Rivendell Physical Education


We’re in the midst of a unit on jump rope. As well as being an excellent activity for fitness, coordination and footwork, there are lots of fun things you can do with both an individual jump rope and a large rope with two people turning. We went from the basics of using an individual rope, to individual rope tricks and making a short “routine”, to starting and entering a two-person rope. We also added Jump the Shot (everyone stands in a circle and jumps over a rope swung on the ground “helicopter style” as it passes under them) and even tried our hand a Double Dutch ropes with Older Kids–being a rope turner is an important, and not so easy, job!

Here is a great video I show the Middle and Older Kids as motivation. While we aren’t quite as accomplished at this troop, we can perform some of the same skills.

In Control

We work hard to exercise our bones, muscles, heart, and lungs. But good athletes also exercise their brains! Training the nervous system to be in control of the body is just as important.

Good ways to work footwork, balance and agility are ladders, hurdles and balance beams. We used combinations of those in a relay in PE this week. We didn’t just go forward, either. We stressed the nervous system by going sideways, on one foot, and even backwards.


We do a lot in PE that meshes with our school-wide “Systems of the Body” topic unit. Anatomy involves a lot of rote memorization, so we try to make it more fun by making it into games.

We used our new scooters to play anatomy tag–you must tag your classmates in the appropriate bone or muscle. Tag the tibia! The tricep! The humerus!

We used foam bricks to build skeletons. The kids had to do exercises that help them build their own skeletons to earn the bricks. When the skeleton (and the exercises) were completed, they had to identify all the bones they had placed. We didn’t have enough white bricks for everyone, so we had to use black ones. What animal has black bones…? Trick question! None. Well, except for this one weird mutant Asian chicken variety, but I’m not sure that counts.

Next up: circulatory/respiratory system simulation, with the kids assuming the roles of heart, lungs, muscles and blood cells.

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Football with your Feet

We’re currently playing the sport the rest of the world calls “football”, but we Americans call “soccer” (well, except the Italians who call it “calcio”, but that’s another story). It’s not just about kicking the ball… we played kickball a few weeks ago! It’s about having control of the ball, whether it is dribbling, passing or shooting.

We did lots of games where kids had to keep close control of their ball before using those skills in small games (without goalkeepers). Preschoolers did things indoors with small foam balls.

Rivendell Olympics

Since we are studying ancient Greece, and the summer Olympics was recently in Rio, we had our own Greek Olympics here at Rivendell.

The Middle and Younger Kids were divided up into  city-states, and each athlete competed in several events. Younger Kids got to try the events individually. Some scholars think the original Olympics may have had only one event: the Stadion race, which was about a 200m sprint. To that, we added “archery” (throwing a ball at a target with a scoop, below), “javelin” (a foam football), “discus” (flying discs, below), “wrestling” (a sumo-style competition where competitors only touch hands and have to push the other out of the ring, below), and the culminating event, the “chariot” races (pulling each other on sleds across the grass).

The competitors from Athens, Troy, Sparta and Argos all gave it their best efforts, and the victors gained fame far across “ancient Greece”.

Tossing Technique

After movement and locomotor skills, one of the fundamental skills we practice in PE is throwing.  Correct form is important for accuracy and distance… and if you’re more accurate and can throw farther, it’s more fun, too!

We work on throwing technique for all age levels, starting with the preschoolers. They learn to keep their arm up behind them, elbow in an “L” shape, look at the target, step forward, and follow through towards the target.

We used hoops as targets, and they were pretty excited when they could toss their bean bags into the hoops, especially from way back!

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The Classics

We don’t overlook those classic PE activities we all remember from our own childhood. Kickball, tag, the giant parachute… and how about a vigorous round of Scooter Soccer?

Shooting Hoops

While the Golden State Warriors set the all-time record for wins in the NBA regular season, we learned basic basketball techniques: dribbling, passing and shooting. Basketball is a fantastic sport that incorporates footwork skills, eye-hand coordination, agility and coordination, and teamwork.

You can play a game of HORSE, one-on-one, or a game with full teams. Preschool and Younger Kids practiced their skills without opposition, and Middle and Older Kids progressed to full games.

Passing the Torch

relay-sOr, rather, the baton, or the ball. Preschool and younger kids have been doing a number of relays: where something goes from one person, to the next person, to the next. We did “traditional” relays, where each person runs with a baton and passes it to the next person.

We also did a cooperative relay I call “Hungry Snakes”. 3-4 kids form a “snake”, and have to travel around the room together to “eat” the balls. After the head of the snake picks up a ball, the ball has to pass from one person to the next all the way down to the end.

Teamwork and cooperation is the name of the game!

You Are What You Eat

We’ve been studying nutrition in PE. A good diet is an important part of keeping your body (and brain) healthy. So far we’ve learned a few basic facts:

  1. Food is what gives you energy, as well as vital nutrients like vitamins and minerals that help build your bones, muscles, organs and make your body work properly.
  2. Preschool and Younger kids learned you should “eat a rainbow”. If your plate is full of colorful foods—vegetables and fruits that are red, yellow, green, and purple; white milk, yogurt and cheese, brown grains, beans and nuts; pink meat—you’re getting a good variety of food and most likely a healthy diet.
  3. Basic food groups make up My Plate. Your plate should be half fruits and vegetables, a quarter grains, a quarter protein, with dairy on the side. I also include my own “junk food” category so it’s clear that it’s something you should be aware of.
  4. Macronutrients provide energy: carbohydrates, protein and fat. Why do you have to watch out for fat? It has over twice as many calories per gram as the other two.
  5. Vitamins and minerals are important. You need rocks (calcium, sodium) and metal (iron, copper, zinc) to survive.
  6. But not too much! Proper amounts are important. Too much fat or sodium can be unhealthy, and too much of some minerals (like copper) can be poisonous!

We illustrate these with relay games, tag and even a game show! There is a lot to learn about healthy eating (even the experts sometimes don’t agree) but it’s a start.