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Using Visuals in Physical Education: The Ultimate Guide to Enhanced Learning and Engagement in PE

In the dynamic world of physical education, the use of visuals stands as a powerful tool to foster a more engaging and effective learning environment. Visual aids not only enhance the understanding of complex concepts but also cater to diverse learning styles, making lessons more inclusive and accessible. In physical education settings, visuals can be a game-changer, helping to advocate for physical education, introduce skill and movement concepts, foster self-assessment, and encourage a deeper connection to the material at hand.

Using Visuals in Physical Education: The Ultimate Guide to Enhanced Learning and Engagement in PE

This article will unpack the myriad ways visuals can be integrated into the physical education setting, from the types of visuals that can be utilized to the best practices in designing and displaying them. Let's take a deep dive into the transformative power of visuals in PE, a journey that promises to equip you with the knowledge, ideas and tools to elevate your future teaching approach.


The Power of Visuals in Physical Education

Visual aids have revolutionized the way we teach and how students learn together, especially in dynamic environments like physical education. Let's delve deeper into the profound impact visuals have on the learning process and student engagement in PE.

Brain-based Learning and Visuals

It's a fascinating fact that the human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text. Imagine the vast difference between reading about a basketball dribbling technique and seeing a visual demonstration of it! When students are presented with a visual representation of a physical activity or concept, it's like giving their brain a shortcut to understanding. This rapid processing aids in comprehension and retention. Moreover, our brains are wired to recognize patterns, shapes, and structures. Visuals, whether they are diagrams, illustrations, or live demonstrations, seamlessly tap into this innate ability, streamlining the learning process and making it more efficient. In essence, visuals serve as a bridge, connecting abstract concepts to tangible understanding.

The Power of Visuals in Physical Education

Enhancing Motivation and Engagement

Think back to a time when a vibrant poster or an intriguing infographic caught your eye. Visuals have this innate power to grab our attention and pique our curiosity. In the realm of physical education, this attribute of visuals becomes invaluable. They act as magnets, drawing students in and kindling their interest. But it doesn't stop there. Once engaged, visuals sustain that interest, turning a fleeting moment of curiosity into prolonged engagement. This is especially crucial in physical education, where active participation is the cornerstone of learning. In a setting where every jump, twist, and turn counts, visuals ensure that students are not just bystanders but active participants. They transform a student from someone who merely watches to one who is eager to jump in and give it a go. In short, in the world of PE, visuals are the spark that can ignite the flame of enthusiasm and active participation.


What are Some Different Types of Visuals that Can be Used in PE?

Navigating through the world of physical education, we find that visuals are not just confined to physical entities; they extend into the digital realm too. Let's explore the various types of visuals that can add a splash of creativity and efficiency to your PE classes throughout the whole school year, including the digital wonders that technology brings to our fingertips.

Why Physical Education Poster

1 - Posters

Consider physical education posters as your silent assistants, always there to offer guidance and information. These large, attention-grabbing visuals can illustrate a wide range of concepts, from PE skill cues to important class expectations and procedures (i.e. good sportsmanship). They serve a dual purpose, beautifying the space while offering vital information, thus encouraging students to focus and absorb knowledge as they move.


Agility PE Banner

2 - Banners

Banners play the role of the grand announcers in your physical education classes, larger than posters in print and perfect for highlighting achievements, advocating for physical education and promoting special events. They foster a sense of community and celebration, making every achievement a big deal and every event a festival. Banners are perfect for displaying Shape America national standards in a learning space.


3 - Signs

Signs are the guiding stars in the PE setting,

PE Signs

providing directional or informational guidance during activities. They can help in organizing the flow of activities, directing students to different stations, or indicating where specific equipment should be used. Signs are great on a bulletin board and can also be used to help maintain order, provide specific activity and station instructions and create efficiency during classes.


Physical literacy Infograph

4 - Infographics

Infographics are visual representations of information, offering a quick and clear way for a teacher to convey knowledge. In PE, infographics can be used to breakdown complex instructions into simple, easy-to-follow steps, or to provide interesting, pictures, facts and statistics about a sport or physical activity. They are a great tool to summarize information in a visually appealing and digestible format, making learning fun and efficient.


5 - Task Cards

PE Cup Stacking Task Cards

Task cards are like mini-coaches, offering instructions or challenges to children for specific activities. They encourage self-paced learning, allowing students to work at their own pace and gradually build up their skills. They can also be used for small group or peer teaching and assessment . Task cards can be a teacher's best friend, helping to facilitate smooth and organized PE sessions.


6 - Digital Visuals

TABATA visual

Stepping into the modern age, digital visuals bring a fresh and innovative approach to physical education. These can be interactive presentations, engaging videos, or digital charts displayed on screens. Imagine a digital scoreboard that adds a competitive edge to games or a vibrant digital backdrop setting the theme for the day's activities. Digital visuals can also be integrated into virtual PE classes, offering a rich and engaging learning experience even in a remote setting. They bring a dynamic and interactive element to PE, opening up a world of possibilities for creative and immersive learning experiences.


7 - QR Codes

QR codes are like magic keys that unlock a wealth of information with just a scan from a smartphone or tablet. You can link QR codes to instructional videos, resources, or websites, providing students with a rich repository of information at their fingertips. They can be incorporated into posters, task cards, or banners, offering an interactive element and encouraging students to explore and learn independently.


What Can Visuals be Used for in Physical Education?

In the dynamic world of physical education, visuals are not just accessories; they are central elements that can shape, guide, and enhance the learning experience. Let's explore the diverse ways in which visuals can be utilized to foster a rich and engaging PE environment.

What Can Visuals be Used for in Physical Education?


For Advocacy

Advocacy for PE

Visuals play a pivotal role in advocating for the importance of physical education. Through well-designed posters, banners, or digital displays, you can convey the numerous benefits of physical activity, encouraging a healthy and active lifestyle. It's about creating a narrative that showcases the vital role physical education plays in overall well-being, helping to foster a community that values and supports PE. These visuals are seen by the students, classroom teachers, administrators and in some cases the community as a whole.


PE Rocks

To Create a Welcoming Learning Environment

Creating a welcoming atmosphere is essential in any learning environment. Welcoming kid friendly visuals could be vibrant banners that greet students as they enter the PE space or motivational quotes adorned on the walls, fostering a positive and inviting atmosphere where every student feels valued and encouraged to participate.


Jump Rope Skill Sheets for Instruction

To Aid in Instruction

Instructional visuals are your silent teaching assistants, helping to demonstrate how a particular activity, exercise or skill-based movement should be done. These might be detailed instructions presented step by step, possibly through cues exhibited on signs, posters, task cards, or even through comprehensive video demonstrations. They serve to provide clear, visual instructions that students can follow, facilitating a smoother and more effective learning process.

What Happens to my Body When I Exercise?

To Provide Relevant Information

Informational visuals are the knowledge hubs in your PE space. They can be used to provide facts, stats, or general knowledge about a concept, sport or physical activity. Imagine a wall adorned with interesting facts about different sports, or a poster highlighting the health benefits of regular physical activity. These visuals not only educate but also foster a culture of curiosity and learning.


To Encourage Interactivity with Students

Fitness Bingo

Interactive visuals take engagement to a whole new level. These are interactive visuals available for students, including charts for tracking their progress, assembling puzzles, utilizing digital touch screens, or scanning QR codes that direct them to instructional videos. Interactive visuals encourage students to be active participants in their learning journey, fostering a dynamic and collaborative learning environment.


For Grouping Purposes

Grouping in PE

Visuals can be a fantastic tool for organizing students into teams or groups. Through visual cues, you can facilitate smooth transitions and group formations, whether it's for a team sport or a group activity. Visual grouping aids can help in creating balanced teams and ensuring that everyone is included.

Grouping in PE


To be Displayed on Classroom/Gym Digital Screens

Digital PE Lesson - Catching

Digital displays or presentations offer a modern and dynamic way to incorporate visuals into your PE classes. They can be used to display instant activities and warm ups, showcase instructional videos, display a digital scoreboard, highlight circuit routines, or even to celebrate student achievements, adding a vibrant and modern touch to your school or PE space.


For Virtual/Remote Learning Situations

12 Cool Ways to Move at Home

In the era of remote learning, visuals have taken on a new significance. Visual aids for online PE classes, such as instructional videos or interactive online boards, can help in maintaining engagement and effectiveness in a virtual learning environment. They ensure that students stay connected and engaged, even from a distance.

The utilization of visuals in physical education is a multifaceted approach that encompasses a wide range of strategies, each serving to enhance the learning experience in its unique way. From advocacy to virtual learning, visuals stand as powerful tools in the PE teacher's toolkit, fostering a learning environment that is vibrant, inclusive, and engaging.


Where and When Can I Use Visuals in a PE Class?

Visuals can be strategically placed in various locations or used for various instructional purposes to foster a vibrant and educational environment. Here are some effective placements and why they work:

Entrance and exit areas for PE

  • Entrance and exit areas: Welcome students with vibrant visuals that set a positive tone and share important announcements, ensuring a great start and end to each class.

  • Bulletin boards: Make use of these areas for promoting advocacy, launching new study units, highlighting achievements, displaying schedules, or presenting educational content, thereby establishing a vibrant and informative center in your PE space.

PE Bulletin Boards

PE Gym

  • Gym/classroom walls: Transform these expansive areas in a school gym into educational galleries, displaying word walls, posters with movement cues, expectations, or motivational quotes to foster a positive and energetic atmosphere.

PE Word Wall

  • Word walls: Develop these walls to visually display key terms and definitions, aiding in comprehension and retention, and encouraging physical education and health vocabulary building.

  • Directional signs: Ensure a smooth flow of activities with signs or a poster pack that guides students to different areas or stations, minimizing confusion and maintaining order.

  • Station and circuit areas: Guide students seamlessly through different fitness and manipulative skill-based activities with clear visuals, ensuring smooth transitions and clarity in instructions.

Floor Hockey Stations for PE

Jumping Jacks Circuit Card

  • Fitness and manipulative skill task cards: Offer step-by-step instructions for specific movements, challenges, exercises or skills, promoting self-paced learning and mastery through these handy visual aids.

Peer teaching/assessment in PE

  • Peer teaching/assessment: Facilitate collaborative learning and assessment with visuals that aid peer-led instruction, fostering a spirit of teamwork and mutual understanding.

Seasonal activities for PE

  • Seasonal activities: Celebrate the changing seasons with themed visuals that introduce students to seasonal games and activities, adding a festive touch to the learning environment.

  • Student awards: Foster a sense of pride and achievement with visual certificates that celebrate milestones and successes, creating a motivating and encouraging atmosphere.

PE Awards

Field Day Water Event

  • Special events (Field Day or Family Fitness Nights): Enhance these events with visuals that guide, inform, and celebrate, adding a festive and organized touch to special occasions.


  • Conflict resolution areas: Promote harmony and understanding with visuals that offer guidelines for resolving conflicts, fostering a peaceful and respectful environment.

Floss Dance Instructions

  • Yoga and dance visuals: Guide students in perfecting yoga poses or dance moves with a detailed page of visuals or video, ensuring safety and precision in each movement.

  • Sport-related skills: Break down complex skill-based movements into manageable steps (i.e. dribbling with soccer balls) using visuals, aiding in skill mastery and encouraging gradual development.

With the right placement of visuals, the physical education space becomes more engaging, informative, and organized, ensuring a comprehensive learning experience for all students.


What are Some Platforms I can use to Create Visuals for PE?

In the age of digital creativity, there's a huge selection of tools at your disposal to craft engaging and informative visuals for the PE environment. Whether you're looking to design a poster, an infographic, or a fun comic strip, there's a platform tailored to your needs.

Here's a list of some popular tools and platforms to get you started:

1 - PowerPoint: Not just for presentations, PowerPoint is a versatile tool that can be used to create slides, posters, and even interactive visuals. Its user-friendly interface and wide range of design options make it a favorite among educators.

2 - Canva: An online design platform that is a favorite among educators. It offers numerous templates, easy drag-and-drop features, and a library of images and icons to create visually appealing content.

3 - Comic Life: Bring a fun element to your PE class with Comic Life. This tool allows you to create comic-style visuals, adding a touch of humor and creativity to your educational material.

4 - Google Slides: Not just for presentations, Google Slides can be a great tool for creating visuals. It offers collaboration features, allowing you to work on designs with your colleagues.

5 - Prezi: For those looking to create interactive presentations or visuals, Prezi offers a dynamic twist to the traditional slide format. It's especially useful for creating engaging PE lesson overviews or tutorials.

6 - Microsoft Publisher: A great tool for creating a variety of publications, including posters and brochures. It offers a range of templates and design elements, making it easier to create professional-looking visuals.

7 - Adobe Spark: A free online and mobile graphic design app, Adobe Spark offers a range of design capabilities from posters to video storytelling, making it a versatile choice for PE educators.

8 - Piktochart: If you're looking to create infographics, reports, or charts, Piktochart is a great platform. With its library of icons, images, and design components, you can craft visually appealing informational content.

9 - Venngage: Another platform for creating infographics, reports, and posters. Venngage offers a range of templates and design tools, making it easy to produce professional-looking visuals.

Embarking on the journey of creating your own visuals is an exciting endeavor. With these tools at your disposal, you can craft visuals that are not only educational but also reflective of your unique teaching style. So, unleash your creativity and bring your PE environment to life with visuals that resonate with your teaching philosophy and your students' needs.


How Can Visuals Be Secured in the PE Environment?

In the dynamic environment of a physical education setting, securing your visuals properly is not just about maintaining their aesthetic appeal, but also ensuring safety and durability. Let's explore the various methods and materials that can be employed to secure visuals effectively:

  • Laminating: Before even getting to the point of securing your visuals to a surface, consider laminating them. This process not only protects the visuals from wear and tear but also gives them a professional finish, enhancing their appearance.

  • Velcro: This is a versatile option, especially for visuals that you plan to move around frequently. Velcro allows for easy removal and reattachment, providing flexibility in how and where you display your visuals.

  • Mavalus tape: Known for its strong hold yet easy removal without damaging surfaces, Mavalus tape is a favorite among teachers for securing a range of visuals, from posters to artwork, ensuring they stay put even in high-traffic areas.

  • Glue guns: For a more permanent solution, glue guns can be used to adhere visuals firmly to surfaces. They offer a strong bond, ensuring visuals remain in place even in busy environments. However, they should be used judiciously as they might damage the visuals or the surfaces during removal.

  • Adhesive strips: A great option for securing larger visuals on gym or classroom walls without causing damage. These strips are designed to hold a substantial amount of weight and can be removed cleanly without leaving residue, making them a popular choice for teachers.

  • Magnetic strips: If your gym or classroom features magnetic surfaces, magnetic strips can be a fantastic option. They allow for easy adjustments and repositioning, making the updating of visual content a breeze.

  • Easels and stands: For a more portable option, consider using easels or stands. These can hold a variety of visual sizes and can be moved to different locations as needed, offering a flexible solution for displaying visuals.

  • Digital displays: If you are using digital visuals, ensuring that screens are mounted securely to the wall is vital. Utilizing proper mounting hardware designed for the specific weight and size of the screen is essential to ensure safety and stability.

Securing your visuals properly is a crucial step in setting up a vibrant and safe PE environment. By choosing the right materials and methods, you can create a space where visuals not only enhance learning but also stand the test of time, serving as a reliable resource for years to come.


Final Thoughts

Visuals in a physical education environment are far more than just decorative elements; they act as potent tools, amplifying the learning experience by making activities more engaging, comprehensible, and memorable. These visuals, whether they depict a yoga pose, a dance step, or a motivational quote, breathe life into lessons, guiding students with clarity and inspiration. As educators, it's paramount that we harness this potential, creating a vibrant and informative landscape that enriches every student's journey through physical education.

The saying "a picture is worth a thousand words" resonates deeply in the realm of physical education. In this context, a well-crafted visual might be worth a thousand movements, seamlessly guiding students through each motion. By integrating these visuals into our teaching approach, we transform our spaces into dynamic hubs of active learning and exploration, where every image serves as a beacon, encouraging movement, understanding, and passion for physical activity.

Thanks to Jason Leach, a retired teacher and OPEN National Trainer for providing several pics from his outstanding school gym (Independence Elementary) in Texas...You can find Jason here on Twitter.

The gym and activity visuals used in this blog article (and many more) can be found here on this website; Cap'n Pete's Power PE ... or here on Teachers Pay Teachers.


A Cool Free Resource!

Do you need some FREE PE skill-based challenge visuals? Do you need an organized task sheet set that has top of the line graphics and font? If so, Cap'n Pete's Power PE has you covered! Each task sheet consists of 6 manipulative skill-based challenges (1 sheet for beanbags, balloons, hula hoops, jump ropes, playground balls, and juggling scarves) that progressively get more difficult as the students work through the tasks.!

REE PE skill-based challenge visuals

Fill in the form below to download this FREE Super Challenges - PE Skills: Visual Card Set with 6 task cards designed exclusively for working on manipulative skills during PE or in the classroom as a brain break or movement energizer!

This fun set of super challenge visuals was designed to be implemented with a wide range of ages.


Need a Large Collection of Skill-Based Activity Visuals?

If you're looking for several skill-based activity progression visuals to use in your classes that incorporates a variety of PE equipment, look no further! Cap'n Pete has the ultimate PE skill-based resource - PE Activity: Super Challenge Series- PE Skills Edition. The packet is made up of 26 individual challenge visuals; one for each letter of the alphabet.!

Easter PE Resources

Each task sheet consists of 6 manipulative skill-based challenges, that progressively get more difficult as the students work through the tasks. These challenges can easily be utilized by a physical education or classroom teacher to provide students with a quality, manipulative skill-based, highly engaging LEARNING experience they will absolutely LOVE! The Super Challenge Series sheets are “Kid-Friendly” (incorporating a Super Hero theme) and the set comes complete with a detailed activity plan and optional incentive tickets for completing each challenge sheet.

The challenges were designed to use typical PE equipment that includes activities using; beanbags, hula hoops, jump ropes, balloons, juggling scarves, paddles, rackets and playground balls. Students can work on their own, in partners or small groups to attempt the self-guided/paced progressions.

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

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