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Karen Nagle Bagby's

Activities, Lesson Plans, and Teaching Philosophy

Karen Nagle Bagby


PFA Fitness Circuit and Run
PFA Lucky Draw (1-4th Grade)
Healthy Heart with PFA
PFA & Spin the Wheel
Hoover PFA Monkey Club
Movement Education & More
P. E. Extension Activities
Karen’s Teaching Philosophy

cartoon of Karen Bagby
A sixth-grader's view of an
elementary physical education teacher!

PFA Fitness Circuit and Run

Hoover PFA Monkey Club Member


has climbed to the top of the Project Fit America pole to become a member of the Hoover PFA Monkey Club!


Equipment: PFA stations, 4 cone hurdles spaced evenly around perimeter of PFA area, music if possible

Number the students off by seven. Assign each group to one of the seven PFA stations. Show students what they are expected to do at each station. Make sure each station keeps two students busy. The students are to do both activities before moving on to the next PFA station. But, before the student can advance to the next PFA station, he/she must do one lap around the perimeter of the PFA area, leaping each of the four hurdles on his/her way around. Make sure students know the direction in which they are to rotate. Variation: students are to crawl under the hurdles.

PFA: Lucky Draw (1st - 4th Graders)   top of page

Equipment: PFA stations, playing cards #1 - 7, container of rubber bands

Begin by having the student move throughout the PFA area without touching any of the equipment. Suggested movements: have students walk with big steps, each student gives as many others as they can a friendly hand shake, touch as many different PFA stations as you can, etc. After each movement and a short period of time, the teacher blows the whistle, which signals the students to jog to a PFA station and begin using it properly. Limit 3 to 5 students at a station. Then, the teacher calls over one student who draws a card from the teacher. If card number two is drawn, all the students at station two "win" a point. They each get one rubber band to wear around his/her wrist. Repeat the procedure with a anew movement. Students must go all seven stations before repeating a station. Which students can get three points first? When he/she does, that student calls out, "Project Fit America"!

Healthy Heart with PFA                             top of page

Equipment: four different colored foam balls (or tagging hands) with each representing a different risk factor. Black - smoking, yellow - junk food, blue - inactivity, red - stress; one larger white gator ball for the "healthy heart"; boundary markers for the playing area

Boundary markers for the game are indicated on the field next to PFA. Give a risk factor ball to four students who will all be "it." They run to tag the others. If tagged, the student must freeze and call out, "Healthy Heart, I need exercise!" This signals the person with the white gator ball to pass it to the frozen player. The frozen person who now has the ball then looks for someone else who is frozen to free. When he/she passes the ball onto this second frozen player, the student goes to a PFA station of his/her choice, does it, and then is back in he game. Variation: make the game a speed walking game only; or allow students to throw the risk factor balls.

PFA and Spin the Wheeltop of page

Equipment: PFA equipment, PFA sinner (see below), drum

Students begin moving around the outside perimeter of the PFA area. Play the drum according to how you would like them to move (skip, march, jump, run on tiptoes, etc.). When the drum stops, students must run to a PFA station and FREEZE. No more than 3 - 4 students per station. The teacher calls a student over to "spin the wheel." Students at the station number where the spinner stops, give the teacher a friendly five, then run one lap around the area while the rest of the students (who didn't get "caught") do the PFA station they chose. Repeat the procedure. If the spinner lands on #8, the teacher is caught and must run one lap (or do a PFA station that the students request)! The students love it when the teacher gets caught! How many of the students never get caught? How many get caught more than twice?

Spinner direction: use a paper plate and divide it into enough pie pieces that #1 - 8 are listed twice. Numbers 1 - 7 are to correspond with the PFA stations. Number 8 is the teacher's turn (see below). Punch a hole in the middle and attach a spinner.

#1 - Step Test
#2 - Parallel Bars
#3 - Horizontal Ladder
#4 - Sit Up
#5 - Horizontal Bar (Chin Up)
#6 - Vault Bar
#7 - Pole Climb
#8 - Teacher's Turn

Hoover PFA Monkey Club Members and the Pole Climb Fitness Challengetop of page

Equipment: PFA stations, student physical education records, Hoover PFA Monkey Club certificates

Students rotate through the seven stations. When students are at the Pole Climb, they are challenged to climb up and back down, without touching the ground, as many times as they would like. Encourage students who are not yet able to climb to hold and "give the pole a hug." Record results. Students who get to the top and back down once earn a Hoover PFA Monkey Club certificate to take home. they also get their name listed on the wall in the gym. Students can also try to continue to go up and down. But, they cannot let their feet touch the ground or they are finished. Who will make the most trips up and down and to become the Ultimate PFA Monkey Club Member? Variation: This idea "springboards" off of Steve Cox's PFA Booster Session Edition of "Station Star Challenges." It can also be applied to the horizontal ladder and the vaulting bar. With these stations I would use Steve's entry-level scores. The vaulting bar entry level is 12 clean jumps with both feet landing at the same time and only the hands touching the bar. The horitzontal ladder is once down with both hands touching each rim and return without touching the ground.



Warm-up with Fun Movement Challenges (K - 4)

Children are less inhibited to move if given direction, purpose and/or a suggestion for movement. movement education activities provide the foundation for all movement. Many can be varied or modified in order to develop other movements. Several may be grouped of page

  • Stretch very high; then very low. Stretch with the teacher pretending you are a rubber band. Have it snap and break? (jump and collapse to the floor)
  • Hit a punching bag like a boxer (fast, slow). Punch the air with your elbows, knees, feet stomach, shoulders, hips, stomach, and bottom! Vary the size of the punches and speed.
  • Wind yourself up by spinning in place. Stop suddenly without falling. Unwind, starting slowly, spin fast, gradually slow down, and come to a complete stop. Spin tornado style.
  • What is a billboard? On a billboard in front of you: draw a great big scribble picture fast, write your name carefully, draw ten smiley faces. use your favorite hand, then opposite; do with your elbow, foot, top of your head, belly button! Do hard and strong, or light and delicate; with a partner who mirrors your movements.
  • Lay on your back and sky write with your foot, the other, both feet. Write your name, draw different shapes.
  • How many different locomotor (then nonlocomotor) movements can you do in ten seconds? How many different body parts can you move individually in ten seconds? Do the same with shaking. use different levels and pathways.
  • Shiver fun. What does it mean? Shiver one body part and add on. Have a contagious partner, group, or class shiver! Do the wave.
  • Students are space ships. Count down to zero and space ships take off, quickly picking up speed and go into orbit. After so many orbits, they splashdown and return to earth.
  • Students lay on their bellies as airplanes. Fill their tanks with gas (push-ups), start the engines (make engine noises, propellers go (arms out and spin on bellies). On take off, they stand and move about the gym gliding, jogging, and swooping without clipping another plane's wings! End back in the prone position at the airport.

Walking with Emotion (K-2)   top of page

How would you walk if you felt this way?

  1. Walk like you are SAD (head will drop, shoulders droop, chest caves in, arms swing slowly, fet drag, eyes down).
  2. Walk like you are very ANGRY (head pokes forward, chest is forward, fists clenched, heavy footwork, body is tense, move quickly).
  3. Walk like you are very PROUD (head held high, shoulders back and chest is out; legs move surely and evenly).
  4. Walk like you are very HAPPY (head held high and swing arms fast, feet move bouncily on the toes.

(Teach students the song "If You're Happy and you Know it" and do actions to the emotion words. include other words such as: hungry and rub your tummy; sleepy and close your eyes and rest head on hands; bored and twiddle thumbs, etc.)

Transformers (K-4)

Students assist in coming up with movements at all four levels. Using a drum or calling out a number, students quickly "transform" from one level and shape to another as indicated by the number. an example:

  1. Basement level, laying on back, do a jumping jack.
  2. Sitting level, hold a crab position.
  3. Kneeling level, make a "high" bridge.
  4. Standing level, stand at attention and salute your teacher!

Variation: Students decide on movements at each level

Popcorn (K-2)   top of page

Scatter yarn balls or beanbags throughout the gym. Players move about the gym doing a designated locomotor movement, when the music stops, each player picks up ONE yarn ball and tosses it in the air with an underhanded toss. How many times does your popcorn "POP" before the music starts again? Variations: move from one ball to another to toss and catch; use one hand and then the other; change skills to hot potato, balance on head and turn around, jump 5x with it between your knees, etc.

Pantomime Warm-ups (K-2)

Students do continuous warm-ups related to the word(s) with NO sound effects!

  • Hiccupping
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Yawning and stretching
  • Giggling; laughing hysterically
  • Crying
  • Call to a friend across the playground
  • sing and dance to your favorite song!
  • Giving a speech
  • Snoring

Mirrored Movement (K - 4)

The leader moves in any desired movement in place. Students imitate this person as if he/she is looking in a mirror, making sure to do the movement on the same side. Do Movements slow and short to start, then alternate with quick movements. Freeze at intervals to check the success of the reproductions. Then do this using partners with one person assuming the active role and the other mirroring.

Stores with Hands (K - 2)top of page

Children can tell stories or convey ideas using their fingers, hands, and arms. they do not need to say a word. Move these body parts to show:

  1. waves on a lake
  2. a fish is swimming fast
  3. climbing a mountain
  4. the sun is too bright
  5. you and your friend are getting farther and farther apart as you wave good-bye
  6. the rain is falling
  7. fishing and hooked a big one!
  8. swatting at mosquitoes!
  9. playing the piano, trumpet, guitar, or drums
  10. catching fireflies and putting them in a jar


Scarf Scurry (K - 2)top of page

Hold your scarf like a pencil and write your name in the air: fast and slow; sloppy and carefully, big and little, slow and fast. Make a zigzag, spiral, circle, crazy eight. Lasso your scarf overhead. Toss it high and catch it low. Before catching it: clap your hands, turn a circle, log roll once, or give yourself a hug. Toss it high and catch it on different body parts (back of hand, elbow, back, top of head). Blow it to keep it up! Punch it in the air. Jog and keep the scarf magically glued to your belly; gallop and swing it overhead. Do pre-juggling two-scarf activities: crosses, columns, two in one hand). Choreograph a movement routine to music (the "Shrek" CD is great). Third graders and up enjoy partner juggling activities, too.

Wands (K - 2)

Write your name on the floor using the wand like a big marker. Climb your hands from the bottom to the top and back down. Glue it to the floor and walk around it, skip, run, go backwards. Move it like a helicopter propeller; a windshield wiper; a pogo stick. Hold it with two hands at the bottom, let go and catch at the top; do this with your eyes closed. Hold it horizontally with two hands and touch it to your knees, nose, feet, etc. Lay it on the floor and jump over it in different ways. Place the end of the wand in a deck tennis ring and walk the dog forward and backward. Put students on each half of the gym; send the rings across the center line. With a partner: toss the wand back and forth; place the end of the wand on the floor and both let go to catch their partner's wand before it drops; turn the dish rag; keep raising the wand up horizontally to the floor for your partner to jump over; do sea-saw sit-ups with the wand; sit and touch feet together with patner's while holding wand in front to stand and sit down. Choreograph a routine to music using wand movements (New York, New York).

Physical Education Extensions at Hoover ElementaryHeel clickingtop of page

Pacers Club. This is a walking/running before school club that meets in the fall for forty-five minutes twice a week. members are third through sixth graders. We average eighty to ninety students and often have ten or more parents present. The club meets for six weeks. individual distances and team mileage are kept. Students receive a certificate and a swim pass from the city recreation department for the participation. They also have the opportunity to order club t-shirts to wear with pride.

The Torch Run. I have coordinated this annual event that takes our fifth and sixth graders off school grounds. All fifth and sixth graders are given the opportunity to walk or jog to a neighboring school that is one mile away for a friendly "torch run." We welcome in the torch runners from another school. Then, the homemade torch is carried by our principal who hands it off to the principal at the next school. We almost always have 100% participation. This is a fun fitness activity that also promotes Run for the Schools.

Run for the Schools. This is a road race that brings funds into our school district. I have been the school representative for ten years now. It entails motivating the students, communicating with parents and getting the flyers out. I also make buttons for all the students who participate. We have won the award for the public school with the most participants for the last five years.

October Dance. It has become a tradition that every October when the younger students parade through our school for Halloween, the sixth graders perform a special rhythmical routine learned in physical education class for the enjoyment of all. We have done routines to such songs as: Ghostbusters, Purple People Eaters, The Adams Family, and Monster Mash.

Basketball Shoot-Out. Students and parents enjoy this free throw contest which involves sixty-four third through sixth graders. Students who participate are finalists from their physical education classes. It is a before school activity. All receive ribbons and certificates. Winners at the shoot-out often represent our school at a local free throw contest. top of page

Before School Volleyball. Parents and family members in high school or up are invited to come and play volleyball with the sixth graders as a culminating activity to our volleyball unit. All school staff members are also encouraged to join us. No score is kept and it is fun for all. It is usually a four-week activity.

Jump Rope for Heart. Third through sixth graders have the opportunity to jump rope at a district-wide event with money raised going to the American Heart Association. Even though we are one of the smaller schools in Iowa City, Hoover elementary has proudly been the highest fundraiser and has had the most participants involved for twelve years! The event takes place at The University of Iowa Recreation Building on a conference day in March.

Track and field Days. This is a district-wide event for all our fifth and sixth graders. It entails extra practices, especially for the rally teams, and a great amount of organization. On a school day, these students participate with students from other schools in a wide variety of track and field events. the intermediate students often participate in Track and field Olympics on their own school grounds.

Yoga/Fitness. Guest instructors are invited to work with students during their physical education class. I try to have the guests be Hoover parents. This gives the guests the opportunity to show the students what they do and allows the students a chance to experience something new! It also promotes a partnership between the school, parents, and the community.

Half-time Shows. This is usually an event for the primary students. They thoroughly enjoy getting in front of the high school basketball crowd and performing a rhythmical, high-energy routine learned in physical education. The fans are almost always delighted with the show!

Fourth Grade Annual Field Trip. In the spring, after having completed water safety, students walk to the local recreation center (one mile) and have the opportunity to participate in new cooperative activities in the big gymnasium with me as the teacher. Then, they put their water safety knowledge to use by swimming in the indoor pool. It is an event that is much anticipated.

Peer Buddy Program. (reverse integration). With the classroom teacher's cooperation, peers are scheduled to come to adapted physical education classes to be peer buddies. It is heart-warming to see the interaction between the buddies and their new friends. It also aides in making the transition for many students with special needs into the regular education classroom less stressful since all understand and know each other of page

Personal Safety Education and Activities. These activities supplement the program with emphasis on fire safety (stop, drop, cover, roll; safe fire exits), water safety, and bike safety (may have a police officer visit, bike checks, or a bike rodeo).

End of the Year Fun Days. Various stations are set up for outdoor fun on the last day of school. Stations may include: the parachute, obstacle courses, relays, softball games, etc. Many times, the older students are scheduled to be leaders and assist with the stations when the younger students are participating.

Playground Committee Member. Last year our playground project at Hoover was completed. i had been an active member of the Hoover Playground Committee for three years. I was the spokesperson for the students and feel my presence on the committee was very important. It was a terrific committee and now, with PFA included, we have a safe and wonderful playground for our students.

Playground Equipment and Safety. I consider it my responsibility to order and replace the playground equipment for all classrooms. yearly, this involves taking an inventory, ordering, pumping up balls, and handing the equipment out. Any problems with behavior, rule concerns, or safety, the playground supervisors come to me and I communicate what is expected to the students.

Project Fit America. I was the grant writer in 2001 for Hoover School. We gratefully and happily were the recipients to receive the new seven stations fitness playground equipment. Project fit america led the way in the development of the entire playground project.

The Hoover Star. Several years back, I became very involved in character education and led the way in the development of our present character education program. I came up with the Hoover Star, which was adopted by the entire staff. character education can be seen daily in our school as the Hoover star continues to shine. I taught all the students a creative hand jive utilizing the five star points (caring, courage, honesty, respect, honesty) and citizenship as the star itself. As a physical education teacher who teachers all the students, I can lend consistency to a school-wide character education program of expected behaviors and attitudes. top of page

Newsletters. It is important for the physical education teacher to communicate with parents about the program. Frequently, through our Thursday Newsletter, I update parents about such things as what units are being taught, special events that are coming, concerns I might have, and accomplishments of the students.

Physical Education Portfolios. These are kept for my Hoover fifth and sixth graders and include: units taught, fitness report cards, assessments of a variety of units, written quizzes, self-evaluations, etc. It is a positive way of communicating to parents just what their students have learned in physical education.

Conference or Convention Presenter. Almost annually, I present or share what I know with others. I think it is important for all of us as physical educators to share new activities and motivate each other through networking and continued education.

Cooperating Teacher for a Student Teacher. Over the years, I have had at least 20 students teachers. I hope I have inspired and influenced them in a positive way so that they teach our profession with passion, energy, and dedication. i firmly believe veteran and master teachers need to pass on to the new teachers the "how-to's" and "what works" of our profession. we need to share what we can.

Curriculum Writing. I enjoy writing projects and participate in them when the opportunity arises. I believe it is very helpful to all teachers to have ideas down on paper. I have been a district writer of many projects over the years of which some include: rhythms, movement education, juggling, inclusion, and adapted aquatics. I even hope to start up a web site this summer and maybe even compile all of my best into a book!

Karen’s Teaching Philosophytop of page

It is important for young students to understand and want not only a healthy mind, but also a healthy body. Those of us who teach elementary physical education must give our students opportunities to participate in and learn about health-related fitness while developing their basic motor skills and coordination. We need to provide them with an environment of fun and safety while they learn to move with confidence and success. Quality physical education can have a very positive influence on our students. We must do our best to decrease the obesity and diabetes epidemic in our country. We as physical education teachers should be the educators who influence our students and their families to live a lifestyle that yearns for fitness, activity, and fair play.

While students participate in a wide variety of movement activities, I encourage creative thinkers, promote understanding and acceptance of differences, provide positive situations for risk-taking, foster self-control, nurture conflict resolution, and provide numerous opportunities for character development. I focus not only on the physical development of the child, but rather the whole child (which also includes cognitive, emotional, social, and moral) in a play-oriented atmosphere.

Physical education should build a child’s sense of self-worth while providing feelings of accomplishment and community. To achieve this, I enthusiastically guide and motivate, minimize competition and maximize cooperation, eliminate the negative while reinforcing the positive, develop lesson plans to enhance maximum participation time and provide many opportunities for the “Hoover Star” to shine (star points include caring, courage, respect, responsibility and honesty). I feel very privileged to teach elementary physical education, have a strong passion and dedication to my profession and give my heart and energy to my students!

There are many extensions I do that provide my physical education program with sparkle while educating the public as to what physical education is today. Organizing clubs, being involved with playground responsibilities , joining district and building teams, working with student teachers, showcasing what students can do (clubs, assemblies, half-time shows, before school activities ), writing curriculum , being involved in community events (Road Races, Special Olympics) are all ways in which I promote the importance of physical education. I also believe it is vital that I stay fit and live what I teach. Attending and presenting at workshops and conventions, plus collaborating with other professionals and community members, are methods in which I strive to keep my curriculum individualized, stimulating and up-to-date while sharing what I know with of page

In closing, I believe, as an elementary physical education teacher, it is my responsibility to see that my students feel good about movement and what they can do, participate successfully in a wide variety of activities, and strive for a high level of fitness while developing good health habits. I want them to crave physical activity and fitness, understand the importance of kindness and good character, and LOVE physical education!

Additionally Karen writes to us:

My early fall and spring physical education classes focus heavily on PFA. In fact, many of the Hoover students still enjoy PFA hand jive, so I continue to teach it to the new students! Even though Iowa is very much a winter state, PFA is used by many students throughout the year. They know it is a wonderful tool for maintaining their fitness, accomplishing fitness challenges, and for achieving high scores during final fitness assessments. Plus, the station activities are just fun! When teaching indoors, I have always believed in teaching the “PFA way”. This means maximizing movement, eliminating wait time, and incorporating activities that focus on student fitness with fun.

I love what I do, and have a passion for what I teach children. Project Fit America has been a terrific supplement to my program as well as for our playground.

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