Research in Dance and Physical Education

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Research in Dance and Physical Education - Vol. 4 , No. 1

[ Article ]
Research in Dance and Physical Education - Vol. 3, No. 2, pp.1-7
ISSN: 2586-1034 (Online)
Print publication date 30 Dec 2019
Received 31 Oct 2019 Revised 28 Nov 2019 Accepted 20 Dec 2019

The Elementary Skill Theme Approach Utilizing Minimal Equipment
Christopher R. Gentry1 ; Hosung So2, *
1Department of Kinesiology California State University, San Bernardino, Associate Professor, USA
2Department of Kinesiology California State University, San Bernardino, Professor, USA

Correspondence to : *Email address:


The purpose of this paper is to introduce the readers to how to teach using Graham’s (1980) Skill-Themes Approach, which focuses on skill themes and movement concepts, with minimal to no equipment in the elementary setting. The Skill Theme Approach describes both content (what is being taught) and pedagogy (how it is being taught). Today, many elementary physical education teachers are asked to teach large class sizes with minimal equipment. In addition to these conditions, teachers are also tasked with challenging and motivating students in movement settings where many may feel uncomfortable participating while being observed by peers. Dealing with such challenges can be daunting, but the Skill-Themes Approach provides teachers with a purposeful, less intimidating method to introducing fundamental movements and skills while providing a strong foundation for competence and confidence in many different physical activities and exercise forms encountered throughout school and beyond. In addition, such an approach allows for teacher creativity when equipment is limited. This paper highlights the four aspects of Laban’s movement concepts (body, space, effort, and relationships), skill themes (locomotor, non-locomotor, and manipulative skills) and organization of activities with less-expensive equipment items such as but not limited to beanbags and tape. In addition, teachers teaching physical education, movement, physical activities, and dance are introduced to how a skill theme and movement concept approach will allow for development in less intimidating settings that focus on individual or small group tasks. Final recommendations are included to address a potential progression of activities throughout the elementary experience including combination of skills and movements, student creativity, and quality of movement. Connections can and should be made as to how such an approach matches well with a standards based curriculum. The paper also emphasizes that teaching by themes is an efficient way to improve the transition from basic skills and movements to those movements that are more complex later in life, referred to the primary concepts of Graham’s (1980) “children moving” and Schmidt’s (1977)schema theory”.

Keywords: skills theme approach, physical education, elementary

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