Let the Games Begin! | Ophea Teaching Tools

    Let the Games Begin!

    Physical Activity Level
    • Moderate Vigorous

    • Outdoors

      • 2 pylons

      • Appendix A

      • Appendix B

      • Appendix G

      • Pool noodle (1 per 2 students)

      • Ribbon ties (black, red, white, yellow)

    Safety Considerations

    Prior to activity, inspect the outdoor area to eliminate any potential hazards. Teacher (or older student under direction of the teacher) places ribbons in safe, accessible locations, suitable to the age and grade level of students. Clearly outline the boundaries of the activity area to students.


    Students will actively and safely explore the Medicine Wheel / Four Directions Teachings through the use of ribbons.

    Warm Up

    Fitness Activities

    • Students start by walking around the activity area for 20-30 seconds, and then perform the following fitness activities from Appendix A:
      • Scissors for 15-20 seconds.
      • Next, ask students to march around for 20-30 seconds and, on your signal, do Punch Up–Down and Hop for 15-20 seconds.
      • Finally, ask students to jog for 20-30 seconds, and then do Chicken Jacks for 15-20 seconds.
    • Repeat for 1-2 minutes.
    Getting Active


    • Cut or make 5 strips of each of the four types of ribbon, to symbolize the four colours (black, red, white and yellow) of the Medicine Wheel / Four Directions Teachings (see Appendix G).
    • Tie ribbons in school yard ahead of time (3-4 ribbons for every student in the class). Place them where the will be visible to students with a bit of searching / safely reachable (not too high).
    • Students divide into 4 groups (1 per colour) of 2–5 students each. Tell them they are an Olympic/Pan Am/Indigenous Games rowing team, in training. They must practice their “paddling” skills and quickly find and bring back the ribbons that match their team name.
    • Demonstrate and practice with the class the “training exercises” for the “canoeing” events (Activities, from Appendix A: Chicken Jacks, Wounded Duck, Lollipop Hop, Scissors, Five Dot Hop, and Punch Up–Down and Hop).
    • Teams straddle their canoe (i.e., pool noodle) and “paddle” (jog / run / hop) together, looking for ribbons of their team colour in the school yard.
    • As soon as they find a ribbon, they untie it and travel together back to you (situated in an open area of the school yard).
    • Assign each team 1 “training exercise” (5-10 repetitions) to perform when they give you the ribbon.
    • After a “training exercise” is completed successfully, students straddle their canoe and continue to search the yard for another ribbon tie.
    • The sequence is repeated until all the ribbons are collected. Signal the students to quickly “paddle” across the finish line (e.g., between 2 pylons) and to you.


    • Students keep their collected ribbons during the activity.
    • Winner could be the first team to bring back their five ribbons.
    Cool Down

    Follow the Leader

    • Divide the class into groups of 3-4.
    • One volunteer from each group leads the activity. Students move around the activity area, following the leader. After 20-30 seconds, ask groups to change their leader, and gradually decrease the speed of the activity. The last student should be moving in slow motion (1-2 minutes).
    • Lead students through a series of static stretches (1-2 minutes) from Appendix B.
    Other Considerations
    • Explain the importance of the four traditional colours and the Medicine Wheel / Four Directions Teachings, or, if this is an important aspect of the culture in your community, invite an Elder to explain this to the students.
    • “Games” can refer to the Olympic Games, the Pan-Am Games, the North American Indigenous Games or any other major event that would inspire the students.
    • Consult Appendix J for examples of Aboriginal athletes to inspire students.
    • Use older students to assist in tying the ribbons.
    • You may choose to have your students hold the noodle and travel together, instead of straddling the noodle.
    • Vary the type of movements students do as they “paddle” in search of ribbons (e.g., gallop, skip, side step).