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Teacher: Melissa Cree who teaches at St. Clare School in Portland, OR. Melissa Cree can be contacted at

Name of Best Practice: Soup-ercise

Rationale/Purpose of Event: To incorporate the components of physical fitness into a fun exercise routine and then use the soup cans to donate to a food closet/shelf in your community.

Suggested Grade Level: K-2, 3-5

Materials Needed: Enough soup cans to have 2 per student


Students will spread throughout the gym and be lead through a variety of flexibility, strength, and aerobic activities. Teachers can be creative in designing the activities they do but here is the format I use:

Activity 1: soup can wacky pushups: students get in pushup position on any line with the 2 soup cans in front of them. Have them lift up a soup can and set it in front of them over the line and repeat with the other hand. Keep doing this for a series of 10 and them rest and repeat depending on the age of the class.

Activity 2: soup can karate: have students put a soup can in each hand and pretend they are practicing punching,you can be creative and have them punch up or toward the floor too. Do 10-20 and rest and repeat. Then you can add alternate kicks for fun.

Activity 3: Soup can jumping jacks. Just like they sound. Make sure students are far enough apart and stress safety by holding onto the soup cans with a tight grip.

Activity 4: Soup can sit-ups.

Activity 5: Soup can shuffle. Have students line up on a line at the end of the gym. Place their 2 soup cans on the opposite line at the other end. On signal, they run and grab one can and bring back and set it down, then run down and get the other can and bring it back. Repeat

Activity 6: Builders and Destroyer's: Divide the class into 2 teams. Have the builders place their 2 cans somewhere spread out in the gym right side up and then wait against a wall. Have the destroyer's put their soup cans on their sides somewhere in the gym. On the signal the builders run around the gym setting up any tipped over cans and the destroyers run around and GENTLY tip over any cans that are up. Play for about 3-5 minutes.

Activity 7: Soup can stretches: Have students sit with their legs straight and put the soup cans in front of their feet and stretch out and try touching the cans. You can also add a variety of your own stretches.

Activity 8: soup can passing: (cool down activity) Have everyone sit in a circle with only 1 soup can in front of them. Come up with a chant or pattern of gently hitting the can on the floor and then passing it: one, two, pass, one two pass.


Have a middle school class, after learning about the components of fitness, design a 1/2 hour routine with the soup cans and lead a younger grade through the routine.

Teaching Suggestions/Tips:

Have students be aware that we do not want the cans destroyed so there needs to be some care involved in a few of the activities.

You could have someone from the receiving organization takes part and observe the activity and concepts being reinforced. This could be as a great PR tool for your program.

Adaptations for Students with Disabilities:

Modify as needed depending on the disability.

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Posted on PEC: 10/30/2012 and has received 47 votes.

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