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Name of Activity:

Wishing Well

Purpose of Activity:

To allow for numerous opportunities to practice the skill of the underhand throw.


Introduction to the basic cues related to the underhand throw (e.g., "tick, step, tock").

Suggested Grade Level:


Materials Needed:

Large folding mats (eight, or more if possible); small-, medium- and large-sized foam balls and other appropriate objects for throwing; bowling pins or other similar objects (at least ten and more if possible); watch with timer; cones or jump ropes for marking lines; hoops for "holding" balls.

Description of Idea

Set up "wishing wells" by placing two large mats on their side. Bend
both mats at the "halfway point" and place the ends together so they form a
square (may need to use more than two mats depending upon their size). Try
to have at least four wishing wells set up -- approximately one per six
students -- with plenty of space around each, although one well per four
students would be even better!

Use cones or jump ropes to mark a line approximately 10-15' from the
wells, which students must stay behind when throwing. Then, set as many
bowling pins and/or other similar objects as possible inside each well (at
least 3-4 but more is great!). Place hoops to the side or rear of the
activity area in close proximity to each well; put all the objects for
throwing inside the hoops.

After reviewing basic cues for the underhand throw, demonstrate the
activity for students while you explain it: An equal number of students in
each group should stand on either side of the wishing well, behind the cone
lines. Each student has an object to throw. At the "go" signal, students
underhand throw balls into the wishing wells, trying to knock down the
inside. Balls which do not land inside the wells may be picked up
by students, but must be thrown from behind the cone lines. Balls may also
be picked up from the hoops.

After approximately 2-3 minutes, the activity is stopped. One or two
students from each team carefully separates the mats to see how many pins
were knocked over by the group. Balls are placed in the hoops; pins are set
back up. When ready, the game begins once more.

After students understand the game, divide students into groups of either
four or six (depends on number of wells set up). Have them go to their
"well" and begin at the signal. At the end of each time period, have each
group tell how many pins they knocked over; challenge groups to knock over
more than other groups! In addition, vary the time limit during which
students can throw.

Assessment Ideas:

  • Observe students as they throw. Note whether they are using correct form "almost never...sometimes...almost all of the time".

Teaching Suggestions:

  • Set the lines closer or further away from the wells depending upon the skill level of the students.

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Submitted by Sandi Pritchard who teaches at Malibu Elementary School in Virginia Beach, VA. Thanks for contributing to PE Central! Posted on PEC: 10/7/2001.

Viewed 170776 times since 8/24/2001.

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Previous Comments:


You could integrate math by telling the students that they can only spend one dollar in their wishing well. You would begin each round by telling them what coin their ball represents. Then they would count out loud up to a dollar. For instance, you may start them by saying, “Quarters, GO!” and they would only have 4 chances to knock down pins, saying “25, 50, 75, 100.” If you said dimes, they would have to count by tens, and then get 10 chances, etc.