Blogs re: Education, Physical Literacy, Health and Active Living

Sep. 2, 2014

Blog #1: 

Have you tried PHANTASTICKS or some other version of juggling sticks or “devil sticks” as this toy is sometimes known?

PHANTASTICKS™ by Prompt Enterprises are by far the most well made and easiest to use juggling stick I have ever come across.  And bonus!! … they are made right here in Canada with locally sourced materials and using local labour!  All this, and they are competitively priced to boot!

I am proud, as a former physical education teacher and consultant, and a school administrator for 18 years, to be representing this company and its brand of juggling stick and helping to market it to schools and school boards.

Did you know about these benefits of Phantasticks?

  1. Benefits for all students
  • they are engaging and easy to use, appealing to already active kids, as well as those who appear reluctant
  • they enhance bilateral coordination
  • they are challenging to individuals as they set goals based on self improvement
  • learning progressions are virtually limitless

      2.  Benefits for students with special needs (These are a great tool to enhance inclusion in a     school setting.)

  • attention issues - they are enjoyable and require attention on many levels helping to calm kids and enhance their ability to focus
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders - they enhance both fine motor and gross motor skills, leading to improved quality of life and also facilitate social interactions

     3.  Why choose the PHANTASTICKS brand?

  • specifically designed to be easier to play for younger kids due to the fact the sticks are engineered with exceptionally lightweight materials, an air-resisting flower, and a unique, sticky, ribbing pattern.
  • high quality materials and craftsmanship make them tremendously durable.
  • they cost less than poorly constructed, hard to use, imported sticks
  • this is a Canadian company that believes in a responsible business model, employing people within our community and purchasing all our materials from North American suppliers. 

 Many teachers and school Principals have tried these out in their schools as part of their P.E. program and have been exceptionally pleased with them.  Teachers, and especially kids, love ‘em!!

 Will you give these a try in your program?  See the PHE Canada website store (http://www.phecanada.ca/store/?___store=english) for one place to purchase these at special prices for school quantities.  Let me know what you think!

[Please make your responses / add your comments in the comment section at the bottom of the Blog page of this website.]

Aug. 24, 2014

Blog #1:

 What are your thoughts on climbing walls for school gymnasiums?

 Here are some of mine, just to get some dialogue going with physical educators and school administrators.  I do hope you join in on this if you have an opinion on the topic or have been considering the acquisition of such a facility for your school.

 I recently retired from public education following 41 years as a classroom and physical education specialist teacher, a District level PHE Consultant, a national Director of Quality Daily Physical Education with CAHPERD (now PHE Canada), and a school VP and principal.  I have worked in schools in two provinces and have travelled extensively throughout Canada meeting with teachers and school officials.

Based on this extensive experience and the points I will mention below, I have come to believe that climbing walls, particularly traverse walls (i.e. focus is on horizontal travel rather than climbing for height), should become as common in K-8 school gyms as basketball hoops! 

I believe that the Southampton Climbing Frames (and similar facilities) that have been a popular major feature in most elementary school gyms in Canada for over 40 years are wearing out and becoming hard or impossible to get parts for.  I believe they are also becoming a liability school district officers, principals and teachers no longer are willing to endure.  Those structures may not be able to be well maintained.   Many teachers are concerned about their personal lack of knowledge and ability in their use and the resultant fear of student injury.  Principals share those concerns and see the units folded up in the gym with very infrequent use.

I see traverse climbing walls as the ideal alternative to / replacement for these gym climbing frames!

Kids love to climb!!  Opportunities for climbing in many of today’s children’s environments are scarce.  Outdoor (and indoor!) rock climbing is a lifetime healthy pursuit growing in popularity with adolescents and adults.   Young children need easy access to climbing facilities to help them develop basic climbing skills to raise their awareness of the recreational opportunities of climbing in their world today.

Benefits of climbing on these walls include: 

PHYSICAL SKILLS

  • Muscular strength
  • Cardiovascular fitness
  • Muscular endurance
  • Flexibility
  • Coordination and balance

SOCIAL SKILLS

  • Cooperation
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Leadership

 EMOTIONAL SKILLS

  • Self esteem
  • Perseverance
  • Courage
  • Positive risk-taking

 COGNITIVE SKILLS

  • Problem solving
  • Focus and concentration
  • Math and reading skills

Traverse climbing walls require no safety equipment other than mats to pad the floor at the foot of the wall (and to pad the wall when the mats are raised and attached to close off climbing).  Climbers are never more that 3 to 4 feet above the floor mats.  Teachers require very little professional development to feel confident in leading safe and appropriate lessons.  These walls lend themselves to a wide array of activities and games that promote and enhance cross-curricular learning in addition to the obvious physical development.

So, what do you think?? 

[To make your responses / add your comments to this blog, click on "Overview" below, click on the title of this blog, and fill in the comment section at the bottom of the page.]