If You Build IT, They Will RUN!


The above clip from my favorite movie all time, Field of Dreams, still gives me chills every time I see it.  “If you build it, he will come,” is a famous quote from the 1989 classic.  Watch the movie if you’re intrigued.

If You Build It, They Will Run!

I was recently reflecting on my job as a physical education teacher.  Specifically I thought about what it takes to get students motivated for exercise and movement. About three years ago, my school was fortunate enough to build a beautiful track around our playground. Parents, teachers, and students flocked to the track every chance they had to walk, run, and race around the 1/7 mile oval.  Building on this enthusiasm, we opened the track to students, teachers and parents before school for a morning movement program called Every Lap Counts.  Three years later the program is as strong as every with hundreds of students participating.

Riding the wave of excitement we decided to start an afternoon running club called Fast and Fit.  Each school year Fast and Fit has a separate fall and spring season.  To date each season has averaged about 110 students.

Fast and Fit

If You Build It They Will Run! 

What exactly is “it?”  Initially, the track was deservedly receiving all the glory, all the credit for our highly successful movement programs.  Then I began to realize that even before the track was a thought, we had a program called the Trinity Track Club each spring.  Trinity Track Club, which still exists, meets three consecutive Friday’s after school.  The club’s goal is to train our students for a local run called the Peachtree Junior while educating them on pace, hydration, and preparation.  Again, each year we’d average about 100 runners. There was no track, but a challenging and fun team atmosphere that kids crave.

Trinity Fun Run/Walk

I soon realized that “it” was not just the track.  “It” refers to opportunity and programming.  If we, the educators and coaches, provide quality programs and opportunities for our students, then they will be drawn to participate.  The same goes for our physical education programs.  If we design challenging fitness opportunities and implement our curriculum with fun, dynamic drills and games then our students will be motivated.  It just takes effort, creativity, and trial and error on our part.  If you build it, they will run!   If we provide opportunity and quality, well-thought out programs, then our students will be motivated to participate.  If WE build it, they will run!

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“Jumping Through March” Fitness Challenge



The Jumping Through March fitness challenge is all about jumping and building core strength. This daily exercise routine consists of two parts.

Click March Fitness Challenge for an editable copy of “Jumping through March!”

 Part One – JUMPING

  • Choose either to complete jumping jacks or jump rope. Both exercises are an awesome way to increase your heart rate. If you are just learning to jump rope, you can begin each workout with jump rope, and then finish with jumping jacks. Combining the exercises is perfectly fine.
  • Choose Level 1 or Level 2. Each level consistently increases in repetitions each day. Notice that level 2 is more challenging than 1. You may switch levels at any point based on your level of fitness. Remember, if you find that you’re barely breaking a sweat, increase the repetitions at your own rate each day.
  • Complete the number of repetitions on the calendar each day. For example, on March 1, you will complete 25 jumping jacks/rope turns for level 1 or 75 jumping jacks/rope turns for level 2. If you miss a day, simply pick up where you left off.


  • Hold a plank pose for as long as you can each day. You can choose either a traditional low plank or a high plank.
  • Try to increase your maximum time each day. Throughout the month your core strength will increase as long as you put in the work and push yourself!
  • Log your time. Each day you complete the plank challenge, be sure to add your time to the calendar so you can track your progress.

Click March Fitness Challenge for an editable document of the fitness challenge!

Turn in your calendar to your PE coach at the end of the month to earn an award certificate and a fitness charm! Good luck!


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Simple Coffee Can Games for PE


I began my teaching career in the Washington, DC public school system back in 1995.  I worked at a small elementary school with an even smaller budget for supplies and equipment. Each year I was allotted $200.00 to purchase and replace equipment including recess balls.  Countless teachers are annually faced with a similar financial dilemma.  They are challenged to delve into their creative minds in search of resources to ensure that students reap the benefits of a quality educational experience.

 Only after a brief amount of time as a physical education teacher, I discovered one such practical, inexpensive resource.  COFFEE CANS!  Despite going from aluminum to plastic, and the assortment of shapes and sizes throughout the years, two things remain constant, durability and functionality.  My classes would use them as stepping stones in cooperative games, create coffee can stilts to use as a locomotor station, and as drums for rhythm stick routines.  Using coffee cans also allowed me the opportunity to reinforce and encourage the reduce, reuse, recycle concept.  

To this day, despite working at an amazing school with ample resources, I still incorporate coffee can games into my curriculum.  Here are few of my all-time favorites:

The Percolator/ Partner Percolator

Percolator is an opportunity for students to work individually and with a partner on hand-eye coordination.  As shown in the video, the object is to repeatedly strike the ball ( Lite Flight Softballs) in the air using the bottom of the coffee can.  Once the students masters the basics, they can advance to more challenging tasks at their own pace.  Such challenges include:

  • Striking with different parts of the can
  • Consecutive strikes challenge
  • Striking then catching the ball
  • Tossing the ball up from inside the can (serving) before striking.
  • Partner striking

Just when I think I’ve seen every possible percolator challenge, a students will surprise me with something new.

Strikeball Junior

Strikeball junior can be played cooperatively and competitively.

Cooperatively: The object of the game is for partners to pass a ball back and forth using the bottom of the coffee can.  For each successful catch, they receive a point.  I usually with have a series of one-minute challenges. “How many catches can you and your partner make in one minute?”  Another way to play strikeball cooperatively is to challenge partners to count the number of consecutive catches they can make.

Competitively: The object of the competitive version of strikeball junior is for serving player to throw a ball off the bottom of the can so the opposing player in unable to catch it.  The serving player can throw the ball off the can from any distance.  The ball must hit the bottom of the can cleanly.  If the server throws the ball off side or edge of the can or completely misses the can, a point is award to the opposing player.  If the ball is cleanly served, the opposing player must catch the ball. If the ball is caught, that player returns the ball by throwing it off the bottom of the can. Play continues until the ball eventually hits the ground.  Points are NOT awarded for catches.  The player receiving the point earn the right to serve.  First player to seven wins the game.

The Race to 2 – Sportsmanship Game

One of my favorite “coffee can” games is the Race to 2 (Race to 3 for older students).  Before the students arrive I set up the cans throughout the gym, each with two hollow plastic balls.  When students enter the gym, they immediately pair up and go to a coffee can.  The object of the game is to be the first to bounce a ball into the can three times.  Once a match is over, each player MUST shake hands and say, “good game.”  Each player then finds a new player to challenge.  I use this activity as a way to reinforce SPORTSMANSHIP with my students.  It also happens to be an all-time favorite among students.

Espresso (End Zone)

End Zone keeps students moving while enhancing teamwork, hand-eye coordination, and strategic thinking.  Each set of partners has one coffee can and on ball.  The goal is to successfully pass the ball across the gym.  Beginning on the end line, one partner has the ball and the other has the coffee can.  The partner with the coffee can runs out in the direction of the the opposite end line or end zone.  This partner needs to choose a distance that’s not too far for the throwing partner.  The throwing partner then tosses the ball while the partner holding the coffee can attempts to catch it.  For younger students, I allow a one bounce rule. The partners switch roles at the point of each successful catch.  If the ball is dropped, then the ball goes back to the spot of the last successful catch.  When partners catch a ball in the end zone, they receive one point, then sprint back to the beginning to try again.

Coffee Can Points Challenge -Level 1

Coffee Can Points Challenge -Level 2

Using either cones, poly spots, or the lines in your gym, mark off four catching zones.  The size of each zone is determined by the age and/or ability of your students.  Each zone has a point value.  Zone one equals 2 points, zone 2 equals 4 points, zone 3 equals 6 points, and zone 4 equals 8 points.  With a partner, students line up behind the throwing line, which is the edge of zone one.  One the signal, one partner runs out to one of the zones with a coffee can.  The other partner tosses a ball from the throwing line.  If the partner with the coffee can catches the ball, they are awarded points based on the zone where the ball is caught. If the ball is caught on one bounce, partners receive half the point value per zone.  So instead of receiving 6 points for zone 4, partners will earn 3 points.   No points are awarded if the ball is dropped.  After each throw, partners switch roles.

I always play multiple rounds.  Between rounds each set of partners has an opportunity to discuss strategy.  Specifically, what worked and what didn’t work, and how they can adjust their strategy for subsequent rounds.

Coffee Can Hot Spots

I like to play this game during my underhand tossing unit.  Students are partnered up around the outside perimeter.  The goal of the game is to collect as many dome cones as possible.  One partner sprints out to a cone while holding the coffee can.  Partner two tosses a ball out to partner one.  If partner one catches the ball inside the coffee can, he picks up the cone and returns it to partner two.  Then each partner switches roles.  With my younger groups, I allow the ball to bounce.  I often play this as a whole group cooperative challenge.  How long will it take the class to clear all the cones?

Freedom to Explore and Create Coffee Can Games

Throughout the school year, I’ll set up a variety of stations for my students.  One station will usually consist of placing various pieces of equipment to challenge the students to create a new game.  Student never cease to amaze me in what they discover!

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