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PE Word Walls: Engaging Strategies for Active Learning in Physical Education

Word walls are an important part of any physical education program. They can help students learn new words and terms, and they can also be used to improve student communication skills. In this blog post, we will discuss how to use word walls in physical education, and we will provide tips and strategies that will help you get the most out of them!

How to Use Word Walls in Physical Education: Tips and Strategies

What is a Physical Education Word Wall?

A Word Wall is a dynamic collection of words used by a PE instructor to enhance vocabulary learning, spelling, word-sound correspondence, and more. The text is generally displayed on a wall or other large surface in the gym and can be organized by category (e.g., units of study) or alphabetically.

When used effectively, word walls provide a way for students to see, hear, and use new vocabulary in a variety of contexts. This repeated exposure helps students learn the words more quickly and retain them longer. In addition, by providing a visual reference for words that can be used during class time, Word Walls help support student communication and make it more likely that students will use the new vocabulary words they are learning

What is an Alphabet Word Wall for Physical Education Word Wall?

Types of PE Word Walls

The possibilities for word walls in your gym are endless, but the following are a few examples that may be utilized in any PE program:

  • Alphabet Word Wall- A large list of physical education words that start with each letter and are in alphabetical order. Great for large spaces.

  • Unit of Study Word Walls- A list of words related to the current unit being taught in class

  • Bulletin Boards- Pertinent words displayed on a bulletin board (to express ideas and concepts) that can be changed out regularly

  • Top 10 Lists- A list of the top 10 words referenced for a class topic or unit of study in a PE and health class

  • Health-Related Word Walls- Words that emphasize and reinforce ongoing health and body concepts that are taught throughout the school year. Great for permanent areas in a learning space

Physical Education Bulletin Board- Manipulative Skills

The Benefits of Using Word Walls in Physical Education

The following are just a few of the many excellent reasons to employ a PE word wall in your gym or class:

  • Physical education teachers have a point of emphasis where they may draw words that are relevant to what they're discussing.

  • Students have a permanent resource and visual reference to consult when learning and articulating PE words

  • The Word Wall can serve as a visual showpiece and a way to advocate to parents, visitors, administrators, or other instructors about physical education

  • Word walls may be used to assess student understanding of essential information and to review crucial facts before a test or quiz

The Benefits of Using Word Walls in Physical Education

Word wall creation and tips for hanging

Teachers should keep the following points in mind when designing a word wall and placing it on a learning wall. Teachers should...

  • Include a variety of words related to physical activity, creative movement, sports, and PE

  • Create using a variety of fonts and colors to make the word wall more visually appealing

  • Ensure the words are big and easy to see in a large space

  • Include illustrations/graphics to help students remember the words

  • Involve students in the creation of the word wall to give them ownership in the process

  • Update the word wall regularly to keep it fresh and relevant

  • Laminate all materials before placing them on a wall or bulletin board

  • Affix the laminated words and graphics on a gym or wall

  • I've discovered that using double-sided Velcro and/or Mavalus tape to keep the words and letters in place is the most effective technique. Check out the following links to see the prices of these items on Amazon: 1. Double-sided Velcro 2. Mavalus tape


Ideas for using a word wall in physical education

Below are some examples of how teachers and students may use PE word walls during their daily classes:

Teachers can...

  • Introduce new vocabulary words into a program or unit of study (i.e, dance, educational gymnastics, basketball, cup stacking, etc.)

  • Address national, state, and district standard requirements

  • Use vocabulary words in class during units, activities, and games

  • Incorporate "Words of the Week" to skills and/or SEL words used in class lessons

  • Invite administrators, parents, and the community to view what learning is taking place during a PE lesson

Ideas for using a word wall in physical education

Students can...

  • Review vocabulary words to help solidify their understanding of relevant terms at the end of a unit or semester

  • Add relevant language to conversations regarding the activities and games they learn from

  • Participate in a "Spelling Relay". In groups of 4-5, one at a time, participants go to a pile of letters to spell words on the word wall

  • Play a match letter challenge: Using a letter and a set time (i.e. 1 minute) small groups write down as many words as they can that relate to a specified PE topic

SHAPE America Standard 5- Review Physical Education Vocabulary


In summary

Using a word wall is an excellent way to reinforce physical education vocabulary and concepts with your students. Not only do they provide a visual reference, but they can also be used as a tool for assessment and review. In addition, word walls are great for promoting advocacy of PE programs to parents, visitors, or other educators. When creating a word wall, be sure to involve your students in the process and update it regularly to keep it fresh. There are many ways to use a word wall in physical education, so get creative and have fun!

Do you have any tips or strategies for using Word Walls in physical education? Share them in the comments below!

Several pictures and word wall ideas were contributed by Jason Leach, a prominent physical educator at Independence Elementary School in Fort Worth, Texas. Jason can be reached on Twitter at @jkleach01.


FREE Top 10 Movement Visuals- Muscular Endurance

Do you need a free and easy-to-use resource to start using a PE word wall right now? One that has great graphics and relevant text for your program? Guess what...Cap'n Pete's Power PE has you covered! Download this FREE visual package of commonly taught muscular endurance exercises or activities for your gym wall

FREE Top 10 Movement Visuals- Muscular Endurance


Need more resources?

If you're looking for a way to enhance your program and increase your student’s PE and health vocabulary Cap'n Pete's PE Alphabet Word Wall- Complete Display and Editable Word Building File is the way to go! This highly rated package of PE words and graphics has been utilized by countless physical education and health educators and is prominent in many gyms and classrooms around the globe.

PE Alphabet Word Wall- Complete Display and Editable Word Building File

You can download the bundle (or individual resources) from either of the following platforms: Cap'n Pete's Power PE Website or Teachers Pay Teachers- Cap'n Pete's TPT Store

Cap'n Pete's PE Send off Signature Line



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