Or at least, my ABCDEFGs. That’s the name of our current unit, which is an abbreviation standing for A Broad Compendium Demonstrating Everybody’s Favorite Games. We pull out all the most popular games we play throughout the year. Many are PE classics you might remember yourself, like scooters, parachute, capture the flag, various tag games and dodgeball. The kids often choose these games themselves for free choice days, so it’s extra special to get to play them again as part of a whole unit.
The start of the new year brought a lot of teamwork and cooperation to PE class. Our first several weeks had activities that required students to work together, whether with a partner, a small group, or the whole class. Kids had to team up to transport bricks, work as part of a relay team, or manipulate a parachute.
Individualization is important, and so is learning to work well with others. We learned that communication skills like being specific and listening to others’ ideas is critical. Everyone can find a place on the team using their particular talents. And there are people called teachers and coaches who are there to help and make the job easier.
One of our topic units at Rivendell this year is Systems of the Body. This is a great unit to integrate into PE. Not only do our normal PE activities help strengthen all these systems—muscular, skeletal, circulatory and respiratory—but we can even simulate how they work.
The kids themselves, with nothing other than some cones, bean bags, balls and baskets, became the circulatory system, digestive system, nervous system and muscular/skeletal system.
In one simulation, the kids were red blood cells, carrying oxygen from the lungs, through the heart to the body, and returning with carbon dioxide.
We even learned some ways the system could break down: clogged arteries, lungs unable to provide oxygen due to disease or pollution, and even carbon monoxide poisoning. There are so many reasons to keep ourselves healthy!
Then we became different parts of the digestive system: mouth, esophagus, stomach, small and large intestine, and kids passed the “food” (balls) from one end to the other. Younger Kids got to be neurons, passing “messages” (balls again) relay-style from one to the other.
Then my favorite simulation, showing how bones, muscles and tendons work together to help us move. Muscles move the bones via connecting tendons. But because muscles can only contract, or pull, they need to work in pairs or groups.
We simulate this with scooters (bones), connecting ropes (tendons) and kids to pull (muscles). First we see how joints can move back and forth, like the knee or elbow. Then we add more muscle connections to see how joints like the shoulder or hip can move multiple directions.
These simulations give a very hands-on (bodies-on?) experience for how the systems of the body work.
What kid’s game is so popular that even adults play it these days? Kickball! Along with introducing the mechanics of kicking, we learned all about how to play. Running the bases, getting outs, and using good underhand technique to pitch the ball.
To be honest, kickball (and baseball) rules can be kind of complicated. All the different ways to get out, force plays, staying in order… we took it slowly and gradually introduced the various rules over a couple of weeks.
The end result? Fun!
You can do a lot more with a disc that just play catch. Disc golf and ultimate are two of the more popular games, and we have a few more like Double Disc Court and Schtick.
Our disc golf course was a lot of fun, although it can be frustrating at times—just like real golf!
Middle and Older Kids played ultimate or a variation. It was our first time this year doing a team sport, so we had a chance to talk about teamwork and how to be a good teammate, as well as the rules of and strategies for the game (like spreading out, throwing quickly, etc.).
As the saying goes, “You get what you get… and then you throw it!” (Okay, that’s my variation.)
We’ve been working with all levels on throwing and catching technique: overhand and underhand with balls and bean bags, as well as other objects like javelin and now, our next unit, flying discs.
Preschoolers and Younger Kids threw to hoops or baskets, and the practice self-toss and catch. We work on eye-hand coordination and body position.
Our disc unit starts with basic disc throwing and catching technique. We learn the standard backhand disc throw as well as how to throw forehand and a few other “trick” throws that can come in handy for certain games.
In ancient Greece, the Stadion Run, a foot race of about 200 meters, was the final event. At the Rivendell Olympics, we finish up with chariot races.
The kids provide the “horsepower” for the chariots, or as we call them, sleds. Win or lose, it’s great fun.
We did keep score, and tally up points from all the events to crown the winning city-state. Everyone on the team had to contribute, and added points for their team even if they didn’t win. While everyone wants to win, and it can be disappointing to lose, we emphasize that it’s the spirit of competition that makes the games exciting.
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.
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!
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.