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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.

Skillastics® is the Movement – IHT Spirit System Measures that Movement


Skillastics® and the IHT Spirit System

 Imagine you owned Skillastics®.  If you did, you’d know it’s a great way to get your students moving in any space, with a lot of participants all at once, and it’s especially effective when time is limited. But the question many teachers who already use Skillastics® ask is, “Now that I’ve got them moving, how do I measure it in just as simple, efficient way”? Now imagine you own Skillastics® and the IHT Spirit System, the newest, most innovative heart rate monitor assessment technology in the educational market today.  If you did, you’d know the answer to the question above has finally been answered by picturing the following scene:

Forbes Middle School Physical Education teacher Danielle Garcia is excited to start an evidence-based and standard aligned lesson. This lesson is designed not only get heart rates up, but one that provides an excellent teaching tool to prepare her students for the FITNESSGRAM®.  As class begins each student’s heart rate races into the “yellow and red” zones! The lesson progresses, student’s heart rates are up, they are breathing heavy, while laughing and having fun.  Eventually, the bell rings and the class comes to an end. Students have smiles on their faces as their heart rates begin to return to the resting “blue” zone. Students quickly and effortlessly take their assigned IHT Spirit heart rate monitors off, in less than a second; they scan it across the Spirit Reader and return it to their specified numbered holder. This allows students to easily locate their designated monitor next class.

Beep! Beep! Beep! The web-based Spirit System recognizes and counts all 47 monitors in seconds. The Spirit software instantly receives; student ID numbers, heart rates, the Skillastics® activity information and the activity time. The system downloads all the data at the individual, class and school levels, and then erases it off the monitor, so that it’s ready for the next class. 

Thanks to Skillastics® and the Spirit System, Mrs. Garcia knows she taught a high quality, engaging class that made a real difference in her student’s lives. The best part is that she was able to focus more quality time on her students instead of the tedious and time consuming class management distractions. This was possible due to the easy set-up of Skillastics® and the Spirit System’s instantaneous and simple tracking assessment.  As an extra bonus, Mrs. Garcia knows the data from the Spirit System can help validate her efforts as a great teacher.

 Mrs. Garcia walks a few students out as they recap their fun day. She congratulates them on reaching their individual and class heart rate goals and reminds them to check their smart phones later to see their individual data, which is displayed in colorful graphs. Parents can also opt in to receive all of this information via email!

Forbes Middle School is competing with other middle schools across the district, who are all utilizing Skillastics® as a great activity, while tracking results with the Spirit System to measure their student’s effort.

 Back in the gym, Mrs. Garcia selects the report icon and runs a summary report to see whether her students achieved the state mandated 50% of moderate-to-vigorous-physical-activity (MVPA) during her lesson.  Satisfied, she logs off as her next class shuffles in…..

With the possibilities endless in both activities and measurement, envision what Skillastics® and the Spirit System can do for you!

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!! 





Let’s Move in School Skillastics® Sample Lesson Plan

“People don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan.”  I’m not sure where that quote came from and I know it’s not new, but I do think it’s a great quote!  Whether you apply it to a vacation, a big event at school, or your daily teaching, it’s true.  Like most of you, doing lesson plans wasn’t one of my favorite things in the world but I learned quickly if I didn’t have good lesson plans, the day didn’t go well.  I also realize that the more experience we have, the less “formal” the written plans become but, those important details always need to be considered.  In order to not fall into the “busy, happy, good” type of teacher key components of a lesson need to be considered (NASPE Standard addressed, purpose/goal/outcome of the lesson, assessment, transitions, safety, equipment distribution, etc.).  I realize there are many formats for writing lesson plans and I’ve used several but the content is typically the same.  Below is a sample plan for a “Skillastics® Let’s Move in School” lesson.  Hopefully it will be helpful and serve as a reminder that we do need a plan!

Let’s Move in School Lesson Plan

Lesson Plan’s Authors:  Sandy Slade and Rhonda Holt

Lesson Title:  Let’s Move Together

Target Audience/Grade Level:  3rd-6th grade

Student Participation Number:  one or two classes depending on available space

Teaching Location:  Gym or Outdoor Playing Area

Lesson Goal:  Students will work together in small groups to perform a variety of throwing, catching, jumping and running activities

Instructional Objectives: 

Psychomotor—Students will perform the designated throwing, jumping and running skills

Cognitive—Students will be able to identify activities to practice at home or during recess

Affective—Students will be able to demonstrate cooperation and teamwork during the activity

National Physical Education Standards:

Standard 3—Participates regularly in physical activity.

Standard 5—Exhibits responsible personal and social behavior that respects self and others in physical activity settings. 

Lesson Equipment:  Let’s Move in School Skillastics® Activity Kit, 6 poly spots or markers, 3 x 5 card and pencil for each student

Safety:  Remind students to watch where they are going when moving to and from the mat, remind students to do each activity correctly so everyone in their group feels safe

Lesson Plan Details:

Instant Activity:  “Walkie Talkie” 5-8  minutes

When the music is playing, students find a partner and walk fast or jog slowly in the designated area while discussing their favorite activities to do at recess or at home.  When the music stops, students have 5 seconds to find a new partner.  When the music starts again, students start moving and share their favorite activity with the new partner. 

Introductory Activity:  3-5 minutes

Review safety, rules and any LMIS Skillastics® activities that may need clarification, assign the repetition level for the day, quickly divide students into 6 teams

Main Activity:  Play “Let’s Move in School Skillastics®” 20-25 minutes

Students will play the Skillastics® game according to the designated rules. 

Lesson Closure/Assessment:    “3-2-1 Let’s Move”  5-8 minutes

Each student will complete the assessment on a 3 x 5 note card.  Using the activities from Let’s move in School Skillastics® they will determine the activities they would choose for each of these items:

3 activities they like the best

2 activities they would like to practice at recess

1 activity they would teach their family and practice them at home

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.)

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