Gerald Haigh on how to get your pupils to strut their stuff in the PE hall.
Children love to experiment with movement. Take skipping - not with a rope, just "skipping along". It's a sequence of long hops with little steps in between.
It's a way of moving that belongs almost entirely to children and it's not as efficient as running (unless you are in low gravity - look at film of astronauts on the moon). So why do children do it? Because they are still intrigued by, and anxious to try, different ways of moving around. Children aged four have only been confident on two legs for about three and a half years. It's still new and exciting. They want to run, skip, walk, gallop; to run on all fours, roll, crawl, jump sideways.
This project aims to help the young child to improve mobility, balance, strength and fitness, and have fun by seeing how animals move. It also allows the teacher to tap a rich vein of words and sentences for use in English and literacy.
* LEAP LIKE A CAT...
In class: See how the cat leaps. It gathers itself, back legs tucked forward, near the front ones. Then it pushes off with the back legs, forward and up.
In flight, the cat stretches out, reaching forward. It lands on all fours, again with the back feet forward.
In the PE lesson: Try to imitate the cat's leap. Stand on all fours, hands and feet. Bring the legs and feet forward under the body. Push with the legs and leap forward and up.
Reach up and forward with the hands. Land on the feet and let the hands come to the floor again.
Is it as good a leap as a cat can do? Is it as graceful?
Cat words: Leaping, pouncing, stretching, landing, reaching, careful, alert, cautious, sudden, graceful.
* SWING WITH THE APES
In class: See how an ape swings. It grasps a tree branch and hangs from one arm, then swings forward and grasps another branch.
In the PE lesson: If you have beams or horizontal ladders, reach up, hold on and lift your feet. Let your body swing forward. Now grasp the beam with the other hand. Is it comfortable? Could an ape do better? Apes travel in this way, and have long, strong arms and hands.
If you have no apparatus, pretend to grasp a tree branch and hang single-handed. What position will the rest of your body be in? Swing forward and reach up with the other hand. How does your arm and shoulder feel? Move round the hall like an ape.
Ape words: Hanging, swinging, moving, travelling, grooming, thinking, hand-over-hand, branches, tropical forest.
GALLOP LIKE A HORSE
In class: See how the horse gallops. It reaches out with its legs. It has its feet gathered together under its body. It has all its feet off the ground for a moment. It reaches forward with its head.
See how the jockey rides. He stands in the stirrups. He urges the horse forward with his hands and knees.
In the PE lesson: Can you gallop like a horse, but on two legs?
Can you trot like a horse, with knees high?
Gallop and trot round the hall like a horse.
Can you be the jockey? Hold the reins in your hands. Stand, with your feet in the stirrups, and reach forward. Urge your horse on.
Horse words: Galloping, cantering, trotting, whinnying, hooves, mane, power, speed.
Jockey words: Urging, standing, stirrups, saddle.
* STRUT LIKE A HEN
project: movement In class: A hen is a bird that can't fly.
When it walks it moves its head backwards and forwards to balance its steps. It keeps stopping with one claw raised.
A hen looks around first with one eye and then with the other.
When a hen runs, it stretches forward and flaps its wings to help itself along.
In the PE lesson: Walk like a hen. Walk slowly, pushing your head forward and back with each step. Keep stopping, with one foot raised. Balance on the other foot and look around carefully for danger. Then walk on.
If you spot danger, then squawk and run! As you make your escape, stretch forward and down, take long quick strides, flap your arms each side.
Hen words: Balancing, stretching, flapping, pausing, nodding, curious, hesitant, panic, flightless.