Integrating Global Games in the Elementary Physical Education Curriculum

By Gross, Michael K.; Buchanan, Alice M. | Strategies: A Journal for Physical and Sport Educators, September-October 2011 | Go to article overview
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Integrating Global Games in the Elementary Physical Education Curriculum


Gross, Michael K., Buchanan, Alice M., Strategies: A Journal for Physical and Sport Educators


Integrating physical education with other academic subjects has been a dimension of the physical education curriculum for years, and is intended to help increase physical activity and cognition (Hatch & Smith, 2004). Although physical education integration is not a groundbreaking idea, the amount of recent articles and research suggest a renewed curiosity with its application (Altman & Lehr, 2003; Brock & Campbell, 2001; Buchanan, Howard, Martin, Williams, Childress, Bedsole, & Ferry, 2002; Hastie & Martin, 2006; Jehue & Carlisle, 2000; Kahan, 1998; Lozon, 1997; Placek & O'Sullivan, 1997). Furthermore, one might argue that physical education and its application of skilled movement cannot be separated from the academic curriculum and has always been an integral part of teaching.

The first physical educator was the parent who taught his son how to throw, to jump, and to climb, or in company with others instructed him in the standards of the group to which he belonged. The initiations of youth as a part of the introduction to responsible manhood and womanhood, and social standards, or standard ways of behavior have always been taught by the elders to the young. Through the two lines of effort flow the source and purpose of physical education: to train the intelligence, to develop the organic systems, to master certain fundamental skills inherent in the individual's nature under the force of the social requirements, and to shape the young to understand, interpret, and uphold the standards of conduct approved by the group. (Williams, 1948, p. 3)

Integrated curricula are well situated to facilitate multicultural and global education. Pohan (2000) suggests that teachers thread multicultural content into all areas of their teaching, moving it from "a 'curriculum' to view it as 'a philosophical approach to teaching'" (p. 24). Providing opportunities for children to take the perspective of those from other cultures broadens the lens through which they view the world.

Some scholars recommend extending multicultural education by teaching "global" education. For instance:

A global education takes traditional multicultural education a step furthen. While multieultural education studies the world in the child's local community, global education locates the child and his particular community within the world. But both promote the idea of interdependence through cooperative experiences by living in a global community. (Swiniarski, 2006, p. 36)

Children are regularly asked to make real world connections with the information they learn in school. For instance, if a child wanted to build a tree house, save money for a toy, or follow a recipe correctly, he or she would need to be able to make certain mathematical calculations outside of the classroom. Indeed, this is true for other content areas such as science, language arts, and reading. When children see the conceptual connections to real world experiences, they are more likely to perceive the content as meaningful and relevant. Integrated curricula facilitate those connections.

The Global Games curriculum introduced in this article is a physical education model that marries global education and integrated curricula through the teaching of traditional games from each continent, along with recommendations for all content areas. Physical educators are encouraged to use the matrix (Table 1) to provide reference to culture and other content areas. When collaborating with classroom teachers, the Global Games becomes a school-wide curriculum.

Integrated Units for Elementary PE

Global education units are great motivators for activity in elementary physical education because they can bring freshness and excitement to a physical education program. Additionally, children are provided with the opportunity to learn just how much physical education interacts with the other academic subjects that they study.

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