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Understand the need for rest

By Evridiki Zachopoulou, Jarmo Liukkonen, Ian Pickup, and Niki Tsangaridou

Standard 2, Goal 3


At the end of the lesson, children will be able to

  • understand and experience tension and relaxation,
  • understand and feel the contrast between motionlessness and movement,
  • understand and feel the changes in body function between exercising and relaxing, and
  • express themselves with their bodies and move creatively.


  • Pack of spaghetti and some already cooked spaghetti
  • Pot or casserole dish
  • Music player
  • Music with fast and slow tempos
  • 3 benches


Give each child a sheet of paper that only contains the answers (e.g., 1. a, b, c; 2. a, b, c). After you slowly read each question and the possible answers, ask the children to circle the answer that they believe is correct.

1. Why do you think it’s important to relax after exercising?
a. because we need to recover and recapture energy
b. because we need to drink water
c. because we need more exercise afterwards
2. When I relax, my muscles have to be
a. tight
b. loose
c. neither tight nor loose
3. Breathing, HR, and perspiration are three body functions that change between exercising and relaxing.
a. true J
b. false L
c. don’t know K

Introduction (4 minutes)

Setup and Description

1. Discuss with the children why they sleep at the end of the day. Ask them what the purpose of napping is and what the body does during the nap (relax, recover, and recapture energy and strength). Explain the need for rest after exercising. Ask them what body functions change during exercise and relaxation (e.g., breathing, HR, perspiration).

2. Ask the children to spread throughout the room and have them walk, run, and jump with the accompaniment of a tambourine.

3. After the children move for few minutes, have them inhale and exhale deeply and slowly to relax. Explain the need for more oxygen in order to relax.

Points of Emphasis

  • Ask the children to inhale deeply and slowly exhale. When they exhale, tell them to do so until they don’t have any more air in their lungs.
  • Help them when they inhale and exhale by counting slowly (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 . . .).


  • Use fast music for the movement and easy listening for the relaxation.
  • Give the children athletic or other equipment (e.g., ropes, ribbons, scarves, soft balls).
  • Ask the children to change the level of their movement as they dance and move.

Main Lesson: Spaghetti Dance, Hail Melts, and Dance and Breathe

Activities (30 minutes)

Activity 1: Spaghetti Dance (15 minutes)

Setup and Description

1. Separate the children into three lines around a big circle (pot).

2. Narrate a story of the spaghetti dance. Make use of a pack of spaghetti, a pot, and some already cooked spaghetti when storytelling. Then challenge the children to act it out. Ask them to pretend to be spaghetti, walking and jumping to enter the pot. At the beginning they are straight and inflexible like uncooked pasta and they jump and dance in this way through the pot. After a while they start to melt and become very flexible. The chef is in love and talking on the phone with his fiancée and forgets the spaghetti on the fire. After awhile the bubbles of the boiling water get bigger and bigger, pushing the spaghetti outside the pot. The children have to jump in many ways with flexibility, and they stick to the walls, forming many shapes. After awhile they start to slide slowly from the wall to the ground until finally they stand still on the floor.

Points of Emphasis

  • Ask the children appropriate questions when they move: Can you show me that you can walk in another straight shape? Can you show me many ways that you can jump inflexibly through the pot? Can you show me many shapes of cooked and flexible spaghetti on the wall? Can you show me how you melt in the pot? Can you use all of your body?
  • Make appropriate suggestions when they relax or melt: Breathe as slowly as you can, take a big breath and exhale slowly, and feel the relaxation of your body.


  • Separate the children into more teams (lines) to jump through the pot.
  • Form more than one circle (pot).
  • Create and narrate a story (e.g., making cookies).

Hail Melts (8 minutes)

Setup and Description

1. Tell the children that they are hail in the sky and when the storm starts they land on the ground. Have them jump strongly and sharply for a few minutes with the accompaniment of a tambourine. They can clap their hands on the floor if they want.

2. After the storm passes, the hail starts to melt. Ask the children to imagine that they are melting and becoming liquid (water).

3. To become rain, hail, or snow again, they must evaporate in the sky, so they must be very light. Have them breathe deeply and slowly to relax and become lighter.

4. Repeat one more time.

Points of Emphasis

  • Emphasise the contrast between motionlessness or slow movement and energetic movement.
  • Ask the children to pretend that they are heavy, strong, and sharp when they are hail and that they are light, soft, and slippery when they are liquid.

Dance and Breathe (7 minutes)

Setup and Description

1. Play some music. You have to find music that changes a few times between a slow and fast tempo.

2. During the fast music, ask the children to imitate you and dance, showing happiness and vividness.

3. During the slow music, ask them to move their arms slowly up and down and breathe deeply with you (inhale and exhale slowly).

4. At the end of the activity, ask them to lie on the floor and take slow breaths when you count.

Point of Emphasis

Emphasise the importance of small breaks with slow breathing and movements between the fast parts of the dance in order to relax and regain strength.


  • Have the children make different formations or spread throughout the class.
  • Change the way the children move (e.g., running, jumping, hopping, galloping, crawling).
  • Ask the children to change the level of their movement as they dance and move.
  • Ask the children to dance as they want, imitating you only in breathing.
  • Have a child play your role as the dance leader.

Conclusion (7 minutes)

Setup and Description.

1. To promote deep breathing, ask the children to expand (by inhaling) and contract (by exhaling) like balloons, slowly inflating and deflating. Help them by demonstrating with a balloon.

2. Ask them if they notice the changes between motionlessness and movement (breathing, HR, perspiration). Ask them also what they noticed and felt when they were moving and when they were relaxing.

Points of Emphasis

  • Explain the need for rest between or after exercising.
  • Remind the children of the changes in body function during exercise and relaxation.

This is an excerpt from Early Steps Physical Education Curriculum.

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Early Steps Physical Education Curriculum

Early Steps Physical Education Curriculum

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