I don’t know about you, but somewhere around the real beginning of fall, I start losing kids. There is just something about the crisp fall air and football season that grabs their attention.
Now, mind you, we live in Alabama, where the normal outside temperature during recess is about 95 degrees with 100% humidity. Seriously, sometimes the playground equipment is not used because the bars are too hot to touch. So, naturally, when the weather finally cools kids love to play outside.
But, what about inside? Easy answer – engaging sports activities!
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I have some fabulous ideas to share about keeping the attention of your elementary kids! It’s all sports related!
- Try an Escape Room- with and without locks!
- Grab a Free STEM Challenge
- Try a Sports STEM Challenge
- Add a Sports Book!
Sounds like fun, right? Your kids will love these!
Sports Escape Room
The invention of these locked box events has grabbed my students’ attention for sure. They love solving the riddles, math problems, and coordinated grids to find lock codes that unlock those boxes! The idea with our newest Escape Room is to use sports in a really fun way. Students solve math problems, a word search puzzle, and use a football field on a coordinated grid. They follow clues to posters displayed around the room and discover the lock codes to unlock the boxes.
Here’s where this really became fun! I made the posters for this Escape Room to resemble a Sports News Show (like ESPN). I had so much fun designing these posters and all the logos for each network. The five posters were displayed around our classroom and I told them the posters were like television screens- each tuned into a different sports network. Think about a restaurant that has lots of televisions! They loved it!
After opening the last locked box we had EVEN MORE fun! I added a little something to this Escape Room! After completing the locked box tasks students participated in three sporting events. I set up a basketball shooting area, a football kicking area, and a baseball pitching area. Don’t worry- we used ping pong balls or paper footballs. (Our basketball area was a plastic basket taped to the wall and the kids tried to land ping pong balls inside it. Super easy to set up!)
Each team kept a scorecard of the points earned on each locked box and then a score for each of the sporting events. I think this Escape Room is going to turn out to be our favorite!
If you are not up for locked boxes at this time I also have a sports escape that is totally paper!
Escape the Game
With these “No-Locks” escapes students complete paper/pencil tasks and earn something along the way.
This event is called Escape the Game. Students will complete 4 tasks. Each task will lead to a number or word clue. When the answer is shown to you, students have unlocked that task and will be awarded a basketball card. After getting through the last task the team has Escaped the Game.
The four tasks are:
- Using a coordinate grid with a basketball court background
- Reading passage about the invention of basketball
- Match basketball vocabulary to meanings
- Logic puzzle about the size shoe worn by basketball players
Are You Ready for Some Foosball?
I just happen to have a free Sports challenge that you can grab in my store. This challenge is super easy to set up. Students just need shoe boxes, wide craft sticks, markers, and masking tape. I have used hot glue guns with this challenge, but masking tape also works very well. The kids decorate their foosball players and have a fierce competition trying out all the foosball models!
The soccer challenge has students making the soccer goal and the attached goalie. My favorite part of this one is seeing how the students decorate the goalie. Can you see that aggressive look on the goalie in the above photo? The soccer challenge has an interesting requirement that the goalie is attached to the goal in some way. I added this rule to make this one more challenging. (By the way, notice the eyelashes on the goalie above!)
We also enjoy the basketball challenge. In this task, students have to build the backboard which includes the goal and its net. Then they have to build a catapult that will toss the basketball through the net! The netting fabric I use for these challenges is called mesh. I have tried tulle but found it to be really flimsy. The mesh was purchased at Wal Mart and for about $3 I grabbed enough to do the soccer and basketball challenges and have plenty left over for next year.
My students love this one! They have to build the football goal posts and a catapulting system to kick the ball through the uprights. I have tried many different footballs for this challenge- including the vinyl one in the above photo. It is actually way too large and heavy for their catapults. What works the best for all these sports challenges is just a simple ping-pong ball!
Sports Reading Passages!
This set includes four reading passages. These are provided in two reading levels- an easier and a more challenging. The reading selections include a passage celebrating famous African-American athletes, a passage about three famous women athletes, a passage about field events, and a passage about lacrosse. The passage about field events is further provided in two versions- either a metric measurement or an American standard version.
Are you looking for great read-aloud books?
The perfect introduction to a sports theme in the classroom is to read a book. I have two amazing books to suggest for you!
Crash by Jerry Spinelli
My all-time favorite read-aloud chapter book for kids. I read this to my third graders every single year. And I cry in parts of it- every single year. If you have not read this book- go grab it right now!
This is the story of a young boy nicknamed Crash. When he is about 6 years old he meets a new neighbor, named Penn Webb. Crash, characteristically, makes fun of Penn every chance he gets, especially when he discovers Penn’s parents are older, he lives in a very small house and has one toy. Penn is also a Quaker.
Which means he doesn’t play rough, fight, name call, talk back, etc. This is quite foreign to Crash.
Flash forward a few years and the boys are now in middle school. Crash has a new friend, named Mike, and the two set about to totally demean and bully Penn whenever they can. Like pouring mustard in his shoes or tearing up Penn’s homework.
I will tell you that the reactions of my third graders whenever we read those parts about the bullying were always amazing to see. It made them really understand bullying in a different way. They loved Penn and did not like the way he was treated.
The story then moves into the Penn relay races. The setting for this story is Pennsylvania and the school system takes part in a relay team event every year. The kids have to try out to make the team. Crash, of course, is an athlete and plans to try out. So does Penn. Think about it- his name is Penn. It turns out that his great-grandfather once ran the same relays and Penn wants to run and be part of the winning team.
The final tryout comes down to a race off between Crash and Penn. Who will win? I am not telling you, but I will say that this is one of the points in this book that always made me cry. What happens is an astounding moment and one I whispered as I read it to my students.
It’s a fabulous book that all kids love. Boys love because it’s about football. But it’s more than that. It’s also about a family and the things that go on as kids grow up. It is a great story to teach about bullying and friendship and how to treat people. And it works perfectly while you are completing some sports activities!
Teammates by Peter Golenbock
This is an amazing little picture book! It’s the story of Jackie Robinson becoming the first African-American professional baseball player.
In the 1940’s Jackie joined the Brooklyn Dodgers and then endured mistreatment from others on the team and from the crowds that came to watch games. He was booed, called names, and was not part of the travel arrangements with the rest of the team.
The book begins with a history the Negro Baseball league and how those teams played only other teams in the same league. The differences between their league and professional baseball are noted as well. Then the manager for the Dodgers, Branch Rickey, decides to find a perfect baseball player that will integrate the pro league. He chooses Jackie Robinson.
Jackie handles his mistreatment with an astounding grace and just keeps playing great baseball. Then one day a crowd at the Cincinnati field is being particularly cruel with booing and taunts at Jackie. The Dodgers shortstop, Pee Wee Reese, has finally had enough. He walks to Jackie and puts an arm around him- a sure signal to the fans that Jackie is his teammate. Pee Wee let the crowd know, “I am standing by him. He is my teammate.”
This is a beautiful book with such a strong message of friendship and hope. It’s also perfect for encouraging teamwork in a STEM class!
There you have it STEM friends– engaging sports events in the classroom will keep your students involved and completing tasks without realizing they are still doing some school work! Just click on any of the images to see these resources in my store.
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