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Passion Is Awarded

Patrick Parker from Indian Creek Elementary School in Lewisville, Texas was recently recognized as Teacher of the Year. Unlike past recipients, you will not find Parker in a classroom. As the school’s PE teacher, he is more likely to be in the gymnasium or outside while his students are running the distance on the track. This year, PE teachers like Coach Parker have had to be creative in untold ways. They make sure kids stay moving and get the physical and emotional benefits of PE during the pandemic.

Coach Parker has worked hard to keep his students motivated to be active, and his hard work has paid off. A Physical Education teacher for 18 years, he is passionate about keeping kids running and moving. Normally, Coach Parker also coaches an afterschool run club for kids. But this year, due to the pandemic, he has been treating his PE class as his youth running club.

Hybrid Schooling

The pandemic has altered the way we do things, which has caused pain points for educators. Indian Creek Elementary School has returned to school operations in a hybrid state—half in-person and half virtual. The in-person students fall under Coach Parker’s umbrella.

Coach Parker says that Marathon Kids Connect digital tools have relieved some pain points. With individual QR codes for students and having the ability for self-scanning, he is still able to freely record physical activity with the distance tracking app. This allows him to stay accountable and ensure his students are getting the recommended 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each day.

Coach Parker’s bulletin board!

Marathon Kids Run Across America

Coach Parker has about 400 students ranging from Kindergarten to 5th grade. He says they start each class with 10 minutes of heart-pumping activity. With Marathon Kids Connect, 10 minutes of activity equals half a mile. Occasionally, his classes will run or walk laps outside, and every nine weeks they have a max distance run/jog/walk challenge. Coach Parker encourages his student to just move. He tells them if they need to walk, that’s okay because they are still being active.

Coach Parker has a bulletin board displayed to show each class rank and distance. He says the biggest benefit of Marathon Kids is that his students now set goals for themselves on how many laps they want to work towards running. For Indian Creek Elementary School, twenty laps equal a mile. Coach Parker had one student tell him he was going to get to 40 laps, and the student marked his own words!

See how the students are running the distance!

Additionally, to show the kids how far they have collectively run, Coach Parker has equated their miles to running the distance across America. He marked a route from Maine to California. As a school they are currently on mile 4,700, so they are in west Texas right now! He says kids get excited seeing how far they have come and will ask him what state are they in now! He also marks on the map how far each grade as traveled. It is a great and fun visual for to the kids to see their progress and what they have accomplished!

Thanks to generous support from H-E-B, Marathon Kids’ physical activity programming is available and free to all Texas schools, like Indian Creek Elementary School.

About Marathon Kids

Marathon Kids shows kids through running that they can achieve more than they ever thought possible. Kids in the program work at their own pace to run or walk the equivalent mileage of four marathons (or more!). They run one lap at a time, one day at a time, and before they know it they’ve gone farther than they ever dreamed. Kids enrolled in the program have a network of dedicated adults showing them how it’s done, and most importantly, a motivated and inspiring coach supporting them every step of the way.

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Educating our kids has taken on new meaning during COVID-19. While the education process varies from district to district and school to school, one principle remains constant: it is vital to prioritize kids’ health and well-being. Physical education is a key contributor to physical and mental health during and after the pandemic.

We’re making March ALL ABOUT PE: why it’s so important, how it’s made a difference during the pandemic, and how parents and taxpayers can advocate for PE moving forward. Join the Active Schools movement, comprised of 90+ partner organizations and more than 44,000 registered champions for #PEMovingForward, a social media campaign to celebrate and advocate for PE!

School districts are making decisions NOW about how to conduct and fund education for school year 2021-22, so let the decision-makers know what you want and expect for your child and all students.

5 WAYS YOU CAN SUPPORT PE

1. Pledge your support for PE – become an Active Schools champion; it’s free.

2. Post your PE stories on social media using the hashtag #PEMovingForward.

Thank a PE Teacher – tag your child’s PE teacher and/or school and give them a shout-out.

3. Learn tried-and-true parent and taxpayer PE advocacy strategies.

➤ Participate in a free 1-hour webinar on Monday, March 15, 3-4pm ET / 2-3pm CT / 1-2pm MT / 12-1pm PT – REGISTER HERE.

➤ Hear from the experts at the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE America) and three parents who have successfully advocated for PE.

4. Email or send a letter about the importance of PE to your principal, superintendent, and school board.

Use these easy template letters.

5. Advocate for PE on social media.

➤ Use hashtag #PEMovingFoward and tag (@) your school, principal, school district, superintendent, and school board members.

➤ You could also tag members of your district’s health/wellness advisory committee and your school’s health/wellness advisory committee and PTA/PTO.

Key Physical Education Information and Advocacy Resources 

It’s Time to Prioritize Health & Physical Education from SHAPE America

Strengthen Physical Education in Schools from Springboard to Active School

Exercise Their Minds from Voices for Healthy Kids

Physical Education and Physical Activity from CDC

Physical Education Along with Physical Activity: Kids Need Both from SHAPE America

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At Marathon Kids, we’re all about getting kids moving, both in school and at home. So, we were thrilled to partner with Austin Active Kids on a guide full of active camp experiences, from virtual and at-home options to outdoor adventures in Central Texas.

If you are looking for fun camps and ideas to get the kids moving during spring break and summer, check out the Austin Active Kids Camp Guide presented by Camp Champions by clicking on the image below!

Austin Active Kids Camp Guide

All ads in these guides benefit Marathon Kids, putting more kids on the path to a healthy and active life! If you’re interested in advertising in one of the upcoming guides, please email hello@austinactivekids.com or visit the website’s Advertising page for more information.

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Due to COVID-19, many people have started inviting family and friends to play virtual games. Technology has paved a new path to socializing, teaching, communicating, and learning. The ability to video chat on platforms like Zoom allows not only for family and friends to connect but the video chat function also allows teachers and students to transition from traditional classroom learning to remote learning from home as needed.

It is important to keep students engaged during virtual classroom sessions. Many teachers have discovered that taking a break from schoolwork and playing an interactive game supports and strengthens student engagement. The share screen function of the Zoom platform gives the option to teachers to enhance and simplify the learning experience too.

Here are some of our favorite warmup, active, cool down, and calm interactive games to play on Zoom that teachers can play with students. Our Zoom game suggestions are fun, brainy, and have the ability to sharpen kids’ physical and mental skills.

Best Warmup Games to Play on Zoom

FOLLOW THE LEADER

Choose a student to be the leader. Have the leader model their favorite warm-up activities that will get the class moving. Students will copy the leader until it’s the next leader’s turn.

RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT

Choose an action for students to copy. When the teacher says “green,” students should repeat the action as fast as they can. When the teacher says, “yellow,” slow the action down. On red, stop. Mix up the colors and actions as much as you’d like.

OBSTACLE COURSE

Instruct students to create a simple obstacle course, either indoors or out. Ideas include zigzagging between furniture, hopping over imaginary lines, etc. Invite them to share their obstacles with the class, demonstrating how to complete the course.

Best Active Games to Play on Zoom with Kids

Freeze Game

Let your students stretch their legs and dance to some fun, upbeat tunes. Encourage students to show off their dance moves. When the music stops, everyone has to stop dancing.

Scavenger Hunt

At-home scavenger hunts are fun! Here’s how they work. The teacher will announce a household item that the students need to find. Give the students a goal time limit to find their item and return to show the class. Here are a few items we suggest: TV remote, spoon, something blue, something soft, pair of socks, etc.

Rock, Paper, Scissors

Classic game, but with a twist! The object of this version is not to win, but to see how many rounds students can stay in the game versus the teacher. To get kids moving, assign an action to the winner of each round. For example, if you win, the class “gets” to do ten jumping jacks!

Best Cool-Down Games to Play on Zoom

WINDSTORM

Pretend to be trees in a windstorm, with wind blowing arms as branches. Start while the windstorm is strong and blowing hard, and finish as the wind calms and blows softer.

SHARKS AND FISH

One student is the shark and the rest are fish. Sharks demonstrate their favorite cool-down activities while the group copies their actions. Whatever the shark does, the fish have to copy. Remember to stretch gently and slowly (like fish swimming).

MUSCLE MIX

Like Twister, but standing up. The teacher or leader calls out to body parts to touch together. For example, elbow to knee or hand to foot. Continue the game until the class has settled and is ready to focus on a calm game.

Best Calm, Interactive Games to Play on Zoom with Kids

I Spy

I Spy is a classic game, but also a great one to play to work on adjectives and to test your students’ observation skills. Students can take turns guessing what the object is that you describe. As the teacher, you say: “I spy something *insert adjective*.” Play as many rounds as you see fit.

Trivia

A short game of trivia can be a great way to start the day. Each week you can identify a theme or a category to challenge your students to trivia questions. We recommend using the “raise my hand” function on Zoom to allow for fair play. Throughout the semester you can keep a tally and leaderboard for the students.

Show and Tell

Give your students the opportunity to share something from home. Show and Tell could be a fun way to end the school week. You can pick one student for each week. The game Show and Tell could be a good way for students to develop and improve their social and speaking skills.

Mystery Bag

Give your students one clue about what you put in a bag. For instance, “The object is *insert adjective.*” You can give a couple of students the chance to guess. If no one gets it correct, give another clue. It could be interesting to choose the item based on a topic or lesson you are reviewing that day or week.

Story Time

All young students need a good read-aloud every single day. Zoom makes it easy. Make yourself, as the host, take up the full screen so the students can see the pictures easily. Note: The words will appear backward on your side but rest assured they are not backward from your students’ screens.

Directed Drawings

Kids love directed drawings. Art Hub for Kids on YouTube is a great option. Share your screen while the students make their own drawing. When the drawing is finished, each student can take turns showing their drawing to the class. Extend this project by assigning it as a writing activity to complete at home and bring back to the next Zoom call to read aloud.

Quick Draw

Looking for a drawing activity that is a faster pace than Directed Drawing? Quick Draw could be your answer! Quick Draw is a Pictionary style game, but the timer for making a drawing is very short, only 10 seconds. This would help the students to sharpen their brain as they need to think about the perfect hint to draw so that the teammate can guess the clue. The questions can be related to studies as well.

20 Questions

Think of an object. Let students ask a YES or NO question. Students will have to continue asking these types of questions. A student may guess at any time by clicking on the “raise my hand” button in the Zoom settings.

Would You Rather

Ask your students a “would you rather” question with two choices and kids must choose between the options. Pick two students to share the reasoning behind their preference. The game, Would You Rather, will be a good game to show kids that their peers might not like the same things, and it is okay to have your own opinion.

Guess Where

This will be a good game to play with older students. To play the Guess Where game, teachers will have to utilize the screen share function of Zoom. On your screen, pull up geoguesser.com. GeoGuesser is a geography game that takes you on a journey around the world and challenges your ability to recognize your surroundings. This is a fun game to challenge your students’ geography knowledge.

Logo Quiz

Logo quiz is a fun game which can be played with older students. It is a trivia game on different kinds of common logos. The teacher shares their screen to pull up multiple logos to quiz their students. The student who guesses the maximum number of correct logos wins. You can show the answers by writing them in a notepad and then all can show the notebook together towards the screen.

Are you smarter than a 5th grader?

This is a type of game that the kids love to play. Type, “are you smarter than a 5th grader questions” on Google and find random questions. Write the answers on a notepad and give your students 10 seconds to write their answers. When time is called have all your students show what they wrote to the screen.

Crossword Puzzles

For older and younger students, crossword puzzles make for a brilliant mind game. Share your screen and pull up a crossword puzzle. You can set a timer for so many minutes and each student can write on a notepad the words that stand out to them. When time is over, the teacher can call on different students to solve.

About Marathon Kids

At Marathon Kids, we offer free physical activity programming, resources, and hands-free technology to support educators as they strive to keep students active in school and at home. Learn more about getting kids moving during the school day with Marathon Kids Connect—it’s free!

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Practicing Effective Social Distancing in Physical Education

It’s a brave new world for teachers! With virtual, hybrid, and socially-distanced in-person classes in the mix, educators have a lot to consider when it comes to lesson planning. To help, Marathon Kids is offering a free virtual training series on best practices for teaching safe distance physical education. Educators are invited to attend our free virtual training webinars for ideas on how to modify their physical activity and PE curriculum to cater to a variety of learning environments.

Our first video, “Practicing Effective Social Distancing in Physical Education,” outlines best practices for managing safe distance PE classes and strategies to engage and motivate students. The training will walk you through lesson plan modification strategies, recommendations on how to keep students motivated, and ways technology can simplify your efforts.


Modifications for Social Distancing

First and foremost, we know some things will be out of your control this year and we recommend following all safety regulations set forth by your school, district, or state. 

We recommend you hold lessons outside—weather permitting—as often as possible. For the most part, the outdoors provides ample space and fresh air is always a plus. Whether your class is outside or in, it is important to provide visual markings where you want kids to stand or stay, start, or stop. A simple, organized method is to create a grid formation to space kids out, and/or to stage individual exercises and skill lessons. You can use domes, cones, tape, or spray-painted lines for visual markings. A grid formation will also help lessen any unnecessary physical contact to ensure social distancing.

When planning your classes for the week, we find it best to incorporate rotating lesson plans with limited equipment. If Class One used X equipment, then have the next class use a different piece of equipment. This saves you time since you will not need to clean equipment in between every class, and you can rotate lessons between grade levels. This method will extend your lesson plans, requiring you to plan less, and this gives time for the equipment to air out making less work for you between classes. 

Rotating lesson plans will also allow the students to feel like their lessons are not repetitive, and keep them engaged. This year, I am sure you are finding that with a limited number of activities and games you can do with limited equipment, changing up the formation or location puts a new spin on things. It can be simple things that spark new interest with kids!

Strategies to Spark Student Interest

Celebrate ALL students who are participating in physical activity, whether they are in-person or learning from home. It is not only about being the top athlete, for some students it’s about achieving their personal goals, building endurance to help them in the sport they play, being a part of a team, and having fun. Be consistent when you reward students, classes, grades, or whole-school achievements. Keep it simple. Kids love to hear their name or class announced. This is another layer of rewarding and celebrating kids, which gives a boost to teachers and highlights the team effort! 

Keeping your runners updated is key to sustaining motivation to stay active and increase participation. The benefit of Marathon Kids Connect, our free PE platform, is the ability to track your student’s physical activity achievements, even during periods of remote or hybrid learning. Not only can students stay updated on their progress through the parent and student dashboards, but Marathon Kids Connect’s reporting feature can help you amplify your school’s physical activity success. 

Spread the word about the great work your students are doing to stay active by creating a visual bulletin board to highlight their efforts! This helps students feel part of something bigger and helps them to stay motivated, plus it builds buy-in for physical activity and physical education. Look for your most improved student, for the cheerleader of the group, for the one who is always trying their best. Meet students where they are at on their healthy journey, while helping them achieve a more active lifestyle.

As we mentioned, kids love to hear their names. Try picking student leaders to lead warmups or active moves occasionally—even during Zoom PE. This can increase engagement and participation during class.

Another way to keep your students interested is to designate theme days to bring life to routine and add a level of excitement. Maybe on Wellness Wednesdays, kids can do yoga/stretching, line dances, and learn about ways to keep their mind and body healthy.  On Track It Thursdays, one group of kids can run and walk laps while a second group is in a grid formation, holding plank until you call “switch.”  With this strategy, you can track laps with our free digital lap tracking app.    

Data to Support your Program

The Marathon Kids Connect platform gives you data to support physical education and accounts for physical activity in all types of school environments including remote learning! Can you say data at your fingertips?

With Marathon Kids Connect, educators have the ability to track and log kids’ effort. Tracking kids’ miles, active minutes, and efforts will add a layer of motivation and can build a school community centered around physical activity. By tracking students’ progress, you are also giving students an opportunity to set personal goals.

School Admins (like your principal) have access to follow your school’s progress and see the great work you are doing. The Marathon Kids program helps students meet the recommended 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity every day. Additionally, the benefits for participants in our free youth running program go well beyond physical activity, including increased learning capacity, improved classroom behavior, and improved attendance, all of which work toward creating a community of health and wellbeing on campus.

PE coaches have the option to invite parents to the platform. If parents connect to the platform, they will be able to submit miles and physical activity done at home. Marathon Kids Connect’s manual entry feature allows the teacher or coach to accept any form of communication from parents. 

 And kids have their very own ID cards, experience cool technology, and have access to personal dashboards to keep them updated. They will always know what mile they are on when working towards mileage goals.

Technology Working for You

 If you aren’t already using a digital platform for PE management, Marathon Kids Connect is a FREE, innovative digital platform that makes every mile and minute of physical activity count, on campus and at home.

This digital platform and toolset were designed to support educators and give greater transparency and quality data to Marathon Kids, educators, parents, students, and administrators. This platform can track ALL types of physical activity walking, running, and any type of heart-pumping activity throughout the school day. 

About Marathon Kids

Marathon Kids is on a mission to get kids moving. The nonprofit organization offers free physical education programming through Marathon Kids Connect, a cloud-based PE and run club management platform that includes a mobile app for digital activity-tracking.