Batter up! It’s been baseball season in the TNS gym. Students were introduced to different kinds of baseball gloves (standard leather and one with Velcro to help them catch easier) and the difficult concept of wearing the glove on your non dominant hand so that your dominant hand is available to throw. Older kids worked on basic concept related to fielding ground balls and fly balls. Then came everyone’s favorite part: hitting the ball! For this we have used tees and everyone has found success and had lots of fun. We learned about the correct way to hold a bat and swing. We learned about safety when holding a bat and to always check your surroundings before swinging. Then came understanding where bases were located and when to run to them. Young kids were encouraged to just run to each base in the correct order, while older kids had the chance to learn about having to get to the base before the outfielder and being “safe”. Our 4/5 graders had the chance to play a modified game after a couple weeks.
While we will keep playing tee ball here and there our attentions have turned towards volleyball. First order of business, keeping up a balloon! Next, we learn about basics like bumping and setting the ball. Finally we’ll break out the net and see what we can do with either a balloon, beach ball, or even a volleyball for anyone who is ready.
March Madness wasn’t only for colleges, our students got to join in the fun and engage in basketball skills in various ways. Everyone from Pre-K through 5th grade learned about dribbling and shooting the ball. Our new arcade basketball game was a big hit as a one of our stations. Older students learned about passing the ball, moving while dribbling, and the different ways to shoot. A big theme was to keep trying even if something felt hard or if you didn’t make a shot on the first or second try. The oldest kids took these skills and played half court games like Knockout, modified 3 on 3, and Horse.
Some new tag games were introduced including ring tag, a game where students kick around a foam ring and if their ring gets touched by a tagger’s ring then they freeze with their feet wide, put the ring on their head and wait for another kid to kick a ring through their legs. Snake tag was another game people enjoyed learning. It is a game played at fast walking speed where any one who gets tagged puts their hands on the shoulders of the tagger creating a longer and longer snake.
Stations got a shake up with the introduction of hippity hops, ring toss, and jump ropes. Pre-K explored some field day activities like jumping bags and egg/spoon races. 4th/5th grade had the chance to teach Oli games they learned about at their overnight camping trip. The kids have been excited to try so many new materials and activities while continuing to learn how to share, communicate calmly, and be safe.
Oli is teaming up with Cheryl, our TNS Librarian, to give students an opportunity to explore Physical Education & Wellness topics that we don’t usually get to inside the gym.
Starting now until June, the goal is for each class to come 2-3 times with Oli to the library during their PE time to pursue lessons and projects with a tie into our PE curriculum.
Some possible topics include:
-Studying and celebrating athletes from various backgrounds, such as athletes with disabilities, BIPOC and LGBTQ+ athletes –> a tie in to our school wide Anti-Bias/Anti-Racist work!
-Healthy habits: mindfulness, limiting screen time, staying hydrated, getting rest
-Digital citizenship & wellness
-Learning about games and sports from around the world
The goal is for students to extend their learning into the many topics of Physical Education that go beyond moving our bodies and hopefully apply them to their everyday lives. And of course, Oli and Cheryl will find lots of ways to include movement and fun into every lesson!
Can’t wait to take our students’ PE experience to the next level!
While I was on my medical leave for most of January, the classes worked with Kelly, one of TNS’s wonderful subs. As extra motivation to be on their best behavior with Kelly, the K-5 students had a chance to earn checkmarks towards playing one of the most popular games we do all year: Gaga Ball. Almost every class rose to the occasion and Kelly told me she had a great time getting to know and work with all the children. A couple classes needed to do a little bit more with me to earn Gaga Ball but by early February every class K-5 was getting to play and loving it!
Gaga Ball is originally an Israeli game that involves players entering a pit (we constructed ours from folding tables and mats) and trying to use their open hand to tap a ball into other feet or lower legs. Players do their best to dodge or block the ball from touching their legs because if it does touch then they are out. For K/1 and 2/3 classes, a player who is out goes to the back of the line and the player at the front of the line comes in the game. So it is a continuous flow of players getting out and coming in. There is no winner, just the joy of staying in as long as you can and then waiting to come back in and try all over again. The 4/5 students prefer a little more competition, so they opted to play elimination style, where players get eliminated one by one until there is a champion of the Gaga pit. Players who got out had other options of game to play around the gym in order to stay active until the next game. One choice was Kaboom Ball, a fun game which is essentially hockey but with pool noodles and the hockey sticks and a beach ball as the puck. Played in quick rounds of teams of two, this ended up being a favorite game as well.
We also all got a chance to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather with tag games and other activities outside in the courtyard.
The Pre-K students aren’t quite ready for these games, so they got to continue exploring and playing with various equipment such as scarves, jumping bags, rackets, and beanbags. The kids always come up with ways to use the equipment that I would have never thought to. They have the best imaginations! Of course, we always make time for favorite games like Follow the Leader, Freeze Tag, Duck Duck Goose, and Dance Party!
Season’s Greetings! I wanted to loop you all in on the fact that I will be on a short medical leave in the month of January. I told the children this week that we won’t see each other for about a month because I have to stay home and rest but that I will be thinking of them and will be back to play games with them before they know it. In the meantime we are lucky to have Kelly, who just completed student teaching in Shaquawn & Amann’s class, as a long term sub for me while I’m out. As some extra motivation to show Kelly their best behavior, the classes will get checkmarks for following the rules of the gym while I’m away. If they earn enough checkmarks they will get to play a school-wide favorite game when I get back: Gaga Ball!
Check out a short update below about how things have progressed in PE classes in December.
December has been a lot of fun with all classes learning new games. The Pre-K got explore with more materials, including different shaped hoops, various balls, and cones. They also tried out the big parachute and games that included various locomotor movements like skipping, walking on tiptoe, crawling, and stomping. The K/1 and 2/3 classes got introduced to a couple new stations, including Handball. The 4/5 classes really honed in on the rules and sportsmanship aspects of Handball and teamwork. It was a great way to end 2022!
The Pre-K has had the opportunity to have free exploration of a view kinds of materials including rubber bouncy balls (think kickballs), softer “gator skin” foam balls, and more recently, handheld nets and mini hula hoops. Once kids have a chance to explore the material, making up their own games and trying out different ways of using them, they share with their classmates what they have tried out. In subsequent classes, Oli gives them a task to go along with the material, such as you must bounce or kick this ball with a partner, or you must roll the ball and hit the wall or a pin. This helps students develop different skills and get used to working in different configurations (alone, in pairs, or groups). Some more structured games we have tried out include Follow the Leader, Duck, Duck, Goose and Freeze Tag.
There have been a lot of highlights for the K/1 group in the past couple months include playing the “Mirror Game” in which students mirror the movements of the game leader. It starts with Oli leading and then a few kids get a turn to lead the group. Eventually we played where every student had a partner, taking turns who would lead and who would mirror. Some group activities we’ve been excited to learn include Zombie Tag, Dead Ant Tag, and Fireball (rolling a foam ball at kids’ feet and them having to dodge out of the way). We were also excited to start our station work in which kids rotate through 5 stations around the gym. It all starts out with going over the rules of station work, then getting a colorful wristband that helps you to know which station to start with and the other kids in your group. The stations so far have included: target practice (like darts but with velcro balls), handheld nets where you try to catch a foam shuttlecock in you net, jumping bags, handball/soccer, and mini hula hoops with balancing wands.
2/3 and 4/5 Updates
The 2/3s have one foot in the K/1 world because they still participate in station work (see above for descriptions of current stations) and one foot in 4/5 world because they also learn sports skills. The 2/3s and 4/5s have been working on skills necessary to play Handball. This has included learning and practicing various types of passing: two-handed, one-handed, bounce pass, jump pass. Learning how to defend against a pass and well as how to get around defenders without fouling. We’ve done various games like Monkey in the Middle and 10 Pass to develop these skills further and now we are geared up to try out our first official Handball matches in the coming days. As usual, our conversations center around teamwork, game strategy, and sportsmanship. Some other fun activities we have been able to enjoy in the past couple months include Zombie Tag, Burning Ball, Teamwork Relay Races, Cross the River (a distance jumping game), and Silent Ball.
Welcome to the 2022-2023 school year and to The Neighborhood School’s Physical Education Blog.
My name is Oli Occelli, I am the Physical Education teacher at TNS. It is my 2nd year teaching PE at TNS and my 9th year as a teacher here. I have the pleasure of working with all your children throughout the entire school year.
I see every K/1, 2/3, and 4/5th class twice a week for 45 minutes and every Pre-K class once a week for 45 minutes.
This has been a great start to the year as the vast majority of students I already know from last year and our new friends have been brave and dove right into games and fun with us too.
My hope with this blog is to periodically update you on the curricular units, skills, activities, and games we play in the gym. There will be plenty of pictures and maybe even short videos so you can feel part of the action too. You might even be able to recreate some of your child’s favorite games at home with your family!
First Weeks of School
Pre-K: We have slowly gotten to know one another through playing on the playground, an environment in which most kids feel comfortable. So far many Pre-K kids have led me over to go down the big slide, push them on the swings, or “buy” their “ice cream” and “pizza” at the playhouse. In a couple weeks we will transition the fun into the gym, which will be a new space for them to get comfortable with and explore.
K/1, 2/3, 4/5: These grade bands have spent the first couple of weeks getting to know each other, (re)acquainting themselves with the gym space and learning some of our routines. We have done name games to make sure we know each other’s names, rolling a ball to each other to answer the “question of the day” (like “What’s your favorite food?”) in order to learn more about one another. We also played “This or That?” a game where two choices are presented (Like “Cats or dogs?”) and kids have to run to one side of the gym or the other to show their preference. This was a hit with all ages, especially because kids got to come up with the two options after a bit.
K/1s have since reviewed games they are familiar with and have some routine to them, such as “Duck, duck, goose” and “Freeze tag”.
2/3s and 4/5s have also taken on some teamwork challenges, such as timing how fast the class could get everyone through a hula hoop without letting go of each other’s hands or passing a ball around the circle using only their feet. The older kids even attempted to untangle the human knot! Lots of conversations about effective teamwork and communication have already come up and will serve us when we do team sports in the future.
We have just started taking on relay races with all grade bands. Kids race one at a time to touch a cone and then tag their teammate’s hand to signify it is their turn to go. We practice many locomotor skills during these races like skipping, side-stepping, and crab walking. For the 2/3s and 4/5s, once each entire team is sitting down quietly, I give out “points” for quietest team, most supportive team, teams trying their best, teams showing honesty, etc. This motivates kids to work well together and everyone gets points in the end.