Congrats to all our Rivendell kids who participated in the PSD district track meet. They got a chance to compete against kids from all over Fort Collins, and we had some great results.
As much as track events are about going as fast as you can, in many sports the opposite is just as important: stopping! Along with changing direction, agility is a key skill and can be practiced. After Older and Middle Kids learned some of the key points of slowing and changing direction (shorten steps, get low, slight backward lean), we practiced by playing tic-tac-toe. What?! Just watch:
We also learned another slightly unusual way of going: racewalking. There are Olympic racewalking events and world championships. Racewalking is characterized by having at least one foot on the ground at all times. Going fast requires and unusual gait, and works muscles that don’t get used that often. Find out more:
After spring break we go into our unit on track and field. The Older Kids learn about the various events to prepare for the Poudre School District elementary track meet later in the spring. Middle and Younger Kids have their own mini-track meets in their class right here at school. We go over rules and technique for various events. For track, we run 50m, 75m and 100m sprints as well as relay races. Field events are the long jump, triple jump, softball throw, and even the shot put (using a 6-pound shot)!
Particularly with individual events, we emphasize doing your best—competing against yourself or the clock, more than other competitors. Imagine you go to the Olympics, run your race, and set a new personal record time… but only finish 6th. Success or failure? By my book, definitely a success. You give it your all, and trophies, ribbons and awards may come after that as a bonus.
No, we’re not learning our ABC’s (at least in PE). We’re on our current PE unit:
We pull out all the old favorites for the next few weeks, using the skills we’ve worked on earlier in the year. Capture the flag, dodgeball, scooter soccer, jump the shot, and the big parachute are just a few of the activities we’ll be playing. Fun (and fitness) for everyone!
We’re in the midst of a unit on jump rope. As well as being an excellent activity for fitness, coordination and footwork, there are lots of fun things you can do with both an individual jump rope and a large rope with two people turning. We went from the basics of using an individual rope, to individual rope tricks and making a short “routine”, to starting and entering a two-person rope. We also added Jump the Shot (everyone stands in a circle and jumps over a rope swung on the ground “helicopter style” as it passes under them) and even tried our hand a Double Dutch ropes with Older Kids–being a rope turner is an important, and not so easy, job!
Here is a great video I show the Middle and Older Kids as motivation. While we aren’t quite as accomplished at this troop, we can perform some of the same skills.
We work hard to exercise our bones, muscles, heart, and lungs. But good athletes also exercise their brains! Training the nervous system to be in control of the body is just as important.
Good ways to work footwork, balance and agility are ladders, hurdles and balance beams. We used combinations of those in a relay in PE this week. We didn’t just go forward, either. We stressed the nervous system by going sideways, on one foot, and even backwards.
We do a lot in PE that meshes with our school-wide “Systems of the Body” topic unit. Anatomy involves a lot of rote memorization, so we try to make it more fun by making it into games.
We used our new scooters to play anatomy tag–you must tag your classmates in the appropriate bone or muscle. Tag the tibia! The tricep! The humerus!
We used foam bricks to build skeletons. The kids had to do exercises that help them build their own skeletons to earn the bricks. When the skeleton (and the exercises) were completed, they had to identify all the bones they had placed. We didn’t have enough white bricks for everyone, so we had to use black ones. What animal has black bones…? Trick question! None. Well, except for this one weird mutant Asian chicken variety, but I’m not sure that counts.
Next up: circulatory/respiratory system simulation, with the kids assuming the roles of heart, lungs, muscles and blood cells.
We’re currently playing the sport the rest of the world calls “football”, but we Americans call “soccer” (well, except the Italians who call it “calcio”, but that’s another story). It’s not just about kicking the ball… we played kickball a few weeks ago! It’s about having control of the ball, whether it is dribbling, passing or shooting.
We did lots of games where kids had to keep close control of their ball before using those skills in small games (without goalkeepers). Preschoolers did things indoors with small foam balls.
Since we are studying ancient Greece, and the summer Olympics was recently in Rio, we had our own Greek Olympics here at Rivendell.
The Middle and Younger Kids were divided up into city-states, and each athlete competed in several events. Younger Kids got to try the events individually. Some scholars think the original Olympics may have had only one event: the Stadion race, which was about a 200m sprint. To that, we added “archery” (throwing a ball at a target with a scoop, below), “javelin” (a foam football), “discus” (flying discs, below), “wrestling” (a sumo-style competition where competitors only touch hands and have to push the other out of the ring, below), and the culminating event, the “chariot” races (pulling each other on sleds across the grass).
The competitors from Athens, Troy, Sparta and Argos all gave it their best efforts, and the victors gained fame far across “ancient Greece”.
After movement and locomotor skills, one of the fundamental skills we practice in PE is throwing. Correct form is important for accuracy and distance… and if you’re more accurate and can throw farther, it’s more fun, too!
We work on throwing technique for all age levels, starting with the preschoolers. They learn to keep their arm up behind them, elbow in an “L” shape, look at the target, step forward, and follow through towards the target.
We used hoops as targets, and they were pretty excited when they could toss their bean bags into the hoops, especially from way back!