Planning the First Day of PE
I used to spend the first PE class discussing why we're here and all the rules, procedures, and expectations. But this summer I learned something interesting that I'm trying to integrate into everything I do.
As soon as the kids step foot into our gym, I want to connect with them. The rules and expectations can wait (a little). But I've learned that kids will care more about those rules if they know, like, and trust you.
So here's my plan:
- Freeze Dance POP
- The River & the Bank
Freeze Dance POP
Kids love to dance. And they love Freeze dance. Ironically, I also used to spend a lot of time practicing freezing on day 1 so this is a great way to get right into that in a fun way. It's also a great way to start because there are no rules. Just go. And I get to dance with them and act absolutely ridiculous, which helps kids open up. Lastly, you might get some kids who are struggling and need a moment of connection. I had a second grade girl show up and she was super defiant, right out of the gate. While the class played, I was able to sit next to her and ask what was going on. In tears she told me her mom gave her dog away over the summer and something reminded her of that. Just being able to listen to her got her to open up. I gave her a spot she could see the game and gave her permission to sit and be sad; but also if she felt like it, she could get up and dance with us. It didn't take her long to join us.
The River & the Bank
My oldest students have played this game a lot so we didn't spend much time on it, but my youngest ones really take to it. It's the perfect game for discussions on why listening is so important and how those who listen best tend to be more successful. It's also a great starting point for recognizing that mistakes are just opportunities to grow and get better.
You play on a four square court and the rules are simple. Check the video below for how to play.
The easiest way to describe it is there are 4 corners and 5 players. Each round somebody gets out. When somebody says SWITCH, you need to quickly and safely get to a new corner. My rules are that you're out if:
- You don't make it to a new corner
- You slip, trip, dive, or fall (not safe)
- You crash into somebody else (not safe)
I love teaching SWITCH right away because:
- You don't need any equipment so it's perfect for warm ups, recess, and sub days
- Kids can run it on their own
- It's perfect for teaching how mistakes are just opportunities to grow
- I like to ask the question: What do you win when you get out? (they're always perplexed... you win a break, you hopefully learned something that will help you in the future, etc.)
Advocate for PE in Your School