Several years ago I, along with a Dr. Anne Murray-Orr at St. Francis Xavier University Faculty of Education, conducted a research study. Our goal was to explore elementary generalists’ (non-physical education specialists) perceptions of physical literacy. We were interested in the teachers’ understanding of the term as well as their experiences teaching physical literacy in their classrooms. Our results were published in a peer reviewed journal and are available here.
One of the interesting themes that emerged through our interviews was the fact that elementary classroom teachers would love to incorporate more physical activity into their classes - they just don’t fully understand how to do so. Nor were they familiar with the concept of Health Promoting Schools. This is not a criticism of these teachers. On the contrary. These teachers were clearly exceptional educators who are doing many amazing things for their students. They didn’t receive any formal education in their pre-service studies related to health, nutrition, or physical education.
Upon conclusion of this study, I found myself with an increased motivation to continue not only my work with physical educators, but to seek opportunities to collaborate with classroom teachers who have little to no background with physical education. As our study found, generalist teachers would be motivated to help foster health students in a structured way, if they felt competent in doing so (Stanec and Murray-Orr, 2011). I realize that curriculum and standards must be in line with this pursuit, but until that happens, there are many ways health promotion can occur - and occur while in line with current standards.
Introduction to Flip2BFit
I suppose it was my experience with this particular study that increased my motivation to reach out to Heather at Flip2BFit.com. I first heard of these games via a twitter chat. After researching their website I contacted Heather and asked if I might review the games to see what type(s) (if any) connection I saw the game making within a Health Promoting School. In other words, I wondered if these games would be good resources for classroom teachers and/or physical educators and/or families.
Educators - take note: EdGate is currently correlating Flip2BFit and Bakari (the games I reviewed and discuss below), as well as (Tendaji and Sadiki - 2 new games) and Sadiki (a Nutrition Fact/Fiction Card Game) to the curriculums of all 50 States! Curriculum connections should be available by the end of August.
I had a great time playing these games with my girls, nieces and a nephew. Despite this hot and humid St. Louis weather, we moved out onto our screened in porch, turned on the fan - and got movin’! Yep. Four teenagers showed up at 8 a.m. to play fitness games with their aunt (when ‘play’ and ‘fun’ were mentioned, it didn’t take any convincing). (love them)
Initial thoughts on the games when I received them:
- The games are small/very portable and packable. This is a huge advantage to families going on vacation or schools to pass around for teachers to share.
- The games require zero (yes, zero) equipment. Thus, they are both very affordable and can be played almost anywhere. I love that
- They can be played inside or outside - this helps in the extreme heat and stormy weather.
So many ideas were popping in my head (as an education and wellness consultant, as a physical educator, and as a Mom).
This is a board game that comes with: a deck of cards (Four categories - cardio, yoga, strengthening, stretching; cards with nutrition information), a spin wheel, the game board (with Springer the dinosaur in the middle of it - the goal is to get to him!), and player markers. The spin wheel is color coded with the physical activity cards. Below are the directions that come with the Flip2BFit game.
I am truly impressed with how the developer of these games (Heather Parisi) has optimized movement in this active twist on traditional board games. I feel one of my biggest strengths as a physical educator is the way I plan lessons so that important content (education) is learned by students, without sacrificing physical activity at moderate to vigorous intensities for health benefit. I love how active these games are and how they also educate players on nutrition. I am currently enrolled in a nutrition/health coaching program. I really advocate that physical education ought to be developed with nutrition embedded it - and taught alongside it. I feel both disciplines are (sadly) being neglected in many schools - and both (together) impact health prevention perhaps more than any other dynamic duo...back the game review!
While I think fitness apps are fantastic options for many individuals, I love the collaboration, eye contact, and communication that traditional games promote much more than a lot of technology games. It brings together community rather than watching individuals all gather around a device. Love it.
How did my nieces and nephews like it? They are impressive athletes and love to tease/compete with each other (in a good/healthy way). Here is what one had to say about the games...(Note: I told them to be frank and honest in their feedback)
“I thought that the games we played were fun because for me I like to compete with my siblings. My favorite game that I played was the board (Flip2BFit) game. The part that I liked about (it) was the time when the card made everyone hold airplane at the same time to determine who moved up those three spaces. It was fun to see who could last the longest - and, at the same time, we were all getting a workout.”
— Allison, 14-year-old niece
My three-year-old loved showing off her crab walk. While the game is for ages six and up, we teamed my daughter up with one of her idols (cousins) and she would play the game as she desired. I think this is a great way to welcome youngsters into the game without setting unrealistic expectations for them.
While I love the size, what I love even more about this physically active memory game is that when a player (or, team) finds a “match” the entire group participating in the activity performs the exercise. Yep. They are rewarded with exercise. I plan all my lessons this way.
Of course we should reward with exercise.
I want all of society to view exercise as something we are lucky to do. Hence, the hidden concept of the game - reward with exercise - is something I really find unique about it in terms of games that you can buy on the market. Bravo, Heather!
Once the first player found a pair of cards with “chair pose” on it, our entire gang was rewarded.
In the future, I plan to take eight pairs of cards out of the deck so that I can play with my little ones. The entire playing space is awesome for a larger group/older group. Modifying the game a bit will enable even younger children to participate. Score!
Who can use this game?
Families, adults, teenagers, teachers, camp counselors, after school program facilitators, coaches (for team/community building) etc. (I could go on).
How do I see these games being used within a quality physical education program?
- Either of these games (Flip2BFit & Bakari) could be used as individual stations during fitness stations within a fitness activity, lesson or unit.
- Individual categories of cards (yoga, cardio, etc.) could be pulled from either games and used in a variety of ways. For example, the stretching cards might placed in groups for students to move through and perform after a cardiovascular game or activity.
- In order to promote literacy in physical education in the elementary grades, the categories of cards could be placed in corresponding colored hula hoops. Students’ sight words (just one example for Grade 1) could be laminated and posted on the gymnasium walls. Students work in pairs/small groups, perform the activity on the card that they ‘flip’, and then choose a sight word out of another hula hoop of the same color. Then students move to a designated area(s) and attempt to hit a target of the corresponding sight word posted on the wall. This type of activity would be used in an introductory activity to throwing (underhand/overhand) after skill cues were taught. Younger age students could simply find upper/lower case letter, vowels/consonants, etc. and use yarn balls for the underhand toss. Lots of activity. Lots of collaboration. Lots of literacy reinforced. Lots of fun (don’t forget to blast the tunes). This is just one simple example that comes to mind.
Note: Keep in mind that if you choose to do an activity such as this, it’s important to remind students you are much more interested in their form/ability to demonstrate the skill cues rather than ‘hit’ the target. Otherwise, you might have students ignoring skill cues in lieu of trying to hit the target. I would remind students that the aim is to send the object in the general area of the target and point to it so that I could see they were making the literacy connection. Likewise, you wouldn’t assess students’ form in an activity such as this - it’s not an authentic environment. But, you could use it as opportunity to give skill specific feedback related to skill cues, for reciprocal teaching, etc.
Above are simply a few ideas that come to mind. Have more? Please add to the comment section below!
How do I see these games being used in a classroom setting where students are taught by a non-PE specialist?
- This game could be used as a learning center during an academic period. Depending on the grade level standards/outcomes, teachers might take the numbers on the cards and have students manipulate the numbers to determine a new: repetition or total score - through addition, subtraction, multiplication or division. For example, if a card indicates a child to perform 30 repetitions, and the class might have to divide the number by five and then multiply by three for the new number (the determined number of repetitions). The ‘math’ could be done while students are in a plank position and then the group performs corresponding reps.
- Students could track their totals in the different ways either in physical education or at the beginning of an academic lesson. For example, total reps per fitness category could be tracked. The data could then be used for making charts, finding mean, median, mode, etc. Again, it’s all dependent on what outcomes/standards correspond with the specific grade levels. Options are truly endless.
- Students might be given the rules and instructions and collaborate with others to go over how the game is played using a modified “flip classroom” approach. This could promote literacy and keep students engaged while they collaborate with their peers.
- Older age students could apply critical thinking skills by collaborating and making up different games that optimize physical activity - using the game pieces of Flip2BFit and Bakari materials.
How do I see these games being used with a family?
- How many of you have movie nights? Why not first play this game before the bath time and then the movie? It will promote discussion about personal responsibility for health and wellness. Talk to your children about sweat and how it is working to cool the body. Talk about how raising heart rate through cardiovascular activities decreases resting heart rate - and the impact of this. Of course - you will need to meet your child(ren) where they are in terms of their age and prior understanding of physical activity.
- We (Team Stanec - my fam jam) like to head to playgrounds (St. Louis has some epic playgrounds). It’s hot here right now though (go figure). So, I plan to take some of the Bakari cards with us when we head to the playground in the early mornings this weekend. After we play on the equipment, we can play Bakari in the covered pavilion afterward (where we will have some shade).
- You could flip the cards yourself, and/or with your partner, for your daily workout. You’d have a different workout each time! Choosing particular colored cards would allow you to focus on different fitness areas. Play some music and pretend you’re a rockstar working out in your personal home gym.
How might I modify the games if using in physical education class?
- I would develop/include instructions for proper form for the physical activities. This is not a criticism of this game. This game wasn’t designed specifically for physical education. That being said, I think it’s a great tool for PE. I think that 3-4 skill cues listed on the card to help reinforce safe form would be beneficial. This would also increase literacy opportunity for students as they would read the cues. It’s critical that in physical education programs that quality of movement is emphasized - not just movement.
- I would develop/include visuals for students with specific disabilities in my PE classes. I could do this easily attaching a strip of Velcro on the top of the card. I would then type developmentally and age appropriate modifications. I would laminate the strip of paper and attach to the Velcro on the card. Each card would have Velcro pieces attached so the students with disabilities could simply follow the same rules, format, etc. and not “stand out” wondering what accommodations should be made for them.
- I might modify the number of repetitions depending on the age of the participants. This could be done simply! Using a projector, I could share what “30 reps” should read for particular ages. Perhaps for students in Grade 3-5 it would be 15, 5-7 it would be 20, etc. Students could flip their card, look at the screen, and then complete the projected amount.
Great gift for kids! Society could use a little less pizza, cake, video games and movie parties and a little more fun, movement, and education about healthy and active living. Bakari would make an amazing stocking stuff (my family has a physically activity/play stocking themes). In other words, this game really helps to normalize behaviors that we want to see as normal in society. We’ve come to a point where it doesn’t seem mainstream to do things that are active and healthy - in fact, many of us find ourselves defending a healthy meal or a long run. With more games/resources for teachers and parents on the market - such as this - we can remind ourselves of the fun we had as little ones when we had to be told to sit down.
Flip2BFit and Bakari are two great games that can help promote activity at home, in school, and in summer/after school programs. I give them an enthusiastic two thumbs up!
How about you?
How might you use these games with your family?
How might you use these games as a physical educator?
How might you use these games as an educator?
Disclaimer: I first heard about @Flip2BFit during a chat on Twitter. I checked out her website and asked if I could review the games. Given my profession, I was sent the games to review. However, I was offered NO compensation for this review. I was simply asked to send feedback on the games. The blog post was my idea - I love sharing good stuff with good people.