Today I had the opportunity to supervise a 4th year physical education student on his placement. About 10 minutes into his lesson, the student received the news from the vice principal that a nearby school would have to use the gym as an emergency cover due to a potential fire in their own school. Thus, physical education class was getting moved to the library! Like every good teacher, I can only imagine that my student teacher's heart rate increased a little bit and he secretly thought, 'what the hell am I going to do now?' (On a side note, I was thinking the exact same thing about how the heck I was going to evaluate him!).
So in honor last minute emergencies, quick room changes, and the 'science fair that is being held in the gym but I forgot to tell you' moments, here are some ideas:
1. Have a stack of Canada's Food Guide (or US Food pyramid on hand). Put the students into small groups of 3-4 students. Briefly go over each of the food groups and have the students provide healthy examples of foods from each group. If you have time, on your way out of the gym, grab a few tennis balls, a frisbee, a hockey puck, and ping pong (or something similar) balls. You can use the frisbee to represent a plate, and the other items to demonstrate serving sizes of items such as fruits and vegetables, pasta, or peanut butter. Have the students then create a balanced meal for breakfast or lunch, or a meal plan for an entire day based on their serving requirements.
2. Have a small spaces box/suitcase handy. I remember a session a the 2006 PHE Canada conference in Moncton, NB on this and it was full of the greatest ideas. The presenter had a suitcase full of classroom PE activities that could be rolled into a room! Ideas for you own small spaces box could include decks of cards (for a variety of fitness related activities), laminated fitness, dice, board games created by the teacher, hacky sacks, scarves for juggling, cat balls for mini hockey against a wall, body bands for fitness, velcro gloves and velcro balls, rings for tossing on upside down chair legs, and bean bags for plank hockey. You can really use your imagination here and think of different dollar store toys/items that can be made into small space activities.
3. Have an outside option. Take your students for a walk, bring skipping ropes or playground balls, play tag games in the school yard (snow or sun!), have a game of ultimate or soccer. This is also a great time for encouraging students to create structured play on their own. Bring out different equipment and let the students figure out how to 'play' with it and with others.
Above all, you never know when something is going to get you booted from your gym. Be prepared and be open to going with the flow!