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Teacher: Kory McMahon who teaches at Mott Road Elementary in Fayetteville, NY. Kory McMahon can be contacted at

Name of Best Practice: Forrest Gump-athon

Rationale/Purpose of Event: To improve cardiovascular fitness, increase geography knowledge, increase arithmetic skills, and provide an opportunity for students to practice good teamwork.

Suggested Grade Level: 3-5

Materials Needed: Pedometers, cones, map of the United States, pencils, paper, stereo.

Forrest Gump-athon

After a brief discussion about the movie character Forrest Gump, and how in the movie he ran from coast to coast, I present the Forrest Gump-athon. I show the class a 4’ x 6’ map of the United States, and explain how we will be running from our school in Central New York all the way to Hawaii (we run “laps” on a cruise ship from Alaska to Hawaii because we obviously can’t run to the islands!). I attach a string of yarn from our school to ten points of interest criss-crossing our way through different cities and landmarks on our journey (i.e. New York City, Washington D.C., the Grand Canyon, etc.). I even tape some pictures on the map of our stops. I tell the students every 4,000 steps they earn takes them to the next landmark/city. The total distance for the Gump-athon is 40,000 steps, which will take about four weeks to accomplish. Any group that reaches our destination early donates their steps to groups that haven’t arrived yet, so the whole class can celebrate at the end together.

I have the class split up into groups of four. These groups are responsible for making up their own team name and creating their own team logo during their free time or for homework. In the past I’ve had everything from the “Dancing Hamsters” to the “Dixie Chickens”. The logos have been drawn by hand with crayons or markers, and sometimes produced from a computer printer. I surround our map with the creative designs from our third and fourth grade classes for all to see.

For the activity, students properly put on a pedometer and run the “W”-shaped course at their own pace. After approximately five minutes, I turn the music off and the teams get together, grab a pencil and paper, and add up their scores for the day. I keep a chart with the overall totals so groups can see their progress. Each class I extend the amount of time the students are running, so by the end of the activity, students are moving for 9-minutes (perfect preparation for our fitness tests).


1. Use a world map.
2. Have students choose destination and points of interest.

Teaching Suggestions/Tips:

1. Make sure the students walk a complete cool-down lap, and discuss the importance of proper warm-up/cool-down activities.
2. Talk about professional or college sports teams along the trip.
3. Start the activity with all students shouting "Run Forrest, RUN!"

Adaptations for Students with Disabilities:

Students in wheelchairs or with other assisted-walking devices earn steps for each lap (and partial lap) they complete.

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Posted on PEC: 5/27/2007 and has received 65 votes.

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