December’s Holiday Fitness Challenge

For the month of December, students have the freedom to choose any physical activity lasting at least 20 minutes.  I’ve provided several options, however, it’s perfectly fine if they come up with their own ideas.  I’m hoping parents and family will also take part in many of the chosen activities since much of the challenge takes place over the holiday. Students write down their specific activity on their workout calendar each day.  At the end of the month, they will turn in their calendars to receive an award.  See October’s Fall Fitness Challenge for an example.

Click holiday-fitness-challenge for a copy of the challenge.  Feel free to modify it for your students.





Stay healthy, stay active, and stay fit over the holiday!

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6 Motivating Fitness Ideas for PE – Part 2

Motivating students and guiding them on a path of lifelong fitness has become a top priority for physical education teachers all over the world.  We provide unique opportunities for students to learn about the benefits of exercise and implement movement activities which are challenging, varied, and ultimately FUN.  Through trial and error, research, and creative minds, my team and I discovered numerous routines that have been proven successful for our students who range from first grade through 6th grade.  In a previous post called PE -Top 5 Motivating Exercise Routines for Students, I described five different activities I regularly do with my students.  I would like to share six more ideas as a follow-up, which you can hopefully put into effect with equal success.

1. Partner Sprinting Points Challenge

I love this activity because it gives students a chance to work cooperatively with a partner while developing a strategy for success. The workout consists of two rounds each two minutes.  There is a one-minute recovery between each round.

Set up four rows of cones.  Each row has a different point value.  Row one equals 1 point, row two equals 2 points, row three equals 3 points, and row four equals 4 points (you can increase the value of each row depending on the grade level).

Students spread out with their partners along the start line.  Partner 1 is the leader for the first 2 minutes.  Whichever row of cones he sprints to, his partner then has to sprint to the same row.  So if he selects row 2, then the partner must run to row 2 as well.  This goes on for 2 minutes.  Partners add their points together as they accumulate them.  After 2 minutes, the partners recover (1 minute) and discuss their strategy for the next round. Specifically, what could they do differently to increase their total score during the next 2 minutes when the other partner becomes the leader?

2. Partner Interval Sprints

This is one of my favorite routines for my students.  It can be done on a track, in a gym, or around a circle of cones on a field.

Each set of partners spreads out around the perimeter of the running area so they’re standing next to each other but away from the other sets of partners.  For four minutes, each partner takes turns sprinting for 10 seconds (sometimes we do 20-second intervals). On the whistle, partner one sprints first.  On the next whistle, partner one stops to recover while partner two immediately begins sprinting for the next 10 seconds.  This continues for four minutes.

3. Simple AMRAPs (as many rounds as possible) with Obstacles

We use AMRAPs as both instant activities and as a main fitness routine.  Below is a simple example of one of the many AMRAPs we use.  The objective is for the students to try and complete as many rounds as possible in a given amount of time.  Our students are further motivated by the addition of obstacles to the lap.  Thanks to my colleague Jedd Austin (@jeddaustin) for the idea.


4. Steppers and/or Line Interval Training

Using steps in my PE classes has become a staple.  I’m fortunate to have enough steps for each student.  However, prior to having steps, my students would do similar workouts using the lines on the gym floor.  Below are a couple interval training workouts using steps and/or lines.  They are two examples of the unlimited possibilities for this type of workout. For any interval workouts, I use the Tabata Timer Application on my Ipad and phone.



Speaking of steppers!  Give students a chance to create their own exercises.

5. 30 Second Elimination Tag

If you’re going to play tag games, they should almost always be a non-elimination tag game.  If a student gets tagged then there should be a way for her to get back into the game.  However, 30-second elimination tag is an exception.

Divide the class into groups of four or five.  Each group takes turns being the taggers. For 30 seconds the first group attempts to tag as many students as possible.  When tagged, students walk around the perimeter of the play area until 30 seconds is up.  After 30 seconds, students have a chance to recover.  During this time we count up the number of students who were tagged.  This is the score for group number one.  Group two becomes the taggers for the next 30 seconds.  The game continues until each group has a chance to be taggers.  This is an incredible workout for every fitness level and athletic ability.  Thank you Brian Balocki (@brianbalocki), my colleague, for the idea.

6. Hula Hoop Fitness Timer

This is one of my favorite fitness activities for any grade level.  Students simply spin their hula hoop and perform an exercise until the hoop stops spinning.  For younger grade levels, I post different exercises on a whiteboard for students to choose.  Sometimes I give the students a chance to work with a partner.  They alternate spinning the hoop and choosing the exercise.  I can also assess upper-grade level students’ knowledge of muscle groups by asking them to choose exercises targeting specific muscle groups. Thank you, Coach Laura (@PECoachLaura), my colleague, for this idea.


As stated in previous posts, finding creative ways to motivate our students is an ongoing challenge.  We need to work together to share ideas.  Now I’d like to learn about yours.  Please post your motivating exercise routines in the comments section!  Let’s work together to keep our students motivated and fit!

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10 Core Exercises for Kids

Core Includes Much More than the Abdominal Muscles

Whether its improving posture, or building the strength needed to carry their loaded backpacks, kids need a strong core to ensure a solid foundation for fitness.  Core stabilization (core stability or core strength) is using the muscles of the trunk to support the spine and body during activity. The trunk muscles include those in the abdomen and back, around the neck and shoulder blades, and around the pelvis, hips, groin, and buttocks. Core stabilization helps improve posture, balance, strength, and coordinated movement. It also helps protect the body from injury.

As PE teachers, we must educate our students early, regarding the definition and importance of a strong core, and teach simple, effective ways to strengthen it.  As always, the best thing children can do to improve core strength is simply play. Yes, good old-fashioned play including running, climbing, jumping, crawling and exploring in an unstructured environment.  However, as teachers we can provide our students with opportunities to strengthen their core stability through a variety of exercises.  Here are a few core exercises I share with my students.  Please note:  Always remind your students to BREATHE, as the diaphragm is a main component in deep core muscles.


Bridging  (rectus abdominus, erector spinae, hamstrings and adductors)

Curl-ups (abdominal and oblique muscles)

Standing Leg Lift with and without Assist (hip flexors, gluteus maximus, upper quads, adductors and abductors)

Plank Variations (abdominal muscles, oblique muscles, back and hips)

Dead Bug Variation (transverse abdominal muscles, hip flexors)

Superman Variations (lower backgluteus maximus, hamstrings)

Partner Leg Circles (quads, hip flexors, lower abdominal muscles)

Scooter Knee Tuck (abdominal and obliques quads, gluteus maximus, lower back)

Scooter Crab Tuck (abdominal muscles)

Discovering ways to keep fitness fun in PE class is essential to motivation. Sprinkling exercises throughout games and activities is one way to do so. Below is a modification for a game called Rock, Paper Scissors Baseball, which I discovered through

Rock, Paper Scissors Baseball

Goal: to increase core strength while playing Rock, Paper, Scissors (RPS).

Equipment: 4 gymnastics mats for each corner of the room, signs to mark the bases.

Game Description:

  • Students pair up at home plate and play RPS.
  • The winner sprints to 1st base to play the first available student.
  • Continue to the next base for each consecutive win.
  • One out is recorded each time you do not win, and you must return to home plate.
  • Every three outs, jog one lap around the gym and return to home plate (I skip this step with younger grades).
  • Students keep track of the runs they earn.

Our students need us to help them develop core strength. As we know, the stronger the core, the better fitness foundation they will possess.  If a child has poor core strength, they are more likely to have an unstable base, making it difficult to control fine and gross motor skills.  Core strength also helps prevent injuries related to poor posture, decreases the risk of injury for children playing sports, and improves balance.    With a combination of play and a few core stability exercises, our students are destined for a healthier lifestyle.

Play on!

*According to, backpacks should never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of the student’s total body weight.  Click here for backpack safety.

“Fitness: Increasing Core Stability.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 02 Nov. 2016.

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