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Physical education teacher instills life fitness habits

Staff writer

Like it or not, dodgeball is not a life skill.

The game is a quintessential P.E. classic, but physical education teacher Nicki Case feels a responsibility to teach her students more than just the rules to games they likely won’t play after high school.

“Most of these kids aren’t going to play sports for a living,” Case said. “Nobody grows up to play professional kickball.”

With that in mind, Case has used a different approach when teaching her classes at the elementary school.

“I try to do things with them that they’ll be able to use for life,” she said.

Case’s curriculum recently was benefited by two donations and a grant she received. A donation from her husband Alex Case provided a ball cart, a jump rope cart, 24 large hula hoops, and two sets of Fit Spots — instructional placards that prompt exercises. One set features cardiovascular exercises, and the other features core exercises.

“That’s the kind of thing that will stick with them once they get out of here,” she said.

She’s used the Fit Spots, which are inserted in special traffic cone-toppers that keep them from getting dirty on the floor, with all her classes. She said while some kids take more easily to it than others, all are doing the workouts.

She also has used yoga exercises with her students. She said while kindergartners may not fully grasp the body-mind connectivity of yoga, learning the moves can familiarize them with the practice, which could help them pick it up later in life.

One of her kindergarten classes used six tumbling mats Thursday to practice somersaults and logrolls, before finishing with some yoga exercises, such as the Superman, in which one lays on their stomach, and lifts their back legs off the ground without bending their knees, and holds their arms straight out — like Superman.

The kindergartners were enthusiastic about trying to emulate the famous super hero, and even though not all had mastered the form, all were participating in the workout.

Case said her students come in with a range of experience at certain activities; while some may be well versed in exercises, others may be trying them for the first time.

“For kids that grow up in houses where fitness isn’t real important, this is an opportunity for them to learn something they can use forever,” she said.

She said donations of new equipment are critical to ensuring that her students have the best resources for developing long-term fitness habits.

She’s still deciding how to use a sizeable donation of thick rubber flooring from the County Seat Decorating Center, and she recently was awarded a $500 grant that she will use to purchase 30 basketballs of various sizes. She said the next item on her wish list is yoga mats.

Case still will play the classic P.E. games with her students, she said. Her classes recently completed a board game unit, in which they converted the rules of board games, such as Chutes and Ladders, into physical activities.

“You should have seen them after Chutes and Ladders. That was their favorite,” she said. “They walked outta here pooped, but they had a blast.”

Last modified March 19, 2015

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