My name is Mary Cluley, and I am the PE Teacher at Notre Dame Catholic School in Wichita Falls, Texas. I am most fortunate in that I am starting my 24th year teaching Physical Education and I can easily report that it is the best profession in the whole world!
I am always looking for new ideas that are FUN for my students, as I want them to learn at an early age to LOVE to move! A few years ago, I was looking at my PE budget, and S&S Worldwide has such good prices and a wide variety of items, that I picked up the catalogue and the “Pickle Pong” game looked like so much fun! My eyes were attracted to the bright yellow foam nets, and as I read about the equipment, I saw that it was easy to set up. That is important to me because I do not have a lot of extra time in my day to be putting things together.
In addition, I am always looking for ideas to teach “agility” to my students. I thought to myself, Pickle Pong would be a great way to work on agility in my PE classroom. Working on “timing” as to when to hit the ball is important as well.
- Pickle Pong
- Jumbo Table Tennis Balls OR Gator Skin Balls
- Paddles (optional)
- Floor tape or Liquid Lines (optional)
Students can use paddles OR their hands for the ball. For grades 1-5, I use jumbo table tennis balls for this activity because they are 40% larger and easier for elementary students to see, and they are lightweight, so can be easily hit with the palm of the hand. For my preschoolers ages 3-5, I use the small colorful gator balls, and we practice bounce and catch over the nets. They love it so much! When they walk into the room, it is a “sea of yellow!” The excitement begins to brew! This activity can really be adapted for all grade levels.
S&S also offers a Pickle Pong™ Easy Pack, which includes four foam nets with supports, floor tape, plastic paddles, jumbo table tennis balls and connectors for locking 2 or 4 nets together.
How to Play Pickle Pong
The game is played like table tennis. Two students will be at each pickle pong net. One student will stand on each side. On the first two days, I had the students “rally” for as long as they could. The object was for them to hit the ball so it was easy for their partner across the net to hit the ball back over. This was good practice getting used to the game and working on their passes. We did not keep score, but you may decide to. On the third and fourth days, I had them play “ping pong” style, with one student getting 5 serves, and then they switch off. This time I had them actually keep score. We played until 15 points. They LOVED it.
On the Pickle Pong instructions, it shows you can also set up the nets for “4-square” and a few other games. I have just touched the top of the iceberg when it comes to Pickle Pong!
You can use either floor tape or liquid lines to mark the court lines. Since I do not have time nor the resources, I invite the students to talk it over with their partner about where they want the lines to be, and to just use their imagination. If it lands on the “imaginary line,” then of course they have to play it, always giving their partner the benefit of the doubt. This is teaching the virtues of honesty, courtesy and kindness! I say, “let your partner have their way” if there are any close calls. So I especially love this aspect of letting them work out any details or disagreements, which I can honestly say there were none of.
The nets are easy to store – just stack one on top of another, and they do not take that much room at all in your storage area. I keep the black net connectors in plastic bags that I bring from home.
All in all, I love Pickle Pong on many different levels. The most important thing, though, is that the children are learning the skill of agility, are having fun and learning to be virtuous in their social skills all at the same time! They are leaving soaking wet in sweat which tells me they got a great workout as well. Thank you, S&S Worldwide, for making such an awesome product!
About the Author:
My name is Mary Cluley, and I am beginning my 24th year of teaching at Notre Dame Catholic School in Wichita Falls, TX! I am on the PE Central Advisory Board, and guest lecturer at Midwestern State University Kinesiology classes. I have recieved the following awards:
- “Innovations in Catholic Education Award” – chosen as one of 10 honorees across the United States for innovation in teaching – Fit Bit Project
- Certificate of Merit – United States Dept. of Agriculture – winner of the “My Plate” video challange across the nation
- Catholic Schools Honoree representing Notre Dame Catholic School in the Diocese of Ft. Worth
Teaching Physical Education is the best profession in the whole wide world! We are blessed beyond measure if this is our chosen profession!