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Incorporate a variety of motor skills for a successful physical education program

By Isobel Kleinman

Beginner Educational Gymnastics Lesson - Stretch and Balance (Floor)


Clean floor


One mat per student

Performance Goals

Students will do the following:

  • Perform a gross-motor warm-up introducing the difference between big and small.
  • Feel the difference between being big and stretching in a variety of shapes.
  • Begin developing a movement memory by memorizing a sequence of moves and building a movement routine.

Cognitive Goals

Students will learn the following:

  • The difference between being big and being stretched
  • To appreciate the amount of space they can take up
  • The idea of movement contrasts

Lesson Safety

  • Remind students to stay within their space while moving.
  • Encourage students who want to try something they are not sure of to ask you for help.


All movement takes place in space. As students concentrate on using space to move or pose,
they will make the everyday version of their motion into a stretched-out motion that looks more


  1. Have students spread out.
  2. Remind them of the glass dome and taking it with them as they run. Have them begin running.
  3. Stop and ask if their glass is in danger of being broken. If so, relocate.
  4. Start and stop, making sure they are not clustered.
  5. Ask them to run at top speed.
    • If they make contact with anyone, have them freeze while the rest of the class continues.
    • Continue until almost everyone is frozen.
    • Try it again.
  6. Reduce the size of the space students can move in by half and ask how much of their original space they are in now. (They are in half of their original space.)
  7. Continue with the rule that if they make contact with anyone, they are to freeze. Ask them to walk, then run, then run at top speed.
  8. Stop them and again reduce the size of the space they can move in by half.
  9. Ask them to move as quickly as they can without bumping into anyone.


Lesson Sequence

  1. Have students get a mat and bring it to the largest space possible.
  2. Using three parts of their body, ask them to support themselves so they don’t move.
    • Encourage them to balance five ways while small.
    • Ask them to balance five ways while large.
  3. Have students watch half of their classmates perform all they have done, and then switch.
  4. Ask students to try something they haven’t done. If they need help, they should get you.
  5. Ask them to repeat their balances and try to stretch while in them.
  6. Do the same using two parts of the body for support.
    • Encourage them to find other ways.
    • Ask them to repeat, stretching in each way they can remember.
  7. Do same with one part of the body for support.
  8. Take five balances, stretch them, and when in the greatest stretch, try another. Hold each for a few seconds.
    • Can they do the same again but roll out of one to get into the other? Let them practice.
    • Have students find a partner and perform the five-balance routine for each other, asking where they could extend more.
  9. Take time to practice, using partner comments to perfect the routine.
  10. Demonstrate: Half the students watch as the other half perform, and then switch.
  11. If time permits, pick out a routine or two that best emphasize extension. Ask those students to repeat what they did, explaining why you chose their routines.

Review and Stretching

1. Ask the following questions as students stretch.

  • What was the difference between the routines that were chosen and the ones that were not?
  • Could everyone in the class try to do that with their routines?

2. Put away mats.


This is an excerpt from Complete Physical Education Plans for Grades 5 to 12, Second Edition.

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