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Teacher: Cindy Parks-O'Neil who teaches at Northwestern Lehigh Elementary in New Tripoli, PA. Cindy Parks-O'Neil can be contacted at

Name of Best Practice: A Smile for the Mile

Rationale/Purpose of Event: To encourage my students to finish the mile run for the President's fitness challenge.

Suggested Grade Level: 4-5

Materials Needed: A washable Crayola marker.

A Smile for the Mile

Each time a student finishes a lap on the track I give them a mark on their hand representing that lap. The first lap the student gets a dot for an EYE. The second lap the student gets a dot for the second EYE. The third lap they get a dot for the NOSE. On the final lap, the student gets a smile when they finish their mile. The students that finish early, they can do " victory Laps" (extra laps). I then add hair, glasses, ears for the smiley face for each additional lap. My students can't wait to get victory laps in! This is also a good way to keep tally on when a child is finished when you have to test a large group.

The teacher can trot besides the students to give the marks so that stopping is not an issue. I have not had a problem yet with the marks. Students love to show off their mile smiles to their teachers and parents.

Teaching Suggestions/Tips:

I would suggest using a washable marker.

Having a high school helper or parent helper share with the marks is a great way to get things done for a large class.

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Posted on PEC: 2/13/2003 and has received 194 votes.

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Previous Comments:

Ana Reutinger

In response to Cindi bring out some wipes for after. They get messy in art etc so maybe bring that up in your defense. At swim meets children mark up their whole arm with heat, event and stroke so a small smile should be nothing.

Ana Reutinger

I have used this idea for several years and love it. I have used the smelly markers which they love. It is great for motivation so students can see what they need to finish their mile. Early finishers help me mark hands. Since some people lap each other itís an easy way to keep track of how many laps they have left. I have had a few students say their parents wonít let marker on their hands but remind them they can wash it off at the end. Sweat has wiped the marks off on occasion. Once I actually had a student bring a marker outside and mark their own hand while I was away from them to get out of running a lap but that was an isolated incident.

Michele Korn.

I have used this for years for my Mileage club to keep track. I started making the smiley face on their palm, because be the end of the day it wore off(with handwashing etc)


Love this and have tried it! Only problem I have encountered, my elem. school principal and parents do NOT like or want washable markers dots on inside of (fore)arm! I would need to spend time cutting about 500 pieces of paper for students to carry around track, in order to keep track of approx 30 running in each class/PE time.
Any suggestions?

Gajanan Prabhu B.

This is an excellent best practice observed in order to make students active. keep it up Teacher.

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