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Physical Education

Welcome to physical education, fostering a love for physical activity is a central theme of my thoughts and actions in the gym. Maria Montessori said, "play is the work of the child", while we play in the gym each day I hope your children develop health habits that last a lifetime. Please stop in anytime you have a chance and join the fun.

"The arts, sciences, humanities, physical education, languages and maths all have equal and central contributions to make to a student's education."  ~Sir Ken Robinson 

Steve Maas

Steve Maas, Physical Education, Della Terra
B.A. Spring Arbor University, Family Life Education
AMS Primary Certification

The Children's House experience (1992- present):
Primary Guide
Physical Education Specialist

October 9, 2019

Your children have begun to learn the sport of Rugby this past week. A small group showed an interest a few weeks ago and I decided to follow up on it by teaching all of the students in their class. One of the great aspects of rugby is the importance of sportsmanship in the game. We play using flags with small teams of about 7 or 8 per side so that everyone can get involved in play. It has been fun to watch as they try to learn the concept of passing backward in order to advance the ball, this is very different from the other invasion games we play (basketball, football, hockey…). It seems that most of the students have enjoyed the introduction and we’ll continue to learn as we go. If you have experience with rugby you would be willing to share please get in touch with me, we meet at 8:30 everyday.

September 25, 2019

Physical Education seems to be off to a nice start. I enjoy seeing your children at the end of each day. We have spent some time most days this fall talking about ways each classmate can practice kindness in the gym and beyond. Playing tag games, such as Monkey Business, offers students the chance not only to chase and flee but to notice others and have fun. It is almost impossible to observe a game of tag that does not include laughing and shouting, I think it is a great way for them to form bonds as a group and have a great time. They may not even realize that they are building cardiovascular endurance and strengthening their bones until they’re reminded of it. I am always open to feedback if you are willing to share.

September 12, 2019

I have enjoyed seeing all of your children these first few weeks in the gym and am looking forward to a great school year with all of them. I'm also hoping to see some of you next week at the Grand Traverse Civic Center for dinner and a bike ride. If your family loves to ride together or you're just wanting to get together with some other Children's House families please have a look at the Compass and fill out the quick form to let us know you are interested.

"Life is like a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving."
Albert Einstein

June 6, 2019

Thank you for allowing me to spend the school year with your children. We have worked on teamwork, integrity, persistence, and the value of practice all while learning how to better throw, catch, kick and run. I hope a few of the ideas I share come home and can be carried on this summer. I am fortunate to be with elementary children this summer doing lots of biking and exploring the beautiful parks in our area. I hope to see you there.

May 9, 2019

I recently introduced the elementary to a fitness circuit warm-up, they are able to choose their level of challenge from 1 through 7. There are seven activities that make up the circuit and the kids have three minutes to complete all seven. I asked them all to attempt level one for the first few days and then allowed them to choose their level of challenge. The activities are crab walk, jump rope, shuttle run, sit up, step up, over and back and jumping jacks. It has been nice to notice how hard they are willing to push themselves and for the most part demonstrate integrity while doing so. I hope they are beginning to notice that hard work can payoff and short cuts don't usually help. I hope to spend  more time outdoors as spring warms up a bit.

April 11, 2019

We have a fun event planned for the first week of May. Screen free week will start on May 2nd and conclude on the 9th. I've been trying to read what I can find on the topic of screen time and kids as well as adults. I recently read a book, The Art of Screen Time by Anya Kamenetz which I found very helpful. She has what I think is a nice balanced approach to how we think about the use of digital technology. In short,  it is enjoy screens, not too much and mostly with others. I highly recommend this book for anyone with kids or screens in their lives. I'm using the screen free week for a bit of a reset on my habits. Hope to see some of you at the kick off for the week on May 2nd.

March 22, 2019

We have been able to spend several days outdoors over the last week enjoying the spring-like weather. Many times the students enjoy tagging games around the entire campus or sliding on the "mountains" of snow left from the plowing. I have also had the opportunity to take the Extended Day group to the west side of the playground near the elementary wing. I hope this small thing will begin to help them to know that they are ready for elementary school, whether it will be here or at another school. Enjoy your week away from school.  I look forward to hearing your children's tales of their time off.

March 7, 2019

One of the highlights of my school year so far has been the additional fifteen minutes of recess in the elementary children's day. I continually allow more movement and unstructured free time in our student's day. Last summer I suggested this change, I was happy that the classroom guides agreed. We decided to give it a try. Recently I spoke to the adults that supervise recess, the major change they have seen is now instead of being disappointed that recess is over, students seem happy and ready to go back indoors. We have not noticed any decline in learning. Arizona and Quebec have both passed laws in recent months requiring more recess. There is more evidence every year on the need for more unstructured free play for both academic and mental health reasons. We try to help you raise happy, healthy, and well educated children. With that in mind, I'm happy to say we decided to let them play.

February 21, 2019

I have just returned from a week with the sixth year elementary students in New York City at the Montessori Model United Nations conference. While there the students had the opportunity to practice public speaking, leadership, cooperation and compromise among other skills. They had spent time each week since September studying their topic and trying to look at it from the perspective of their assigned country (Djibouti or Iraq). If you have a younger student I encourage you to check out the MMUN website and see what may be ahead for your child. I feel that our students benefit greatly from this event and it is a great way to learn about the world we live in.

February 7, 2019

As I work with your children each day in the gym I continue to focus on instilling an enjoyment for movement by providing choice with a variety of games and activities. We practice yoga, play kickball and everything in between. It is my hope that the students will find some activities that they enjoy and feel good doing so that they may continue being active once they leave my classroom. While we do compete in the elementary the main focus of the game is skill acquisition for the future, not winning and losing. I hope that your children begin to understand their bodies and brains need for movement, healthy eating and proper amount of sleep as they move through their years here at The Children's House.

January 17, 2019

The children have spent several class periods learning the game of basketball these past weeks. As with most sports I try to teach the very basic skills and rules hoping to have students develop an interest and enjoy the game. We have looked at the layout of the court, basic skills and teamwork. The plan is to continue to build on this while not worrying too much about keeping score in an "real game". I will try to provide time for the oldest groups to play in game situations on a limited basis but having players with several years of team play going against those just learning to dribble has not been helpful in the past to either group in my experience. What is helpful is allowing more experienced children to share what they know and teach their classmates. We will continue to build our basketball skills most Tuesdays for the next month or so.

December 3, 2018

The students have been working with speed stacking quite a bit recently. It involves stacking cups in specific patterns and sequences using a timer. There is actually a World Speed Stacking Association which holds competitions and posts record times. There are several activities in which we are getting heart rates up,by running, doing squats and push-ups. I especially enjoy the hand eye coordination it brings to class but there are many other benefits. This activity is also a great way for kids that do not think of themselves as "athletic" to be the best. Most of you have probably seen a demonstration at some point but if not take a look at this video, your kids love it!


November 29, 2018

Gratitude has been a topic of conversation recently in the gym as I'm sure it has in your homes as well. This also provided a chance to point out that researchers can study humans and the effects of gratitude on our lives. Science is most often thought of as chemistry and physics experiments the students do in their classroom and it was fun to think about more possibilities for experimentation.

The kindergarten groups are the lucky recipients of help from two junior high students every Monday, Wednesday and Friday this year. The older students have enjoyed helping with parachute games and teaching the over hand throw, they've learned that teaching a skill is much different than practicing it alone. I believe it's a win-win situation.  It is great to see how much the younger kids look forward to seeing the junior high group each. The kindergartners will get to meet two different junior high students every six weeks throughout the year as they cycle through.

November 8, 2018

All of the ages have spent time recently working on their throwing and catching skills. The youngest children have practiced independently with yarn balls and with the two junior high helpers. The lower elementary students throw and catch a variety of objects both in games and just for practice while the upper elementary have enjoyed a game called long toss. Ball skills are enjoyed by most and beyond being fun help children to learn motor planning and visual attention. Some indirect benefits of ball games include good sportsmanship, self-esteem and persistence. Throwing and catching are skills where many children can see the benefit of practice by their rapid improvement. I hope some of you get time to be outdoors these last few weeks of fall to enjoy playing a bit of catch with your kids.

October 25, 2018

The gym groups have continued to learn a bit about food groups nutrition. Thank you to those of you who've been able to send in food packaging with labels.

During our recent staff retreat, we had the pleasure of working with Jen Cort on diversity, equity, justice and inclusion. I have always thought the student's time in the gym lends itself perfectly to discussions and lessons on social emotional learning and the time with Jen helped me to reinforce this. We have begun thinking about empathy this week while playing a variety of games. Understanding and identifying with other peoples feelings can help children as they grow and I hope that my efforts in this area may help just a bit. This type of work will continue to be a part of our physical education and health time together and as always your feedback is encouraged. Thank you!

October 11, 2018

In the gym over the next several weeks we will spend a bit of time thinking about nutrition and playing nutrition games. The youngest students have been introduced to food groups and encouraged to think about which groups the food at lunch and home belong in. The older groups are beginning to look at the new food labels and are becoming aware of how important what we put into our bodies is. As most of you know the food labels are required to change over the next several years to include updated serving size and added sugar content among other things. While I don't advocate students counting calories or sugar intake I do think it is important, as the become more independent that they begin to understand that what they are eating and drinking has an impact on their health. I always focus mostly on their activity level and just want to provide a balance. I hope our discussion and nutrition games will prompt further discussions at home.

September 27, 2018

I'd like to thank everyone that was able to help the Swingshift and the Stars event last Friday be such a success. We were able to raise over $20,000. The funds will support continuing education for faculty and staff, the scholarship fund and hopefully an additional van to transport student. I feel lucky to have been asked to do my part and am looking forward to November 16 when several of my coworkers and I will get the chance to participate in a lip-sync battle. I hope that you will consider attending. It is a fun evening and you get the chance to support your child's school.

September 13, 2018

Hopefully your family is settling into the new school year scheduled after the first couple of weeks. I am having fun getting to know all of the children again. The elementary students and I have been working on a classroom document we can all agree upon. It will include how students would like to feel while in the gym and expectations for physical education. The list is currently several pages long with many repeats, as we continue our discussion we'll reduce it to a single page and everyone will sign it. It can serve as a reminder for the entire year when needed. By allowing children to take ownership of their environment, I hope they know I value their thoughts. They may also begin to see collaboration is a good thing and will certainly know and understand the rules. It always takes several weeks to finalize this because we only use a few minutes each class period so that everyone lots of time to be active.