My 10 Favorite Pieces of Equipment for Primary PE

Top 10 lists are everywhere. They catch your eye, draw you in, and give you quick information. Perfect for our busy lifestyles and my waning attention span.  Walking through a sporting goods store, a banner titled: “10 Tricks to Make Your Camping Trip a Success” caught my eye. Camping was not part of our vacation plans, but after perusing the list, I was ready to pitch a tent anytime!  Magazines are loaded with such lists including this one I just read in a health magazine; “Top 10 Male Health Problems…” Now I should have known better but I couldn’t resist. Even though I knew the list would scare the heck out of me, I HAD TO KNOW! Am I eating the top 10 healthiest fruits on the planet? Not according to healthline.com. I’m only batting 20%. Do I drive one of the top 10 most fuel-efficient cars? Nope! Not even close according to Consumer Reports. In fact, in the same report, I learned that I drive one of the top 20 “biggest gas guzzlers.”

In my research of why top 10 lists are so appealing to readers on the internet, the very first article to pop up was called, “The Top 10 Reasons that Top 10 Lists are so Popular…” There’s a list for EVERYTHING! In my opinion, the reason they’re so appealing is that they pique our interest. Top 10 lists are quick to read and simple to understand. They let us know how we fare on a given topic, and on many occasions, provide useful information to the reader.

With that goal in mind, I thought I’d jump in on the action and share my Top 10 Must-have Pieces of Equipment for Primary Physical Education. The intention of my list is twofold.  First, I’d like to share what has been helpful to me and my colleagues who share more than 70 years of combined experience. Second, I would like YOU to share how my list compares to yours! Don’t hesitate to share your top 10 must-have pieces of equipment in the comments. Click on pictures of equipment to purchase today and start playing!


1. Swim NoodlesClick on noodles to purchase now!

Whether full size, cut in half or sliced into small pieces, swim noodles have been used regularly with our students. A quick search on the internet will yield countless tag games, teambuilding activities, and competitive challenges. You can’t beat the price as well. I recently found some for $1.00 apiece at Five Below. Check out a few tag games you can play in the post called Tag Games with Hoops and Noodles.

2. Jump Ropes
Click on jump ropes to purchase now!

It is my opinion that like riding a bike, every child should be able to jump rope. The jump rope is a dynamic piece of exercise equipment. It’s small enough to fit into your backpack, improves coordination and enhances cardiovascular fitness while strengthening muscles. Most importantly, jumping rope is FUN! You can cater your lessons to any level and differentiate for advanced jumpers with a variety of challenges.

3. Gator Skin BallsClick to purchase!

I remember ordering my first set of gator skin balls in 1995. I was impressed by their practicality, durability, and level of safety. They come in a variety of sizes and styles. Our favorites are the six-inch Gator Skin Softi Balls. We use them for throwing and catching drills, team hand ball, rolling challenges and drills, lead-up games for baseball (gator ball), and Ultimate catch. Without question, there are thousands of other ways to use this incredible ball.

4. Foam Activity Pins

Click on foam pins to purchase!

Foam activity pins, or foam cylinder as they’re commonly called, are safe, easy to store, and unbelievably useful. We most commonly use them as targets and goals in rolling, throwing and kicking activities. If you’re familiar with my Twitter feed (@justybubpe), you’ve without a doubt seen these gems being utilized to the extreme! Trust me when I tell you, you’ll quickly discover them to be one of your favorite pieces of equipment.

 5. Beanbags/Yarn Balls


Although they’re two different pieces of equipment, I’ve placed them on my list together. Both are excellent implements for younger and older students to practice their tossing, catching, sliding and rolling skills. Kindergarten through second grades, in particular, can practice tossing and catching with a partner confidently, without fear of getting bonked by a heavier, traditional ball. Yarn balls are also a great choice when using plastic scoops and introducing indoor games like bocce.

6. Scooter Boards

Scooter boards make many appearances throughout the year in our PE classes.  Early on, we use them during our cooperative lessons. Later, we break them out for a variety of tag and invasion games like scooter soccer, scooter handball, and ultimate bucketball .  Finally, scooters have become a main fitness tool.  Check out this blog post called Scooter Fitness – 11 Exercises Using Scooter Boards. Be sure to instruct your students on scooter safety prior to use.

 7. Plastic Scoops

For years, plastic scoops sat in my PE storage room gathering dust. It was until recently that I discovered numerous practical uses for them. I’ve discovered ways to sprinkle in the scoops throughout our PE curriculum. Check out a previous post called 8 Group Games Using SCOOPS in PE. Here you will discover simple games to help students enhance their hand-eye coordination and tossing and catching fundamentals.

 8. Hula Hoops

Try placing a stack of hula hoops out for a station during one of your PE classes. Give the students simple instructions such as,  “How many ways can you and your group use the hula hoops?” You’ll be blown away by the jumping, spinning, building, and overall creativity that will ensue. The versatility of a hoop is limitless. My students have used them as targets, bases, steering wheels, goals, obstacles, agility patterns and much more. Try a few of these games found within a post called 11 Hula Hoop Activities You May Not Know About.

9. Screen/Projector

Our screen and projector hanging in our gym has been a godsend. Great for our visual learners, our screen allows us to project our daily lessons, directions to an activity, timers, scoreboards, rubrics, and expectations. It works wonders for instant activities! Students enter the gymnasium, and automatically check the screen for their first task of the class.

  10. Cones

We have cones of all colors, shapes, and sizes. Primarily used to make boundaries, cones can also serve as batting tees, megaphones, targets, and hurdles.  Bonus!  Turn the cone into a  sign holder by taping a rubber band to the back of your sign, and  slip it over a cone!

Did any of my equipment make your list? Share your Top 5 with your PE teaching peers. Let us know what we might be missing.


If you enjoyed this post, consider following my blog to receive future posts and fitness challenges.

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

Check out my Facebook group called Keeping Kids in Motion!

Youtube Channel

Blowing Off S.T.E.A.M. in Physical Education: Make Your Own Jump Rope

The year was 1995, my first year teaching physical education in a public school in Washington, DC. I was young and inexperienced yet eager to make a difference in the lives of my students. During my first weeks of school I was informed by the principal that the school had an annual tradition of participating in the American Heart Association’s Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser. This was great news. Not only would we be raising money for a great cause, but my students would have the opportunity to enhance a skill combining fitness and coordination. With this, I set out a goal to help improve my 3rd-5th grade students’ ability to jump rope. I allotted time during each class for them to practice.  I also encouraged them to jump rope at home with their own ropes.

Click Blowing Off STEAM – Jump Rope for access to the challenge

Much to my surprise, I soon realized that more than half my students didn’t have their own jump ropes, and unfortunately, with a limited budget, I didn’t have enough ropes to loan them. Jokingly, I mentioned to one of my 4th-grade classes, “I guess you’ll just have to make your own.”

With unexpected delight, the very next day, one student walked into class with a jump rope she had made at home. Amanda proudly pulled from a plastic bag a jump rope completely made of rubber bands. I was so impressed with Amanda’s  “no excuses” mentality.  After Amanda shared her creation with her classmates, a second girl, Bronwyn, said she too made her own jump rope but needed to retrieve it from her classroom.  When she returned, she unveiled her creation made of large paperclips.

I’ll never forget Amanda and Bronwyn for their determination to improve their jump rope skills. They were prime examples of the old adage, where there’s a will there’s a way.

STEAM 2

22 years later, I still remain inspired by Amanda and Bronwyn. I’ve decided to challenge my students in 1st-6th grades to make their own jump ropes by presenting them with a S.T.E.A.M. challenge.

Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 10.07.59 PM


If you enjoyed this post, consider following my blog to receive future posts and fitness challenges.

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

Check out my Facebook group called Keeping Kids in Motion!

Youtube Channel

STOPWATCH – The Great Motivator

stopwatch old school

“What is the one piece of equipment you must have as a physical education teacher?” This is a question that frequently comes up on social media or through casual conversation with peers. I love having great music in the gym. Students respond well to an updated playlist on a kicking sound system. Equipment like hula hoops and swim noodles are so versatile, with countless fitness, cooperative, and competitive applications. And of course, there are jump ropes. Jumping rope is like riding a bike, every child should be able to do it.  However, without hesitation, my answer is a stopwatch. I couldn’t imagine teaching PE without my Timex watch.

I remember when my own three children were young, very young. They were 6, 5, and 3 years old when I created a backyard obstacle course for them. The set up was not fancy and rather simple. They’d playfully run through the course, taking their time crawling under, jumping over, climbing through and sprinting across a variety of obstacles before crossing a finish line. Eventually they would grow bored of the sequence of prepositional challenges. That is, until I introduced them to my stopwatch. “How fast can you get through the course? I’ll time you.” Immediately, this simple question changed the level of competition in the Cahill household forever. My kids were obsessed with attempting to set a new personal best, then later with beating each other’s record. To this day, now 14, 13, and 11 years old, my kids still enjoy being timed, whether its crushing a mountain bike course, running the bases, or swimming a lap in the pool. “Can you time me to see how long it takes me to get ready for bed?”

Our students are equally motivated by a stopwatch. At Trinity School, we discuss the importance of the personal best rather than comparing oneself to the other students. (However, we’re not naïve to the natural instinct to see how you stack up to your peers.) “How many times can you and a partner toss and catch a disc successfully in 45 seconds?” “How long can you hold a plank?” “Can you touch the four walls of the gym in less than 10 seconds?” “When I say go, you have 35 seconds to pick up all the equipment, place it in its correct container, then line up quietly.” Often, during my morning running program, students will ask, “Can you time me to see how long it takes me to run a lap?”

Along with the above examples, there are countless other ways to motivate students using a stopwatch throughout each and every day. Below you will find two of my all time favorite uses for a stopwatch.

My Top Two Favorite Stopwatch Challenges

1.  The 150 Lap Challenge (adjust the number of laps based on class size, age level, and lap distance)

https://youtu.be/j9bxTk2OGio&rel=0

Along with a little pep talk on teamwork, this challenge is sure to get your students amped up to run. The goal is for the class, as a team, to complete 150 laps as quickly as possible. It’s even more motivational if you have the capability to connect an iPad timer to a projector so the students can watch the seconds tick by.  However, I promise they’ll be energized if you use your stopwatch like me. I tally their cumulative laps and give updates along the way. “25 laps completed…75 laps completed…150 laps complete…etc.  Once they hit 150 laps, I stop the clock and give them their time.  I’ll log their score for a future 150 lap challenge.  Sometimes, I’ll post each class’ score in the gym. This sets up some friendly class versus class competitions for the future.

2.  Beat the Clock

https://youtu.be/6cBrn1-qiUM&rel=0

I religiously use this game to reinforce signals and formations throughout the year. First, I’ll ask the class to perform a certain locomotor skill. On a given signal (music, whistle, etc.) the students stop, look, and listen. I’ll then give the class a task to complete in set amount of time. “You have 10 seconds to form a perfect circle around me.” “You have 12 seconds to quietly line up at the door in boy, girl formation.” “You have 7 seconds to stand in your own personal space.” As the year progresses I give them less time and/or more complicated challenges.  After each challenge I’ll playfully give a score update. The class receives a point if they “beat the clock, and I receive one if they don’t.  You won’t regret this challenge, especially the first several weeks of school.

Bonus Game: Omnikin Beachball Challenge

This is a quick challenge to attempt to keep the ball in the air as long as possible. I always ask the class to shoot for a personal best, but also give them the school record for added motivation.  After three or four initial attempts, the group will sit in a circle to discuss what worked and what didn’t work. This is where they come up with a strategy to hopefully beat their personal record.

You may be thinking about all the fancy timer applications you can find on your devices. One particular favorite is the Tabata Pro timer, which has countless features. I have it and use it frequently. But there’s something real and challenging about a good old-fashioned stopwatch strapped to your wrist, ready to BEEP! It’s always there for you, it never has to be charged, and it is so very easy to use.

After reading this post, how long will it take you to comment on how you challenge your students with a stopwatch in your classes?

Ready, set, GO!


If you enjoyed this post, consider following my blog to receive future posts and fitness challenges.

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

Check out my Facebook group called Keeping Kids in Motion!

Youtube Channel

%d bloggers like this: