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I remember warm ups when I was a kid. Our PE teacher had us go to our "squad spots" and he played a tape recording of him saying the exercises. "Arm circles... Jumping Jacks...etc." On one hand, even as a kid, I admired the efficiency. I had the same warm up for at least 5 years. On the other hand, it was a joke. We did the warm up, but we all thought it was lame. Then I started teaching and I saw a lot of teachers just having the kids jog when they came in the gym. Easy enough. No explanation, just go. But even that came with problems: refusing to jog, talking in groups (usually about somebody else). I needed something else.
Making PE Warm Ups Great
Now I've got an amazing warm up. I greet my students in the hall and invite them in to choose their warm up and they walk in and get started. I have 7 signs around the gym indicating our Fitness Circuit (I got plastic screw-in mounts for them so I can easily change them). Each sign has a warm up exercise with 2 pictures and a short description. The two pictures show the start/end position of the exercise. My images are of superheroes and they like to act it out... Especially the Hulk-smash. I rarely switch these out, but sometimes I will if we are working on something unique.
Fun Warm Ups
I also have 5 bonus warm ups. I put them on my projector; but they could also be printed if necessary. I try to make these ones more "fun" oriented. I have a game called Ball Jousting where 2 kids stand in a box and use exercise balls to try to knock the other person out of the box or knock the ball out of their hands. I'll get out the balance beam. I do a game called "Get Over It" where I stack my mats up and they jump up and over them. I've got some TRX straps for inverted rows. Every one has an image of what the workout should look like.
The TRX straps I use (paid link)
We also have a couple of the TRX Rip Trainers which are a lot of fun for rowing exercises (paid link)
The exercise balls I use, perfect for the elementary aged student (paid link)
I've found that giving my students choice has increased buy-in. Of course, they aren't going to like everything; but they're going to like something. And by switching it up periodically, it gives them more to be excited about.
Expectations During Warm Ups
I have two expectations during the warm up. Only touch what you've been invited to touch and Look like a picture. Some kids can't read. But they know what a picture looks like. I allow them to choose between all of the activities and roam at will. If they aren't doing the activity correctly (such as sitting on the ball instead of doing the exercise), then they lose that choice for the day. If they lose two choices in a day, then they clearly can't handle making choices for themselves and I need to choose for them. Most of the time, this means I start them at one of the Fitness Circuit signs and turn on The Dinger which will ding every 30-60 seconds so they can move to the next station. Occasionally, there's the student who refuses to do anything and sometimes they have a good reason. But if it is frequently a problem, I revert to my rule of I need to know that you know. And if you can't show me you know with your actions, you can show me you know with your writing. It works wonders. With several students, I've given them a couple sheets of paper and had them write all the choices and their descriptions. Turns out, they much prefer doing the activities to writing about them.
I love this warm up and I'm always looking to improve it. If you have any small-sided games you like for warm ups, leave a comment and let me know.