Kindergarten-3rd Grade Field Day
Most schools have some sort of field day however I believe ours is somewhat unique because of the older students’ involvement. Our field day runs the entirety of the school morning, with all students involved. We begin with a welcome in the gymnasium, have 90 minutes of activity (session 1), take a 15 minute break where every student returns to classroom for snack, bathroom,… then resume for 75 minute (session 2.) Later in the afternoon we again gather for class relays, and slipper kick. It is a carnival style field day, which I am defining as this: students go to the stations of their choice, when they choose. Behavior expectations for all involved are clearly defined. This year we ended up switching day of to an indoor field day. I will discuss later in this post why I believe it was so successful.
I begin by posting a list of the jobs/session on a large sheets of butcher block paper.
Session 1 Stations Session 1 K Helpers Session 2 Stations Session 2k
Long Jump ___ ___ 1.______ Long Jump ____ ____ 1. ____
Obstacle Course ___ ___ 2.______ Surf on Noodles ____
Sand Pennies ___ ___
Invent station ____ ____
I usually have between 20-25 stations. Students can choose to run a station or be a kindergarten helper. I will describe this job more later. Students sign up for a job during session one and a different job during session two. I have found switching jobs keeps them engaged, eliminating behavior issues. I allow 5th graders to choose their stations first, rewarding them for being such great leaders the previous year. Some students choose their station based on an activity they love, some just want to be with a friend, and others will create a station. Some stations require just two students to run it, other stations require 5-6 students.
Once students have all signed up, they gather the equipment they need from equipment room for session one. They place the equipment they need all together. This class period requires some patience. First they collect their station sheet: piece of paper with their station’s title written on it. Then they gather equipment to run station. If they can’t find something they write it on white board for example, one of the stations requires sand, they write sand on white board. When they have gathered everything they need they put their sheet on top of pile, that lets everyone know that station is ready to go. In addition to their sheet they also put a sticky note with their names (I will refer to this later in post). If students are kindergarten helpers during this time they meet as a group to discuss tips to be successful. We do the same for session 2, however this goes very quickly because many of the stations repeat so equipment is already out and set up.
At this point I usually feel like I have opened a giant can of worms. There are loose ends all over the place! Wow, giving students responsibility is messy learning, but do not be afraid, this is where the magic occurs! Here is a list of my typical “loose ends” and how we work through them.
Student: ” I want to switch stations” Me: “Take a look at the board and see if there is a way to make that work.” (See I want students to be happy, I want them to learn to problem solve. I really want them to be excited about their job.) Sometimes they will ask someone to trade with them, sometimes I need to find the root of their discontent, “what are you unhappy about?” then I can help them find a more suitable job or adjust their job so it meets their needs.
Student: “We need balloons for our station and we don’t see them in equipment room” Me: ” I will get them, please write balloons on the board under Mrs. Burrows you are the best teacher in the world and we please need…
Student: “We need to fill the gym with water… Me: uh oh..(in my head) “sounds like you are picturing an interesting idea. Let’s meet in lunchroom today.” I spend a couple of days prior to field day meeting with students to work out kinks. Prior to field day I have met briefly 1-3 minutes with each group of station leaders to confirm we are envisioning the same activity and to review any needed safety rules. I do this during lunch time, and throughout day. I work with an incredible 4th and 5th grade team of teachers. They allow me to pull students out the day before field day and do these final meetings. This is when I use the sticky notes. I give them to 4th and 5th grade teachers, they send groups to me throughout day.
Student: “I’m not signed up for station, I was absent. I don’t see any open spaces. Me: Would you like to join a group or invent your own station? Now when students invent their own stations, wow, their creativity knocks my socks off!
Day before Field day
I meet with all the kindergarten helpers. I explain expectations and they find out what kindergarteners they will be leading. Each leader typically has 2-3 kindergartners. Here are the expectations:
1. They must all stay together at all times, if someone has to go to the bathroom, they all come in and wait outside bathroom. If someone needs a band-aid, they all go into office and get band-aid. If the kindergartners parents are with the group, great, but child still needs to stay with group.
2. If there are any problems let an adult know immediately.
The kindergarten helpers then go into the kindergarten classrooms and introduce themselves to the students they will be working with, they tell them how excited they are to work together!
30 minutes prior to field day starting all the fourth and fifth graders set up their stations. The fourth and fifth grade teachers help with this supervision. Once the students have their station set up the teachers have them rehearse what they will say. During this time kindergarten helpers go to the kindergarten classrooms and join in with their students.
Field day begins by all the students in the school coming to the gym. I give them a quick pep talk about sportsmanship, sunscreen, being respectful to the student leaders, and trying to get to every station available. I dismiss them outside to the events. After 90 minutes we blow a horn signaling all students back to classrooms, including 4/5th graders. The kindergarten helpers stay with their groups for this time, the new leaders for session 2 also join them providing an easy transition time.
At the end of our break the fourth and fifth graders go to their second session job, sometimes they will be setting up a new station that is only available during session two. At the end of session two all the fourth and fifth graders help clean up, again the fourth and fifth grade teachers help in supervising this. When equipment is all brought inside we have a quick meeting so I can congratulate them on being such outstanding leaders.
During this short session our school is seated on grass where I have chalked 3 lanes. We have class relays ( fourth grade classes race each other). We never have winners, students continue to run until every student has had a turn. Then the last student hands the baton to their teacher, the teachers usually do a silly type of race (walk backwards, skip…) to a miraculous tied race.
This year our 3rd graders had memorized poems in between each relay race a few of them stood up and recited their poems. We were able to compare and practice sports cheering and poetry clapping. It made for a great finale to our event.
There are none. I’ve had prizes, ribbons, stickers, passports, beads, stamps, tickets…. Yes, and now we don’t have any prizes! It might sound hokey but the joy of movement is the prize! It is such a fun day, we are all smiling, laughing, playing, who needs a prize?
Indoor Field Day
Yes it is true, I ran an indoor field day with much trepidation. I had good cause to dread, the only other indoor field day I have experienced was about 9 years ago and it was a smashing failure! So, what was different? Let’s compare:
1. Students rotated through preordered 1. Students decided where to go.
stations at my interval.
2. Parents ran stations 2. 4th and 5th grade students ran stations
Why it works:
Parent Leaders verses Student Leaders. As much as I love parent involvement, they don’t make great field day station leaders. Parents want to watch, be with their child. The parents at my school don’t want to take a morning off of work to work! They want to chat with other parents, take pictures, join in the fun!
Set Rotation Order with Set Intervals verses Students chosing stations
In my experience there was no way to have the stations take the same amount of time to complete, especially because we have a variety of grade levels. So at the long jump what might take a group of 1st graders 8 minutes, would only take the 3rd graders 5 minutes then they were waiting around (behavior issue setup) or if I tailored the time for the 3rd graders, the kindergarteners didn’t all get a turn. Here’s the other thing. Kids are different! Some students may love the high jump, others not so much. They all get the instruction, exposure, practice during my class time, but at field day, movement celebration, I want them participating in activities that excite them. Remember my goal isn’t to build an olympic track team, it is to create LIFE LONG LOVERS OF MOVEMENT! What better way than to let kids experience making their own choices based on their own desires. Desire-reward cycle to build healthy habits. Ooops off on a bunny trail!
High Jump, Long Jump first student lays down on mat, leaders measure students’ height. Then student does running long jump, trying to jump longer than they are tall! Dash;Student helper is poised with stopwatch and picture of Yeti, Bear, Cheetah… your choice. Students can race eachother or race to beat the time of the Yeti. Softball Throw for distance,Football Throw for accuracy, Underhand toss, Sand Pennies; baby pool with sand and buried coins. Students take off shoes and socks and treasure hunt with toes. They get to keep the change.Potato Sack Race, Rollerracer races, Face Painting, Hippity Hop Race, Frizbee throw, Parachute, Marathoon, Surf on Noodles, Sumo Wrestling, Hockey Shoot, Soccer Dribble, Obstacle Course, Bat off T, Treasure Hunt, Lacrosse Score, Jump Rope, Basketball Shoot, Foxtail Throw, Noodle Sword, Racket hit, Minute to Win it, Mission Impossible, Punt for distance, Math Race, Tatoos, Three legged race…..
If you are interested in more details on any of these events, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org