Educators in Albemarle County Public Schools create learning opportunities for children to acquire Lifelong Learning Competencies. We believe that physical education offers a pathway for children to engage in movement activities that support development of math and literacy skills, while providing healthy exercise which we know is a critical aspect of both academic learning and sustaining a healthy lifestyle over a lifetime. The Physical Education program at Brownsville Elementary offers wonderful examples of how the physical education teachers engage children in challenging, interesting and interactive learning. I know you will enjoy reading this narrative they constructed about their work with children.
Integrating PE with language arts and math supports our mission at Brownsville Elementary School to create lifelong learners who realize that learning is interdisciplinary.
One of the ways we integrate math in the early grades is to play a well-known P.E. game called “Clean up the Backyard.” This game happens at the end of an activity when we have the students place the balls on a line on their side. Initially we just have them count the balls. Then we might have them place them in groups and we count by twos, threes, fours etc. Eventually we just say we have 5 sets of 3 balls, or 5 x 3.
How many do we have below? Can children think like mathematicians even when they’re in PE class? We think so.
This year in PE we are measuring everything as we integrate Lifelong Learning Skills of estimation and measurement into our lessons and activities. We estimate the length and width of various PE equipment and objects, and we have the kids vote on the closest and most reasonable estimations. Then we measure a space or something like a volleyball net. In doing this we are creating reference points so that hopefully the students will later be able to look at a distance or space and have some idea what unit of measurement they will want to use when measuring.
Another thing the students enjoy doing is trying to jump their height. First students measure their height, and then they try to jump that distance. They come up with lots of different ways of doing this!
In one of our students’ favorite games, “Builders and Destroyers”, the students earn bricks by doing exercises and running laps. They then work with their team mates to build towers. In the final stage of the game, the students get to throw a ball to try to knock over their opponents’ towers. The students then measure the surviving towers’ dimensions to determine a winner. It is always interesting to see them work to build the tallest, yet sturdiest, tower, and then to measure it afterwards. In the picture below, this team designed their tower so that the smallest side of the tower faced the throwers; it ended up being the winning tower.
Here at Brownsville our little Bees love playing “Butter Battle,” which is one of the ways that we incorporate Language Arts and Reading into PE. “Butter Battle” is a game created by Mr. Bragg, who taught at Brownsville for many years. Mr. Bragg got the idea from the “Butter Battle” book, written by Dr. Seuss, to craft a game which involves throwing and giving hugs. When Ms. Witt joined the team here at BES she added the element of reading part of the book by Dr. Seuss, “The Butter Battle Book,” and you can see Ms. Yeatman reading the book in the picture below.
While reading only the first four pages of the book, the stage is set for the game and the kids are overflowing with excitement. In the game the students practice throwing yellow balls (“butter balls”) across a line as they recreate parts of the “Butter Battle Book.”
At Brownsville Elementary School we are proud of the interdisciplinary way that our students learn and how our PE teachers integrate math and reading into their classes.