuring 60 minutes of physical activity a day is the norm in K-12 schools. The initiative is powered by a national collaborative of 35 health, education and private sector organizations that work together through the collective impact framework to help schools create Active School environments for children.

The 50 grant recipients were selected out of more than 500 applications that were received from schools across the country. Applications were submitted by Physical Education Teachers, Health Teachers, Classroom Teachers, Wellness Coordinators, Principals, PTA Members, and other members of the school community.

Applicants expressed the need for physical education curriculum – many teachers do not have any curricular materials for physical education and have to create their own lesson plans and assessments – as well as a variety of equipment to help engage large class sizes, include students with special needs, and to introduce lifelong activities other than traditional sports. Applicants also aimed to increase activity throughout the school day by integrating physical activity into classrooms and before/after school programs.

“We are very proud to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Sportime this year by giving back to schools in need of materials and tools for developing their physical activity and wellness programs,” stated Dr. Kymm Ballard, Executive Director of SPARK. “Through our strategic partnership with Let’s Move! Active Schools, we are providing innovative resources including evidence-based curriculum, teacher training and equipment to help students maximize their activity not just during school but also before and after school, enabling them to build all-round healthy lifestyles that can be carried into adulthood. We congratulate all the grant winners and look forward to their programs being a success!”

Grant applications were accepted April 1- April 30, 2016 and K-12 schools in the United States were eligible to apply. As a requirement of the grant, schools must be enrolled with Let’s Move! Active Schools and have completed the school assessment by the application deadline.

The 50 awarded schools will receive a grade-level specific SPARK Curriculum set that includes the SPARK manual, music CD, and 3-year access to SPARKfamily.org.  Each SPARK program is research-based and provides hundreds of lesson plans aligned to state and national physical education standards, assessments, task and skill cards in English and Spanish, videos, dances, and more.  The awarded schools will also receive a $100 voucher to purchase physical activity equipment from Sportime.

Congratulations to the grant winners!

The 50 Awarded Schools are:

activation-grant-winners-2

To learn more about Let’s Move! Active Schools, visit letsmoveschools.org. 

To search for other grant opportunities, view the SPARK Grant-Finder Tool.