MS All Star 2010

Karin Harvison

Teaching Philosophy, Program and Activities

Karin Harvison's Teaching Philosophy

I am amazed to see how much my philosophy has evolved and changed over the last 9 years of my teaching.  I recently cleaned out some old boxes of paperwork and came across my philosophy of physical education from college. I quickly came to realize that the rose colored glasses of my youth painted a beautiful and fascinating picture that does not exactly resemble the reality of physical education that I am teaching now. The only thing that remains constant from that old philosophy is my enthusiasm – to learn, to do my best, and to teach.  And that’s exactly what I want my students to have…an enthusiasm to learn new skills, to do their best and Never Give UP!!  My mission is to make each student feel successful in my class every time they come to PE.  I discourage the use of the word CAN’T by teaching the kids a cheer at the beginning of the year.  “I CAN do it!  I WILL try my best! I will NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER give up!”  Since starting this cheer 4 years ago, I noticed a change in tone of my classes.  Being more positive(taking away that CANT word) allows the students the ability to take chances, and even though they may fail at their task, they will try again and again until they are successful because they know I believe in them, but better yet they believe in themselves. I love teaching Kindergarten – 2nd Grade students physical education as this is the best time to instill in them a love for fitness.  Hopefully this love will continue with them throughout their lives.


Sock Hop

Karin and Heather Lowery,
music teacher, on Sock Hop day

I graduated from the University of Arkansas-Monticello in 1997 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education with an Emphasis in Wellness/Nutrition. Sounded great at the time but I honestly didn’t know what exactly I was going to do with that degree.   After getting married and graduation, I gave birth to my son and was fortunate enough to be a stay at home mom for a few years.  For the next 4 years, I worked in a medical office where many college students rotated in and out of the various positions within the office.  I learned through these students about the Alternate Route Teaching Licensure for Mississippi, obtained all the information, and received my teaching license.  A year later, I was hired for my first teaching job in which I taught Physical Education to K-8th grade students and coached junior high basketball.  Without any student teaching experience, I faced many obstacles due to a lack of knowledge in classroom management, planning lessons, and curriculum materials.  But with the help of an experienced mentor teacher, I was able to learn from my mistakes, value the importance of teaching physical education and develop an appreciation for instilling healthy lifestyle choices in my students’ lives.  After 2 years, I switched to Lamar County School District and was hired to teach Physical Education at Purvis Lower Elementary School, where I am proud to say I have been teaching for the last 7 years! 
top of page


There are several important factors in helping my physical education program to be successful.  I believe that to be a better teacher, I must continue educating myself in new and best practices in physical education.  One of the ways that I find new and creative ideas is by being a member of our state and national professional organization and by also attending our state MAHPERD convention every year.  I also am fortunate to have learned a lot through serving on the board of this organization; and most recently, I served as President where I was able to collaborate with many gifted and seasoned professionals in the HPERD areas from all over the nation.  We must all network together in sharing ideas and concepts that will take physical education to a higher level, and that in turn will help our students to be the best that they can be!

Another important factor in helping my program to be successful is the support that I have from our administration, fellow teachers, and parents.  Transitioning to a healthier and more active campus due to new legislation was not an easy task to implement a few years ago, but our Lamar County School District Health Council pushed forward with exceptionally high standards that have been embraced by administrators, teachers, students and parents from each campus.  This work was recognized recently by the USDA as each of the schools in our district received the Gold or Gold of Distinction Award through the HealthierUS School Challenge.  This award was only possible through great teamwork from all staff in LCSD.              

 Another factor that has contributed to the success of my program is the privilege of having two outstanding physical education teachers in my life as role models and mentors over the last 9 years.  Both of these women have given me great advice over the years and due to their examples, they are my inspiration to work hard in advocating for physical education for all children every day.  Mentors are key to helping our profession thrive and encouraging us to never settle for just rolling a ball out.  PE classes should be moving, challenging, encouraging....and FUN!


One obstacle that I had to overcome is “How do I incorporate PFA into my SPARK curriculum?”  To tell you the truth, I was excited about PFA and the possibility of receiving the equipment even though I didn’t know much about it.  I have used the SPARK curriculum for 5 years and was worried that I would have to put that away and just do PFA.  But then I went through my 1st training session and realized that PFA would be easily used to enhance my program, I just had to do some creative planning. I now love the addition of the PFA program as the style of lessons from SPARK and PFA are completely different and that variety makes the year so much better.

The next obstacle that I am still trying to overcome is “How in the world do I make this work for K, 1st and 2nd Graders?”  Honestly, I sat around for my 1st year, checking the PFA website here and there waiting for someone else to give me everything on a silver platter.  When I was told there were just a few of us K-2 schools that had PFA, I realized that I am going to have to figure out a way to make this work for me and for my students.  The reality is that my kids LOVE all the indoor lessons and can do them easily for the most part.  But as we take lessons on the outdoor equipment, they are a little more reserved and their skill/fitness levels need a lot of work to help them achieve success, especially with the pole climb, parallel bars, and vault bar.  So to help with our overall fitness levels, I decided after my 2nd training session in Gulfport last November to work on overall fitness levels and individual muscle groups by using Fitness Stations.  I saw a demonstration of Fitness Stations at that meeting and decided that we could do activities that have Fitness Stations twice a week since we are indoors due to weather.  We will see if this works in March and if the students are stronger and to see if there is a higher gain in fitness test scores.   Until then, we will continue to modify existing lessons to fit our needs and to create our own fun ideas to share.
top of page

PFA lessons/activities

Jump Rope for HeartVocabulary Wall/PE word of the Week – This year, activity classes here at PLES were required to show documentation and incorporate academic subjects from each grade level into our daily lessons, with a emphasis on vocabulary words.  After seeing some ideas on the PFA website, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.  I created a baseball diamond, named it “Vocabulary Field” and put the PE word of the week on pennants.  Each week we have a new vocabulary word that is incorporated into our physical education lessons.  At the end of the week, the word gets moved over to the Vocabulary Field to be viewed for the rest of the year.

We do many extra activities throughout the year.  For the first time, music and PE collaborated this past year to host a Sock Hop on the 50th day of school.  Everyone dressed up and learned 50’s style dances during music/PE classes.  We participate in Jump Rope for Heart and have planned activities each year such as Jump Party and a Jump Rope Club.  My students also participate in cupbuilding and each year we participate in the Guinness Book of World Record STACK UP Challenge.  The biggest activity is Field Day in May that showcases skills that my students have learned throughout the year and put into fun relays and games.

PLES Student favorite PFA Activities include: the Daytona 500 (which we made into a Chart & Challenge by timing each class to see how long it took to cover the outside line).  We did Tallest Towers before Christmas…the kids went bonkers over playing with dice..who knew?  I liked it because we easily incorporated math into the lesson.  We also loved Beat the Ball Covey Style and Scooch and Crawl.  And probably our all time favorite would be Double Track Stack Attack.  The kids DO NOT realize how much they run when we do this lesson and just for 3 little cups!  Love it! 

Photo Gallery of Purvis Lower Elementary School Activities

Kindegarten Sock Hop
Parallel Bar Demo
Kindergarten Sock Hop
Parallel Bar Demonstration at Field Day
Chart & Challenge - Daytona 500 Winners
Daytona 500
Bean Bag Blitz
Tornado Flap Challenge
Daytona 500 in Action
Bean Bag Blitz
Tornado FLAP Challenge
Tornado Flap Challenge
Critter Rescue
Critter Rescue
Tornado FLAP Challenge
Critter Rescue
Critter Rescue
Topsy-Turvy Cups
Bone Yard
Topsy-Turvy Warm-up
Squirrels in the Trees
The Bone Yard
Word of the Week
Tallest Towers
Monthly Themed Bulletin Board
PE Word of the Week - "Cooperation"
Students Playing Tallest Towers
Vocabulary Wall
Jump Rope Club
Vocabulary Field
Jump Rope for Heart Party
Jump Rope Club
Jump Rope for Heart "T-Shirt Club"

top of page

Some lessons we have created or modified for use at Purvis Lower Elementary School

Lesson #1 – Bean Bag Blitz

***I modified the Basketball/Bowling Blitz game that I saw at the November training and created this activity to better suit my age groups and due to lack of equipment for basketball/bowling.

Length of Time:  30-40 minutes

Grade Level:  K - 2nd

Equipment:  4-6 laundry baskets;  1 bean bag per team;  75+ polyspots;  Fitness Station signs and    equipment(i.e., jump ropes, PFA hula hoops, medicine balls);  large cone for each team; CD player; upbeat music

Object of the Game:  To be the team with the most polyspots at the end of the game using TCC.

Set-up:  Spread the baskets evenly around the gym.  Scatter all polyspots around general space.  Place Fitness Station signs and equipment around the perimeter of play area (I use:  Hoop Jumpers, Jumping Jacks, Push-ups, Sit-ups, Jump Rope, Run 1 lap, Mountain Climber, Medicine Ball Squats, Star Jumps).  Set up a cone on one end of play area for each team.

How To Play:  Make teams of 3-4 students lined up behind a large cone at one end of play area.  When the music starts, 1st person in line will go stand on any polyspot and try to toss the beanbag into the nearest basket.  If they make it, then the student will pick up the polyspot, retrieve bean bag and take back to their team. Place the polyspot under the cone and give the bean bag to next player, then wait in line for their turn.  If they miss the toss, then they have to return the bean bag to the next player in line and then go perform a fitness station (10 reps); then return to their team and wait in line for their turn.  Play is over when all the polyspots have been taken.  Have each team count their spots

Variations:  To make the game more challenging, I took away all but 2 baskets.  We also played using only underhand tosses, only overhead tosses, using just the left hand/right hand; changing locomotor skills every few minutes, etc.
top of page

Lesson #2 – Tornado FLAP (Fitness, Locomotor And Pathway) Challenge

Length of Time:  30-40 minutes

Grade Level:  K - 2nd

Equipment:  PFA cups, cones, signs, CD player, music

Set-up:  I use lots of cones to mark the alleys;  I made sign boards to put in slit cones to mark each Alley and then which locomotor movement and pathway to use.

Object of the Game:  To combine fitness with locomotor skills and pathways and to use our imagination to make creations.  The challenge is to see if they can continue for the entire time limit...very high energy lesson!

How To Play:  Students will start in Alley 1, where they will hop straight to alley 2; In Alley 2, gallop zig zag down the length of the sideline to alley 3; In Alley 3, side slide straight to alley 4;  In Alley 4, jog curvy down the length of the sideline to alley 5;  In Alley 5, jump straight to alley 6 to the PFA Cups in the center court and get 3 cups; skip in Alley 6, which is Creation Zone, and find a spot to build a straight, curvy or zig zag creation with cups; then skip to Alley 1and start again. – Do again and again!

Gallop Zig Zagtop of page

Lesson #3 – Critter Rescue

Length of Time:  30 – 40 minutes

Grade Level:  K – 2nd

Equipment:  4 – 6 laundry baskets, 4-6 large cones, PFA Money, Fitness Stations and Equipment, 30+ rubber/bean bag critters (chickens, fish, monkeys, frogs, rabbits, etc)

Set-up:   Give each team a basket and a cone, put the cones and baskets around the center of general space.  Set up 8+ Fitness Stations around the perimeter of the play area with equipment.  Place critters along a sideline in “The Pound”.  Discussion with class regarding Animal Control and Animal Shelters.

Object of the Game:  To be the team to “rescue” the most critters by earning PFA bucks to buy critters

How To Play:  Divide the class into teams of 3-4.  Choose 1 student from each team to be the “Critter Catcher”(Their job is to count their team’s bucks, cash $10 into the banker –teacher-, and rescue a critter from the pound). When the music starts, all students will go to any fitness station and correctly perform the exercise 10 times.  Then come to the banker and receive $1; take the buck and place under the team cone.  Each team member will continue doing fitness stations.  When a team collects 10 bucks, then the Critter Catcher can cash in and choose a critter.  Continue playing until you run out of critters or end of time.  
top of page

Lesson #4 – Topsy Turvy Cups (Warm-Up)

This is a simple and fast warm-up for any age group. 

Have each student get 2 PFA cups a piece (Need around 40-50 PFA cups).

Divide the students into 2 teams – Cup Up team and Cup Down Team.  Have half the students to spread their cups around general space face up.  Have the remaining students spread their cups around general space face down.   When the music starts, have the students walk around general space.  The Cup Up teams will turn all cups face up The Cup Down team will turn all cups face down.  Continue for a minute and then switch locomotor skills – skip, jump, gallop, etc.  Play for 5-7 minutes.  If time permits, can include counting the cups that are up and the cups that are down.  This is a Topsy Turvy fun time!

Lesson #5 – Squirrels in the Trees

Length of Time: 30-40 minutes

Grade Level:  K – 2nd

Equipment:  PFA cups,  Fitness Stations and Equipment, Music, CD Player

Set-Up:  Place the PFA cups in a hoop in the center of play area.  Set up 8+ Fitness Stations around the Perimeter of the Play Area

Object of the Game:  To use TCC by building the tallest tree around the team squirrel

How To Play:  Divide students into teams of 5.  Choose one student to be the squirrel to sit criss-cross in a spot away from the other squirrels.  The rest of the team will do a Fitness Station (5 reps) and get 3 cups each.  They will take their cups to the squirrel and start building a ‘tree’ around the squirrel.  Each player will continue doing Fitness Stations and adding cups to the tree until time is up.  If the tree falls down, then players can pick up cups and give to the squirrel to rebuild while they continue doing Fitness Stations.  Remind the squirrels to be very still and remind the builders not to build too close to the squirrels.  The team with the tallest tree at the end wins.
top of page

Lesson #6 – The Bone Yard

Length of Time:  40 minutes

Grade Level:  K – 2nd

Equipment:  PFA Skeletons, PFA money, parachute, Fitness Stations and Equipment, 6 cones (same color as bones if possible), Poster of Skeletal System, CD player, Music

Set-Up:  Place all skeleton pieces in the center of the play area.  Cover with parachute.   Spread the 6 cones far away from each other around the inside boundary lines.  Set-up 8+Fitness Station signs and equipment.  Display Skeleton Poster and have discussion prior to game regarding bones and location in the body.

Object of the Game:  To use Teamwork to earn PFA bucks in order to buy bones; then use Cooperation and Communication to construct the skeleton correctly

How to Play:  Divide students into teams of 3-4.  Assign 1 student to be the “Bone Collector”(will count money, cash into banker, and choose bone from the boneyard). Choose 4 volunteers to be the ‘ghosts’ of the boneyard (their job is to catch the handles on the red section of parachute and shake.  Rotate ghosts every 3-4 minutes).  When the music starts, all students will go to a Fitness Station and complete 10 reps.  Then come to the banker(teacher) and get $1 for their team; then place under team cone.  The bone collector will count the money and cash in $3 to the banker to earn a trip under the parachute and buy a bone.  Take back to team cone and stack together.  Once a team has collected all 15 bones, then they can put the skeleton together.  First team to get the skeleton together correctly wins.

Variations: For Kindergarten, I had to remove the parachute to make it easier to find a bone.  Put parachute over and don’t use ghosts to shake the chute to make it harder (chute may bunch up though).


I want to thank the Blue Cross & Blue Shield Foundation of Mississippi for funding the grant for us to get Project Fit America.  I also want to thank Mrs. Downs, my principal, for helping with the grant and for supporting me and my physical education program.  To Patrice Lovdahl and Anita Sumrall, thanks for being such great role models and mentors and for letting me bend your ears endlessly regarding PE!!!  I want to thank the parents of Purvis Lower Elementary School for supporting my program, for participating in fund raisers, and for volunteering to help with our PE activities.  And lastly, I would like to thank my husband, for pushing me and encouraging me to go down the path to becoming a teacher.


top of page
Back to All Star Teacher Gallery | Back to Karin Harvison