1st Grade- Wednesdays

June 24 Skill Stations, including Japan Unit Skills of Otedama & batting
I loved using the Ojami that Anne helped the kids make in Art!
The kids did their best tossing & catching with these :)  Some kids even tried the 2 beanbag toss!




Chris & I demonstrated
how kids could toss & catch 2 beanbags:
1st by themselves, then to each other at
close distance, then...
stepping backwards, little by little.
I loved seeing the kids' faces afterwards!

June 19 (17th was Field Day) All School Meeting for 1st Grade Presentation
If you missed the 1st graders performing Japanese songs & games enjoy a glimpse here:

"Let's Pass the Plate Around" song


"Let's Pass the Plate Around" Song #2

May 27, June 3 & 10  Otedama (Japanese Juggling Skills) with Ojami
Merriam's Art Teacher Anne Kress learned about the tradition of grandparents passing to their grandchildren the juggling skill of Otedama and helped First Graders make Ojami, Japanese juggling beanbags, during Art class.  Anne shared that plan with me and had the classes bring their homemade Ojami to Phys.Ed. class to use to learn and practice the tossing and catching elements of Otedama.  What terrific interest and focus the children demonstrated in practicing the skills for juggling beanbags!  Otedama allowed both Art & P.E. children to experience integrated learning from their 1st grade Japan Unit.  Anne also made a set of 5 Ojami for me, and I was able to differentiate instruction so that children who demonstrated readiness could move on to trying the 2 Ojami toss and pass (juggle) shown in the video below. :)  On June 3rd & 10, we walked through the woods to the turf fields to practice tossing and catching with Ojami, tossing and catching with a partner, and even started some batting and fielding practice for another favorite game in Japan....baseball!  Children take their Ojami home too!


Otedama YouTube Video

May 13, 20 Animal Movements on Mats or on the Turf
Children tried traveling like a bear, frog, kangaroo, snake, alligator and monkey as well as Log Rolls and Pencil Rolls.  Children hopped, galloped, and skipped between mats and waited turns to go one at a time across mats.  
Nice Bear Walk!  Look at how the trees in distance are packed with leaves.

Apr. 15, 29, May 6  Soccer Skills at Turf Fields
Learning Goals:  Dribbling with each foot, trying to use all sides of foot to keep control of ball, keeping ball close to feet, staying away from other children and inside the circle, and stopping ball quickly at the whistle
Activities:  Dribbling through cones, Stepping & kicking at goal, Playing Stuck-in-the-Mud
We took a moment in the woods to listen for birds and to look at some trees starting to bud.  :)

Apr. 8 Underhand Tossing at Targets + Squirrels in the Trees Tag Game
We reviewed the cues for Underhand Tossing, then practiced the skill at 4 separate target types.  The first one was a 6-foot X 6-foot tarp with a target in the center.  The entire tarp was the target, but the center button could produce an imaginary but totally fun result.  (Ask your first grader.)  Other stations had hoop targets, buckets, and hula hoops.  I was observing for stepping with the opposite foot and reaching their tossing hand toward the target on their follow-through.  Kids had fun and showed nice form at my tarp target station.  Then, we played a tag game about predators and prey in the animal world.  

Apr. 1  Lots of Skill Practice at Stations
On April Fools' Day, First graders explored 11 stations of skills for 1-minute each.  Stations were:  stepping stones, ribbon wands, self toss & catch, hula hooping, low traversing the climbing wall, overhand throwing at the basketball hoop, climbing the ropes, trying to jumprope, and tossing a medicine ball.  This gave me the chance to stay at a station and underhand toss to each child and cue them for underhand tossing back to me.  Taking bowling cues (tick-tock arm, stepping with opposite foot) into an air toss was challenging for so many kindergarteners.  But I loved how they were thinking and trying to get that opposite foot step right and the force of the toss just right to me. 

Mar. 25  Finish last week's Games, start of Overhand Throwing
Today, we finished games left from last week's plan (Ga Ga Go or Lucky Leprechaun Tag), then learned the cues for Overhand Throwing and had time to both practice and play a game with the skill.  Basic cues for overhand throwing are:
  • Body starts sideways to target
  • Throwing hand is away from target
  • Throwing arm is like letter L
  • Step, turn & reach ball in front
Students stood at the curtain with their throwing arm closest to the curtain and threw away from the curtain.  They counted their steps to their ball after each throw and tried to throw further on each throw.  I encourage children to compare their number of steps with themselves to give all kids a chance to learn and to focus on getting better compared to your previous tries.

Mar. 18  Games using Unit Skills Tapping with Hands & Jumping
After warm ups, I asked kids to identify the basic 1st grade expectations in PE:  paying attention to how much space you have, moving with the right speed for the space you're in, staying on feet (no sliding on knees), being safe with bodies and equipment, following the rules of the games or activities, being nice to other kids (gentle reminders if you see someone not following rules), and moving independently (not following buddies all the time).  Then we played a few games.  Ga Ga Go is a tapping game where trainer volleyballs travel on the floor and are tagging balls.  If kids were tagged, they came to the step zone so I could observe their jumping up onto steps and then back onto the ground 3 times.  Lucky Leprechaun Tag was a chance to play a tagging game with leprechaun taggers and their ball of gold.  

Mar. 11  Skill Stations, Focus on Tapping Ball Up, Messy Backyard & Stopping at the Whistle
This week, first graders tapped lower on the beachball to launch it over the pull-up bar, ran across the gym, practiced stepping and jumping onto steps, balanced feet on balance boards while balancing "devil sticks," and practiced jumping rope.  Then Messy Backyard again with focus on:  tapping ball over net and body control to stop at the whistle.

Messy Backyard with my feedback

Mar. 3 Step Work and Tapping/Catching Ball with Partner, then Messy Backyard
Students did step ups and jumped onto steps while others High-5'd a beachball off their tee hand to their partner to catch.  Classes played a fun game of Straddleball at the circle, keeping legs in a straddle with everyone's feet touching their neighbors' feet.  A ball is set down and then the fun begins!  Students bend over to tap the ball across the circle when it comes close.  Try to defend your goal between your feet with your hands.  We finished with a student-favorite:  Messy Backyard.
With all that snow outside, children need some vigorous activities! Tapping & catching with a partner.


Messy Backyard:  clean up your side by tapping balls over the net. Hold a ball on your tee & high-5, toss it and tap it, or tap it in the air as it's coming to your side. Great exercise too!

Feb. 24 Stations for Skill Work:  Catching, Jumping Rope, Tapping a Beachball + Everyday/Sometimes Food Tag
After a week away, students practiced skills for fitness and manipulative motor skills development (jumprope, Hula Hoop, Tossing & catching, Tapping & catching a beachball).  Then we played a tag game with thinking about healthy foods.  

Feb. 11  Healthy Heart Choices, Scooter Smaug's Jewels and Crows & Cranes tag game
I integrated classroom learning of sight words with a scooter game using my Bananagrams letters.  While one partner scootered to Smaug's mountain to take 2 precious jewels (letter tiles), the other partner exercised for a healthy heart. Kids identified two choices they make every day that affect their hearts.  We talked about how much physical activity kids should get each day and how to account for missed days due to snowstorms outside (you could do indoor activities like dancing, tapping a balloon, or games we played at Theme Day - bouncing the ball into the cup).  We also looked at My Plate posters in the gym to see lots of options for Fruits and Vegetables for trying to get 1/2 daily food be from these two groups.  
 (to enlarge, click on

 a photo)
Hmmm...so many choices!
 Hurrying off to get more letters!
 Nice spelling!
Excellent Exercise choices:
-Crab taps
-Jogging in place
-Jumping Jacks

Jan. 28 Snow day due to the Blizzard of 2015

Jan. 14 & 21  Scooter Tunnel Tag, Blast-off, Ghostbusters
Number 2 of the National Physical Education Standards is:  Applies knowledge of concepts, principles, strategies and tactics related to movement and performance.  For 1st grade, one specific grade level outcome is traveling at low, middle and high levels (S2. E2. on the National Standards tab above).  These two lessons provided 1st graders with opportunities to practice and demonstrate those skills during activities.  Another outcome is:  differentiating between fast and slow speeds.  Children traveled with bodies low to the ground on scooters while traveling slowly and without crashes.  Later, children lined up to count-down from 10 to 0 and blast-off like a rocket, running quickly across the gym.  Most children demonstrated terrific self-control by waiting until the rhythmic count reached 0 and everyone called, "Blast off!" before they began running.  Others could not wait and ran too early.  I photographed the start of some runs and found that almost all children could wait when being photographed.  I discussed this with the classes and talked about waiting as part of Fair Play.  We also discussed the importance of playing fair whether someone is watching and recording or not and the importance of playing by the rules  We finished with a game of Ghostbusters, a bowling game, where children identified that they stood in a straddle at a medium height.
 Waiting can feel so difficult....
but is the fair way to play Blast-off.  
 Scooter Tunnel Tag

Jan. 7  Review expectations, medicine ball tossing, exercise & teamwork activity
After not having class for 3 weeks, I wanted to give all students some vigorous exercise, review my expectations, and have some core or trunk strengthening.  I asked them to think about what I had taught them this school year while we did our Warm Up.  Then we reviewed all the expectations and skills shown on the entries below.  I even used the projector to hook up my laptop and share the website with them.  They loved seeing pictures of themselves!  Then, kids got some solid exercise at 4 stations:  Jogging laps, Tossing a medicine ball to a partner, hula hooping, and balance walking across stepping stones.  We finished with Sleigh Ride, pulling a partner across the gym on a carpet square and then switching.  Next week:  Ga Ga Go.

Dec. 17  Sleigh Ride, Spiderball Tag (for eating your 5 fruits & vegetables/day) and Jingle Bell Tag
A favorite activity for all grade levels is Sleigh Ride!  You need a partner and you need to take turns as the rider and the horse or reindeer.  This is the PE take on the one-horse open sleigh...exercise & fun for both partners!
 (click on a photo to enlarge it)

 Spiderball Tag 
 Broccoli anyone?
 A 2-horse sleigh!
 Way too much fun!

Dec. 10
With the holiday break just two weeks away, I wanted to solidify progress the 1st graders have made with their underhand tossing motion and step with their opposite foot.  I set up stations so that I could observe a challenging exercise:  strongly stepping into the opposite foot while tossing a 4.5 lb medicine ball at a big bin.  I have seen that tossing a heavy object helps anchor that motor pattern, and the kids gave such quality efforts on their 3 or more tosses. Some even tried the 6.6 lb yellow ball! Meanwhile, students at other skill stations tossed & caught objects, climbed the ropes, jumped rope, tossed beanbags at boxes, climbed across the wall, hula hooped, tossed balls at buckets, and stepped across the balance stepping stones.  Check out just a few of the many strong movements students demonstrated today!  I was impressed!  Ask your 1st grader which was their favorite station. :)
 click on a photo 
 to enlarge it

Dec. 3
After rain on Tuesday kept many classes inside at recess, I knew that 1st graders needed to move!  After warm-ups, I gave instruction for jumping rope and had students rotate through 3 stations:  jumping rope, jogging laps, and hula hooping.  Then we talked about the importance of balancing out special days where we eat more than we need (birthdays, Thanksgiving, winter holidays, Halloween....) with getting extra exercise.  We played Turkey Tag, with farmers feeding turkeys extra food and turkeys getting a burst of exercise at the secret turkey gym.  Silly :)
 Farmers where a pinney & tag with a yarnball
 Love how the 1st graders can spread out! :)

Nov. 26
About once/month, I plan a lesson that incorporates many motor skills at stations.  For this lesson, the 1/2-day before Thanksgiving, I had 1st graders rotating through 11 stations for gross motor movements:  
  • climbing the ropes, 
  • tossing and catching a scarf while balancing on a wobble board, 
  • underhand tossing beanbags to a bucket, 
  • underhand tossing kooshballs to a net target, 
  • balancing across stepping stones, 
  • hula hooping, 
  • receiving an underhand toss from me and tossing ball back to me, 
  • jumping rope
  • low traversing the climbing wall
  • underhand tossing beanbags at a box,
  • tossing and catching objects
Some of the stations are for strength and balance, while others are for students to practice skills in our curriculum.  This week's focus was taking the "tick-tock arm" motion and step with the opposite foot practiced in our bowling unit into underhand tossing, a skill that requires greater arm control.  I wanted to spend a little time observing and assisting each child, so remaining at the tossing and catching station allowed me to give feedback to each child.  Meanwhile, the children love the variety and getting to "play" with so much different, fun equipment.  :)

Nov. 12 First Graders reviewed stepping with the opposite foot and played more Bowling Games.  Look below on Nov 5 for pictures of Pirate Ships, a favorite game!  Ghostbusters is a game where you try to protect your ghost (pin) like a goalie would a goal and bowl to bust other ghosts.  
Ghostbusters is a bowling game that teaches fair play, guarding, taking a risk to get a ball & being a good sport.  Kids practice saying, "Oh well" and starting over if their ghost is knocked over.

Nov. 5 
Bowling games! We practiced a little Group Bowling and then played Spiderball Tag.  The group bowling had children bowling a ball to the middle circle, where 9 pins were spread out.  The goal was to bowl and then wait for a ball to come across to you from the other side of the gym.  Some children demonstrated this tactic on the first try, while several in each class ran to the center to get their ball back.  This is an important executive function in a crowded setting, telling the body to WAIT.  We'll try again next week. Two classes finished with a few rounds of Pirate Ships as well.  All first graders will play next week.  Pirate Ships is a fun game with 3 jobs that requires collaboration and communication between the 3 shipmates.  
 Hooray for stepping with the opposite foot!
Scheming pirates plan their attack.
Playing Pirate Ships, a game with a Captain, a Look-out, and a Scuba Diver.

Oct 29
Today's goal:  take last week's step with the opposite foot into bowling form.  We explored stations again, but with two bowling stations, a choice for climbing across the wall or up the rope, ribbon wands, and balancing on balance boards while tossing and catching a koosh ball.  Two classes had time for Spiderball Tag.  Next week, bowling games.  :)
 Lunge with opposite foot.
 Nice bending down & follow-through!
   Who can resist ribbon wand fun?

Oct 22  Kudos to all first grade classes for wearing sneakers today!!  My focus today was observing each child's step with opposite foot on a toss and ability to catch a gentle, underhand toss from me.

First, it was so great to see so many 1st graders climbing at Merriam's Fall Fair event on Saturday. :)
Today was Station Day!  Children LOVE when they get to explore skills at a variety of stations.  Before we started, I spoke about what I expect kids are doing to wash their hands after they use the bathroom (rub with soap for about 20 seconds, rinse all the soap off, then dry with paper towel).  I also reminded children to keep fingers away from eyes, nose, and mouth to keep germs from spreading. Children's goals today were still to demonstrate several of PE Standard 4's learning outcomes for grades K & 1 (in purple below) as well as practicing skills that build strength or are Motor Skill outcomes (#1 on the Standards tab above).  Not a single child plopped to knees to rest today!  Hooray for endurance!  Today's stations were:
  • Bowling practice (with cues listed below for Oct 15)
  • Climbing the ropes
  • Tossing and catching a scarf
  • Tossing and catching a yarnball (switching to scarf if ball dropped 3 times)
  • Catching a yarn ball tossed by Mary and underhand tossing ball to a bucket
  • Taking turns on Balance Stepping Stones
  • Hopping on 1 foot 10 times, then switching- for 1 minute
  • Hula Hooping
  • Jumproping
  • Using ribbon wands
  • Climbing sideways with feet below green line on climbing wall
Oct 15
Today was our first lesson moving a piece of equipment across the gym.  We practiced rolling a ball with:
  • tick-tock arm
  • lunge with opposite foot
  • bending down to the floor so the ball rolls and doesn't bounce
Practicing to improve a skill is an essential discipline that children will use over a lifetime of physical activities.  We also continue to work on being safe with bodies, responsible with equipment, safe with speed, in personal space for skill work, and appropriate with interactions with others during PE class time.   Below, I've pasted the specific learning goals that have been my objectives over the past month.  These are the National Physical Education Learning Outcomes for the Personal and Social Responsibility strand:

Oct 8
I missed seeing the 1st graders last week!  We picked right up where we'd left off 2 weeks ago.  We reviewed:
-controlling bodies when gathering in crowded spaces
-sitting "criss-cross-applesauce" with hands on your lap when gathering
-keeping a bubble of space around yourself when traveling around the gym
-looking for empty spaces when moving around the gym
-watching where you are going
-stopping or slowing down when getting close to others
-moving independently (not copying others or following buddies) through the gym
-staying on feet during activities for moving through the gym and not sliding or flopping down

Children played PacMan tag while moving on the lines in the gym.  :)

Sept 24  Also Picture Day!
Another beautiful day for walking through the woods to the turf fields for the warm up!  And so many children changed from the Picture Day photos and shoes into PE clothes and sneakers.  Thank you to parents for helping make that happen!  
Today's focus was on spatial awareness- maintaining space around oneself throughout the entire class.  Distinct focus on keeping appropriate space during the movement part of the warm up and then in finding Personal Space for our final stretches, core strength exercises, and jumps.  We then practiced and performed the Pink Panther rhythm routine with snaps, claps, slaps, 4 on the floor and then slaps, claps and snaps.  Kids showed they could find open/empty spaces in the gym by searching like a detective with their imaginary magnifying glasses.  Then, we moved with galloping, skipping, and sideways shuffling through the gym without touching anyone or anything to music.  Fantastic job here by all 3 classes!  Kids are showing that they can be safe and controlled with their bodies!  We need that established before practicing with equipment and playing more games.  :)
Excellent spacing!

Mountain climbers are more difficult on the turf than on the gym floor.  Nice work!

Sept 17, 2014
Once again, KUDOS for sneakers all around for First Grade!
Walking through the woods, safely past poison ivy, to the turf fields was an adventure today.  But each class paused to listen to the sounds of nature, with crickets chirping and cicadas buzzing, for a few seconds.  Having more space to explore skills and develop self-discipline without visibility of friends for distracting led to a productive time there.  No complaints of hunger, so parent snacks are helping!  But trips to the bathroom were a challenge, so I've got to develop a routine that works for that!  Here are some children practicing hula hooping, tossing & catching scarves, and tossing and catching a ball on a beautiful fall day!
Sept 10, 2014
For our second lesson, students started our lesson time with a choice activity of running laps around the gym or jumping rope.
Both of these can be very challenging to do for first graders!  I asked that children stay with the choice for 2 minutes while music played.  I explained that staying with something when it is hard is called Persistence and that this is one of Merriam School's core values.  Then we did our Warm Up and, afterwards, we read together the words for many of the movements and exercises we had just done (as detailed in the entry above).  I demonstrated tossing and catching a scarf in personal space.  Children counted out tosses and catches, catching with two hands at first and then tossing with one and catching with the other.  Then we imagined that our scarf was a paintbrush and painted giant letters in the air to spell our names and paint on a huge canvas.  Finally, we practiced moving safely in Open Space while tossing and catching.  I loved seeing how focused and absorbed children were during this!

Linda's and Kaitlin's classes finished with a game of Dragontails, bucking their scarves into their pockets or waistbands and trying to pull out others' dragontails.  Karen's class was running a little low on energy at 12:35, so we did the Pink Panther activity instead.  I'll explain that next week, as everyone gets to try that.  Looks like the late lunch schedule might require a more substantial snack on Wednesdays for our 1st Graders!  

Sept 4, 2014  
First Graders had their first Phys. Ed. (or P.E.) class on the first day of school!  Lucky me!  Wednesdays are their sneaker day! Since most first graders learned my expectations and the Warm Up routine in Kindergarten last year, I started by reviewing and reinforcing those.  I also reviewed names and met new students, impressed on all the need to wear sneakers on Wednesdays for P.E., and reviewed the essential concept of Personal Space.  Personal Space, or self-space, is the bubble of space a child needs for moving his or her body and using equipment safely.  It is far enough away from other children, walls, the curtain, or other equipment (like cones or racks) so that no contact is made.  We also practiced some Locomotor Movements (moving through space while hopping on one foot, jumping on two feet, galloping, sideways shuffling, jogging and skipping) as well as Non-Locomotor Movements done in one spot (jumping jacks, scissor jumps, downward dog, mountain climbers, tapping your toes, making circles with different body parts, and stretching).  I videoed parts of the warm up so that I could later review each child's movements and use it for comparison and assessment after a few months of instruction and practice.  I observed whether children could travel at safe speeds through General Space (shared with all children in class) with two activities to Finding Nemo music:  Deep Sea Diver and Fish Swim.  I loved seeing the children's imaginative movements!   And, so far:  No crashes!  We finished with Line Tag.  (Check out the Favorite Games & Activities tab above for a video of last year's first graders playing Line Tag.)  

Kudos to Linda's class (and parents) for having every child wear sneakers for our first class!
PERSONAL SPACE: Raising a Leg in Downward Dog
First Graders do Downward Dog in Personal Space          

Playing Line Tag and playing fair by staying on the lines.