Active Schools Flag - Physical Education

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In Mt. Anville every class has 60 minutes PE per week with a specialist PE teacher. From time to time external instructors or coaches from different sporting organisations come in and teach additional lessons in specific sports, e.g. Gaelic Football, Camogie, Tag Rugby, Cricket and Dance. We are very lucky to have a big field and a basketball court behind the school that can be used in dry weather. Indoor PE takes place in the hall, sometimes in the Madeline Sophie Room (multi-purpose room).

PE is divided into 6 strands which are all taught here:

  • Athletics
  • Games
  • Gymnastics
  • Dance
  • Outdoor and Adventure
  • Aquatics

Athletics

In the younger classes the focus of Athletics is on developing the Fundamental Movement Skills (FMS) of walking, running, jumping, hopping, skipping and throwing. We use a variety of equipment like poly spots, skipping ropes, hoola hoops, cones, skittles, agility ladders, beanbags and foam javelins. We do individual work, partner work and group work.

In the older classes the added element of competition comes into play, often in the form of team competitions. But the main aim is still to have fun and mastering the different skills at everybody’s individual pace. We learn the basics of Sprint, Relay, Hurdles, Long Jump, High Jump, Shot Put, Javelin, Discus and Long distance running.

Once a year “Who is the best?” becomes the important question – when a team for the Athletics Cumann na mBunscol in Santry has to be picked. The enthusiasm every year is amazing, with often 40 girls trying out for 2 spots in a particular discipline. We have a successful history in this competition.

A few years ago we started the “Run a Mile” initiative. Every class from 1st class up runs a mile around the field at least twice a week. We have seen an improvement in fitness and also in concentration and alertness in the classroom.

In June every year, 5th and 6th class take part in the “Irish Life Health School Mile Challenge”. The initiative is aimed at secondary school children but we felt 5th and 6th class would be well-able for it and benefit from it. Every student runs a mile in Deerpark and depending on their time they earn coloured coded wristbands. So it’s not a race against each other but against the clock. The colours are a great motivator and the girls really push themselves to achieve the colour they are aiming for.

Games

Infant classes play a lot of playground games in PE. They learn the concepts of following rules and playing fair. They practice different ball handling skills like rolling, throwing, catching and kicking.

From 1st class on these skills are used in mini-games, like benchball or tunnel rounders, where rules and skills are simplified. They also learn to deal with winning and losing. They are introduced to racket games like badminton and tennis. We use balloons first to slow down the game in order to learn the right technique and improve hand-eye-coordination.

The senior end of the school play bigger games like Basketball, Uni-hoc, Soccer, Gaelic Football, Rounders, Badminton, Olympic Handball and Tag Rugby.

Dodgeball is a much-loved game in the school. One of the highlights is the Teacher vs. 6th class match during Active Week with fierce battles on the court.

Gymnastics

The standard of gymnastics is quite high in Mt. Anville as a lot of the students attend the after-school gymnastics club here in the school. We are able to use the club’s equipment, like wedges, soft beams, springboards, vaults and trampolines – which makes teaching skills like rolling and balancing safer and also more fun. Students learn classic gymnastics moves like different rolls, cartwheel, balances like arabesque, bridge, tabletop, handstand and shoulderstand, and jumps like straight, tuck and star jumps. As an extra challenge they try to transfer these moves onto a bench or beam. Partner moves are also done, like the Horizontal Pairs, Bunk Bed, Partner Bridge Balance, Counter Balances and Airplane. Students are encouraged to link moves they have mastered into a short routine. From 3rd class up, they create longer routines in pairs or small groups and perform them in front of the class. Every year the creativity, teamwork and athletic ability displayed impresses the audience (PE teacher, class teacher and sometimes our principal).

A highlight every year is the use of our climbing frame which consists of ladders and monkey bars. On those days the hall looks like a big playground.

Dance

We identified Dance as the strand we would like some CPD in.

The Strand Units taught in PE at the moment are Creative Dance and Folk Dance. Especially the younger classes enjoy creating dances using the concept of “Magic Dust” that makes different body parts move. We also have Sammy, the Skeleton, visit and dance with us.

Our PE teacher comes from Austria so every class learns some Austrian Folk Dances. Some of them are displayed to the whole school and visitors on Multicultural Day.

Irish Folk Dances are taught during Seachtain na Gaeilge, Every class takes part in a Céilí and the whole school dances “Shoe the Donkey” in the yard.

We are very lucky to have Kate Buckley School of Dance on board during Active Week. Every year Kate organizes a Flash Mob which every class is involved in. She also helps with the choreography of the 6th class musical.

Outdoor and Adventure Activities

Orienteering is enjoyed by all the classes. Children learn to follow a trail, to find certain features in our school garden and our field, to locate controls hidden under cones and record their findings on a control card. They also learn how to read and draw maps.

They love looking for controls hidden around the school grounds by identifying the hiding place through either photos or maps. Infants do their recording by colouring or drawing symbols, the older classes look for letters and try to spell words.

All the activities in this strand are done in pairs or small groups so social skills and team work are developed. They also do a lot of running without noticing because they are so busy concentrating on the task.

We have plans to take some classes to Ticknock to try out the Coillte orienteering course there. Watch this space for more information.

Aquatics

Unfortunately we are currently not going to any swimming lessons because the local pool has been closed. But every class is taught the Irish Water Safety Programme in the classroom.

Other

This year we implemented the “Mini Me Yoga” programme in PE. It is a simple 15-20 minute fun yoga and mindfulness program which helps children learn how to release stress. It consists of breathing exercises, yoga poses and meditation.


Healthy eating

In the month of February, the Active School Flag committee has been busy promoting healthy eating and nutrition.

A fruit and vegetable tracker was sent out for the girls to track how many pieces of fruit and vegetables they were eating each day.

There has been lots of learning taking place in all of the classes. Here’s a snippet of some of the activities that the classes have been undertaking.

In Junior Infants the girls discussed healthy lunches and created healthy lunchboxes in art. They also tried some new fruits like avocado, mango and grapefruit.

1st class undertook the taste challenge whereby the girls were offered the opportunity to try a wide variety of fruit and vegetables. Many chose to do this blindfolded! It was a fantastic opportunity for all to discuss the different tastes and textures, along with nutritional value, attributed to this food group. Great fun was had by all with many acquiring a new love of beetroot and avocado! There was also some interesting combinations of fruit and vegetables mixed together too!

2nd class looked at how they can increase their vegetable intake in some of their favourite meals. In art they made healthy burgers and added lots of tasty vegetables like lettuce, tomatoes and onions. They also compared food today and in the past and made butter using cream and lots of elbow grease!

In 6th class the girls researched the six nutrients. They looked up foods that are good sources of protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water and they discovered the role of these nutrients in the body. They also tried some new fruits and vegetables like sugar snaps, spinach, courgette, pomegranate and passionfruit. The girls agreed that these would make good lunch time snacks and were surprised how tasty some of the vegetables were!

We also had a nutritionist Laura Willard from ‘Nutri-talks’who came in to talk to us about healthy eating and how it can help us to become more active! We got to make a ‘healthy plate’ with her and we learnt all about the new food pyramid and why we need to stay hydrated during exercise!

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Pictures of talk from nutritionist Laura Willard from Nutritalks.

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School break-time ideas

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