By: Penny Kroening, 2016 National Elementary Physical Education SHAPE America® Teacher of the Year
The holiday season is upon us! By far, my favorite time of year. My lessons fill the days of December with holiday PE activities named The Grinch, Reindeer Games, Peppermint Whiffle Ball, Winter Wonderland, Building Snowmen, The Polar Express, and Holiday Shopping. The holiday season offers us a great opportunity to help spread the message of community service during a time of giving and receiving.
The jingling of the bell ringers greets families at the doors where shoppers frequent. Local TV programming and newspapers are filled with ads of local businesses promoting the latest must-have items. The message of Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol and the story of The Grinch spread the message of a greedy heart evolving to one of love and charity. The holiday season is a wonderful time to tap into the natural intrinsic motivation of your students, the energy of the season, the needs of people in your community, and opportunities available for giving.
Holiday PE Lesson: Holiday Shopping
Over the years, I have built a holiday lesson that combines many ideas of the holiday season into one lesson. Although this lesson is designed for 1st through 3rd grade, 4th and 5th-grade students often ask to play it again during the holiday season. The activity is one that involves students working together to go Holiday Shopping.
Students drive their cars (scooter boards) to a store to shop for an item. The item is paid for using exercise as the currency. Students leave the store to return back to their home spot with an icon picture of the item they just purchased. Students place the icon picture on their “home” spot, switch rider and driver, and go shopping at another store. Use store names students are familiar with to help you with your selection. Students also have opportunities to shop for others. They can provide meals to the hungry and gifts and money for those in need.
Now let’s give it a little holiday twist! Embedded in the whole holiday game of shopping at stores is the theme of community service. The holiday season is a time of great need for many people and families. How can we, as physical education teachers, facilitate the personal and social skills of empathy and charity? Think about what is based in your community. Those jingling bells by the red kettles are collecting money to help those in need. Food pantries need food donations, and giving trees exist to collect items for those in need. If given the opportunity, what would your students do?
Holiday Shopping PE Activity Setup
- Create store signs with a logo of the store and an exercise you use in your classroom. Each store will also need 15-20 images that match the store sign. Mount each image on circular construction paper, then laminate them for longer use. These will be the images students purchase and take back to their Homes, the Food Pantry, or the Giving Tree.
- Create a Giving Tree location where students can place their image donations. Pocket charts are a good choice, or use a large laminated paper with a tree on it where kids can post their image donations.
- Create a Grocery Store location where students can purchase My Food Plate images. You might want more than 15-20 of these, as kids like to donate food.
- Create a Food Pantry box or bucket where students can place the My Food Plate images they purchase.
- Red Kettle and Tiny Bell: List possible exercises for your students to consider donating to the kettle. I keep a bunch of 2×3 inch scratch paper and pencils here where kids can record their donations to the Red Kettle. Students do the exercise, write the note, drop it into the kettle, and ring the Tiny Bell. This will remind kids of making donations to the Salvation Army’s red kettles.
- Create and design a Christmas tree or house for each pair to call their “Home Spot.” I use Christmas trees drawn on green construction paper and houses drawn on brown construction paper, as some families do not have a tree in their homes.
- Spread the store signs around the playing space. I have a bucket for each store that is large enough to hold the sign and image. Any small equipment that might be necessary for the activity is close to the bucket.
Steps for Holiday Shopping PE Activity
- Students find a partner. Each pair needs one scooter board and a Home Spot.
- Students take turns sitting on the scooter board and directing the driver to push them (carefully) to a local shop.
- The student who is pushing the scooter has their hands on the sitting student’s shoulders.
- At the local shop, students must read the card to determine the “cost” of the item.
- Each partner does the exercise posted on the store sign before the rider takes a circular image and returns to their Home Spot.
- Community service of feeding the hungry. Here students go to the Grocery Store and pay for food with their exercise. Students earn a “My Food Plate” image to take to the Food Pantry.
- The Giving Tree. Students can donate a purchased image to the Giving Tree rather than taking it to their Home Spot.
- The Red Kettle. Students decide how many and which exercise they would like to donate to the Red Kettles. Students receive no icon, but write their donation of exercise on a small piece of paper and put it into the Red Kettle.
Holiday Shopping Stores & PE Activities
|Choice of exercise to donate:
jumping jacks, star jacks, crab kicks, curl-ups, etc.
|– Scratch paper and pencil for students to record their donation
– Tiny Bell students can ring when they make a donation. Emphasis on “tiny” as a large bell ringing for 40 minutes may not leave everyone in high holiday spirits!
|Local Grocery Store
Use the name of your local grocery and the My Food Plate as the image.
|10 crab kicks
– Take an image to the Food Pantry
– Do not take to Home Spot
|– Food Pantry bucket
|The Giving Tree
|Students go to the other stores and purchase an image, bring the image to the giving tree, and leave it as a donation by placing it in the pocket
|– A tree or pocket chart
|Candy Cane Shop
|5 laps around the cones
|– 4 Cones
|20 jumping jacks
|30 rope jumps
|– 4 Jump Ropes
|Balance on one body part and sing “Frosty the Snowman”
|Penguins Party Shop
|Successfully toss & catch the penguin 6 times with your partner
|– Sportime Penguins
|Skip a lap around the 4 cones
|– Same cones as above
|15 steam engines
|Hula Hoop Shop
|Hula hoop and count to 30
|– 4 Hula Hoops
|Leap the length of the gym
|Gingy’s Gingerbread House
|Gallop 2 times around the 4 cones
|– Same cones as above
|– Curl Up Yoga Mat
|Light Bright Christmas Lights
|8 star jumps
|Snowman Accessory Shop
|5 push-ups and 10 snow angels
|Polar Bear Barn
|Bear walk across the gym
|Elf Sport Center
|Using a medicine ball, reach high over your head and touch the floor 5 times
|– 4 lb Medicine Ball
|Sam’s Sled Shop
|20 step ups
|– 6 inch Steps
Holiday Shopping Activity Wrap Up
This activity lasts one 40-minute period, but the level of physical activity and social lessons that can be gleaned are very impactful for students. Discussions with the class could include:
- What community service opportunities are available in your community?
- What can kids do to help others?
- What choices did you and your partner make?
- Did you choose to collect items for your home, or did you choose to give them to others?
- How did you and your partner make those choices?
Put a new twist on your holiday game. Think about how you can help your students have fun while opening the conversation about giving to others.
May you find the joy of the season,
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