Teaching Physical Education: Academic Infusion by Mike Bohannon

My name is Mike Bohannon. I teach K – 5 Physical Education at Pleasant Ridge Elementary School in Easton, Kansas. The 2018-19 school year will be my 33rd year of teaching physical education, and my 30th year teaching elementary physical education at Easton USD #449. I still enjoy teaching and I am looking forward to a new year. Academic Infusion, (A.I.) is something I use in many of my lessons. The skills I teach are still the focus of the lesson; however, I use Academic Infusion to reinforce what students learn in the classroom and to enhance my lessons.

What is Academic Infusion?

Academic Infusion is the integration of language arts, math, geography, and other academic subjects into physical education programs. It could be number, letter, color, money, or shape recognition, addition, subtraction, multiplication, fractions, telling time, counting money, spelling, etc. I learned of A. I. from a game submitted by Judy Blum to The Great Activities Newspaper in 1993, titled “Academic Infusion Through Physical Education - It Works”. Artie Kamiya publishes the Great Activities Newspaper for Elementary and Middle School Physical Education Teachers bi-monthly.


Why Academic Infusion?

Research has shown that movement and learning go hand in hand. That makes Physical Education a great place for learning. I attended a workshop, “Kids at Work: Games with a Purpose”, by Jean Blaydes, the founder of Action Based Learning. She showed us how crossing the midline and movement affects the way we learn. I was convinced of the positive effects of Academic Infusion in my physical education program. I am able to reinforce what students are learning in the classroom and enhance my physical education lessons at the same time. I do not make classroom academics the focus of my lessons, but I believe my students benefit from Academic Infusion both in the classroom and in physical education. Kids love to show what they know, so adding math or spelling is just another motivator for them in the game or activity.

Here is a link to the Jean Blaydes keynote at the 2014 National PE Institute. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slTcoAWaREc

Jean Blaydes book Thinking on your Feet:


How do I use Academic Infusion?

Every Friday I receive the weekly newsletter sent home to parents, from each grade level, including the spelling or vocabulary words for the upcoming week. The newsletter tells me what they will teach the next week and any special events that may be happening. Having this information helps me stay informed with what is currently happening in each grade level. We may do cross crawls, students will spell or count

using their hands with a partner. We may make time, math or spelling part of the physical education lesson. I can take a lesson I have taught before and change it simply by adding in some Academic Infusion. Students will often say, “These are our spelling words”, or “we are learning about that in class”. Having this connection shows them I am communicating with their classroom teacher and we are all working together. Academic Infusion also helps me have a consistent, continuous, and positive working relationship with each grade level throughout the year. I share what is going on in P.E. with them, as well as brain boost ideas. This communication allows us to collaborate when possible.


I am comfortable creating my own games and activities “you can too”, but I also rely on others who have written books or posted games, activities, and ideas on Twitter. Physical Education teachers create and share so much. Ben Pirillo, Kevin Tiller, Hal Cramer, J. D. Hughes, just to name a few, have written books with some academically infused warm ups, and games. Lynn Hefele has a series of Literacy Enhanced Books. Joe Weaver, Gabe Ervin, Mike Morris, Joe McCarthy, Jorge Rodriguez, Matt Dykstra and Mike Graham are a few of the many who post academically infused warm ups and games on Twitter. Some physical education teachers have websites with a ton of information they share. You can also check out Teachers Pay Teachers for new games and ideas.

Closing Time

Academic Infusion enables me to connect movement and learning. A. I. reinforces classroom learning and enhances physical education lessons. Academic Infusion helps build stronger relationships with students and classroom teachers. We are all here working together for the same reason, the students. I like it, the students like it, and the classroom teachers like it. Academic Infusion – it works!

Here is a link to 20 Academic Infusion Games:


Mike Bohannon teaches K-5 Physical Education at Pleasant Ridge Elementary School. He has been teaching Elementary Physical Education for 33 years, 30 years for Easton USD #449, in Easton KS. Mike received his BSE and MSE from the University of Kansas. He has written a book titled “No, We Are Not Playing Dodgeball” and been published in The Great Activities Newspaper. He enjoys teaching, watching all Kansas City sports teams, spending time with his wife of 35 years, and two grown sons.


Pleasant Ridge Elementary; Easton, KS

Twitter: @mbohannon4


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