Rivendell Physical Education

Scootin’ Towards the End of the Year

The kids have enjoyed the Track and Field unit (with some breaks for fun stuff like dodgeball when the weather didn’t cooperate). Sprinting and relay races are always popular.

We are wrapping up the year with other fun stuff like capture the flag, tag and scooters. We accomplished a lot this year:

  • Fun Run
  • Rivendell “Olympics” (to go along with Ancient Greece & Rome topic unit)
  • Flying disc games
  • Kickball
  • Body system simulations (to go along with Systems of the Body topic unit)
  • Teamwork and Cooperative activities
  • ABCDEFG (A Broad Collection of Everybody’s Favorite Games)
  • Track and Field

It’s been a lot of fun—and sweat—learning the different skills, rules and strategies to do all these activities.

The Long (and Short) Run

Running competitions come in all sizes, from 50m for elementary students all the way up to a marathon, 26.2 miles. At Rivendell we practice 50, 75 and 100m sprints, and talk about the key points for better sprinting speed. Our big “distance event” is actually the Fun Run in the fall, but we recap good technique for distance running as well.

The kids’ favorite running event, though, is often the relay races. We practice two types. The first is a shuttle relay, in which the runners go back and forth between two lines. This is the type of relay run at the PSD Elementary Track Meet (which we hope will resume next year!). The second is the traditional circular relay like you see in the Olympics.

The handoff is key. Do it poorly, and you lose time. Drop the baton, and you’re out of the race entirely. We don’t disqualify teams for dropping the baton, since we’re just learning, but it emphasizes that teamwork and technique are important.

A Hop, a Skip and a Jump

“Spring forward”, goes the saying reminding us to change our clocks for daylight saving. At Rivendell, we do the same thing when we come back from spring break with our track and field unit. We spring forward in the long jump and triple jump; practice sprinting, relays, distance running, and even racewalking technique; and throw bean bags, balls, javelins (kid-safe TurboJavs) and even the shot put.

Good running, jumping and throwing technique don’t just help in track and field events, but all sorts of athletic competition–or even just getting that wad of paper into the trash can or jumping across that puddle!

Now I Know My ABCs

Or at least, my ABCDEFGs. That’s the name of our current unit, which is an abbreviation standing for A Broad Compendium Demonstrating Everybody’s Favorite Games. We pull out all the most popular games we play throughout the year. Many are PE classics you might remember yourself, like scooters, parachute, capture the flag, various tag games and dodgeball. The kids often choose these games themselves for free choice days, so it’s extra special to get to play them again as part of a whole unit.

Working Together

The start of the new year brought a lot of teamwork and cooperation to PE class. Our first several weeks had activities that required students to work together, whether with a partner, a small group, or the whole class. Kids had to team up to transport bricks, work as part of a relay team, or manipulate a parachute.

Individualization is important, and so is learning to work well with others. We learned that communication skills like being specific and listening to others’ ideas is critical. Everyone can find a place on the team using their particular talents. And there are people called teachers and coaches who are there to help and make the job easier.

All Systems Go

One of our topic units at Rivendell this year is Systems of the Body. This is a great unit to integrate into PE. Not only do our normal PE activities help strengthen all these systems—muscular, skeletal, circulatory and respiratory—but we can even simulate how they work.

The kids themselves, with nothing other than some cones, bean bags, balls and baskets, became the circulatory system, digestive system, nervous system and muscular/skeletal system.

In one simulation, the kids were red blood cells, carrying oxygen from the lungs, through the heart to the body, and returning with carbon dioxide.

We even learned some ways the system could break down: clogged arteries, lungs unable to provide oxygen due to disease or pollution, and even carbon monoxide poisoning. There are so many reasons to keep ourselves healthy!

Then we became different parts of the digestive system: mouth, esophagus, stomach, small and large intestine, and kids passed the “food” (balls) from one end to the other. Younger Kids got to be neurons, passing “messages” (balls again) relay-style from one to the other.

Then my favorite simulation, showing how bones, muscles and tendons work together to help us move. Muscles move the bones via connecting tendons. But because muscles can only contract, or pull, they need to work in pairs or groups.

We simulate this with scooters (bones), connecting ropes (tendons) and kids to pull (muscles). First we see how joints can move back and forth, like the knee or elbow. Then we add more muscle connections to see how joints like the shoulder or hip can move multiple directions.

These simulations give a very hands-on (bodies-on?) experience for how the systems of the body work.

Kickball Classic

What kid’s game is so popular that even adults play it these days? Kickball! Along with introducing the mechanics of kicking, we learned all about how to play. Running the bases, getting outs, and using good underhand technique to pitch the ball.

To be honest, kickball (and baseball) rules can be kind of complicated. All the different ways to get out, force plays, staying in order… we took it slowly and gradually introduced the various rules over a couple of weeks.

The end result? Fun!

Disc World

You can do a lot more with a disc that just play catch. Disc golf and ultimate are two of the more popular games, and we have a few more like Double Disc Court and Schtick.

Our disc golf course was a lot of fun, although it can be frustrating at times—just like real golf!

Middle and Older Kids played ultimate or a variation. It was our first time this year doing a team sport, so we had a chance to talk about teamwork and how to be a good teammate, as well as the rules of and strategies for the game (like spreading out, throwing quickly, etc.).

Throwing Muse

As the saying goes, “You get what you get… and then you throw it!” (Okay, that’s my variation.)

We’ve been working with all levels on throwing and catching technique: overhand and underhand with balls and bean bags, as well as other objects like javelin and now, our next unit, flying discs.

Preschoolers and Younger Kids threw to hoops or baskets, and the practice self-toss and catch. We work on eye-hand coordination and body position.

Our disc unit starts with basic disc throwing and catching technique. We learn the standard backhand disc throw as well as how to throw forehand and a few other “trick” throws that can come in handy for certain games.

Off to the Races

In ancient Greece, the Stadion Run, a foot race of about 200 meters, was the final event. At the Rivendell Olympics, we finish up with chariot races.

The kids provide the “horsepower” for the chariots, or as we call them, sleds. Win or lose, it’s great fun.

We did keep score, and tally up points from all the events to crown the winning city-state. Everyone on the team had to contribute, and added points for their team even if they didn’t win. While everyone wants to win, and it can be disappointing to lose, we emphasize that it’s the spirit of competition that makes the games exciting.