Category Archives for Physical Education

Physical Activity Before and After School and Staff Involvement

This month we will take a look at the last two components of a Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program, “Physical Activity Before and After School” and “Staff Involvement”.  A summary from NASPE/AAHPERD of these two components are below.

Physical Activity Before and After School

Physical activity before and after school provides opportunities for all students, including those with disabilities, to practice what they’ve learned in physical education, work towards the nationally recommended 60+ minutes of daily moderate-vigorous physical activity, and prepare the brain for learning. Additional benefits include social interaction and engagement of students in safe, supervised activities.

Opportunities include:

  • Walk and bike to school and implementation of a comprehensive Safe Routes to School program
  • Informal recreation or play on school grounds
  • Physical activity in school-based child-care
  • Physical activity clubs and intramural sports
  • Interscholastic sports

Staff Members Move in School

High-level support from school administrators is critical to a successful comprehensive school physical activity programs. Staff involvement in school-based physical activity provides two key benefits:

  • School employee wellness programs have been shown to improve staff health, increase physical activity levels, and be cost effective.
  • When school staff members are personally committed to good health practices, they are positive role models for students and may show increased support for student participation in physical activity.

One great way to bring attention to the importance of increasing physical activity before and after school is to take part in the National Walk and Bike to School Event that is scheduled for May 8.  Go to for more information on this event.   And, while you’re at it, why not get the school staff involved in this event to help them benefit from some fun physical activity as well!! 

Another strategy to consider is using some of the Skillastics® activity kits for students attending before and after school programs and during professional development days with your staff.  The students will enjoy having the opportunity to be active and staff members will see the value of being active while having fun together! 

This concludes the articles devoted to incorporating a Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program into your schools.  In the previous articles you have been encouraged to sign up to be a part of NASPE/AAHPERD’s “Let’s Move in School Campaign”.  As most of you are probably aware, recently First Lady Michelle Obama announced her “Let’s Move! Active Schools” campaign.  AAHPERD and several other great organizations are collaborating on this project which will take the place of LMIS.  I encourage you to sign up at and become a part of this initiative!

Become An Offensive Threat

Happy New Year! What a wonderful time to recommit yourself to becoming the basketball player you know you can become! And it’s really so simple, something you, and only you can do…that’s practice. The key is not how much time you spend practicing, it’s how you spend that time. So many times I’ve seen young athletes practicing with good intentions; however, the way they practice is completely wrong. And what they end up doing is developing bad habits (which are so hard to break). Why not practice all the basketball fundamentals the RIGHT way, so you won’t have to spend so much time later correcting them?

So, with this idea in mind, I want to talk a little bit about becoming an Offensive Threat. And the way you become an Offensive Threat is to develop into a fundamentally solid player. One of the unique and exciting features of basketball is that all players handle the ball. No matter what position you play, you must dribble, pass, shoot, and rebound.

The best way to prepare you to gain your first offensive advantage once you have the ball is to start in the triple threat position. You can use this position to become an offensive threat in three ways — passing, shooting, or driving to the basket. The option you choose depends on the defense and how your opponents are playing you. And the key is reading your defense and being able to react immediately in one of three ways.

Putting the Triple Threat to Work

Once you make a decision to pass, shoot, or drive, you must execute your option.

  • Jab and Shoot – Step or jab violently at the defense with your front foot (Jab step about 1 foot in front of you), while keeping the pivot foot stationary. If the defense reacts and takes the fake by backing off, explode up for a jump shot. Repeat this 10 times at 5 different spots around the basket.
  • Jab Step and Go – With the jab and go, your pivot foot must remain on the floor until the dribble starts. Make your first step explosive, because you want to get around the defense. Remember, if you jab step and go to your right, dribble the ball with your right hand. Repeat this 10 times at 5 different spots around the basket.
  • Jab Step and Crossover – This move is good to use when the defense is close. With the ball, jab step to the side of the defense. Then, step across and by the defense with your front foot. If you are right-handed, jab with the right foot. Left-handed, jab with the left foot (it’s good to learn how to go both ways however). Now, you can cross over in the opposite direction. You must protect the ball, taking it from the outside hand farthest from the defender. Quickly switch the ball low from right to left using your right arm and body to protect the ball. The dribble begins before you pick up your pivot foot. The key is to stay low. Repeat this 10 times at 5 different spots around the basket. Go 10 times to the right, two dribbles and shoot and then 10 times to the left, two dribbles and shoot.

How do you teach the Triple Threat Position?  Help others by sharing your comments below.

Let’s Move in School – An Initiative for ALL of us!

I’m sure most all of you are aware of the “Let’s Move in School” initiative that was started by NASPE and AAHPERD.  If you haven’t signed up to be a part of this great project, I encourage you to do so by going to  There are numerous resources that you can access on the AAHPERD web site to help get you started with implementing a Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program in your school. 

If you look at the CSPAP logo, you will notice that the star at the top is “Physical Education”.  The reason for that is two-fold.  First, a quality physical education program is the cornerstone to a successful Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program.  Physical education is not the same as physical activity and this initiative is not intended to take the place of a quality physical education program taught by a certified teacher.  Second, you as the physical education instructor are the person most qualified to lead this initiative!  Please keep in mind that this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t ask other people to help!  Quite the opposite!  The more people you have “on board” and helping, the more successful the program will be.  With that in mind, over the next few months, I’ll discuss the other components of CSPAP and give you some ideas for how to get other people involved, and provide some activities to consider implementing in each area. 

I’ll start “Staff Involvement” this month.  The LMIS web site states:  “High-level support from school administrators is critical to a successful comprehensive school physical activity programs. Staff involvement in school-based physical activity provides two key benefits:

  • School employee wellness programs have been shown to improve staff health, increase physical activity levels, and be cost effective.
  • When school staff are personally committed to good health practices, they are positive role models for students and may show increased support for student participation in physical activity.”

With that in mind, and with the holiday season here, it’s a perfect time to invite your staff to participate in some type of “healthy challenge”.  These could be started now or after the first of the year.  If you are waiting until January, send out some “teasers” to get people excited about participating!  You might consider implementing one of these ideas:

  • “Exercise = Less Stress” (provide a chart for people to record how many minutes of physical activity they get each day during the month)
  • “Maintain, No Gain Challenge” (provide ideas for healthy eating tips during the month and a weekly “weigh in” sheet)
  • “Healthy Treats for Happy Feet” (encourage people to walk during their lunch hour and bring healthy foods for their lunch)
  • “Biggest Loser Challenge” (make this fun and non-threatening to get more involvement!)

Keep in mind that healthy staff members will serve as good role models to your students so don’t keep their successes a secret—share what you are doing with your students!  It will let them see that the adults in their school (not just you as the physical education teacher) care about their health and wellness and understand the benefits of being physically active and eating right!

Including Current Events in Your Teaching Practices

 One man practicing sportsmanship is far better than a hundred teaching it.”  Knute Rockne 
When I read that quote, I have mixed feelings because I believe that we have a responsibility to teach our students the importance of
good sportsmanship.  However, if we don’t model it, and practice it so students see what it looks like, then our teaching
is in vain.  In addition to our own actions, we also have a multitude of current examples of actions on and off the
field to help in our efforts to teach the value of teamwork and sportsmanship.  Here are two examples to
get you started thinking about how easy it is to include current events in your teaching practices. 
 A local middle school has a student who because of medical issues can’t play football.  He
desperately wanted to be on the team so the coach allowed him to come to practice and suit up for every game
even though he couldn’t actually play.  Recently, the coach talked to his team and
the opposing coach and this young man was allowed to enter the game.  And….I’m sure you see where this is going!  Even though it looked like he was
trying to be tackled, he wasn’t touched and ran down the field for a touchdown, and successfully ran for the two point conversion.  Everyone on both teams had a part in showing
what sportsmanship looks like on the field.   When interviewed, the coach said, sometimes there are more important
things in life than winning a game.  Through his teaching, two opposing teams practiced sportsmanship that day. 

Now, an example of how poor sportsmanship might be used as a teaching tool!  I am a Kansas City
Chiefs fan and season ticket holder (yes it’s been rough year!!).  A few weeks ago the starting quarterback was
hit and ultimately left the game with a concussion.  The fans were “ripped” by one of the Chiefs players
for cheering when it happened.  I was there and can tell you not everyone cheered as was originally reported, and some were
cheering for the fact that the back-up QB was coming into the game.  However, even one person cheering when a
player is injured in my mind is inappropriate.  One of the ESPN commentators later in the week said his concern was the
message it was giving to the “young fans”.  I totally agree!  And, unfortunately, that type of behavior is becoming more and more common at all
sporting events.  The fans actions, and the way a player stood up for his teammate provided an opportunity to talk
about sportsmanship and teamwork.  Events like can be used as well as those “feel good” stories as teachable moments with
our students. 

Check out the Character is Cool Skillastics®  kit for a great resource for teaching several character traits with a variety of fun and
challenging activities!  And, so you know, for the rest of the football season I’ll continue to wear purple on Saturday
and red on Sunday!  Go Kansas State Wildcats and Kansas City Chiefs!! 





National Childhood Obesity Facts, Figures and a Solution to the Epedemic

Childhood obesity is a major concern in the United States. Over the past few decades there has been a dramatic increase in the number of children suffering from obesity. Kids are staying indoors more with limited physical activity and increased caloric consumption, resulting in a nationwide epidemic of obesity in our children. There are hundreds of organizations, large and small, fighting to stem this trend and help get our kids’ health back in check. But a business or non-profit can’t do it alone. Parents and kids must both be willing to change their habits to create a healthier lifestyle.

Causes of Childhood Obesity
There are many causes for childhood obesity, and sometimes a complex combination of circumstances work together to put our children at risk. One thing we know for sure is that reduced physical activity in school is a component and a risk factor for childhood obesity. Studies have shown that throughout our nation, less than one third of school-aged children (age 6-17) engage in physical activity – that is, activity that makes them sweat and increase breathing and heart rate for at least 20 minutes. And that’s just the minimum recommended amount of physical activity. There is no surprise here that childhood obesity has become a frightening epidemic in our country.

Risks of Child Obesity

•High Cholesterol and Blood Pressure: High levels of “bad” cholesterol called LDL and also high blood pressure are common in obese children.
•Bone and Joint Problems: There have been numerous cases of obese children experiencing a slipped growth plate in their hip bone.
•Sleep Apnea: Obstruction of the child’s airway is common and can result in many other day-to-day problems like poor school performance and nighttime bedwetting on top of the primary risk where the individual stops breathing in their sleep.
•Psychological Problems: Probably the most severe risk of obesity in kids is their emotional and psychological health. Kids will develop poor self-esteem and accept the fact that they will be obese their entire lives, making it extremely difficult for them to change their lifestyle in later years.
•Type 2 Diabetes: What used to be only of concern in adults and very rare in children is not a major concern for obese kids.
Child Obesity Statistics

•Prevalence of Obesity: Among children ages 6-11, there was a 6.5% rate of obesity in 1980 which increased to 18.6% by 2008. Ages 12-19 increased from 5% to 18.1% in the same time period.
•Cardiovascular Disease: 70% of obese children from 5-17 years have at least one symptom and risk factor of cardiovascular disease like high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
•Low-Income Obesity: 1 of 7 low income children in preschool is obese.
•13 million children and adolescents in the U.S. are obese.
•Obese adolescents are 80% more likely to end up as obese adults.
•Healthcare expenses directly related to childhood obesity are $14 billion every year.
One Solution to the Epidemic: Quality PE in Schools
The problem of childhood obesity is urgent – changes need to be made immediately. Children need positive influences from the adults around them to make better choices. And who better to provide that than a physical education teacher? In general, children attend about 5 or 6 hours of school, 5 days per week. Physical education classes might take up about an hour per day. Imagine the good that could be done for children if that time was optimized with fun, challenging, and healthy activity.

Implementing quality PE in children’s school schedule would be a great first step to turning this epidemic around. PE classes should be used to really teach children about how important a healthy lifestyle is. We can reverse the stigma about PE classes being boring, awkward, and repetitive by breathing new life into old games and activities. Children can learn that challenging themselves and staying healthy are great for self-esteem and making new friends. Teachers should be passionate about their purpose, and lead by positive example.

When students are able to connect with teachers and create a respectful relationship, they are highly more likely to engage in activities and try their hardest. With energetic and fun teachers, a challenging and exciting curriculum, and education about the crucial importance of physical activity and healthy eating, children will take fitness seriously. We will improve the PE in our schools, and let our children reap the benefits

Skillastics® and Integrating Academics

Skillastics®® activities provide opportunities to integrate academics with physical movement or activities.  To accomplish this, classroom teach would need a  list of the Skillastics®® activities with a short description on how to  perform that activity.   Also, the teacher can incorporate these activities throughout the day.  The basic concept is for the students do one of the Skillastics®® activities for a period of time, which is then followed by a brief  math or language arts exercise before the next Skillastics® activity takes place.  Here are a few ideas of how to incorporate math into Skillastics® activities:

  • Instruct the students to multiply the number of repetitions by a number you chose so that you  increase the intensity of the activity while having students work on multiplication skills.
  • Instruct students to add the three repetition numbers listed on an activity,  and this new number becomes the  number of repetitions.
  • Give students a math challenge based on whether the number on the mat is an odd or even number (i.e. if it’s an odd number they add 3 to the reps if it’s an even number they multiply the reps by 2).
  • The teacher selects the  Skillastics®® activity, and  the students must add or multiply the numbers rolled on both dices to determine the number of repetitions or amount of seconds to complete the activity.

To incorporate language arts, give students some time to write a short paragraph that describes what they enjoyed about playing the game.  Or, each team/group writes a brief description  on  how the Skillastics® game is played.

Classroom teachers can use Skillastics® activities not only as a tool to provide movement in the classroom but also to integrate academics and movement.  Provide a list of the Skillastics® activities and a short description of each activity to classroom teachers.  They then can use them throughout the day.  For example, they can have their students do one of the Skillastics® activities for 30 seconds then give them a math problem to solve while they are standing beside their desk.  The teacher can call out a Skillastics® activity, have the students roll two dice and either add or multiply the numbers to know how many times to do the activity. 

These are just a few ideas on how to integrate academics with the Skillastics® activities to reinforce the connection between movement and academics. Below are two quotes that support the fact that physical activity can improve academic performance. 

  • “Substantial evidence suggests that physical activity can be associated with improved academic achievement, including grades and standardized test scores.”  NASPE and CDC
  •  “Cross Crawls, a contralateral exercise, accesses both brain hemispheres simultaneously.  These movements activate the brain for crossing the midline, left-to-right eye movements, and improved binocular vision.  The academic skills of spelling, writing, listening and reading benefit from these exercises.”  Dr. Paul Dennison, Brain Gym   (Note:  many Skillastics®® activities include cross lateral movement.)

Basketball Skillastics® Review

Product Review:  Basketball Skillastics®
Courtesy: 5 Star Hoops
Reviewed by:  Jim Waite


This Is a Game Worth Playing

Sandy “Spin” Slade sent a product for review to the Highway and it comes as no surprise to us that the offering, Basketball Skillastics® like Sandy herself is well organized, and entertaining. Sandy, as many of you know is world renowned for her expertise in handling a basketball and as a motivational speaker, appearing before audiences in excess of 200 times per year during her career. She has performed and spoken at levels ranging from elementary school all the way to N.B.A. venues and is well respected throughout the basketball community.  After retiring as a performer in 2008, Sandy has taken on a new focus, that being physical fitness for children. Citing the fact that in today’s society 16% of children between the ages of 6 and 19 are overweight, Sandy has begun creating games geared towards ending this cycle.
 Basketball Skillastics® is aimed at children in grades 1-8 and provides fun and fitness in a board game for physical education classes, parks and recreation centers, child care programs, etc. Children participate in 26 physical activities that are “challenging, yet non- competitive”.  This non-competitive angle takes on great importance when you consider that many children, because of a lack of coordination skills, shy away from getting involved in physically demanding activities in an attempt to avoid embarrassment in front of their peers. Sandy’s game takes this element out of the equation giving even less coordinated kids an opportunity to participate with fellow students in a sports oriented endeavor. Let’s take a look at how the game is played.

Physical Fitness Can Be Fun

Our game arrived to us in a neatly contained pouch that included everything one needs to get started. This nylon carrying case also serves as a great storage bag for the entire game when finished playing meaning that misplaced pieces of the game will be kept to a minimum as opposed to tossing the contents into a box or volleyball bag. The game set included 1-  5×7 synthetic leather mat (latex free), 6 assorted and colored 3- inch foam dice, 6 assorted and colored 2.5 inch miniature beanbags, 6 miniature game boards for each team involved which are exact replicas of the 5×7 version, and detailed instructions on how to set up and play the game. Fitness instructors, insuring the safety of the children, reportedly approve all drills and 1-100 children can play at any given time. The only equipment needed to get started are enough balls for each child who participates and this can include either basketballs or playground balls such as rubber balls, volleyballs, etc.

Putting The Game To Into A Real Classroom Test
 Though Sandy Slade has a great reputation, like any product reviewer worth his salt, I wanted to put this product to the test. Readers of the Highway certainly deserve quality reviews and Sandy deserves a quality critique of her product consequently I had to go no further than down the hallway of my own home to my wife who is a second grade teacher. My agreement with my wife was this. On her first rain day in which she could not get her kids out of the classroom and onto the playground, I wanted her to try this product and give me some quality feedback. My wife took the product to her school and as agreed upon waited for inclement weather. On her classes first day of rain and unable to get outside to the playground, my wife brought out Basketball Skillastics® and put it to the test with her 2nd grade class. She had her children move their desk back to the walls thereby opening up the center of her room for placement of the 5×7 mat. She divided her 24 kids into 6 groups and assigned each a colored die and tennis ball. The game then began and my wife stated she found out something almost instantly about her 2nd grade class. She observed almost immediately that many of her kids were woefully out of shape! Imagine 2nd graders being out of shape. She stated the kids appeared to have a great time with this game and then she gave me a tidbit testifying to the strength of this offering. She stated that once the game ended, and classroom instruction began again, she found many in her class to be more attentive and alert and not as “wiggly” in their chairs.  Being a runner herself, she could only surmise that the heightened cardio work for each of her kids had helped to relax them and take them to an increased state of awareness. When I questioned her as to why this did not always seem to happen when outdoor recess ended she could only guess that it was because so many kids go outside during the break but never get involved in any kind of physical exertion, instead simply spending time idly talking on the playground or riding the merry-go-round. As a testament to the program, my wife claims that though the next recess day was sunny and clear, her kids asked repeatedly if they could play the “inside” game again.

It Teaches, It Works

 Not to end there, I decided on one more test of Basketball Skillastics® and I took the product to a local after school program and dropped it off. Sandy claims that this game is perfect for after school programs, right? Boy was she correct. In speaking with the 2 program directors, here is what I found.  Having 40 after school participants can be a trying time for even the most skilled of teachers. Kids are full of energy and many are anxious to get home according to the directors. As such, many of these same children can find themselves looking for “things to get into”, even in an enclosed environment such as a gymnasium. Older kids sometimes pick on younger students and keeping up with children who “need to go to the restroom” born out of sheer boredom can become a teachers nightmare. But after letting the directors use the product for just 2 days, they became sold on its benefits.  As the directors told me, because they were able to place the kids in teams, oversight of the students became a non-issue as all wanted to participate and the activity was not only fun but also beneficial from a safety standpoint. Some children I am told, while in the midst of a game, made their parents wait until the game was completed before leaving for home. That’s a pretty solid testamonial if you ask me.


Folks,  Sandy Slade has made a career out of bringing smiles to the faces of people. Her hands on skills with a basketball are legendary and widely respected. Now she has taken her talents to a new and different level with the invention of Basketball Skillastics®. Not only will this product keep kids entertained, but it will enhance physical fitness with flexibility drills, cardio improvements and an increased self-image. I put this game to the real test with the everyday “foot soldier”, also known by the term “teacher”. If a teacher says a product is good, you can bet that it is and I can assure you that the teachers I spoke with loved this offering.  I rate this product 5 + and would recommend it highly.


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