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June/July 2007 Vol. 9 No. 6

IDEA 2004 defines physical education as: physical and motor fitness, fundamental motor skills, dance, aquatics, individual group games and sports, and lifetime activities. When establishing programs, one area that seems more difficult than the others to accommodate is aquatics, because many schools do not have use of a pool.

This article will present aquatic activities that can be taught without the use of a traditional pool, so instructors can have an adapted physical activity program that addresses aquatics. Below, I've outlined 10 inclusive, cooperative aquatic activities that are a fun way to promote physical fitness, swimming skills and education, as well as motor development in a cooler environment.

A land-based aquatic program not only provides the potential for teaching aquatics skills and activities without a pool, but also allows the instructor to instill physical education awareness to promote lifelong habits and safety.

In reflection of the past school year, I've provided a list of the main topics covered (October to April) by pelinks4u. These articles address a wide and in-depth variety of interesting ideas, programs, and strategies for working with students who have disabilities. Take a few minutes and reflect; it will be time well spent.

Also included are supportive web sites for the topics being discussed, an interesting legal story, and an article about the new emphasis for assessment accountability for students with disabilities. Best wishes on an excellent summer for everyone.

Philip Conatser
Adapted PE Editor

Toledo  PE Supply
16 inclusive cooperative activities for aquatics, gymnastics, large group activities, and golf.
Courses to help pass the Adapted Physical Education National Standards certification.
IEDA 2004 final version report.
Teaching and assessing students with disabilities.
7 pains you shouldn't ignore.
Information on Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Fragile X, and Dwarfism.
Fact sheets and physical activity recommendations for Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, Spinal Cord Injury, Cystic Fibrosis, Scoliosis, Juvenile Arthritis, Seizures, and Osteoporosis.
The do's and don'ts for exercise induced asthma.
Benefits of Hippotherapy.
Suggestion for a successful dance program.
Health related activities with adaptations.
Fitness Assessments for individuals with disabilities.
Guidelines for prior, during, and after assessment.
Target Heart Rate Zone adjustments for disabilities.
Legislative mandates toward assessment.
Disability sport opportunities.
Articles and personal success stories.
10 ways children can become more resilient.
Stress reduction strategies.
Results of a resistance training program for cognitive disabilities.
Adapted aquatics lesson plans for Asperger's syndrome.
The evolution of Inclusion.
An overview of Multiple Sclerosis.

Note: only some of the main topics within each issue were highlighted, therefore you should take a few minutes to explore the archives more closely. Pay particular attention to the numerous supportive websites, resources, and references. Go visit these great issues!

Speed Stacks


By John H. Hager
Assistant Secretary
Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services U.S. Department of Education

Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings announced new regulations under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) allowing states to test certain students with disabilities using an alternate assessment that more appropriately aligns with their needs and yields more meaningful results for schools and parents. The new regulations provide states and schools with greater flexibility by allowing them to more accurately evaluate the students' academic progress, and tailor instruction based on their individual needs.

"Through No Child Left Behind, we're continuing to raise the bar and improve the way we educate and assess students with disabilities," Secretary Spellings said. "These students are capable of achieving high academic standards, and now states and schools can be better attuned to their needs. No Child Left Behind has put the needs of students with disabilities front and center, and this regulation helps continue to drive the field forward in developing better tests for students with disabilities."

Secretary Spellings also announced that the U.S. Department of Education will provide $21.1 million in grant funds for technical assistance as states develop new assessments for students with disabilities. The Department also released written guidance to states on the implementation of the new regulations, offering recommendations on issues such as how students with disabilities can be appropriately identified for this assessment.

Under the new regulations, states may develop modified academic achievement standards based on grade-level content - and alternate assessments based on those standards - for students with disabilities who are capable of achieving high standards but may not reach grade level in the same timeframe as their peers.

States may count proficient and advanced test scores on these alternate assessments for up to 2.0 percent (approximately 20 percent of students with disabilities) of all students assessed when calculating adequate yearly progress (AYP) under NCLB. These regulations build on the flexibility provided for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities, which allows states to count up to 1.0 percent of proficient and advanced assessment scores based on alternate achievement standards toward AYP calculation.

The fact sheet, Measuring the Achievement of Students with Disabilities, provides helpful information about the 2 percent regulations.

As a student when training to be a Physical Education teacher, you cannot qualify as a teacher if you are not in good physical condition. We accommodate students with various disabilities in our PE classes by modifying activities, and rightly so. I am interested in opinions regarding teaching with a disability (e.g. if the teacher suffers an injury that affects him/her long term)? Does this mean that we are no longer eligible to teach PE? Do you think this is a form of discrimination? Please answer in the forum.

Cooperative Land Aquatic Activities

I encourage instructors to be creative, modify, and allow for more choices than what is presented in each activity. The following suggestions can not accommodate for every situation. As most would probably agree, the environment, students, and personnel are ever changing, therefore being flexible, adaptable, and allowing options, make for good teaching.

Remember water activities may need additional considerations such as, a) keeping hard surfaces dry or slip free; b) if activities are held in the grass and students are not wearing shoes, make sure no sharp objects can injure the students; c) if activities are held outside, sun-screen should be applied, shade provided, and proper clothing worn; d) know the local weather conditions; e) unused equipment should be kept away from the activity; f) glass or breakable items should be prohibited in the activity area; g) make sure wheelchairs and braces are appropriate for water use; h) all equipment, toys, and the activity area is allowed to dry out effectively; and i) after water activity, use plenty of lotion for yourself and the students skin, and wash hair with a ph balance shampoo.


Students should be organized in small groups/teams with 4 to 6 people. The amount of teams will depend on how many ropes and/or slip-&-slides are available. Students are instructed to pull teammates using a rope from one end of the slip-&-slide and back. When each member has successfully completed the task, the game is over. In addition, everyone should have the opportunity to pull or be pulled by a team member.

The student being pulled has the choice of standing, sitting, or lying down, depending on their ability level. If a student is unable to grip the rope they could be pushed instead of pulled. Also, more than one student can push or pull teammates from one end and back. Depending on team skill level, some teams may have more students. Teams may also compete against each other or for their own individual best time.

Make sure students that are pulling do not slip/fall, and students being pulled do not get rope burned or dragged off the slip-&-slip. If a student being pulled loses their balance, the pullers will need to stop movement, and students being pushed, pulled, and turned around at the return, proceed at a pace that does not result in injury.

Ropes, poles, or hula hoops for pulling and slip-&-slides.


Students are to cast/throw magnets attached to fishing pole lines into portable play pools where small toys, coins, or other interesting objects can be retrieved and returned/released (note: magnets attract iron, so toys or objects that are not attractive need some type of metal attached). Casting, catching, retrieving, and releasing may be an individual, cooperative, or competitive game activity.

Individually, students can practice the skills required (grip, release/cast, aim, reeling, etc.) to perform the activity and in a given amount of time. Count the number of successful attempts. Cooperative game situations may consist of some students being designated "casters/catchers," some "retrievers," and some "returners" of all the toys caught back to the pool. Using this format, or having each team member perform all the skill requirements, allows for competition.

Students should have choices in how far they can cast, which fishing poles they can use, and the toys they can retrieve. Further, fishing pole length/weight, reel (manual, automatic), weight/size of the magnet, and the size/amount of retrievable toys will also challenge skill abilities. For example, if a student is near the pool, using a longer liter pole that has an automatic reel, heavier magnet, and many toys to retrieve, the task is much easier.

Allow an ample perimeter between students during casting. When returning toys, all casting must stop, and do not let students cast toward each other.

Fishing poles, magnets, retrievable toys, and portable plastic or inflatable pools.

RESCUE Digiwalker

Students are grouped into pairs, with one student playing the role of the "rescuer" and one the "victim." Students will take turns throwing a ring buoy (rescuer) to their partner (victim) that should be pulled the length of the slip-&-slide. Partners are timed from when the rescuer grabs the ring buoy until the victim reaches the end (safety) of the slip-&-slide. Rescuers should throw the buoy past the victim and slowly pull (by rope) the buoy back to the victim.

Throwing and guiding the buoy back to the victim should first be practiced with a target. In some situations, there may be two rescuers with one throwing and guiding the buoy, and then both helping pull the victim to safety. The student victim being pulled can sit or lay down while holding the ring buoy. If a student has difficulty holding the buoy, a harness can be used, or one of the rescuers can help the victim put the harness on and both be pulled to safety. The distance between the rescuer and victim, length of the slip-&-slide, and type of buoy will change difficulty level.

Rescuers must use caution when throwing the ring buoy, pulling the victim off the slip-&-slip, and pulling at a speed/direction that does not jerk/twist the victim. All activity should stop if the student being pulled becomes twisted or choked by the rope, ring buoy, or harness.

Equipment Ring buoys, rescue tubs (or harnesses), ropes, and slip-&-slides.


Students are organized into groups according to how many inflatable rafts are available. Several students per group, should be placed in rafts that are filled to the top with water. Students are instructed to get all the water out of their raft as fast as possible. Students may use cups, sponges, buckets, and/or their hands to splash the water out.

Once all the water is out, or a set time limit (10 minutes) has expired, the game is over. Teams may compete or work independently toward emptying the rafts or lowering the water levels. If rafts are placed near one another, students can also try putting water in their opponents' rafts. The size of the raft, amount of water, extraction method, and student to raft ratio will change the difficulty level.

For example, if one team is very efficient, they can be restricted to only using sponges or spoons to empty their raft. Whatever method used to equalize groups or make a particular group more efficient, make sure students are always safe and enjoying the activity.

Water levels of as little as four inches can cause drowning, so be alert for face submersion. Throwing water can also choke or hurt the eyes of students. If students are in cold water for long periods, they can also get hyperthermia.

Sponges, spoons, scoops, ladles, cups, pails, buckets and inflatable rafts



Students are to pull (prone) or push (spine) with their arms/legs on scooter boards while moving through a water obstacle course (water sprinklers, cool zones, splash balls, etc.). Scooter boards roll best on smooth surfaces, such as concrete or flattened blacktops. Students can practice arm/leg propulsion and navigation individually or with a partner, and teams can be organized for a competitive race. Having a variety of paths, interesting toys to venture after, and/or competition may encourage more movement. The length/width of the obstacle course, paths, nature of obstacles, amount of toys to recover, as well as surface and water conditions will all change the level of difficulty. Moving around on scooter boards with water splashing everywhere is a fun way to improve upper/lower body strength and swimming skill patterns in a cool environment.

Some types of water sprinklers/toys have long arms that can harm students. Slipping/stumbling, and students colliding may also be possible problems.

Water sprinklers, splash balls, cool zones, wiggle worms, and scooter boards.


Students are matched up, or put in small groups. Within each pair or group of students, some should be designated "bubble blowers" and others "popper." Students blowing bubbles work to have their teammate(s) "pop" all the bubbles while standing or sitting in a plastic or inflatable pool/raft.

The team that pops the most bubbles in a given amount of time wins. Some students may need a racquet (badminton, tennis) to help pop bubbles, or an automatic bubble blowing machine for making bubbles. Distances between teammates, devices for making bubbles, and how students will pop bubbles will vary the difficulty.

Bubbles should avoid eye contact. Limit team size. Students in the water should be aware of their surroundings to avoid hitting, pushing, or knocking down their classmates.

Bubble blowing toys and portable plastic or inflatable pools/rafts.


Students are given the challenge of knocking down as many objects (pin, bottles, toys, etc.) as they can, with their hands or feet, as they slide down the slip-&-slide. Objects can be placed along side, or at the end of the slip-&-slide. If students cannot slide the full length, they may be permitted to crawl or roll to the end.

Students' scores are based on how many objects they knockdown in 10 attempts. Placing objects farther away from the slide, using different sized objects, and the amount of objects to knock down will very the difficulty level. As an alternative to knocking objects down, students can try grabbing/catching objects during the slide.

Make sure students do not run down the slide or leave their feet during takeoff. All objects should be made of soft material.

Plastic bowling pins, plastic bottles, toys, and slip-&-slides.


Students placed in small cooperative groups are challenged to design and build the best cool-zone. With some PVC pipes, u-joints, duct tape and a water hose, students can create to their hearts are content. Temperature readings are taken to determine which cool-zone is the coldest. After cooperative creative competition, students can enjoy playing in their newly built structures.

Teacher, paraprofessional, and staff should supervise construction.

PVC pipes (pipes need many small holes drilled), plenty of duct tape, end plugs, and water hoses.


Students are placed on opposite sides of a net and instructed to kick or throw all the balls (splash balls, water balloons, sponge balls) from their side to their opponents' side. The activity works best if there are more balls to kick than balls to throw.

After a particular time limit has passed, each side counts all the balls on their side. The team with the least balls wins. Students with limited abilities can have designated balls (red sponge balls) for their use, or a buddy to assist in reaching/grabbing, throwing, or kicking balls. There should also be means for accessing water near the playing area.

Large water balloons should not be used. Limit kicking force, and throwing should be underhand.

Various sizes and colors of splash balls, water balloons, sponge balls, containers (buckets, trash cans) for holding water, and badminton nets.


Students are organized into one or two large groups and instructed to throw balls or toys into water filled rafts. All the balls and toys start from inside hula-hoops, boxes, or special zones before being tossed in the rafts. After all the balls are thrown into the rafts, students climb into the rafts to throw/return balls back to their original starting position. The activity can be timed for improvement or teams can compete. Certain colored balls or toys can be designated for different areas. Having students work cooperatively an safely, while getting each other plenty wet, will make the activity more successful and fun for all students.

In some situations, student should not stand close to the rafts during bombardment. Light objects should be used as projectiles and avoid splashing water in teammate’s eyes.

Balls, toys, hula-hoops, boxes, tubs and inflatable rafts.

Adapted Aquatics
American Association of Physical Active and Recreation (AAPAR)
USA Swimming
Aquatic Therapy
Aquatic Therapy & Rehab Institute
Adapted Water skiing
Texas Adaptive Aquatics Water Sports
American Red Cross
Abilitation Adapted Therapies
Summer Activities for kids with learning disabilities: making wise choices.

Interesting Legal Story - The ongoing legal battle waged by Tatyana McFadden, a 17-year-old wheelchair racer who wants her results to count for Atholton's track and field team, has been met with disdain by the local track community, including some of the girls on her team.

PE Central
Phi Epsilon Kappa
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