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 games 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 Salvation Army bell ringers greet families at the doors where shoppers frequent. The local TV programming and newspapers are filled with ads of local businesses hawking the latest must have items. The message of Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, as well as the story of The Grinch, spread the message of the changing of a greedy heart 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 as well as the opportunities available for giving.
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 first, second and third graders, the fourth and fifth 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/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, 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 community 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 Activity Setup
- Create store signs with a logo of the store as well as an exercise that you use in your classroom (please see examples below). Each store will also need 15-20 images that match the store sign. Mount each image on circular construction paper, and then laminate them for longer use. These are the images the students purchase and either take back to Home, Food Pantry or Giving Tree.
- Create a Giving Tree location where students can place their image donations. Pocket charts are a good choice, or a large laminated paper with a tree on it where kids can post their image donations.
- Create a Food Pantry box or bucket where students can place their My Food Plate images.
- 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.
- 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 the kids can record their donations to the Red Kettle. Students do the exercise, write the note, drop it into the kettle, ring the bell and then carry on. This should remind kids of making donations of cash into 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 home.
- 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 Playing Holiday Shopping
- Students find a partner. Each pair needs one scooter board as well as 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 that is posted on the store sign before the rider takes a circular image and returns back 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 of 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 & Activities
|Red Kettle||Choice of exercise; you decide what to “DONATE”:
jumping jacks, star jacks, crab kicks, curl ups…
|Scratch paper and pencil for students to record their donation and place it into the Red Kettle. Find a tiny bell students can ring when they make a donation. My last suggestion would be to find a “tiny” bell for your Red Kettle. 40 minutes of a large bell ringing and you may not be in high holiday spirits!|
|Pick ‘n Save Grocery
I used the name of our local grocery as the store and used 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
Students bring grocery item to the Food Pantry.
|The Giving Tree||Students go to the other stores and purchase an image, bring the image to the giving tree and leave as a donation by placing it in the pocket.||A tree or pocket chart is a nice easy Giving Tree.|
|Candy Cane Shop||5 laps around the cones||4 Red Cones|
|Santa’s Shop||20 jumping jacks||No equipment|
|Ornament Shoppe||30 rope jumps||4 Jump Ropes|
|Frosty’s Folly||Balance on one body part and sing “Frosty the Snowman”||No equipment
|Penguins Party Shop||Successfully toss & catch the penguin 6 times with your partner||Sportime Penguins
|Billy’s Bakery||20 switches||No equipment|
|Icicle Shop||Skip a lap around the 4 cones||Same cones as above|
|Tommy’s Trains||15 steam engines||No equipment|
|Hula Hoop Shop||Hula hoop and count to 30||4 Hula Hoops|
|Reindeer Barn||Leap the length of the gym||No equipment|
|Gingy’s Gingerbread House||Gallop 2 times around the 4 cones||Same cones as above|
|Christmas Stars||12 curl-ups||Curl Up Yoga Mat|
|Light Bright Christmas Lights||8 star jumps||No equipment|
|Snowman Accessory Shop||5 push-ups and 10 snow angels||No equipment|
|Polar Bear Barn||Bear walk across the gym||No equipment|
|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 in 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 from this activity 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 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 to have fun while opening the conversation of giving to others.
May you find the joy of the season,
Look for the Teacher Approved icon to shop for products recommended by award-winning and nationally recognized physical education teachers. The physical education instructor’s opinions are solely their own and do not officially represent the views of SHAPE America®.