Posts Tagged ‘stress’

Put a Fresh Spin on PE Classes with These 4 Global Games

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

kids laughing playing a game in the classroom

The closer we come to the end of the school year, the more difficult it becomes to keep kids active and engaged. As children look forward to their time away from education, teachers need to work harder to ensure that they remain focused during PE classes.

There are plenty of things that educators can do to help revitalize student passion for movement and fitness. One great option is to introduce new games and cultural ideas from around the world. While the games children play vary from place to place, they usually all have numerous benefits when it comes to promoting fitness, social skills and concentration levels.

Here are four global games you can use to pique interest in your end-of-year PE classes, while expanding your students’ geographical education.

1. Catch the Dragon’s Tail from China

Though it’s designed for younger children, this game is great for students of all age levels. It’s a simple and exciting activity that’s particularly useful when you want to get your PE class working together as a team. The more people participating, the more challenging and fun the game becomes.

Catch the Dragon’s Tail starts when the children in your class form a human chain, standing one behind the other, with their hands on the shoulders of their classmate. The child right at the front of the chain is the “dragon’s head” and the child at the back is the “dragon’s tail.” The aim of the game is for the head to catch the tail, while all the students behind the dragon’s head try to stop this from happening.

As soon as the dragon’s head captures the tail, he or she becomes the tail, and the next student takes their place as the head.

2. Statues from Greece

Another game originally created for younger children but perfect for all age groups, is Statues. This game comes from Greece, where dozens of marble statues make up the natural environment for children across the country.

To play, choose one student to be “it,” and have them cover their eyes while standing in the center of a large open space. The student will need to count to a random number (at least 10) before opening their eyes. While the student is counting, the other students need to scatter until he/she yells agalmata, or “statue” in Greek. Upon that word, all students must freeze in place and take on a famous statuesque pose.

The student who is it will go around tagging any moving statues, and trying to make stationary ones move or laugh. The last statue remaining is the winner, becoming the new it.

3. Sepak Takraw from the Philippines

The traditional game from the Philippines is perfect for children aged 5 and up. The word Sepak is the Malay word for “kick,” while Takraw is the Thai word for a woven or rattan ball. In other words, this is a kind of kick-based volleyball that uses a net, and requires children to use only their head, chest, knees or feet to touch the ball.

Sepak Takraw requires teachers to create small 8×8 grids for two groups of six children. Those children then need to divide into teams of three, which form a triangle shape either side of the net.  The goal is to hit the ball over the net in such a way that the opposing team can’t hit it back. The serving group scores points if the other group:

  • Catches or holds the balls
  • Allows the ball to hit the ground more than once
  • Doesn’t return the ball in three hits or less
  • Hits the balls out of bounds

4. Kin-Ball from Canada

Kin-ball is a game that originates from Quebec, Canada. It’s a team game that’s perfect for anyone aged 6 and up, and it can become more or less challenging depending on the age of the students involved. PE teacher Mario Demers created Kin-ball in 1987, and it’s known to some as “cooperative golf.”

To play Kin-ball, teachers will need to arrange students into groups of six, which are further divided into smaller teams of three. Each group of six will need two hoops and one ball. While one group is the “receiving” group, holding an empty hoop, the other is the “serving” group, holding a ball inside their group. The serving group will drop to a knee, holding their hoop high, and one player will let go of the hoop to punch the ball towards the receiving group. The goal is for the receiving group to move to capture the ball in their hoop.

Kin-ball is a great way to get children active, and encourage them to work together more efficiently in teams.

Expanding the World of Physical Education

There are dozens of exciting global games that can add a fresh spin to PE for students who are becoming bored or distracted during standard activities. These unique games not only encourage new forms of movement in children, but can also improve teamwork and introduce students to new cultures from around the world.

For more PE ideas, check out our lesson plans.

How Physical Education Can Help Students Beat Exam Stress

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

a high school teach helps a student during his exam

Did you know that almost a third of children in the U.S. say they have experienced symptoms of stress? This stress impacts everything from academic performance to behavior in classrooms. So, what can be done to change this, especially during high-stress times like final exams?

Physical education teachers are in a good position to help students work through anxiety and stress with activity. By introducing physical activity as a form of stress relief during exam time, students have shown improved concentration and a marked reduction in fatigue. When outside stressors affect the brain, the entire body is impacted, as well. That means, when the body feels good, the mind is likely to follow. Take a look at some of the key factors that come into play when adopting stress-reduction exercise routines into daily life.

Exercise as a Stress Reliever

In addition to being a contributor to overall health and well-being, exercise has a direct impact on the body’s ability to react positively to stressors. At any level of fitness, from beginner to intermediate, individuals can train their body to manage day-to-day stresses in a manageable fashion. What’s more, children up to age 18 need 60 minutes of aerobic activity a day to maintain high levels of health and fitness.

Some of the benefits to adapting healthy lifestyles to include daily physical fitness are:

  • Pumping up endorphins. By engaging in health-focused exercise routines, individuals are able to see increases in the level of endorphins – the brain’s feel-good hormones – produced by the body. In no time at all, these increased levels of “pleasure pangs” spill over into all aspects of life; be it relieving stress levels at home or in the workplace. Try running on the track, enjoying a brisk nature hike or even shooting a couple games of basketball with a few friends after school or during lunch to see the benefits in motion.
  • Boosting overall mood. One major benefit to exercise is an increase in self-confidence. Studies have also shown that individuals who exercise on a regular basis are less likely to develop depression and bouts of anxiety.
  • Improving sleep cycles. Don’t forget the healing and restorative power of sleep: a fully actualized and regular exercise regimen naturally tires out the body, making it more susceptible to deep sleep and the possibility of waking up more refreshed to tackle the day. This benefit in particular becomes vital when adolescents reach high school; dealing with above-average stressors, students who have more sleep perform much better in national testing.

Stress-Free PE Activities

Exercising shouldn’t be an added source of stress. Some students suffer anxiety when it comes to traditional PE activities, like laps or obstacle courses, because there is so much competitiveness, discomfort and high expectations — just like during their exams.

Make sure your PE classes provide students with a healthy break from their other school stresses with these ideas for fun and pressure-free lessons:

Freeze Dance

This fun-filled activity can be achieved by simply pressing play on a music device. Modern dance crazes like the Cha-Cha Slide, the Cupid Shuffle and Whip/Nae Nae are crowd favorites. The fun part for educators is in knowing that students have no idea they are enduring intense physical exercise while performing some of their favorite dance moves. Try adding a little extra fun to the mix by instructing kids to freeze every time the music stops.


By integrating controlled poses, deep breathing and stretching into exercise routines, students find true inner calm with yoga. Not only does it offer immediate stress relief, but it also promotes an overall sense of well-being while lowering anxiety levels significantly. The only materials needed are a mat, a towel and some inspiration for sequences.

Ultimate Frisbee

This game has lots of twists and turns and is fun for all fitness levels. It also has the added benefit of being played outdoors, offering students a breath of fresh air. So when the weather’s good, seize the opportunity to introduce Ultimate Frisbee into your lesson plan.

It’s clear that exercise and stress relief go together. PE teachers can help students deal with their everyday stressors with activities that improve physical and emotional health. Just make sure your lesson plans don’t add to your students’ burdens by creating more risk of failure.

What are your favorite activities to help your students burn off anxiety?