Elementary Students Go “GA GA” for Global Games-From Our Author Rich Keegan

Wood N Barnes recently published Rich Keegan’s new book Global Games for Diversity Education: New Ways of Learning in the 21st Century. Rich is a creative and perceptive teacher who loves finding ways to teach and learn from children. Here he shares a variation of Ga Ga (a game found on page 27 of his book) that he has developed to inspire and challenge youngsters in elementary school. We would love to hear how you have adapted any of his games to fit your needs!

Elementary Students Go “GA GA” for Global Games.
After 20 years of teaching High School Physical Education, I am now teaching, playing, and learning with elementary students from kindergarten to 6th grade. Teaching elementary physical education has always been on my list of things to do in education. With the new school year, I decided to see which activities generated the most excitement in my students and let those activities guide me through a new and exciting year.
To my surprise, one of the first games the students went crazy for was the game of GA GA. If you are not familiar, the game of GA GA is an Israeli dodge ball game played in a large 3-foot walled pit shaped like a hexagon or octagon. Participants hit a ball with an open hand, rolling it on the ground in an attempt to strike another player below the knee. More detailed instructions on how to play this game can be found on page 27 in the book “Global Games For Diversity Education.” What I really like about the game of GA GA with elementary school children is the unlikelihood of someone getting hurt followed by tears, apologizes, and time-outs because the ball cannot be picked up and thrown as it is in other dodge ball games. Our school doesn’t have a GA GA pit so we came up with some variations that would work in our gym or outdoors and that everyone from age’s kindergarten to 6th grade could play.

Elementary GA GA With No Walls
• Use poly-spots or other cones or markers to create a 15′ X 15′ “you’ve been hit area” to go to in the middle of your gym or play area.
• Instead of using one 8″ soft gator skin ball, put out the number of balls equal to half the size of your group. This will create more practice of children’s striking skills, more use of their agility, and more overall mayhem—if that’s one of the learning objects for your group. Less mayhem equals fewer balls. Gage your group on this one.
• Instead of being enclosed in a GA GA pit, students in this variation move around the play area and either strike or avoid balls in play.
• When someone gets hit by a ball they go to the “you’ve been hit area.”
• Since there are many balls moving around the area, when a ball enters the “you’ve been hit area” players in the area may attempt to hit a ball toward a player who is “out and about.” When a player is hit, the two players exchange positions, and the player in the “you’ve been hit area” is free.
• Students in K, 1, 2, 3 may be allowed to leave the area either when hitting someone with a ball below the knee or any time they strike a ball that comes to them.
• Students in 4, 5, 6 may only get out of the “you’ve been hit area” when they hit someone who is “out and about.”
• Regardless of grade level, students in the ”you’ve been area” always have the choice to re-enter the game on the outside or remain in the “you’ve been hit” area.

Elementary school children love to move and PE is one of their favorite “specials” during their school day. I’m sure they will continue to teach me new ways of doing things through their enthusiasm, energy, and love of play. I hope your groups do the same for you as well!

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