My principal describes the students coming to Physical Education as the horses returning to the barn. He senses their excitement, they can hardly walk! If I were to meet my students at the door, then require them to come into a highly structured activity; sitting quietly while I give directions, whole class performing synchronized calisthenics, I might be setting myself and the students up for frustration or even failure.
My students are ready to jump out of their skin when they arrive. They are anticipating movement, learning, fun, and freedom to laugh, dance and when appropriate chat with a friend! I want to use their enthusiasm to my advantage, not fight it. So I typically have an activity they can begin right away. There are millions of variations, Spark calls them instant activities, essentially they are activities that require little or no instructions for students to get started.
1. Have music playing, have students come in and move to music, when music stops they freeze. This is a great activity to start the year to practice listening skills. I pepper the freeze times with 20 second infomercials on expectations. “When you are thirsty, you can get a drink, as long as the music is playing. When the music stops it means I want to give instructions, you may not be at the drinking fountain., When you move through the gym, try moving into a space that is empty., When you’re moving in a group, be looking forward, looking for empty space., Everyday you should have 60 minutes of activity just like this!.” I change locomotor skills, pathways,levels, speeds….
2. Once I have taught students a few simple tag games I can use anyone of them as warmup. I ask the first 2-4 students to be taggers, next student tells students as they come in what the game is, and answers any clarifying questions. I meet students at the door, hand taggers (pool noodles, puff balls, giant hands…) taggers run to center circle, as soon as they are in center, I start music which means game on.
3. Occasionally older students can follow a warm-up activity on board. (i.e skip one lap, 5 jumping jacks in each corner, 8 curl-ups in center of gym, 15 skier jumps over a line, go get ball of your choice and begin dribbling) However when I survey students, this is one of their least favorite ways to warmup.
4. When we are using manipulatives, balls, hoops, jump ropes, rackets, hockey sticks I often meet students at door and say “once you have X equipment, begin (volleying, dribbling, striking, jumping) in self space. When students warm up this way, they choose from a variety of equipment, and I will have a downloaded YouTube video playing, (no sound, looping) projected on wall, while music is playing. Here are some sample videos I have downloaded and I loop. Soccer juggling, jumping rope Students will have a few minutes to work on their own. While they are dribbling, juggling, or volleying…, they are also watching and trying to emulate what they are seeing projected. Then I might ask students “Share with a friend what you are noticing about the person in the video. Can you see three critical cues that they always do? Now you try them.”
5. Here is a link to #pegeeks collection of instant activities
What are your ideas for getting students started right away? Please share!