Rivendell Physical Education

Hungry Snakes

Learning to cooperate and work as part of a team is an important skill. Preschool and Younger Kids play a game I call “Hungry Snakes”. Students make a “snake” with several people, which moves around the room finding “food” and passing it down the length of the snake. They have to take care that the snake doesn’t come apart, and that everyone gets the ball in turn. The snake wouldn’t survive long otherwise!


Once we’ve practiced striking the ball in various ways (bump, set, serve, spike) we add in the volleyball net.

At first we work cooperatively: can we keep the ball going back and forth over the net several times in a row?

Middle and Older Kids then move on to competing, learning the rules of volleyball—how to score, switching service and rotation.

We finished with a mini round-robin tournament.


“Verb. To strike or kick (the ball) before it touches the ground.”

In physical education, we talk about “sending” objects: throwing, kicking or hitting them away from us. Sometimes we use implements like bats, sticks or racquets. Other times we use body parts, like feet or arms.

Volleyball is aptly named. Players have to strike the ball up into the air, over a net, and can’t catch or hold it. It definitely takes some practice.

We start Younger Kids and preschoolers with a beach ball. It’s light, so it stays in the air longer and there’s less fear of getting hit, and the larger size gives a bigger target.

Touching Base

Baseball involves a lot of basic athletic skills: throwing, catching, running, and hitting. We have worked on the first three this year, so hitting was on deck (so to speak!). It is a difficult skill to master; even at the pro level, if you only succeed one out of three times, you are considered to be pretty good.

We used batting tees to begin with, and for Middle and Older Kids finished with a game of coach-pitch.

We simplified the rules a bit (no steals or leadoffs, time called once the ball was back to the infield), but even so, baseball calls for sustained attention, awareness of the situation (runners, number of outs) and works on those cognitive skills as well.

Run… Fun!

We spent a lot of time in PE getting ready for the Fun Run. We did laps, computed estimates, and everyone was ready on the big day! Thanks to all the volunteers who helped out, and donors and sponsors for helping us meet our goals.

In the Beginning

Welcome back to a new school year! What better place to start than at the beginning. Our first weeks are always spent on fundamentals: footwork, throwing and catching skills. We start with underhand and overhand throws, self catch, catching with a partner, and then catching in a group.

When catching in a group, the focus is on teamwork and cooperation. Are they paying attention, showing their friends they are ready, and making good throws that are easy to catch?

All these things are just as important for Older Kids as for the preschoolers!


All that practice pays off! Poudre School District has an elementary school track meet every spring, and generously allows Rivendell kids to participate. This year’s meet was on May 11, and the work we did on our track and field skills produced some great results!

Gracie was the district champion in the 75 meters! She also won her heat in the 50m sprint, which put her 9th overall for 5th grade girls. Gwen set a personal best in the long jump and finished 10th overall for 5th grade girls.

Congratulations to Gracie, Gwen and all the other Rivendell kids who competed in the district meet.

Rain, rain…

and snow… go away! Spring weather can be unpredictable, and sometimes we end up inside when we’d rather be out. We had to interrupt our track & field work because of the snow, but had fun with some inside games: a round of scooter soccer, and a tag game similar to sharks & minnows that we call Alligator Alley.

Great Leap Forward

We always do track and field in the spring. Proper running, jumping and throwing technique are valuable foundations for any sort of athletic activity.

Kids naturally love to run and jump, so we try to help them learn to go faster and farther. Being up on your toes, leaning forward, and using arms properly as well as legs all help to improve these fundamental skills.


PE is a great class for developing teamwork and cooperation skills for all levels. You might competing against others, or simply working together to accomplish a goal, but you have to get along with others to have success.

We all remember the parachute from our school days. It takes the whole class cooperating to make a giant dome, or pop the balls off the parachute, or even play catch back and forth using smaller chutes. Other collaborative activities like the human knot or hula hoop pass develop these skills as well.