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Not Your Father's Gym
November 15, 2004
Children pursue fitness--and fun--in one phys-ed teacher's creative curriculum
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November 15, 2004

Not Your Father's Gym

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NOVEMBER Board game: Andres took one of her daughter's old Candyland boards, covered it with white paper and created a game in which students move pieces around the board by completing fitness tasks. "The game is centered on upper-body strength, because kids are so weak in their upper bodies," says Andres.

Indy 500: A relay race with a car theme. Kids start behind posters of Indy cars while music plays (Go Speed Racer or Little Deuce Coupe). All activities have race-themed names: Flat tire, for instance, means stopping to do sit-ups.

Line dancing and square dancing: Experts say there is no activity that engages young girls better than dancing.

DECEMBER Parachute activities: Kids flap and snap large and small parachutes, building upper-body strength and coordination.

JANUARY Tinikling: In this game, which originated in the Philippines, two long poles (Andres makes hers out of slender PVC piping) are smacked together by students kneeling on the floor, while other students jump over and between the poles. It's similar to jump rope but with percussive rhythms.

Basketball: Again, no games, just skill development.

FEBRUARY More running: Kids in the Monday running group begin focusing on the Spring Fever Chase, a two-mile road race through town.

MARCH Dodging games: But not dodgeball. "They love dodgeball," says Andres, "but somebody always gets hurt." So they play a hybrid of dodgeball with fluffy Gator Skin balls, which are so soft that a direct hit to the face causes only laughter.

Tag: Students tag and slap one another not with bare hands but with foam-rubber tomahawks that Andres brings home each summer from Atlanta Braves games.

APRIL Frisbee skills: Students improve their coordination by throwing Frisbees at targets, and then they advance to games of Frisbee golf outdoors. The exercise is in their running or walking to retrieve the disks.

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