Category Archives for Physical Education

5 Tips for Creating Basketball Lesson that Kids Love

It’s that time of year again! Gyms echo with the squeaks of sneakers as we kick off Basketball Season. During PE and after school this time of year, it’s all about basketball. It’s also the number one choice of recess activity; more basketballs are requested this time of year, and for good reason!

Everyone can play with a ball. But not everyone can or wants to play a sport.

Basketball for All
So, it’s tough to create lessons to teach basketball; how do you include students who are good at basketball and want to be challenged as well as students who have very little interest in the sport?

The solution is to focus on skill development. All students, no matter their ability, can have fun developing their skills in a non-threatening, non-competitive atmosphere.
Creating the Right Environment

By following the 5 tips below, you can make it easier to teach basketball fundamentals to diverse groups:

1.A Ball for Each. Get each student a ball, any ball. If it bounces and fits through a net, it’s great to use to teach basketball fundamentals. If you must share, follow a ratio of two students per ball.

2.Control the Bouncing. Kids love to bounce the ball! They can’t seem to help themselves, despite requests to stop, and it gets disruptive. So, remove temptation. Create a signal word or phrase like “stall the ball!” at which they put the ball between their feet when they hear it.

3.Delegate to Motivate and Engage. If you’re not comfortable demonstrating a fundamental, allow skilled students to take this role. They will love it!

4.Keep Them Moving! Downtime breeds distractions or misbehaving. Keep them actively engaged. Waiting in line? Practice dribbling or ball-handling. Waiting for a ball? Mirror the activity to learn the motions.

5.Play the Game Last. At the end of the lesson, avoid playing a game of basketball. Modify the game to highlight the skill learned in the session.

Resource for Skill Building
To modify the game or learn other skill development ideas so all children enjoy the sport, consult resources like Basketball Skillastics®. Motivated by the desire to create an all-inclusive and whole class learning environment, Basketball Skillastics was designed to practice skills in a fun way together.

For this month, let’s make the most of the sport by getting the most children involved through skill development. Celebrate the start of basketball season with a 10% discount on Basketball Skillastics® throughout November for After School and Physical Education Instructors with code bb2019. Online, or Purchase Order.

5 Reasons Why Skillastics® Will Make Your Program Great


Can you imagine your job getting easier, and more productive?  What if you could maximize participation without wasting the limited time you have?  Wouldn’t it be great to have a resource at your disposal guaranteeing a glowing administrative review?

With Skillastics® you can.

The Skillastics® Activity Kit System is a powerful resource that will transform your program. Not Convinced? Following are 5 key reasons why Skillastics® will undeniably make your program great.

1) Increase Academic Learning
A requirement you are constantly hearing from your administration. Skillastics® bridges the gap between physical activity and academics by seamlessly incorporating vocabulary, literacy, math and STEM learning. Skillastics® is an innovative way of including more academic integration.

2) Connecting with Classroom Teachers
What makes Skillastics® stand out beyond any other physical activity resource is its ability to connect directly with classroom teachers through the Skillastics® Custom Question Card Templates for nutrition, STEM and math. Simply share these templates with classroom teachers and ask them to create questions that are relevant to the lessons that they are currently teaching. You would then take these questions and add them to your program while your students are playing Skillastics®. Instant connection!

3) Organized Chaos
The best large group resource available! You will not find a better large group resource out there. Period. Any instructor that is using Skillastics® properly will tell you that the Skillastics® Activity Kit System exceeds their expectations and reinforces all the reasons why they decided to add Skillastics® to their program.

4) Steller Assessment
It is crucial to assess students to make sure they are really learning. If you, your students, parents, and administration truly want to see fitness progression in your class, the Skillastics® Activity Kit System is the most effective resource to measure movement in a variety of ways.

Fully Engaged
Students are full engaged, which frees you up to conduct formative assessment,    measuring all students progress and mastery of skill without interruption.

Effective Feedback
With students fully engaged, Skillastics® provides a more relaxed atmosphere for feedback and individual instruction when needed.

Summative Assessment with Technology
Skillastics® is the most effective resource to measure student outcomes using heart rate monitors or other technology based devices.

5) The Skillastics® Activity Kit System Saves Time
Do you see your student’s once a week? Twice a week if you’re lucky? How many times do you see a new lesson activity that looks like fun, but takes much too long to set up? The innovative Skillastics® technique takes less than a minute to set up and allows for maximum participation while increasing fitness levels.

Introducing the Skillastics® Activity Kit System into your program will exceed your expectations and fulfill all your objectives. Visit or email us at to transform your program today.

Developing Volleyball Competency & MVPA

A quality physical education program has curriculum, units, and lessons that are standards based.  One of the important standards for a physical educator is Standard 1 which states that a physically literate person demonstrates competency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns (SHAPE  America; National Standards & Grade Level Outcomes).  This standard allows physical educators to prepare students to participate in many different physical activities and sports with confidence, which will lead to a life full of activity.

I have taught physical education for 23 years, and every year I always ask my students why they may not like certain sports and physical activities that we do.  Each year, I get the same response:  “I don’t like the activity because I’m not very good at it.”  I then ask them how they could get better at it.  Well, we all know that if they got better at the skills, it would make the game play better, and then more fun will be had when they play the activity/sport.

Along with Standard 1, moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) has become a major focus in our lessons.  However, with this focus on MVPA, some have dropped focusing on Standard 1 because focusing on skills may not get their students’ heart rate up into the appropriate range.  But, this does not have to be the case.  Skills can still be taught effectively while focusing on MVPA as well.

As I have traveled across the country doing presentations at various state and national conferences, my platform and focus has been on infusing fitness into daily lessons.  One of the sports I present on is volleyball, and the teaching of the forearm and overhead pass.  One way I used to teach these skills was with the command style, and they were pretty stationary.  As I went back and looked at my lessons and started asking myself about whether or not they were getting to the appropriate MVPA, I noticed that I needed to change the way I had the students work on their skills.  We all know that if they lack the skills, the game of volleyball is a serve, it hits the ground, and the team scores a point; not much fun for anyone.  So, with a little thinking and creativity, I have been able to increase MVPA and skill development.

Within my research of trying to find ways to increase skills and MVPA, I came across the Skillastics® program.  The first one I used, was the basketball program.  Then, the volleyball kit came out, and I knew I had to have it.  Skillastics® fits with everything I believe in and want to accomplish in my class.  The one nice thing about it, I didn’t have to come up with the fitness activities and there would be a lot of variation in my lessons.  Throughout my volleyball unit, I use the task cards to help with the skill development.  It allows the students to work independently, but yet stay focused on the skills but yet get in a good workout.  Once they have learned the tasks from the kit, we use the entire kit to play Volleyball Skillastics®.  While they are doing this, I know they are working on the skills, increasing MVPA, and having fun.

Skill development is crucial in giving the students confidence they can participate competently in the sport or activity.  However, just because you work on skills, doesn’t mean that MVPA must be lost.  All you need to do is think, be creative, or use a program that already focuses on both.

CLICK HERE To Learn More About Volleyball Skillastics®!

CDC and SHAPE America Help Schools Make the Most of This Critical Part of the School Day

Schools across the country will now have step-by-step guidance and evidence-based strategies to support school recess for all K-12 students and enhance active school environments.  The two new guidance documents, Strategies for Recess in Schools and Recess Planning in Schools: A Guide to Putting Strategies for Recess Into Practice, were recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and SHAPE America – Society of Health and Physical Educators, and can be downloaded free of charge at:

“This is a milestone in our quest to increase children’s physical activity levels.  Daily recess, monitored by well-trained staff or volunteers, can optimize a child’s social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development,” says SHAPE America Chief Executive Officer E. Paul Roetert, Ph.D. “Recess contributes to the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity for students and helps them apply the knowledge and skills they learn in an effective health and physical education program. In addition, recess supports 50 Million Strong, SHAPE America’s commitment to empower all kids to lead active and healthy lives.”

The guidance documents provide a blueprint for schools to use in implementing successful recess programs for their students. They are designed for state and school district leaders who provide technical assistance and professional development on recess, as well as classroom teachers, recess and playground supervisors, support staff, school administrators, parent-teacher organizations, school health coordinators, advisory councils, parents and anyone interested in supporting recess in schools.

Strategies for Recess in Schools defines recess and identifies 19 evidence-based strategies schools can implement that increase student physical activity and academic achievement. Although most of the evidence and expert opinion for these strategies came from elementary schools, many of the strategies are also applicable to secondary schools.  The intent is for school staff or groups working with schools to identify what is currently happening or not happening with recess in their school, and then use this information to develop a recess plan that serves all students.

Recess Planning in Schools: A Guide to Putting Strategies for Recess Into Practice complements the strategies document by guiding schools through the process of developing a written recess plan that incorporates the identified strategies. In addition, CDC and SHAPE America developed a customizable Recess Planning Template, which enables schools to record details of how they will organize and implement recess at school.

The new recess documents will be featured at a program session called “Strategies for Recess in Schools” at the organization’s National Convention in Boston on Tuesday, March 14 from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm. Attendees will learn how recess can help students increase their daily physical activity and contribute to achieving the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity each day.  The new resources will help schools develop a comprehensive plan for recess to increase students’ participation in physical activity and improve their academic achievement.

By diving into each of the five broad categories included in the Strategies for Recess in Schools document, school staff or committees will be able to answer specific questions which will help them examine and enhance an existing recess program, or develop a new recess plan for a school.

Download the two new guidance documents, Strategies for Recess in Schools and Recess Planning in Schools: A Guide to Putting Strategies for Recess Into Practice, free of charge at:

Follow the conversation using #SHAPErecess and #recess.

Registration now Open for SHAPE America Convention & Expo

Registration is now open for the premier professional development event for health and physical educators — the 132nd National Convention & Expo of SHAPE America – Society of Health and Physical Educators, March 14-18, 2017, in Boston. Health and physical educators will be inspired with new ideas, skills, and ways to transform their schools, while making connections with like-minded colleagues and learning about new funding ideas to support their programs.


Knowing that health and physical educators are vital to students’ social-emotional learning, SHAPE America invited Maya Enista Smith, executive director of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, and Steve Gross, chief executive optimist of the Life is Good Kids Foundation, to keynote the Opening General Session on Wednesday, March 15. In her presentation, Enista Smith will discuss “Creating a Kinder and Braver World” while Gross will discuss “Discovering the Power of Optimism.” Dean Kriellaars, Ph.D., University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, will highlight his work with Cirque de Soleil as he presents “Physical Literacy: the Gateway to Active Participation” on Friday, March 17.


According to SHAPE America President Jackie Lund of Georgia State University, “With the recent ESSA legislation, it is a time of great opportunity for the health and physical education professions. To succeed all of us will need new skills, knowledge and the motivation to impact the learning and behavior of America’s children beyond our traditional role in classrooms and gymnasiums.”


Here’s one such convention opportunity: On Tuesday afternoon, March 14, SHAPE America Past President Steve Jefferies and other leaders in the field will host a “50 Million Strong by 2029 Forum,” an interactive session designed to inspire and provide direction on how to get all of America’s school-age children physically active and healthy. Learn firsthand how this commitment will challenge all of us to reconsider, reimagine and redesign how we deliver physical education and health education to America’s students. Hear how progress will be measured, what current evaluation tools and processes can be used to evaluate success, and how you can be a “champion.”

Complimentary 50 Million Strong T-shirts will be given away to the first 300 registered participants.


Research will also have a large presence in Boston. The Research Council is hosting a session titled, “Learning from the Past, Making History” which will be a session that contains a historical perspective of SHAPE America and its research disciplines followed by a discussion about the future. This session will include research and discussion by SHAPE America members Hans van der Mars, Missy Parker and Kevin Patton.  Russ Pate of the University of South Carolina will present the “U.S. Report Card on Physical Activity in Children and Youth” while CDC Health Scientist Shannon Michael discusses the “Report on Secular Changes in Physical Education Attendance in the U.S.” and Christina Economos, associate professor, Tufts University, presents “Best Practices in School District-Wide Efforts to Promote Students’ Physical Activity.”
Want to see what other convention sessions you’d like to attend? Check out the preliminary program and schedule-at-a-glance chart! Then, head to the convention registration page to take advantage of $75 in early-bird savings!


Make Your Case

If you need help getting approval from your administrator to attend the event, use this Justification Toolkit, which includes:

  • Convention benefits
  • Justification letter template
  • Tips for speaking with your supervisor


Go Green to Save Green

This year, the convention will be “paper-light” and SHAPE America will make the world a little greener by using the mobile app to navigate convention sessions instead of producing a printed program.


Among the sponsors supporting the SHAPE America National Convention & Expo are Fuel Up to Play 60, Human Kinetics, KIDZ BOP, Life is Good Kids Foundation, New York Road Runners, Reebok and BOKS, Build our Kids’ Success, and Sportime featuring SPARK, a category of School Specialty, Inc.

For more information about SHAPE America’s National Convention & Expo, visit the website and follow #SHAPEBoston. The convention is held in partnership with SHAPE America Eastern District and the Massachusetts Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (MAHPERD).

Tennis Skillastics®: Fun and Skills All in One!

(Common Core, Physical Literacy and Standards Based Physical Fitness)

My favorite Skillastics® kit is Tennis Skillastics®. It is no surprise that I have a true passion for Tennis. I am a 28-year veteran High School Tennis Coach and played Tennis myself since I was 8. We as teachers may give our students the opportunity to learn and play tennis. Like anything else, the more skilled students become the more they will enjoy the sport. It is an activity, which may be played throughout their lives. It may be played at any level, gender or age. Teaching Tennis in school has never been a question for me, with or without a court. I have seen the bonds made between families and friends, which has such an amazing impact on their lives. Tennis stimulates the mind, body and emotions. It involves cooperative engagement as well as skill development. Tennis decreases the risk of chronic illness, increases social skills, improves mental focus, and discipline. Participating in tennis activities is an excellent way to relieve stress.

Skillastics® works on skills while increasing MVPA in a game situation. It works well for a warm-up/fitness lesson in a Sport Education Season or as a full lesson.
My favorite way to use Tennis Skillastics® is to divide students into teams as in a Sport Education Unit. Students must first learn the terminology, skill and fitness task for the game. This may be done within their teams covering a few skills/terms each day. When using the Sport Education model teams will be awarded points for fair play, fitness, warm-up, completion and order of finish. This is a great activity due to the fact that students are responsible for their own learning and what a great way to include the standards. Using stations may add a common core component and make students responsible for their own learning. Students work together to improve skills and knowledge needed to live a healthy lifestyle.

Secondary Stations for Tennis Skillastics®

1. Teams begin with their home base station grid.
2. Read the task card and perform the skill together. This could be considered a common core/physical literacy activity. Students are responsible for their own learning.
3. Perform each station for a time limit. (Example: 3 miinutes each station) When the music stops (using Tabata Pro) move to the next station.
4. Continue until all stations have been completed.

After completing the stations, students will remain with their teams for a fun Skillastics® game. Teams send a player to the mat to roll the die and get the number of the activity to be performed. Students are given the level to participate for the game activity. The game may be played for a time limit or when one team gets around the mat once or twice.

If you would like more information on ways to incorporate Tennis Skillastics® into your curriculum feel free to contact me at or view my website at

Bottom line. “Love what you do and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Play Your Cards Right and Increase Physical Activity

Thanks to all who attended our “Play Your Cards Right and Increase Physical Activity” session in Seattle.  As promised here are three more activities you can do with playing cards.  For those that were not able to attend, think about all of the fun you can have with your students using just a deck (or two or three!) of playing cards.  Even though many have limited budgets, you can still provide fun and creative activities to keep your students active and fit.  Stay tuned next month for a few more ideas!  Until then, “Play Your Cards Right” and keep your students active!!


Card Run

Students walk and jog around the gym.  Each time they pass you, hand them a playing card.  After the students have 2-3 cards stop, have them add up the number of points they received.  Face cards are 10 points and Aces are 1 points.  Then based on their total, they do to the Fitness task card activity that represents that number (1-26) and complete it 10 times.  If they have more than 26 have them subtract 10 points to get their activity.  Collect the cards and repeat the activity.


It’s in the Cards

Students work with a group of 4-6 people.  Each group has a stack of playing cards.  They turn one card over and then do a fitness task card activity listed for that particular card.  Have the four suits assigned to one activity and they do the activity that number of times.  Encourage students to share the job of turning the cards.

Variation:  Use only cards with up to 9 and have students count by that number a total of 10 times (i.e. if it is a 4 of clubs and push up shoulder touches is assigned to clubs they do the push up shoulder touches counting by 4’s until they get to 40).

Cards are on the side of the playing area with Fitness task activity cards posted on the wall.  They come back to their group and lead the group in the activity.


Category Cards                                                                                                                                                     Students work in groups of 3, starting on the side line or outside of playing area. Spread the cards out in the center of playing area.  Students will be assigned a task, locomotor or sport skill (dribble a ball) as they move to the card area. Students pick up a card and carry to team area while doing skill. Keep cards at group area until activity is over. Options: Determine which cards they may chose-only Red cards, only even cards, a sequence of cards, add letters on the back of cards to spell classroom spelling list or Physical Education vocabulary.


Convention Survival Tips

Convention Survival Tips

The Skillastics® Team has been to over 100 National Conventions in the past 20 years. We have some practical tips to share with you about how to get the most enjoyment, learning and connection out of those long days!

  • Don’t be a flipper.  You’ve seen them. Maybe you are one. The attendee who is constantly flipping through the program and realizing only too late that they missed the one session they wanted to go too.  Review the entire program BEFORE you get to the conference.  Create your own calendar and schedule. Set it up by day with the times and location of the specific sessions you will go to, who you want to see in the exhibit hall and which socials and meetings you want to attend.  Download your schedule to your phone – you won’t have to carry the big convention book around.
  • So many raffles, so little time! Print up a sheet or two of labels with your name, school, title, mailing address, email and phone number. Have them handy to hand out for mailing lists, raffles and for order forms. You’ll be glad you did.
  • If you are the convention with colleagues, split up to go to the sessions.  It’s always fun to stay together but you get more “bang for your buck” if you go to different sessions.
  • If you are in a session and it’s now what you expected, it’s ok to leave and go to another one.  Sometimes the descriptions and the actual session are not what you anticipate.  You need to benefit from each session you attend.
  • When you are in the exhibit area, if there is a vendor you want to go back and visit, take time to write down the information for where they are located-normally there are signs for each isle.  By doing this you will save time because you know where to go!
  • If you can’t make a purchase at the convention but find equipment that you think will be approved, ask the vendor how long the convention rate will be honored.
  • Leave some room in your suitcase for the return trip!  Or, there normally is a place at the convention center or close by where you can ship things back if needed.
  • But I can’t connect! Be prepared for difficulty connecting to the internet. Check in advance if the hotel has free wi-fi. And be prepared for access at the convention center to be limited or expensive. Research the nearest Starbucks!
  • Take care of the dogs! We’ve all heard the expression, “My dogs are barking.”
  • Conferences require a lot of walking. Frequently on concrete floors. Be sure to wear shoes that are comfortable and that will serve you well for 8-10 hours per day.  And will allow to jump, run and play during the active sessions and demo’s.
  • Get the attention you deserve!
  • Have a specific vendor you want to talk too? Call in advance and set up an appointment. And if you don’t get around to doing that, block out a couple times when sessions are happening but you go to the exhibit hall. Vendors have down time when everyone else is in the sessions and so that is when you get the best service, can ask lot’s of questions and will build a relationship with your vendor.
  • Take a rest. Schedule 20 minutes each day where you will go to your room orsit in a park and recharge your batteries.
  • Fuel! The air in convention centers is dry. And bottled water isn’t cheap.
  • Bring a stainless steel bottle and keep it full. Drink often. Avoid pastry and high carb foods. Pack some high-energy foods like almonds, bananas or protein bars. Eat before you are hungry and drooling at the pizza stand. Your blood sugar will thank you.


Integration Strategies

With an increased focus on test scores, most if not all special area teachers (don’t you love being “special” J ) are being required to show how academic content is included in their lessons.  I heard a quote at a conference once that really stuck with me and I use it often because it helps us with this challenge.  The quote was “I don’t teach other academic areas, I integrate them”.  It’s not difficult for us to find ways to integrate academics into our lessons and still keep the focus on our physical education standards and objectives.  On the other hand, with the focus on increasing physical activity during the school day, it’s a great opportunity for us to help classroom teachers see how they can integrate movement into their lessons.  Here are just a few examples of how this can work as a two way street! 

Reading Common Core Standard, Grades 3-5:  Describe relationships and explain events, procedures, ideas or concepts in a scientific or technical way. 

Skillastics® Resource:  Fitness Skillastics® and Fitness Extreme Skillastics® Activity Kits                                        

Skillastics® Lesson Application Example:  Give students a 3 x 5 card and ask them to look at the mat and select one activity that can be done to help improve a specific fitness component. The student must give one reason they think the activity will improve that fitness component.

Mathematics Common Core Standard, Grade K:  Identify and describe shapes.                                                   

Skillastics® Resource:  Halfpint Skillastics® Activity Kit                                                                 

Skillastics® Lesson Application Example:   As students roll the shape die, ask them to call out the name of the shape that the die lands on. 


Classroom Integration Activity Idea for Reading Integration: 

“Teacher, Teacher”:  Give a copy of the task cards to classroom teachers.  The teacher has students work in small groups and each group has one task card.  Each group reads the directions, practices the activity and then demonstrates it for the rest of the class.  This can be done to help students review the activities for that specific activity kit and also helps the teachers learn the activities as well as giving students an opportunity to practice reading and comprehension. 

Classroom Integration Activity Idea for Math Integration:

 “Roll ‘Em”:  Students work with a partner for this activity, with each group having a pair of die.  On the signal, they roll the die and then find the “answer” based on what is designated (add them together, multiply them, subtract them, multiply the total by 2, etc.).  The teacher calls out one of the Skillastics® activities and the students do that activity the number of times of their “answer”. 

Remember, you aren’t “teaching” academics; you are “integrating” academics while you teach physical education! 

Moving with the Alphabet

Moving with the Alphabet”

 Equipment Needed:

·         Laminate the alphabet on 26 pieces of paper (one letter on one paper)

·         26 Skillastics® Task Cards (Any Skillastics® Activity Task Cards will work – Fitness, Fitness Xtreme, Let’s Move in School, Character is Cool, Basketball, Soccer, Tennis and Volleyball)

 Set Up:

·         Scatter all 26 laminated letter cards throughout the playing area. 

·         Lay a Skillastics® Task card next to each of the 26 laminated letter cards.

·         Designate an area in the corner of the playing area for children to go to after they have completed the “Moving with the Alphabet” assignment.  (Teaching Tip:  This area could include additional Skillastics® task cards, balls, beanbags, scarves, anything that will keep the children active).


Start Play:

·         On a signal or music, children scatter around the playing area, going to the first letter that spells their name.

·         When they find the letter, they look at the Skillastics® activity associated with that letter.

·         The child does the activity the number of repetitions that were determined prior to play.

·         When the child completes the repetitions, they search for the next letter in their name and repeat the process.

·         When a child finishes spelling his/her name, they jog to the designated playing area in the corner and do an assigned activity in that area until everyone in the class has completed spelling their name.


·         Appoint teams

o   Each team is told to spell a word (each team has a different word, but has the same amount of letters in the words.  For example, dog and cat). 

o   The first team to spell the word first and jog to the designated area, wins.

·         Partner Up

o   Partners work together on rotating to each of the cards and doing the activity. 

o   The partners pull a word out of a bucket and begin spelling.

o   When the word is spelled, they go back to the bucket and spell another word.

·         Sport Specific

o   Lay equipment next to each card.  For example, if you want the children to work on their basketball skills, lay a basketball or a ball that bounces next to each letter card and Basketball Skillastics® Task Card.  Teaching Tip:  Place the Basketball in a ring or in a bucket.  This will reduce the frustration of the ball rolling away.  Or, you can line the cards along a wall, and lay the ball against a wall.

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