Fresh school sports ideas for primary PE teachers
National School Sport Week will take place between the 19th and 25th of June 2021 where pupils are encouraged to celebrate and enjoy PE and school sports!
With this in mind it’s a great time to ask yourself: what school sports will really benefit my class? How can we all get our learners moving more in an already tightly-squeezed curriculum?
There is no reason why children of primary school age can’t enjoy a whole range of different sporting activities.
That said, some sports may have to be modified to ensure they are safe and appropriate for younger children, such as using mini-footballs instead of hockey balls, and tagging rather than tackling in rugby.
To freshen up your PE lesson planning, think about what resources you have available, and what sporting activity is already taught in your school.
Top school sports for primary PE teaching and learning
As a brief reminder, here's some common and popular sports played in primary schools up and down the country:
- Basketball/ Netball – fantastic for balance, dexterity and hand-eye coordination.
- Football – build stamina and develop problem-solving and communication skills.
- Dodgeball – a fun team game that can be played with slightly older children on a rainy day!
- Swimming – superb for flexibility, stamina and safety; every child should know how to swim!
- Gymnastics – gymnastics requires strength, agility and flexibility.
- Athletics – athletics is great because it incorporates a broad range of events and activities; there's something for everyone!
- Hockey – hockey is a great team sport and improves fitness and dexterity.
- Rugby – simple rules, and safer than traditional rugby, too; an ideal team sport for young learners.
- Tennis – children are never too young to start learning tennis - it’s a fun and social sport - even if you don’t have a court you can make a makeshift one in the gym or playground!
- Dance – dance clubs are great for children who want to have fun and stay healthy at the same time.
Which of these sports are you already teaching? Which could you start teaching with the resources your school already has?
To help, we've created some free downloadable Sports Photo Cards which you can use in a variety of ways. They can be used to label areas in your PE store, as part of a display or noticeboard, or as prompts to get children thinking about the skills and equipment they will be using.
We know your timetable is already full, so here are some achievable ways to get your class moving more.
At PlanBee we are passionate about learning, and we always try to include activities that will get your class moving during their lessons in a meaningful way.
Think less along the lines of reciting times tables while doing star jumps and more about creating opportunities to make lessons more practical.
Maths lessons are a great place to start. Why don’t you get your class giving and following position and direction instructions to create shapes in this Which direction? lesson.
If you are learning about space then you could get your class to measure the length of their jumps in this Neil Armstrong: Gravity lesson.
The possibilities are endless: you can be as creative as you like.
How can more time doing sport benefit your class?
There are lots of fantastic benefits of physical education and it is important that primary school children are involved in sports regularly. Some of the skills and benefits include:
- Teamwork – learning about how to work in a team and be a team player is very important and a skill children need in many aspects of life.
- Communication – it’s great for young children to practise and develop their communication skills in a sporting context.
- Social Skills – school sports provide excellent opportunities for children to work with their peers and socialise with others.
- Resilience and perseverance – sports are about finding your strengths and weaknesses, learning how to be a graceful winner, how to cope with losing, and how to improve your personal bests.
- Concentration – sports provide the perfect context in which to learn about the importance of concentration. If you don’t concentrate you won’t catch the ball or get from one end of the balance beam to the other.
- Health and Fitness – keeping children fit and healthy is at the heart of what we, as teachers, aim to achieve. Providing opportunities for children to part in regular sports and exercise is key.
But don't take our word for it! We asked teachers on Twitter (Tweachers, as they're known!) what advice they'd give other teachers looking to instil a love of sports in their learners:
Sport can be apart of everyday life from maths to history. And there’s defs a sport for everyone so just give a wide variety to all kids and I’m sure they’ll find one they love!
My advice would be to make it as inclusive, setting challenges for each ability allowing them to achieve success! I would also say to get involved with PE and be a role model for all :)
Give as many different types and levels of sporting opportunities as possible. Not everyone will want to play in a school team, but most would love a competition with their classmates.
If you have some advice of your own which you'd like to share, why not join the conversation:
— PlanBee (@PlanBeeTeaching) April 29, 2019
Making sports a little different and enjoyable for your class
One of the most important elements of introducing young children to sports is to make sure they enjoy them. For many children, being forced into games and sporting activities they don’t enjoy can feel miserable! Your learners may well have preconceived ideas of their own abilities in sport.
As teachers, it is our responsibility to be sensitive to children who may feel shy, self-conscious or less able to do sports than others, and try to encourage and accommodate them.
Linking your PE lesson to the topic your class are learning about can be a great way of approaching an area of PE from a different angle.
Here at PlanBee, we've created PE lesson planning for a variety of cross-curricular topics. With these plans (or your own), children can learn play Ancient Roman games, create an Egyptian dance, or a learn a traditional Inuit Dance. Get creative and pick an area or a skill to compliment your cross-curricular teaching and see what happens!
Primary school is the place where children first get introduced to sports and exercise. If you teach it right you can instil in children a lifelong love of sports, fitness and exercise. The important thing is to encourage your pupils and make primary school sports as fun and inclusive as possible!