The Lower School physical education program provides opportunities for students to express themselves through movement. In the primary grades, classes focus on fine and gross motor skills, balance, spatial awareness, flexibility, endurance, strength and coordination. Activities are lively and fun, making use of a wide variety of equipment, ranging from bean bags to beach balls, whiffle bats, scoops, and foam paddles.
Competition is kept to a minimum and cooperative games are included in most lessons. The 3rd-5th grade program encourages students to build endurance through a gradually increasing running challenge, which culminates in a one-mile run. Also in these later elementary grades, team sports are introduced, along with the concept of rules and sport-specific skills.
In Kindergarten through fifth grade, all three sections of the class participate in gym together, allowing the teachers to divide the group into different configurations. Lower school physical education classes meet three times per six-day cycle.
In kindergarten, emphasis is on the development of gross and fine motor skills, spatial awareness and the concept of following directions. Classes always begin with a warm up activity that covers a variety of skills and addresses all fitness levels. Locomotive movements such as hopping, galloping, leaping, jumping, skipping, running and walking are practiced daily. Using various pieces of equipment (yarn balls, scarves, bean bags, beach balls, spider balls, balloons, soft rubber balls, scoops, foam paddles, whiffle-balls and bats), we begin developing throwing, catching and striking skills. Kindergarteners work on hand-eye and eye-foot coordination on both their dominant and non-dominant sides. Gymnastics is part of the winter schedule, addressing areas of balance, flexibility, endurance and strength.
First graders continue to develop large and small motor skills, spatial awareness, balance and coordination. Warm-up activities are energetic and lively, designed to welcome and include children of all ability levels. Children practice a variety of movements using their legs (hopping, galloping, leaping, jumping, skipping, running and walking) and their arms (throwing, catching and striking with yarn balls, juggling scarves, bean bags, beach balls, spider balls, balloons, soft rubber balls, scoops, foam paddles, whiffle-balls and bats.) Hand-eye and eye-foot coordination continue to improve as children practice all skills on both their dominant and non-dominant sides. Gymnastics and cooperative games are part of the program as well.
Second graders continue practicing and improving their muscular control, balance, and stamina. Each unit contains a “challenge” in the form of a goal to achieve through fun games and new ways of fine-tuning techniques. Beanbag tossing, “elbow tag,” jump ropes, scooters, parachutes, juggling, hula hoops, rugs, and obstacle courses all become part of the fun. Children refine skills through simulations such as “guarding the castle,” “astronaut drills,” “frog pond,” “giants, elves and wizards,” and “island hopping.”
Third graders learn new skills and practice cooperative play in large and small groups. Games and activities emphasize physical fitness, sportsmanship, teamwork, hand-eye coordination and eye-foot coordination. Games become more advanced and children begin to learn the basic skills and rules of many sports, including soccer, Frisbee, field hockey, basketball, flag football, floor hockey, softball, baseball, volleyball, lacrosse and badminton. Skills are practiced, then put to use in modified games. Units in gymnastics give further practice with tumbling, balance, coordination and strength. Juggling and bowling are added, and third graders run the mile in both the fall and spring. Weekly five-minute runs help them work on pacing and build up their endurance for what is most kids' first attempt at a mile run.
The three sections of fourth grade participate in physical education together and are divided by the three faculty members for activities. This course stresses daily physical exercise and the further development of individual and team skills. Soccer, field hockey, football, basketball, gymnastics, floor hockey, baseball, softball, juggling, volleyball and badminton are explored more thoroughly and extensively, stressing the basics in skill and rules for team play. The mile run is also done in the fall and spring. Many modified games and large group games are played throughout the year.
Our goal in physical education at this level is to provide strenuous exercise, develop athletic skills and promote team cooperation. The fifth grade can be broken up in various ways depending on the activities chosen for the class. Activities include field hockey, Frisbee, soccer and football in the fall; basketball, volleyball, juggling, floor hockey and gymnastics in the winter; baseball, softball, lacrosse and badminton in the spring. The mile run is also done in the fall and spring. Many other modified games and large group games are played throughout the year.
Computer coding is an interactive, hands-on pursuit at Foote. For a third grade STEM project, students design robots using LEGOs and program their movements using click-and-drag Scratch coding.