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Touch base first

Co-Ed Recreational Games

By John Byl

pound;14.50

Station Games

By Maggie Carol Burk

pound;12

Both available from Human Kinetics Tel: 01132781708 www.humankinetics.com

Co-Ed Recreational Games would be more useful to a play worker than a teacher. For a start, the underlying philosophy, viewing games as a bit of fun and a release from the classroom, is flawed.

John Byl, professor of PE in Ontario, Canada, explains that we ought to think about what we teach before the lesson: make sure children - sorry, students - are sitting still and listening before we speak to them and never use walls as finish lines in case children run into them. Thanks John, never would have guessed any of that.

The whole book is very North American, with activities such as coin flipping, tug of war, thumb wrestling, slapsies and, yes, rubber chicken flinging. Others are little more than "Who can do the longest handstand?"

or "Let's play a game of soccer" - don't forget that you have to kick the ball - and lack imagination.

Some of the basketball and baseball activities could be used as invasion or striking and fielding games, but as a whole they lack elements of skill development, opportunities for observation, analysis and assessment.

By contrast, Maggie Burk's Station Games is more useful both in terms of content and process. Numerous examples of the organisation of a playing area into a number of different areas or stations, each of which contains a discrete activity are given - with children alternating between them during the course of a lesson or module.

Many of the activities are ideal for warm ups, cool downs and skill development - particularly if the children are familiar with initial skills. Although not national curriculum-specific, lesson organisation is clear, with objectives, recommended resources and diagrams showing layout.

The station concept itself can be extended to allow basic tactical or compositional ideas to be explored, although few examples of this are given. Neither are the opportunities for observation, analysis, reflection and assessment, to which this particular form of organisation lends itself to so well. Furthermore, the introduction of skills requiring demonstration or the reinforcement of more complex skills and tactical ideas might be taught more effectively by other methods.

Nevertheless, the book provides a detailed look at an effective teaching method, containing ideas of practical use, particularly at key stages 1 and 2.

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