Rivendell Physical Education

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.


We had a special visit from Earl Gerlach of Collindale Golf Academy for Middle and Older Kids. Golf is not something we normally do in PE, and Earl came in exclusively to Rivendell to teach some golf basics. We started inside with putting, and a bit later this spring Earl will be back for chipping and full swing practice. It was a lot of fun and even I learned something!

The World in Balance

When we think of fitness, it’s usually cardiovascular, eating clean, or maybe lifting weights. But there are many more kinds of fitness you need be healthy. Balance and body awareness are extremely important for our mobility and safety.

We practice that skill with the “Double Balance Challenge”. Not just walking across different types and difficulty of balance beams, but balancing things with our hands—or heads!—at the same time.

Mixing it Up

Special classes like PE, computers, art and music don’t stand in a vacuum. They regularly interact with reading, writing, mathematics and each other. In PE, we have to time, measure and calculate; we learn about other cultures through the games we play; and we even try to compete with style and artistry.

The “Bodies in Motion” activity takes that literally! Preschool and Younger Kids paint pictures of figures moving (a la Keith Haring) in art. Then we bring those paintings into the gym, and the kids look at them, one by one, as if in an art museum. But they don’t just look—they have to perform the motion suggested by the figure! It requires some balance, flexibility, and most of all imagination.


One of the most effective ways to teach something is to do a simulation—put the students “inside” the subject. I love doing this with systems of the body where the kids get to be actual body parts (muscles, blood cells, lungs etc.) and model how they work. We started our study of anatomy with bones and muscles, and did a simulation to show how they work together to make the body move.

Three kids worked in a group. One sat on the scooter (the bone we want to move). The other two were muscles, and were connected to the bone by ropes (tendons). Since muscles can only pull (or contract), not push, a muscle can only pull the bone one way. To get the bone back to where it started, you need another muscle on the other side to pull the other way.

The kids learned from the simulation how muscles are attached to bones with tendons to help you move, can only pull, and work in opposing pairs to move your body around. Educational and fun!

Follow the Bouncing Ball

Balls in most sports bounce, but basketball is one of the few where you bounce it deliberately. In fact, it’s hard for kids to quietly hold their basketballs during instruction—balls want to be bounced!

Our basketball unit covers the skills of dribbling, passing and shooting. We practice things individually with no opposition, move to one-on-one or pairs to add pressure, then culminate with a full game. We may have some future NBA stars in the making.