Discovering creative ways to keep students motivated for fitness is paramount for a physical education teacher. Mixing up routines throughout the year with a variety of movement challenges and activities to boost students’ strength, endurance, and healthy habits is a must. This year, to complement our PE program, my team and I have implemented take-home challenges where students and their families are encouraged to engage in a list of five exercises each month. They are given a calendar to log the number of days they complete each of the five exercises (see Fall Family Fitness Challenge). Each month the list of exercises change.
Click Exotic Fruit and Veggie Challenge 2017 for an editable copy of the challenge.
Along with fitness challenges, we’ve also presented our students with nutrition challenges. One of our most successful was the Exotic Fruit and Veggie Challenge. Our goal was to encourage our 1st-6th-grade students to step outside of their nutritional comfort zones. We encouraged them to explore their grocery stores or farmer’s markets and choose one new, healthy fruit or vegetable. Maybe they would discover a new staple for their dinner table.
We were immediately inundated with photographs of students of all ages eating exotic fruits and vegetables, many of which were new to us as well. We received emails from parents thanking us for the challenge. Students were spending their weekends in the produce aisles of their local supermarkets, frequenting weekend farmer’s markets and international markets encountering the rarest fruits and vegetables.
We were pleasantly surprised to discover that students were trying and enjoying the new foods. They were spending quality time with their families and sharing their new discoveries with their friends.
Even I became obsessed with the Exotic Fruit and Veggie Challenge trying chayote, persimmon, watermelon radish greens, dragon fruit, and many more.
I highly recommend take-home challenges for students of all ages. In particular, the Exotic Fruit and Veggie Challenge has proven to be a fun, motivating challenge enjoyed not only by students but whole families. I personally enjoyed making connections with my students outside of the gym. On more than one occasion I would discover on my desk, exotic fruit or vegetable that one of my students wanted me to try. It’s a challenge too delicious not to try!
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