3rd Grade Tuesdays

June 23 Friendly Playground Games #3 (Dodgeball) and Parachute
Dodgeball is an often debated game in the Physical Education world.  When I saw how my predecessor at the Douglas School had played it with yarnballs and how much the kids enjoyed working on the essential skills of throwing and catching, I was open to trying it.  In our "Friendly Dodgeball," kids who are hit below the waist or whose throw is caught by an opponent go to the back of the other team's side.  Teammates have several ways to get you back in the game, including moving into the safe "No Man's Zone" to throw to you.  Kids are so eager to play that they figure out ways that are just right for the captured player to get them back.  Ask your child!  I have told kids that all kids need a chance to learn and play in PE games, not just because it's the right thing to do but, because having inclusive activities for children of all skill levels is part of the Mass. and National PE standards.

June 16 Friendly Playground Games #2 (Knock-out Hoop Game) and Parachute
With a range of skill levels, I wanted to show children how they can adjust the rules of traditional playground games that allow children of all skill levels to have a chance to practice skills and have fun.  Shooting a basketball is a skill children can enjoy over a lifetime and is a terrific way to exercise, whether on their own or with others.  We talked about ways that children who are "knocked out" of a game can still practice shooting by practicing at a lower hoop and then joining a different game.  Children also shared that moving closer and aiming at the box behind the hoop improve chances of getting the ball in the hoop.  We finished with a game of Sharks and Lifeguards with the Parachute.  

June 10 Last Kicking skills + Friendly Playground Games #1
Stepping and kicking a ball is one of the skills in our 2nd grade PE outcomes.  Passing a ball with the feet is a gentler version of this skill, so we've been building up to add force to this skill.  I asked for experienced soccer players to use their favorite foot for two kicks and then other foot for the remaining kicks.  Students were practicing this skill together, with me or a student calling out, "1, 2, 3 step and kick," to cue kicking simultaneously.  While 5 or 6 students practiced kicking toward the curtain, students practiced other skills with typical playground equipment with a cooperative approach.  Two students tried jumping inside the same jumprope.  Kids took turns shooting at the basketball hoop.  And another group played the cooperative version of 4-square.  (Check out the video on my Welcome page to see the 5th graders in action with this friendlier version where players target the king.)

June 2  Soccer Skills #3 + Jumprope Skills
3rd graders continued to practice their foot dribbling and passing skills.  I was observing for children showing the same foot skills as last week but with better control.  I watched 1/2 the class practicing dribbling and passing while the other 1/2 played an African jumprope game where the rope swingers gradually swing the rope higher and higher and the jumper jumps higher and higher.  We finished with soccer Ghostbusters.  


May 19, 26  Soccer Skills
For the first lesson, children practiced the basics for dribbling a ball with both feet, keeping the ball close to feet,
and staying in control with body and ball while they traveled.  Children also practiced jumprope skills as well.  Then we played the dribbling tagging game Stuck-in-the-Mud.  Taggers have a green ball and wear a pinney and try to tag other dribbling balls as they travel around the gym.  If your ball has gotten tagged, you are stuck in the mud and need to stand with a straddle for another student to dribble the ball through for a rescue.  For the second lesson, children practiced passing the ball to another student with a locked ankle and leg swing.  Children tried passing with each leg, and also practiced stopping the ball when a pass arrived.  We played the game Ghostbusters, where each student has a styrofoam pin they protect with their feet while passing balls around the room to knock over others' ghosts.  

Apr. 28, May 5, May 12  Cricket Unit

Each week, students built on their knowledge about the game of Cricket and how to adapt an 11-on-11 game so that all students had opportunities to skills of the main positions (my web help).  We started with 2-on-2 practice with 1 wicket, with the extra offensive playing an extra fielder for the fielding team.  We looked at photos of street cricket from India and Pakistan to see how grown-ups and children love the game and adapt the game and the wickets to their location.  Then, we added a wicket and a running batter for 2-on-2 games with 2 batters on the pitch.  Finally, we watched a video clip about cricket and finished with 3-on-3 cricket and learning about how to rotate through 2 positions when you have 3 teammates.  Find educational videos here. (Classes watched the 4-minute Cricket Overview video "This is cricket.")

Here are the ways kids could get out in our adapted PE rules for cricket:


Apr. 14 Check-in, Integrating Curriculum, Start of Cricket
This was a lesson where I asked students to show me what they learned from our Floor Hockey games, integrated classroom curriculum from their birds of prey study, and introduced students to terms and skills from the game of cricket.  Students worked in small groups to list 3 rules or expectations from our mini-games.  Then, we played the Predator & Prey tag game, and I was so impressed at the students interest and knowledge about this topic!  Finally, we finished with a little Bowler and Wicketkeeper drill preparing kids for the start of Cricket.

 2 side-by-side Lane Hockey games
 Nice grip and spacing between hands!

Apr. 1 Lane Hockey with Quicker Transitions
Second time playing Lane Hockey with a similarly skilled match, but today's focus was on making the switch from waiting in the step zone to jumping back into the game, in the same lane as your match, with goggles on, and ready to play!  Kids waiting to play looked for feet staying in the lane, sticks staying below knees.  Today's feedback was on children's passing accuracy and moving to get open away from their opponent.

Mar. 25 Lane Hockey 
I matched students with another student in class of comparable skill level.  If one student played goalie, the match did as well.  The matched players stayed in the same lane, if in a lane.  Teams had to make one pass before scoring on goal.  Today's focus was on passing to the "open" side of a player (compared to the defended side, where their opponent was.)  I encouraged students to think about where to place sticks to be able to receive and protect a pass.

Mar. 18 Crazy 2-ball Lane Hockey (focus on lane players getting open for a pass from goalie)
Today, I observed for children to lift their blades off the floor for guiding or receiving the ball.  I watched for students to strike the middle of the ball to pass or take shots on goal.

Mar. 11  Hockey Skills #3:  Crazy 2-ball Lane Hockey (3 side-by-side games of 3-on-3, 2 balls per game)
I assigned:  kids to a lane with an opponent of similar skill level.  More experienced players played goalie, with 2 lanes of children having their own ball  and trying to score on the opponent's goal.  Today, I observed for children keeping their sticks below their knees.  This requirement is for the safety of all children.

Mar. 4  Hockey Skills #2:  Stick-handling, taking wrist shots
In today's mini-games, I watched for all students to demonstrate proper grip and spacing between hands.  Kids are making progress!

Feb 24  Hockey Skills #1:  Stick-handling
3rd graders learned how to grip a hockey stick, with space between hands, blade held away from feet but staying below knees at all times.  This last detail is the hardest for so many students!  But it is a safety requirement in all schools across the land!  Everyone had a whiffle ball to guide in a rolling zig-zag path with taps to alternating sides of the ball.  Good start!

Feb 10  Scooter Hockey
Putting games on scooters levels the playing field, providing students with less skill experience better chances to be involved in sports games and giving more experienced players a fair format for involving their less experienced teammates.  Students played in 3-on-3 games with of scooter hockey no goalies.  Students used mini-sticks and a slow-moving yarnball to match their slower travel speeds.

Feb 3  Fitness Stations, Spotted Climb Finale, Scooter Hoops
While I focused primarily on safety for belayed wall climbs and basketball skill practice over the past month, I had provided guidelines for a 3-on-3 scooter basketball game students played at a station.  Today, I reviewed my expectations for passing and sharing shots on the hoop, as well as playing with fairness for all.  I supervised the scooter hoops and provided feedback on:
- moving away from opponents to "get open" when a teammate had the ball, 
- putting arms up to block, or defend against, passes and shots,
- moving closer to the hoop to take shots
 (click on photo)

Nice defense!

Jan. 6, 13, 20 & 27  Belayed Climbs or Skill Stations (basketball, climbing ropes, jumping rope)
After a little return to spotted climbs last week, 3rd graders had the chance to be part of the Australian belay team and belayed wall climbs or practicing basketball skills, climbing the ropes, and jumping rope at stations.  We've also added walking through Karioke (or grapevine) to our warm up for students to learn, while students with experience practice it.  I'll continue to talk students through the steps of Karioke for the next few months, until it's a learned pattern:  Step, Cross in Front, Step, Cross in Back.

Dec. 21 Spotted Climbs, Teamwork Challenges
On our last school day before the holiday vacation, Leah's and Michele's classes also had Pajama Day.  What was PE like on a Pajama Day just before the holidays?  Fun! Look and see:  (click on photo to enlarge)
 Teamwork can be hard!
 Great effort from...
the "Stripes Contingent."
  Nice spotting!
 Good form here too!
 Sleigh Ride fun!
 Excellent focus!

Dec. 9 & 16  First Belayed Climbs & Long Jumprope
I wish we had a longer class time!  But alas, it usually takes two weeks to give all the students who would like a turn for a belayed climb on the climbing wall to get a turn.  But by Dec. 16, all students who wanted a turn for a belayed climb got one and all 3rd graders also practiced swinging and jumping in a long jumprope.  Today, I had a student who was very reluctant to wear a harness later announce, "I love belaying!  I want to do this again!"  Great effort on climbing today and on jumping rope!  Wished I could have photographed the awesome effort the jumpers put in today.  :)  Each week for the past 3, I have also asked and reviewed with classes what kind of comments and comparisons should be made during our Belayed Climbs unit with Challenge-By-Choice.  I am so impressed at how much so many children truly understand the respect and non-competitive nature of Acton's elementary climbing unit.  Excellent exhibition of National PE Standard #4.  (see the tab above)

Dec. 2
Hooray!  First day of high elements:  Flying Squirrel!  A special day that many 3rd graders have been waiting years to experience during the school day at Merriam!  All 3rd graders wore a harness today, as wearing one allows students to climb and/or belay to keep climbers safe.  Wearing a harness also allows 3rd graders to understand Pilgrim-era wardrobe challenges first-hand!  Argh:  the challenges of buckles!  Leah's class had lots of harness helpers tightening waistband webbing & backing up buckles.  A terrific day to fly!

Here's how harnesses look on a 3rd grade "squirrel" and haul team.  I love it!

And below are some 3rd graders' stick figure depictions of spotters and climbers.  :)

Nov. 25
To prepare for the respectful, non-competitive learning environment that is part of the elementary physical education Adventure Unit (belayed elements), 3rd graders played an activity called Challenge-by-Choice.  Students declared their comfort level with different scenarios by hopping, crabwalking, and jumping to the zone that best matched how they would feel.  The zones were Comfort, Stretch (or some discomfort) and Panic.  I asked the question, "Does everyone feel the same way as you?"  Students considered how they would feel if they were forced to do something that would panic them or if others who were comfortable with a scenario were comparing their accomplishments to those who felt challenged.  The goal is to be respectful and allow all kids to choose whether to climb, how high they want to go, and when to come down.  This will be a good challenge for 3rd graders, an age where children often just blurt out what they notice or prefer for themselves.  But students look ready to try their best and respect others!  We finished with everyone putting on a harness.  Even students who choose not to climb or be a flying squirrel are learning how to put on a harness to be part of a belay team.
Nov. 18
Finally!  We have Tuesday afternoon school and a return to 3rd grade PE after a 3 week hiatus!  
We are starting our Climbing Unit.  So much about climbing has been anticipated by these students for years!  Today, we learned how to spot and joined the S.S.S.S. (Secret Society of Super Spotters).  Students leapt into action when asked, "Are you ready?"  (Ask your child what to do.)  3rd graders practiced proper spotting form with:  lunge stance, hands out behind the climbers shoulders, and eyes on the climber.  Spotters are prepared to support the back and head.  Getting to climb up to the 8-foot line is a big deal after needing to keep feet below the 2-foot-up green line on the wall!  But so is taking "appropriate risks" when climbing and taking turns with your spotter.  Next week, students will learn how to put on their own harness.  I'm expecting that some students will already know this and can help others tighten their webbing waistbands and back-up the buckles.  Fun unit!

We also played a favorite game:  Pirate Ships.  I love this game because students take turns at different pirate jobs that are essential for the game to work but offer practice at important motor skills (defending your ship's mast, bowling at other pirate masts, and running through the ocean to get cannon balls).  Lots of cooperation needed for this game and waiting for your favorite job!  This game helps prepare students to take turns belaying too.

TUESDAY is SNEAKER day for 3rd graders!  Two weeks in a row with all sneakers!
Oct 21
Wall Ball, throwing at hula hoop castles, and a game of Castleball again.  I'll miss seeing you for 3 weeks!

Oct 14
We have been building skills for throwing and catching over the past few weeks, and today 3rd graders applied those skills!  Students started with jumprope and hula hoop practice, then tossed a ball against the wall and caught it, and finally built castles from 6 hula hoops with two partners.  Then, kids were ready to apply those skills in Castleball.  Today was our no defense version, with the focus on throwing a the opponents' castles.  What fun the 3rd graders had!

Sept 23
This is our third lesson focused on Building Community.  I'm still establishing how I want to see children working together and playing games.  Children had Hula Hooping or Jumproping as Entering Activities.  Then, we gathered at the center circle.  I praised children who picked spots on the circle that were away from their buddies in class and gave a count of 5 for children who had not thought of this to pick a new spot.  We continued with our regular Warm Up.  I had a chance during the warm up to privately tell a few children that I had videoed games played the week before and seen that they were down on the floor often.  I gave them the clear expectation that they needed to stay on their feet for games.  I prepared children for tossing and catching with a partner, with direction instructions for how to catch (thumbs together, fingers point up if ball is coming at chest or higher; and pinkies point in, fingers point down for a ball arriving at the waist or below).  I demonstrated an underhand toss to a student and provided the challenge for the tosser to make adjustments if the partner was not catching his or her toss.  The emphasis was on making the ball easy for the partner to catch.  I paired children with another child in class who I supposed they did not often work and had pairs tossing and catching together.  Then children rated how many of their tosses the partner caught.  I challenged children to make the next 10 tosses catchable by their partner.  Several children in each class are quite skilled at quickly noticing what is working and making adjustments so that the partner increased the chance of catching the next toss.  Nice to see!

Then we played Spiderball Tag, with the emphasis on staying on feet (not on knees or bottoms) and playing fair.

Sept 16
After getting some vigorous exercise with our Entering Activity (jogging laps or jumping rope) and performing our Warm Up, we talked about friendly body language and unfriendly gestures or facial expressions.  Then we practiced being with lots of partners for People-to-People, where we high-fived a partner then stayed with him or her for muscle matches.  Ask your child where the quadriceps muscles are!  Then we rated how we did on having positive body language and being open to working with anyone in class.  Ask your child to show you his or her "thumb-o-meter" for thumb checks.  This is a quick way for me to see if children can accurately reflect on how they are doing with a skill.

Ga Ga Go, a beloved dodging game with tapping skills, was a fun way for kids to show they could bring friendly body language and attitudes into a game with a competitive component.  If the ball hits your leg or foot, you have to go to the side of the gym to do 5 exercises before returning to the game.  We finished with Rock, Paper, Scissors.  One round of Rock, Paper, Scissors was competitive and one was cooperative.  If you lost in the first round, you were eliminated and had to wait for the winners to finish.  Not so much fun for children who were waiting.  But in the cooperative version, students high-fived when they matched their partner's declaration.  Both of these activities were done with children jumping to declare rather than using only hands.  I saw so many smiles and giggles when partners matched their back-to-back declarations.  Some had several matches!

Nice job remembering sneakers!  All 3rd graders were wearing sneakers this week!
Lots of 3rd grade fun with Ga Ga Go!

Sept. 9
Our first lesson was focused on Building Community.  We had an Entering Activity choice of running laps or hula hooping.  Then, we introduced ourselves, reviewed my basic rules, and did a brief warm up.  We had two main activities for being physically active, having some friendly competition, and demonstrating friendly community-building body language:  Ship Ahoy and Last Summer....?

Ship Ahoy is the classic children's game of running to Port, Starboard, the Bow, and the Stern, Swabbing the Deck, and Saluting the Captain, with a few teamwork calls, Get Out the Lifeboats and Sea Star.  Anyone who stopped saluting the captain or got left out of a lifeboat (3 to a boat) or Sea Star (5 to a star), was sent overboard.  Not to fear, though!  The call of Man Overboard always had friends charging to bring their overboard friends back onto the ship.  During the game, we paused to do a self-assessment Thumb Check for "being safe with bodies" and "keeping friendly body language" by showing a thumb gauge for:  all the time, most of the time, or some of the time. (Ask your 3rd grader how that is done!)  Then we played the older grades' community-building game of "Last Summer, did you....?"  For former Merriam students, breaking out of the 1st and 2nd grade routine of Warm Up, Skill, and Game lesson was an exciting shift!  I showed classes the whiteboard where I list the plan for the lesson, and they could see the 2nd grade lesson from the morning and the 4th/5th grade plan from Monday.  I'm sure they felt so grown up!  In our musical chairs-style "Last Summer, did you....?" game, students got to demonstrate their body control and safe travel close to others as they competed to hurry to new locations if they answered YES to a question.   Plus, they learned that many students had similar experiences over the summer (swimming in a pool, riding bikes, visiting with relatives, putting on sunscreen and wearing a hat, eating corn-on-the-cob), but some experiences were not shared by all (watching World Cup Soccer or going to camp).  Setting a tone for a respectful atmosphere in PE makes it safer for all children to have a chance to learn and develops empathy and the desire to be understanding toward others.  I'm looking forward to a fun year of refining skills and applying those skills in mini-games as well as building a respectful learning community.

Kudos to Leah's and Michele's classes for having all students in sneakers on our first day together!