The Cooper Institute

Founded in 1970 by the "Father of Aerobics"
Kenneth H. Cooper MD, MPH


Fuel Up to Play 60: Physical Activity Plays

Posted in

Tuesday, Jan 09, 2018

Hamilton Elementary School has participated in the Fuel Up to Play60 program since 2009.  It is not just a program anymore; not just one thing we do… is a part of our school culture.  Students, staff members, and families are working together to make healthier choices with nutrition and physical activity.  The physical activities that we do started with Fuel Up to Play60 grant funding, but are sustainable on their own now and they continue to increase in participation.  We have a recess running club called Rainbow Runners, a physical activity tracking event each spring, participation in the NFL Play60 Seahawk Challenge, Family Fitness Nights (Families in Training= FIT), and organized recess activities.

Peace Pals, our 5th and 6th grade recess helpers, punch running cards as students complete laps on the playground.  Each completed running card (5 miles) earns a charm/token.  The charms were initially purchased through Fitness Finders.  Each year we “run” the program a bit differently.  Here are some of the ways that we have done it:

  • Year-long program:  At least one Peace Pal was designated to punch running cards each day. A completed card earned a foot or sneaker charm.  Students keep their charms on colored lanyards.  The color of the lanyard changes with every 100 laps completed (starting with purple and moving upward to red).
  • Seasonal year-long program: Same as above but the types of charms change each month.  For example, apples in September, pumpkins in October, turkeys in November, etc.
  • One week each month:  Every once in awhile it is good to tone down the program to rebuild interest.  This version has Peace Pal members punching cards for just one week each month.  The whole school focusses on completing laps during that one week.

Students and family members can also earn charms by tracking their physical activity during May, National Sport and Physical Education Month.  Points are collected by classrooms to earn Fuel Up to Play60 prizes.

Family Fitness Nights are part of our F.I.T. (Families in Training) program. Some of the monthly evening activities include FitnessGram assessments and goal setting, relays, holiday stations, yoga, Zumba, taste testing, hands-only CPR, and a grocery store scavenger hunt.  Four times a year, parents are invited to participate in P.E. during “Take Your Parent to P.E. Week.”  Parents participate in a warmup run, dynamic stretching, and whatever the skill-development activities are for the day.

Each June, the P.E. program sponsors a different-themed Field Day. Recently students participated in a Fuel Up to Play60 Field Day.  The 6th grade students created games with a nutrition twist.  Each game fell into a food group category.  Students decorated their own MyPlate necklaces and collected food group stickers on their plates as they visited 25 different stations carnival-style.  Sample food group games were Apple Stacking (fruit sticker), Milk Truck Relay (dairy sticker), Chicken Fling (protein sticker), Veggie Scramble (vegetable sticker), and Cereal Box Puzzles (grain sticker).


Fuel Up to Play60 grant funding helped our school to purchase equipment to be used at recess. Each month the Peace Pals supervise and monitor large and small group “games of the month.”  Students can choose to participate in the organized games or free play.  Soccer goals were purchased so that students could play organized soccer games during recess.  Students sign up for teams and follow a schedule of tournament play. Though most students are able to self-monitor their soccer games, Peace Pals sign up as helpful referees. The same thing is done for flag football, basketball, ultimate, and lacrosse.  Students learn the skills and rules in physical education prior to the game-of-the-month.

            Some students prefer to play smaller group games.  In addition to the classics, such as hopscotch, tetherball, four square, etc. students are able to play “backyard games.”  They choose from ladderball, croquet, kan jam, frisbee golf, and corn hole. Peace Pals help teach the younger students how to play the games and partner with those students having trouble finding someone to play with.  Frisbee golf has become so popular that we are looking into a way to create a permanent course that can be used year-long.


In addition to the physical activities that are offered during recess, students and staff members have opportunities to be physically active during the school day.  Classroom teachers provide their students with Brain Boosters, online exercise such as Adventures to Fitness, Go Noodle, and Cosmic Kids Yoga, and active-based learning.  Some classes utilize juggling scarves, hula hoops, and alternative seating (exercise balls). Students can be seen practicing their math facts while doing jumping jacks, adding movements to their spelling words, or dancing while learning about continents.  Some schools participate in Drop Everything and Read, but our school participates in Drop Everything and Dance!  “Everybody Dance Now” comes over the school intercom system at random times.  That is the cue for students and staff to stop what they are doing and prepare to dance. When the music starts it could be anything from YMCA, The Twist, ChaCha Slide to the Chicken Dance. Even visitors to the building join in the fun!

The staff members in our building are positive role models for physical activity.  Each staff member has a pedometer, logs mileage, and posts their steps outside their classrooms. Monthly staff contests include The Amazing Race, Survivor, Hawk Pride, and Pedometer Poker.

 Fuel Up to Play60 is definitely a part of our school culture.  We believe in the importance of leading healthy and active lifestyles and look forward to the next opportunity to participate together!

Submitted By:

Krista Winn, Hamilton Elementary School
Port Angeles, WA

NFL Play 60 FitnessGram Project Champion
Seattle Seahawks Market