Rivendell Physical Education

Olympic Rings

What better topic to go along with our unit on ancient Greece and Rome than the Olympics. The Olympic rings are probably one of the most recognizable symbols world-wide. Do you know what the colors (black, yellow, red, green and blue) symbolize? Answer at the end!

We are practicing various running, jumping and throwing events based on the original Greek games. The showcase in ancient times was the “Stadion” race, a footrace of about 200 meters. The kids are also practicing the standing long jump, “discus” using a Frisbee, javelin using a kid-friendly TurboJav, and more.

All levels at Rivendell are learning and practicing good throwing, jumping and balance fundamentals to prepare. Let the games begin!

And what about the colors of the Olympic rings? Modern games founder Pierre de Coubertin said the five colors, along with the white background, included the color composing every competing nation’s flag at the time.

Welcome back!

We are so happy to be back at Rivendell this fall! Things may look a little different, but we will still be doing all the skill and teamwork building activities in PE that will help kids go faster, higher and farther.

We will be adapting PE activities for safety as much as possible. That means we will be outside even more than before. Please make sure your student has appropriate gear for going out no matter the weather–especially footwear. Here are days each grade level has PE:

  • Preschool: Fridays
  • Younger Kids (Dylan’s & Annie’s class): Tuesday and Wednesday
  • Middle Kids (Christin’s and Seth’s class): Monday and Friday
  • Older Kids (Suzanne’s and Bryce’s class): Wednesday and Friday

When we do have to be indoors, activities will be less strenuous, with kids spaced apart as much as possible. The PE room air is also filtered as it is recirculated.

We’re looking forward to lots of fun in PE this year!

Juggle Bug

In the depths of winter when we’re usually inside, I always throw in a few classes on juggling. It’s a nice way to work on hand-eye coordination, as well as being a lot of fun—and really exciting for a kid when they get it! Even the preschoolers can have a go at floating scarves in the air.

Following Rules

Why do we have rules? There are plenty of good reasons. To keep us safe, so we can get along with others, to keep things fair, and provide an appropriate challenge so things are enjoyable. In sports and games, rules may seem arbitrary, but they have reasons!

As a follow on to teamwork and sportsmanship, we’re diving into the rules behind the games. Why do we have them? How does changing rules affect the game? What happens if they aren’t followed?

Middle and Older Kids will even be designing their own games. They have to come up with an objective, method for determining winning (or whether there are winners at all), organizing players or teams, starting and ending the game, figure out where to play it, and all the rules and regulations in between to make it unique. Quite the challenge to create something that is fun, fair, and safe.

Who knows, maybe the next great sport will be invented right here at Rivendell!

Cooperation Continued

November and December were full of activities that involve cooperation and teamwork. We learned strategies for working together: listening, trying ideas before dismissing them, knowing when not to say anything, not assigning blame, doing your part, and taking cues from others who have already been successful.

Activities were as varied as the age group: from passing a hula hoop while holding hands, to pulling a friend on a scooter to carrying unstable blocks together. Middle and Older Kids do a game called Nuclear Waste Transfer where they use a platform supported by ropes to carry progressively more difficult cargo across the room.

This unit contains everyone’s elementary school favorite: the giant parachute! The whole class has to work together to make the parachute do what they want it to do. And when they do and it does… so much fun!

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.