Sharing the Wall: Ways to Use the Climbing Wall Beyond Physical Education – Part 1
Schools can help their students, teachers, staff and community lead more active lives by using their climbing walls beyond physical education class. In other words, we think physical educators should share the wealth by sharing their wall.
Over the next three weeks, we are going to offer tips each week for sharing a Traverse Wall®. The ideas offered here can be part of your Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program (CSPAP) and will help you join the growing Active Schools movement.
Our first idea is to share the climbing wall with classroom educators which allows for the integration of more physical activity into the school day. This not only helps students reach the CDC’s minimum daily recommendation of 60 minutes of physical activity but is also shown to improve learning and behavior.
Classroom Teachers & The Climbing Wall
We recognize that not all classroom educators are familiar with rock climbing, or conducting physical activities with students, so getting their buy-in and providing climbing wall training is critical to this being successful.
Check with your principal and see if you can get on the schedule for an upcoming staff meeting. There you can provide a Traverse Wall 101 training to include an introduction to horizontal climbing, an overview of the parts of the climbing wall and a summary of the safety rules. Next get educators on the wall by having them try some beginner climbing activities! If you can’t be part of a staff meeting, consider introducing your fellow teachers to the climbing wall by hosting this event before or after school.
Physical Activity Break/Brain Energizer
One way that classroom teachers can use the wall with their class is to take a physical activity break or a Brain Energizer on the climbing wall. Taking a break from classroom learning to climb is fun and gets children re-engaged in classroom work. This requires the classroom educator to walk the class to the gym, but a brief time on the climbing wall is a lot of fun and good exercise. The climbing wall is so popular with students, that some teachers use it as a reward. And we’re not talking about a long amount of time. 10 or 15 minutes on the wall and then students are back to work in their classrooms. Providing teachers with a lesson plan of climbing wall activities suitable for their grade level will help everyone find success using the wall to take a fun activity break.
Another way for classroom educators to use the climbing wall is to integrate it with their lessons. Here are a few ideas that integrate literacy, numeracy and climbing:
- Place letters of the alphabet or words on the climbing wall. They can be written on note cards and taped to the wall, or tucked behind the hand holds. As children climb, they can practice letter recognition, letter sounds, find the letters in their name, read site words or spell words, even the week’s spelling list. (If placing letters, be sure to duplicate frequently used letters: A, E, I, O, R, T, N, S, L and C.) Letters/words remain on the climbing wall. Climbers just point to them and don’t remove them.
- Place a variety of numbers on the climbing wall. They can be written on note cards and taped to the wall, or tucked behind the hand holds. As children climb, they can identify numbers, find fact families, add the numbers closest to each hand or practice multiplication facts. Numbers remain on the climbing wall. Climbers just point to them and don’t remove them.
Logistics to Consider
- If the physical educator is available to assist or co-teach the first few times that teachers bring their class to the wall, it will make future sessions on the climbing wall more successful.
- Traverse Walls take up a small amount of space in the gym and can be made available to classroom teachers on days when it’s not going to be used as part of physical education classes. A classroom teacher can have their class on the wall and the physical educator can conduct activities in another area of the gym or outside with their class.
- To facilitate scheduling, the physical educator could create a schedule for when the climbing wall is available and communicate this to staff. Some schools block off a window of time and schedule teachers back to back. This allows them to keep the climbing mats down for a long period of time and not have to open and close the climbing wall, as putting up and taking down mats is a consideration that does take 5-10 minutes depending on the size of the wall.
- Be sure that students are very well versed in the safety rules of the climbing wall and have had previous climbing experience prior to climbing with their classroom educator. This will help alleviate management and safety issues.
- Physical educators should continue to be a resource for colleagues and regularly check in and request feedback on how climbing with their class is going.
Interested in learning more about Comprehensive School Physical Activity Programs? Join PlayCore’s webinar on March 15-19, 2021. Use registration code: CLIMB