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Stay In, Play In

Jackson Elementary PE Teachers School Us on Healthy Snacks and Outdoor Fun

For this fitness issue, I went right to the source. I asked the PE teachers at Warren T. Jackson Elementary to share their tips to help keep our kiddos active this winter. They work with 265 students every day and every student in the school twice each week. Meet Kelly Browning and Ralph Berry. Now, go out and play! The teacher says so.

SC: I’m from Michigan so have no problem being outdoors in January! How can parents keep their kids active during the cooler winter months?

RB: In the house, my kids enjoy walking/running stairs, hula hooping, Zumba, and jumping rope. Yoga is also a popular activity for the little ones.  Parents could also dress kids appropriately and still engage them in some of the same warmer month activities such as bike riding, running, and other team sports activities.

KB:  I grew up playing outside year round so when it snowed, we went sledding and had snowball fights. Here in Atlanta we are fortunate to have very mild winters and plenty of parks and playgrounds. If outside during winter isn’t for you, ice skating, roller skating, and indoor trampoline parks are fun ways for kids to get some exercise!

SC: I’m a nut fan. What are your go-to power snacks?

RB: I prefer to snack on granola bars and assorted nuts. My kids love fresh fruit slices (oranges and apples), pretzels, yogurt and cheese crackers.

KB: My go-to power snacks are mostly fruit, nuts, and protein shakes if I’m running short on time. For the children I run with after school, I usually suggest a small orange or a handful of grapes as a light snack before our runs to give them a little boost of energy.

SC:I bet your classes are a ton of fun!

RB: Our students love many of our class activities but collectively they seem to always enjoy the cooperative games. An example of one is our Pirate game where each student belongs to a Pirate ship and is tasked with taking treasure from other teams. Each team has approximately 6-8 students and their objective is to try to cross over onto another pirate ship without being tagged.  The team that is able to retrieve all of their treasure first wins the round.  During each round the team must come up with a strategy as to how best to get their treasure as well as save their fellow pirates who have been captured (tagged).  We work on team cooperation, good sportsmanship, and locomotor movements during this class activity.  The great thing about this activity is that the kids are moving constantly and many of them don’t even realize how active they are during game play!

KB: Each day we teach six 45 minute segments of 40-50 students in each. Most of our students LOVE cooperative games. One of our most requested games for PE Choice Day is “Cross the Desert” and it’s actually a lot of fun for us to watch too!

Meet Mr. Berry: I’m originally from Morehead City, North Carolina, and have lived in Atlanta for 11 years. This is my 15th year teaching. My career has spanned all three levels: high school, middle school, and elementary school. I’ve worked in Atlanta Public Schools for 11 years and specifically at Warren T. Jackson Elementary for three years. My wife Je-Anne and I have three beautiful daughters ages 6, 5, and 1. We stay extremely busy with our crew and enjoy spending time together at Atlanta’s many parks. Our children spend time walking and riding bikes on the Atlanta Beltline. Soccer and ballet are also among their favorite activities. My favorite way to exercise is swimming. When I cannot swim, I usually ride a stationary bike to improve my cardiorespiratory endurance.  

Meet Ms. Browning: I’ve been teaching at Jackson Elementary School since 2004. Running and circuit training are my favorite ways to get exercise. I usually go to the gym before school a few times a week and run with a friend or two after school on other days. I thrive on running races and achieving personal goals. I coach our girls’ running club and enjoy running with and encouraging them to challenge themselves and see their accomplishments. My dog is my baby and I love playing with him and taking him on walks.