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Physical Activity Component

The Pathways physical education (PE) curriculum, recess, classroom and exercise breaks are designed to help students develop a physically active lifestyle. You can help most by encouraging regular participation in physical activity in PE class and recess.

The primary objective of the physical activity component is to increase caloric expenditure in children participating in Pathways in order to reduce the gain of excess body weight and prevent or reduce obesity. Individuals who are physically fit and who engage in physical activity on a regular basis generally enjoy better health, have more energy to devote to activities in daily life, and learn physical skills easier and are more successful at them. All of the activities of the Pathways physical activity component should be used to increase daily physical activity. In addition, these activities should be integrated with the classroom curriculum, family, and food service programs to get the greatest benefits from Pathways.

Download procedures manuals for the Pathways physical activity component.
Each part of the physical activity component are described in more detail below.


The PE units taught in Pathways PE are from a very successful program called SPARK (Sport, Play, and Active Recreation for Kids) that was developed to increase physical activity during PE class in ways that are creative and fun for both students and teachers. SPARK has been shown to dramatically increase 50% of more time engaged in "moderate to vigorous" physical activity per class. SPARK achieved this goal and is one of the most thoroughly evaluated PE programs ever. This curriculum has received many honors, including being designated as an "Exemplary Program" from the Program Effectiveness Panel, National Diffusion Network, U.S. Department of Education. We suggest you schedule PE 3 to 5 days per week for a minimum of 30 minutes each session.

To receive training, materials, and information about SPARK PE, contact Paul Rosengard at 1-800-SPARK-PE or 1-800-772-7573.

Exercise Breaks

Materials for this component include an Exercise Break box (include photo of box). We suggest you implement classroom exercise breaks at least once daily for 3 to 5 minutes.

Exercise Break box includes:

  • Color-coded cards with description of activities.
  • Clear instructions that can be used by teachers and students.
  • Ideal for use in rooms with limited space.

Helpful Suggestions for Using the Exercise Break box:

  • Perform one to two exercise breaks each day to improve fitness and health.
  • Exercise break activities should last 3 to 5 minutes to benefit the students.

the Pathways Exercise Break Box materials
Exercise Breaks [PDF] (745kb (Purchase a 9"X5" file card box in which to store the activity cards)

American Indian Games

  • Includes games in lesson plan format that were developed from traditional American Indian games and activities.
  • Includes a binder with easy-to-follow diagrams and instructions for each game.
  • Includes information about the tribal origin and history of games.

Benefits of American Indian Games include:

  • Increases physical activity.
  • Increases knowledge about activities of various tribal cultures.
  • Increases social interaction between students.
  • Makes physical activity fun.

Download the instructional materials for American Indian Games
Modified American Indian Games [PDF] (319kb) These materials can be kept in a binder for use by teachers.


One primary goal of the Pathways physical activity component is to increase free play time for all students. Here are some suggestions for increasing recess at your school:

  • Work with school administrators to increase opportunities for free play time, or recess.
  • Educate students and school staff about the importance of daily play for children’s health and fitness.

Tips to Increase Physical Activity During Recess:

  • Provide access to equipment and games.
  • Educate school staff supervising recess about encouraging students to actively play during recess.
  • Incorporate American Indian games and activities from the Exercise Break box into recess time.
  • Provide a supportive environment for children to enjoy active play.