8 More MASTER THE MINUTE Challenges

 

In one of my latest posts,  Master the Minute; 14 Active 1-Minute Challenges for PEI included 14 simple, partner challenges for physical education classes using minimal equipment. Since the post, I’ve used several of the challenges in a station format. For example, with a class of 40 students, I set up ten stations around the gym. While some of the stations include specific tossing, catching, striking, and team building tasks, others include several of the original 14 Master the Minute challenges. The Master the Minute challenges add an extra element of excitement and necessary reinforcement of teamwork and sportsmanship.

Recently, I brought home some equipment from school and gathered a few basic household items. I then charged my own kids to assist me in developing a new set of Master the Minute challenges. We immediately entered our “Creation Lab” to brainstorm possibilities. Through trial and error, we developed eight challenges I feel would work in any PE program OR as quick brain breaks in classrooms or at home! Insert a few of these activities plus the original 14 Master the Minute challenges into your stations. Let me know what you think!

#1 – STACK’EM

Challenge: Stack four on top of each other using two pool noodles in one minute or less.

How to Play

The player holds a swim noodle in each hand. Each noodle is marked with a circle about 15 inches from the top. This represents the highest point the noodle can be held. On the signal to begin, the player uses the noodles to grasp an activity pin, then stands it up on a predetermined spot. I use a deck ring the spot. The ultimate goal is to stack the four activity pins on top of each other in one minute or less.

Equipment: 

2 swim noodles (one large noodle cut in half)

4 foam activity pins

1 deck ring

#2 – NOODLE BITS AND WALL SITS

Challenge: Balance as many noodle bits as possible on a partner who is holding a wall-sit pose in one minute. 

How to Play

Noodle Bits and Walls Sits is a partner activity. Set up a pile of noodle bits about twenty feet away from a wall, where one partner will perform a wall-sit pose. The second partner, the runner, begins the challenge near the pile of noodle bits. Once given the signal to begin, the runner takes one noodle bit at a time and attempts to balance it anywhere on the body of the partner who is performing the wall-sit. The runner repeats this process throughout the one minute. You could reduce the time to 30 seconds according to the level of your students.

*You may choose to have partners switch roles and play a second round.

Equipment: 

20+ NOODLE BITS

#3 – POP and CATCH

Challenge: Each partner attempts to catch four noodle bits in four receptacles of varying sizes.

How to Play

Mark two lines about 6-10 feet apart, depending on the skill level. Along one line, set up four receptacles of varying sizes. Dump a pile of noodle bits on the opposite line. One partner begins as the popper and the second partner is the receiver. Once given the signal to begin, the popper pinches a noodle bit between his thumb and fingers until it pops toward the receiver. The receiver attempts to catch one noodle bit in each of the four receptacles. If this happens, and time permits, the popper and receiver switch roles. The ultimate goal is for each partner to catch four noodle bits in each of the four receptacles in one minute or less.

*I’ve also done this challenge with one receptacle rather than four different ones.

Equipment: 20+ noodle bits4 receptacles of varying sizes. I used a cone, 1 coffee can, and 2 oatmeal containers (small and large)

#4 – DROP THE YOLK

Challenge: Pick up a ping pong ball using a cardboard spatula, then drop it on a cone in one minute or less.

How to Play

Place a ping pong ball on the floor about five feet away from a cone. When given the signal to begin, the player must scoop the ball onto the spatula, then carry it to the cone. Once at the cone, the player must drop the ball on top of the cone. If the ball hits the ground either while transferring it to the cone or while attempting to place it on the cone, the player simply scoops the ball and continues to try and place on top of the cone.

Equipment: 1 cone with a hole at the top to hold the ping pong ball, 1 ping pong ball, 1 homemade spatula consisting of a 3-inch x 4-inch piece of cardboard and a clothespin.

#5 – PING PONG RICOCHET

Challenge: Bounce a ping pong ball off the ground, then into the wall and into a cup as many times as possible in one minute.

How to Play

Set up a plastic cup about one foot away from the wall. Secure the cup with a weight to prevent it from falling over. I placed the cup in a roll of duct tape rather than adding weight. On the signal to begin, the player attempts to bounce the ball off the floor, into the wall, then into the cup.

Equipment: 1-3 ping pong balls, 1 plastic cup, a weight to place in the cup or a roll of duct tape to prevent the cup from falling over.

#6 – NOODLE BIT SHOWDOWN

Challenge: Pop as many noodle bits as possible into a bucket in one minute.

How to Play

PLAY WITH 2-4 PLAYERS. Divide the noodle bits evenly for each player. If the match is 1 versus 1, one player gets all the blue and green bits and the 2nd player gets the red and yellow bits. Players arrange themselves about 3-4 feet from a common bucket, placed in the center. On the signal to begin, players begin popping the bits into the bucket. Play continues for one minute. If either player pops all bits in less than a minute, they can retrieve any bits NOT in the bucket, as long as they don’t interfere with other poppers. The player with the most bits in the bucket wins the round.

Equipment: Noodle bits or a *deck of playing cards, 1 bucket

*If using playing cards, divide the cards by color for two players or by suit for four players.

#7 – BUCKETHEAD

Challenge: Bounce a ping pong ball off the ground and into a bucket held on top of your head as many times as possible in on minute.

How to Play

The player stands on a spot holding a coffee can or bucket on top of his head. On the signal to begin, he bounces the ball off the ground and attempts to catch it in the bucket. The bucket MUST be touching his head while making a catch. After each bounce, the player must return to his original spot before bouncing the ball again.

Equipment: 

1 poly spot1 ping pong ball

1 large coffee can or small plastic bucket

#8 – CRAZY BALL

Challenge: Bounce a SKLZ Reaction ball off the ground and successfully catch it as many times as possible in one minute.

SKLZ REACTION BALL

How to Play

The player begins by holding a SKLZ Reaction Ball away from their body at chest level. On the signal to begin, the player drops the ball then tries to catch it. This process is repeated and the student tries to catch the ball as many times as possible in one minute.

Equipment:

SKLZ Reaction Ball

TIME TO MASTER THE MINUTES SPENT IN YOUR CLASSES!

ENJOY, and as always, please share your ideas and suggestions.

READY, SET, GO!


Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/justybubpe.

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Every Lap Counts: A Simple Supplement to P.E. and Recess

“What it means is that you have the power to change your brain. All you have to do is lace up your running shoes.”
― John J. RateySpark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain

 Every Lap Counts

This is the name of the program a colleague and I spearheaded two years ago to give our students an opportunity to walk, jog, and/or run on our track before school. Inspired by the book Spark, by John Ratey, which describes how the brain is nourished by exercise, we wanted to provide an outlet for our students to exercise before school.

Spark

Prior to Every Lap Counts, students who arrived early to school would go to the media center and read, or sit quietly and socialize with their peers. Given the research regarding physical activity and its ability to enhance students’ academics, we decided to SPARK a morning running program. Now, before school, students have the opportunity to elevate their heart rates while they run or walk, helping the brain reach its peak performance.

Every. Single. Morning.

Every Lap Counts – Influential Factors:

  • Research indicates that exercise makes us mentally sharper, and also shows that students score higher on math and reading comprehension tests after exercising for 20 minutes.
  • Studies have found that kids who exercise are more confident.
  • Many studies have found that kids who exercise feel happier and are better at managing their moods, resulting in fewer mood swings.
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Students run, walk, and/or jog on the track

Every Lap Counts 

The program is simple. Any students in 1st–6th Grades who arrives between 7:30 and 7:40 are allowed to drop off their backpacks in their classrooms and head directly to the track. Students in pre-k and kindergarten are allowed to join us as long as a parent accompanies them. In an effort to foster lifelong fitness, we encourage parents of all students to participate. From 7:30-7:50 students can walk, jog and/or run on the track. On some days students have the option to do baton relays and sprints.

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Each laminated strip of paper represents 1 lap

***As an added challenge, I recently implemented the optional 1-mile challenge. Students can come out and run a mile each morning. I promised that each week I’d post every student’s name that completed at least one mile in the hallway outside our gymnasium. Honestly, I only expected a handful of takers for the challenge. On Monday, out of the 46 students on the track, 14 of them ran the mile. I was blown away. Amazingly, the number of milers more than doubled on Tuesday and again on Wednesday. By the end of the week, 68 different runners ran 133 total miles. More impressive to me was the breakdown.

  • 1st Grade – 20 students
  • 2nd Grade – 10 students
  • 3rd Grade – 18 students
  • 4th Grade – 13 students
  • 5th Grade – 8 students

Students of all ages were motivated to take the 1-mile challenge. Some were inclined to run 2 miles. At the same time, students who came out to the track who didn’t take the challenge were still celebrated for starting their day with exercise.

Students receive a toe token for every 5 miles they run.  I also hand out toe tokens once a month for all students who participate in the program.

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Every Lap Counts is about movement, a simple opportunity for students to stimulate their bodies and brains through exercise, and a chance to socialize with friends prior to the rigor of the normal school routine.

Every Lap Counts has become a favorite part of my day. I am in awe and overcome with pride each morning as an average of 60 students join me on the track for this supplement to recess and physical education.

 Perhaps some of you already have successful morning movement programs and can relate to the pride I exude for students at my school. If so, please let me know! Maybe together, we can inspire other schools to do the same.

***Update:  It has now been 6 months since I implemented the 1-mile challenge.  Our students have logged almost 1,500 miles.  Some runners have posted over 50 miles on their own.  Each Friday, I post the student and class mileage totals outside our gymnasium.  Often, there will be a crowd gathered with students proudly searching for their names.

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Students look forward to checking the tally board each day
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Parents often join the action!

Griffin, R. Morgan. “Exercise: Good for Your Kid’s Brain.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2015.

If you enjoyed this article and want to learn more of what I have to say about physical education and keeping kids in motion, follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/justybubpe.

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10 NOODLE Activities to Embolden Your Arsenal

When Steve Hartman invented the pool noodle three decades ago, I bet he had no idea they would become one of the most cost-effective, beneficial tools in nearly every physical education teacher’s arsenal. Below are ten of my all-time favorite pool noodle activities. Be sure to comment on your favorite pool noodle games below!

Check out my previous post called Tag Games Using Hoops and Noodles!

*If embedded videos do not show up on your device, click the name of each activity for a link to the video.

Pool Sharks

Pool Sharks has become a noodle favorite with our students. It begins as a partner activity with one partner on each side of a hula hoop, each with a noodle pool cue. From about 5-10 feet away, they take turns shooting the ball into the hoop. Students experiment with different ways to hold the stick as they work on accuracy and pace.

Next, I spread out hula hoops around the gym floor. Students can move freely around the gym shooting at each hoop. I give them the freedom to choose the distance.

Video Credit: Jedd Austin (@jeddaustin)

Noodle Sprockets

Noodle Sprockets is a fun fitness-based activity which works in groups of 2-4 students. However, I always begin with partners. Not only does this activity increase heart rates, but it also challenges students to think strategically. Especially in groups of three and four, students need to slow down and maneuver themselves to avoid jumping into each other. It’s always exciting for me to observe groups as they gradually develop a rhythm and jump their way across the floor.

Noodle Walkers

Noodle Walkers is actually a student discovery. It looks like the old-fashioned wheelbarrow race but is actually easier on the hands and wrists. Students find it to be even more fun. It shouldn’t be a surprise when your students fill the gym with laughter and excitement while increasing heart rates and working on physical strength.

The Great Spaghetti Incident

How many pieces of spaghetti can each team move across the kitchen without using their hands and without allowing the spaghetti to hit the floor? After dropping the spaghetti into the colander, the team retrieves another piece of spaghetti and attempts to move it across the kitchen using a different method. Encourage open, positive communication and teamwork during this fast-paced cooperative activity. Don’t forget to process during and after the game.

Pogo Stick Tag

Aren’t noodles fun? Seeking creative ways to use our noodles, one student discovered that his hopping motion reminded him of his pogo stick at home. Brilliant! Let’s play Pogo Stick Tag! Every student has a noodle. For my classes of twenty, I break them into groups of five. Each group receives a certain color. I choose one color to be it. If a student is tagged by the chosen color, she walks to the sideline and completes ten repetitions of a predetermined exercise, then reenters the game. After one minute, I choose another color to be it.

Noodle Whirlers

1/3 of the students are NOODLE WHIRLERS. The Noodle Whirler’s mission is to hop over to any standing cylinder and knock it down by jumping and spinning the noodle into it. It’s like a baseball bat striking a ball. The other 2/3 of the class must pick up the noodle using two Lummi sticks. No Lummi sticks? No problem! Instead, use paddles, or short noodles, or even elbows! Make it your own!

Noodle Fitness Creations

So many of my noodle activities have come from this activity. Students are challenged to create exercises using noodles. This is another fun, teambuilding activity geared to make fitness fun.

Video Credit: Jedd Austin (@jeddaustin)

Noodle Transfer

How many ways can you transfer the noodle across the gym without using your hands? The noodle must be touching both of you. To observe young minds at work throughout this activity will without a doubt put a smile on any teacher’s face.

4-Team Noodle Hockey Clean Up

I use this activity during our manipulatives unit. I set up four even teams. Each team has its own color noodle and goal. I spread out a bucket of balls on one end of the gym and each of the four goals, backward, on the opposite end. On the signal, students move the balls across the floor and shoot it into their own goal. The goals are backward to prevent full court shots. I encourage the students to move quickly and safely while maintaining control of the ball. “Be alert since there are so many of you moving at once!” After each goal, students run back to retrieve another ball.

Team Building Noodle Walk

Create teams of four. Taking turns, each team tries to step across the boundaries (water) touching only the noodles. Teammates who are not walking on the noodles must reposition the noodles for the walker. When a partner makes it across the “water” successfully, another teammate attempts to do the same. I encourage groups to explore a variety of ways to complete the challenge. Remind students that it’s not a race.

There you have it! 10 noodle activities which will hopefully embolden your arsenal!

Be sure to check your local dollar stores and big box stores toward the end of the swim season. I recently found noodles for $0.22 each.


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For the Love of Exercise – February Fitness Challenge

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The trusty JUMP ROPE once again grabs the spotlight for February’s Flourish with Fitness Challenge. For the Love of Exercise is designed to increase awareness of all the benefits from jumping rope. Jump rope is one of the most effective cardiovascular exercises. Along with benefits to the heart, jump rope also enhances coordination, agility, and strengthens bones, arms, legs, and core.

jumpforheart

For the Love of Exercise also offers other exercises to help enhance full body fitness. Throughout the month, participants will be challenged with exercises including plank, squats, and burpees, where the degree of difficulty gradually increases week by week.

The workouts posted on the calendar can be adapted to fit the fitness level of each participant. Students may need to perform fewer repetitions on a given day due to fatigue or if they’re physically not ready.

This workout is an excellent opportunity for jump rope beginners to strengthen their jump rope ability. I encourage beginner jumpers to persevere. If you put in a little work each day, your ability will increase steadily. For the advanced jumpers, you are encouraged to push yourselves and even try the more difficult challenges demonstrated in the video below.

CHECK THIS OUT! Below is a Blowing off S.T.E.A.M project I created for my students. Here, they are challenged to use available household materials to create their own jump rope.

(Click Blowing Off STEAM in PE  for an editable copy of the challenge!)

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Click For the Love of Exercise for an editable copy of the February challenge.

Click For the Love of Exercise PDF for a PDF version of the February challenge.

Click AWARD CERTIFICATE for a copy of the For the Love of Exercise award.


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5-Minute Challenge – WOW your students!


download.pngWhat works?

I am always searching for new and exciting ways to motivate my students through fitness. After all, as a physical education teacher, promoting lifelong fitness is one of the most important lessons I MUST instill in each and every student I teach.

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Here’s the HOW! Variety is Key

In order for students to buy into our lessons, it is imperative exercises are challenging AND enjoyable. Repeating the same old routines is a sure-fire recipe for stagnation and disinterest. Students will inevitably lose motivation and ultimately tune out any message you’re attempting to instill.

Bright Ideas – that work!

  • Tabata-style workouts
  • AMRAP routines
  • Boot camps using a variety of equipment
  • Interval training
  • Hill repeats
  • Cross country running through the wooded trails
  • Short and long jump rope

Our list of exercises and routines continues to grow!

Here comes the WOW!

Presenting…the all-time favorite running activity EVER…or maybe just at our school.

Related imageThe 5-Minute Challenge!

The 5-Minute Challenge came about five years ago when I was trying to motivate my 1st-grade students to complete a 5-minute run around a coned off 1/10 of a mile oval measured on our field. I could see my students weren’t giving their best effort – you know the “defeated before they even start” look? Even the best runners in the class were walking after only a couple of laps. To make the situation worse, the higher the grade level, the less motivation I witnessed. Now what?

After brainstorming various ideas, I decided to make the 5-Minute Challenge an assessment tool to track each classes overall growth throughout the year.  A secondary outcome is the friendly grade-level competition between classes. How will each class compare to each other?

I connected to the tug-of-war dilemma…each class had a different number of students. Therefore, some classes would have an advantage. A class of twenty would likely run more laps than a class of eighteen. Students of all grade levels would quickly discover the flaw in this system. Now what?

SOLVED!

Here’s the formula that transformed the 5-Minute Challenge:

Total # of laps ÷ # of runners = average # of laps per person

The above formula worked like magic. I took the total number of laps completed by the students in a five minute period and divided that number by the number of students. This gave me the average number of laps per runner.

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Editable 5-Minute Challenge template below

Implementation

I announce the 5-Minute Challenge about one week in advance of starting. During this time, I mentally prepare the students to do the best they can.

Prepare their minds first:

  1. Discuss what it takes to be a good teammate.
  2. Talk about reliability and how they are each depending on each other to do their best.
  3. Remind students that each member of the class has their own unique running ability and the need to respect and applaud their extraordinary effort.

On the day of the run, we have one final pep talk prior to hitting the track. Then I divide the class into two groups. One group will run first, while the other group encourages them from the sideline. You can have the whole group run at once, however, I discovered that my runners respond better with a cheering squad. I blow the whistle for the first group to begin.

I promise you, you won’t believe the enthusiasm exhibited by each cheering squad during the five-minute run. Throughout the run, I stand on the sideline and tally the laps with a pencil and paper. I realize there are tally apps for smartphones but I prefer good-old-fashioned pencil and paper. 

 

After each group completes their run, we meet one final time to plug the data into the formula. I report the number of laps completed and divide it by the number of students in the class on my calculator. Once I have the average number of laps per student, in my best ESPN reporting voice, I report the score. Finally, as a group, we reflect on the challenge. Students enjoy sharing what they experienced during their run. I encourage them to think about what they might do differently next time as an individual and a team to increase their level of success.

Then what?

The 5-Minute Challenge occurs 4 times throughout the school year. This allows me and the students to track their class growth. After each round, I post the scores on a bulletin board outside the gymnasium. I never stress the competitive side of the challenge. I encourage the students to compare their score with other classes in their own grade level and even other classes in different grade levels. I want them to use this as motivation for future rounds of the challenge.

Below, you’ll see an example of the first round of the challenge with our 2nd-grade classes. You’ll also see the same grade level’s growth over the course of the year.

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I highly recommend presenting the 5-Minute Challenge to your students. Our 1st-6th graders have been highly motivated for several years taking this simple challenge. I truly believe middle school and high school students would be equally motivated. It just takes a little work from the teacher. How you present it is key. Follow-up is a must.


Click 5-minute challenge for an editable template of the 5-minute challenge.



Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/justybubpe.

Check out my Facebook group called Keeping Kids in Motion!

Subscribe to my Youtube Channel for over 100 useful games for physical education!

 

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