Tag Archives: PE


At a Doe River Gorge, a Christian campground in Elizabethton, Tennessee, my family was introduced to the game Octoball. An easy game to learn, it’s been a hit with all of my children, and it’s a game they can all play together.

Octoball is an outdoor game played in an octagonal “ring” made of eight boards, each one 12′ x 8′ x 2″. New wood from the lumber store can be expensive, but older pieces can be used. Once the ring is set up, all you need is a volleyball, and you’re ready to play.

The object of the game is similar to that of dodgeball — avoid getting hit by the ball. The last person standing in the ring is declared the winner.

To play, one person starts the play by throwing the ball and hitting it on the side of the ring.  Then players try to hit each other with the ball. If a player hits the ball and it touches another player below the knee, then that player is out; if it hits above the knee, the player is still in the game.

Additional rules include:

  • No player may hit the ball twice in succession unless the ball hits the wall in between hits.
  • If a player hits the ball and it goes out of the ring without touching the wall, that player is out.
  • If a player hits the ball and it touches the wall and then goes out of the ring, that player is still in the game.

While older kids can usually hit the ball with more force and better direction, the younger ones can run and jump quickly out of the way. The last two left in the ring often differ a great deal in age, making it a fun game for everyone!

Homework? What’s That?

cohdra100_1473 This week marked our second full week of co-op. Elementary students can sign up for one morning a week of enrichment-type classes, but for middle school and high school students, the co-op follows the university model. Students choose individual classes, attend class one or two days of the week, then work on their assignments at home. So while my younger three might be doing a  science experiment, art project, or PE class, John, who’s in eighth grade this year, is taking Geography and Physical Science. And it’s been a bit of a rough start. 

Each class requires quite a bit of work at home. Homework? We hadn’t used the word very much before this year. John brings home workbook assignments, reading assignments, study questions to answer… all of which he has to turn in to someone else besides me. He has deadlines now; he doesn’t get extra time to complete his work if it’s not done. He takes quizzes and tests just one time – there’s no opportunity to try the problems again. And he’s responsible for writing down his assignments and finishing them in a timely manner. 

How’s it going? Well, he told me he worked on his assignments all week, but the night before they were due, he stayed up two hours past his bedtime trying to finish. He tells me briefly about his current event and lab reports, then tells me he’s not sure when he’s supposed to turn them in. Sometimes he doesn’t even understand the assignment. “Why don’t you ask your teacher?” I ask him, but he just replies, “I don’t know.” 

So do I think these classes are worth it? I’d have to answer with a resounding “Yes!” No matter what grade he receives, he’ll have had an experience that requires he manage his time well, complete a project by a due date, and speak up when he has a question. And from what I’ve seen so far, he’s up to the challenge. He’s beginning to understand what’s expected, and he’s working hard at it. And hopefully next week will go a little better.

Homeschool PE

A few years ago, my children were involved in a summer soccer program taught by a man who used to coach a high school soccer team. As the summer came to a close, one of the moms thought we should get the coach to start a homeschool PE class. Our city’s YMCA offered classes, but they were thirty minutes away – could we convince the coach to start up something nearby?

We did! Three years later, he’s still a salesman by day and a homeschool PE coach two afternoons a week. For one hour on Mondays and Thursdays, children ages 5 through high school get to participate in dodgeball, kickball, softball, flag football, soccer, and more.

The coach divides the students into two groups, ages 5 – 9 and 10 and up. This year it’s been a little harder, though, as he hasn’t had as many parents volunteer to help out, even though he offers a discount in the fees. When enough parents are there, however, the program runs smoothly. We meet at a local park or in a church gym. The coach leads the older kids in sports activities and provides plans and equipment for the moms who work with the younger ones. Every once in a while, he switches off, working with the younger children while a mom referees the games of the older students.

One of the biggest benefits of this PE program, however, has been the time of fellowship the students have with each other. We meet with the same friends on a regular basis, and almost everyone stays about a half hour after the class is over. Moms have time to visit with and encourage each other, teens start up their own game of basketball, middle school girls huddle around talking with each other, and younger children play on the playground.  There’s usually 30-40 students there each time, providing lots of opportunities for friendships.