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Teacher: Christy Valentine who teaches at Pole Green Elementary School in Mechanicsville, VA. Christy Valentine can be contacted at

Name of Best Practice: Gym R.A.T. Journal

Rationale/Purpose of Event: To encourage writing with a physically active twist!

Suggested Grade Level: K-2, 3-5

Materials Needed: Composition Notebooks (1 per class), a mascot (i.e. stuffed animal or rubber animal), rewards (small toys, stickers, pencils), 1 tote bag per class

Gym R.A.T. Journal

Each of my 3rd grades has a Gym R.A.T. journal that is awarded each week to a different student in each 3rd grade class. Gym R.A.T.S are "Really Awesome Terrific" students who get to take home the class journal and mascot to spend time at their home. Each of my classes take home a large plastic rat with a compostion notebook inside a tote bag. The student has one week to write a page or two about what "Jim" the gym rat does with them to be physically active and healthy. When returning to class the following week the students will share Jim's story and will receive a small reward if the assignment was completed.

"Jim" goes on many adventures including sports practices and games, dance class, bike rides, skateboarding, eating healthy foods, etc. Students are encouraged to take pictures or draw pictures of "Jim" being active. This is a great way for students to share how they stay physically active at home. Students love to receive the rat and generally always remember to bring him back the next week so another students can take him home.

It is amazing how each class comes up with a fabulous book about "Jim" by the end of the year full of healthy choices! Pictures are always a nice touch but not a requirement.


Use a different mascot.

Teaching Suggestions/Tips:

Make sure you share with the class each time and if a child forgets have them bring it the very next day. Make sure you have written an introduction page as well as an entry of your own at the beginning of each journal as an example and how you make healthy choices as well.

Adaptations for Students with Disabilities:

Younger students may have an adult transcribe into the journal and/or draw or take pictures to share.

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Posted on PEC: 1/16/2011 and has received 70 votes.

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