Rivendell Physical Education


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.

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!