“When can we play that again Mr Ellis?”
As the winter season draws in, many Primary teachers are left scratching their heads at what they can do during their PE sessions. Unfortunately, the fact is the cold weather and lack of suitable kit means lessons in the majority of schools I work in must be taught indoors. This wouldn’t be a problem you would think, although as primary practitioners, we rarely have the luxury of an indoor space worthy of conducting high quality PE for our class of up to 30 children (sometimes more!). Unfortunately, this is the harsh reality of primary PE and it really hits home when the only indoor space to teach is a classroom with the tables and chairs moved to the side.
By no means do I think lessons MUST be taught indoors at this time of the year, in fact, far from it. If I had my way I would be delivering PE lessons outside, whatever the weather (within reason). Despite the darker nights and poorer weather, this time of the year is perfect for an orienteering block of work. In my opinion this can be done wearing uniform with the children bundled up in their coats, hats and scarves if need be, thus erasing the ‘lack of suitable kit’ issue. If you haven’t yet, check out an amazing orienteering resource and scheme of work by British Orienteering here.
This podcast and blog is all about a PE activity called The Team Challenge Maze (PDF here). It is a great activity that can be done outdoors, but more importantly, indoors too, EVEN WITH LIMITED SPACE!
I first saw this concept delivered to year 9 children in my days as a high school cover supervisor by a group of visiting officers from the army. I was so impressed by it that even now, six years on, it is etched in my memory as clear as day. Last week I delivered it to a year 5/6 class and it was incredible. So what is the ‘Team Challenge Maze’? I hear you ask. Well, download the PDF above and read on…
Setup: Use cones/coloured spots and place them down to form a grid that is 5×5 cones, thus a total of 25 cones used. I usually allow 1m between cones but this can be adjusted depending on space available.
How to play: The children are split up into groups of anywhere between 4 to 8 depending on numbers available. One child from the group is the designated map-reader. The map-reader stands at the opposite side of the marked maze, keeping the map hidden from view of their team. The rest of the team then take turns trying to work out the correct path through the maze. The children can only move sideways, forwards or backwards (no diagonals).
- Child one walks to the start square and stands inside it.
- Child one decides if they want to move forwards/sideways and does so.
- If they guess correct, the map-reader calls ‘YES!’ then they continue.
- If incorrect then the map reader calls out ‘NO!’ This child then joins their team in the line.
- Another member of the team then approaches the start square and follows in their teammates footsteps to the point the error occurred. They then choose a different path.
- If correct they continue.
- If incorrect then the next team member takes over.
This is a continuous process until the team correctly navigate their way through the maze. Once successful, they swap map-readers and are given a new maze to solve. You can then add in progressions such as limits on communication (only non-verbal allowed) and even have races between teams to see who can finish their maze the quickest.
I realise that there is limited ‘Physical Activity’ in this session, and believe me, I am always ‘for’ intense exercise and raising the heart rate, but this activity brings so many other benefits to the forefront of their learning. The children must communicate to each other to help guide and remember which steps were correct/incorrect. They improve listening skills, develop leadership qualities and become better at working together to achieve a common goal.
I think a great gauge of how well the session went is on how much the children enjoyed it. Immediately after the session several children approached me asking:
“When can we play that again Mr Ellis?”
I urge you, the PE Umbrella community to give this a go yourself! You will not regret it!
I’ll catch you all next time ‘Under the Umbrella”.