My best lesson - A race to learn how our bodies function

14th February 2014 at 00:00

The lesson I always enjoy is about body awareness. The children, who are aged 4-5, usually work on the topic of the body for three weeks and, in the last lesson, they have to apply all the understanding and knowledge they have acquired. By body awareness, I am referring to whether students can name parts of the body and whether they know how each part moves and what its function is.

The children start by lining up behind a cone in two teams. I explain the rules of the game: this will be a relay race to draw a life-size picture of the human body, using their own bodies as a template.

A teaching assistant and I each place ourselves at the head of a team, with a large sheet of paper and a pen. On my call, the first student in each team has to run towards us. As I call out the name of a body part, the child has to lie on the sheet of paper and point to that part. If they are correct then the teaching assistant or I draw around that body part. If not, the child returns to their team.

Eventually, the teams get to the point where the main outline of the body is complete, so then it is time to fill in the detail. This time, when I call out the body part - eye, mouth, hair, and so on - the child has to draw that element themselves.

They're racing to win, so it's a manic but fun game that is full of learning. At the end, I hold up the drawings so that the students can assess whether everything is present as it should be. There are usually a couple of corrections to make.

The genius of this lesson is that the students are always engaged in the game, even when it is not their turn. They work together constantly, offering each other advice and pointers. This is true even when they are waiting in line, so the game builds teamwork skills as children assist and cheer on their friends.

Cristina Polisaitis Oliveira is a physical education teacher at St Paul's School in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

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