Rivendell Physical Education

Hoop Dreams

This fall we are doing a unit on basketball. Dribbling, passing shooting and defense all involve many of the basic skills we practice. Plus, bouncing a ball is fun! We have various sizes of basketballs and heights of hoops to accommodate players of all ages and sizes.

After practicing our skills with games like keep-away and fun games like HORSE before we get into the rules and actual games. We modify the rules a bit (no stealing, minimal contact, no blocking shots) so everyone gets the chance to practice the skills we are learning.

The Basics

We always start the year with fundamentals, especially with preschool. Locomotor skills (running, shuffling, skipping etc.) and throwing skills are a couple of the things we’ve worked on. The preschoolers practice both underhand and overhand throws, using bean bags with hoops as targets. Game on!


“Athletics” is what Europeans call track and field events: running, jumping, and throwing. Every spring, all levels from preschool to Older Kids work on these fundamental skills. We do sprints (50m, 75m, 100m and 200m), long jump and triple jump, and softball throw (and Older & Middle Kids get to try the shot put!). Maybe some Rivendell kids have the Olympics in their future!


We studied yoga recently as part of our topic unit on Asia. From focus and mindfulness to low-intensity exercise to “power” yoga requiring strength and balance, yoga requires a lot of skills. We did series of poses (vinyasas), told yoga stories, did yoga games, and even partner poses with others.

On The Ice – er, Floor

We don’t have an ice rink, but playing floor hockey is just as much fun without the need to learn how to skate! We can still work on all sorts of skills like puck handling, passing, defense and shooting. Game on!

In This Together

Teamwork is important, whether you’re playing on a basketball team or doing a group project in class. There are skills you can use—and practice—when you have to cooperate and work together with others.

PE is a great class to practice these skills. Listening, communicating, being positive, and respecting others is key. We spend a few weeks on cooperative games, where the objective isn’t to beat someone else, but for everyone to succeed. From preschoolers passing a ball from one to the next, or Older Kids building hula-hoop structures, we’re better together.

On (and Off) the Grid

The last major code of football we play is American football, sometimes called “gridiron” for the grid-like marks on the field. It developed in the United States and Canada as an offshoot of rugby, developing rules like “down and distance” and allowing forward passing along the way. The spiral throw is a skill that needs to be practiced, for sure!

But there are more than just three kinds of football. We even introduced a few of the concepts for probably the 4th most popular code, Australian Rules–kicking for goals/behinds, marks, hand passing, and even bouncing the ball while running, a bit like basketball. And we didn’t even get to Canadian football rules, Gaelic football, Rugby League… it’s all football, and came from the same roots.

Preschoolers have also been working on their throwing techniques. Overhand, underhand, and rolling are all basic skills, along with catching at the other end.

Behind the Ball

Next up in our History of Football unit is Rugby Football. Rugby came from a version of the game played at the Rugby School in England, where players were allowed to pick the ball up with their hands and run with it. In 1871, the Rugby Football Union was formed.

The sport is new to almost all of our students, and retains a historic rule that is a bit difficult to get used to at first: all players must stay behind the ball. No forward passing is allowed. Not only does this rule require different strategy to advance the ball, but different passing technique as well. A rugby pass is more like an underhand “shovel”, with the ball traveling sideways or backwards.

We play flag rugby with modified rules to avoid most of the rough-and-tumble aspects of the games. Players wear flag belts. When their flag is pulled, they have 3 seconds to pass the ball; no rucks or mauls allowed. Scrums are also uncontested, with players at arms-length distance to prevent close contact.

It’s been a lot of fun introducing a new sport to most of the kids.

It’s All Football

“It’s all football!” That’s my response lately to the question, “What are we doing in PE today?” We are studying the history of the game of football, from its origins as a mob sport played between villages in the middle ages to today. Along the way, there were innovations in the rules that led to many separate games, like football (Association Football, aka soccer), football (Rubgy Football Union), football (American gridiron) and even football (Australian Rules). It’s all football!

Along the way, we learn how rules changed to promote challenge, fairness and safety. We also practice the necessary physical skills, like kicking, running, dodging and throwing, as well as sport-specific techniques like throw-ins, passing (with feet and hands), scrums, overhand spiral throw, and more. We use modified rules so our football (all versions) is safe–no sliding, flag belts for downing, physical distancing and minimal contact.

In preschool we don’t get to actual games, but still learn lots of the necessary skills, with tag games for dodging, underhand and overhand throwing technique, and kicking skills.

Association Football, or soccer, is up first, and is the most familiar for the majority of students.

Starting Blocks

We’re ready and set for another year of PE at Rivendell… GO!

We got out of the starting blocks by preparing for this year’s Fun Run coming up October 1st. We practice our laps, estimate how many we can do, and everyone gets to go at their own pace. No matter if you run 5 laps or 50, it will be a great time and everyone will help us earn money that will go directly to the students’ classrooms.

In Preschool, we’ve been learning fundamental throwing techniques. We also practice basic locomotor skills and learn about our personal space.

Middle and Older Kids started on our History of Football unit, from hundreds of years ago when football was played in Europe, following the rule changes all the way through to today. We’ll see how innovations in the rules led to the development of many different games.