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Paradise Island Parachute Activities

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A creative language-based parachute lesson for grades K-3.  
Submitted by Jeff Spera, Westminster, Maryland.


BACKGROUND: Developing a thematic approach to teaching basic parachute skills and activities has given my parachute/rhythms unit a real “shot in the arm.” My students were captivated and motivated as I introduced my “Paradise Island Parachute Activities.”

As class begins, you inform your students to close their eyes and use their imagination. After waiting a few seconds, you paint this picture through the following descriptive words:

“Picture yourself alone on a white, sandy beach. You look to your left and see a palm–tree-lined beach. The heat ripples off the sand. As you look to the right, waves crash onto the rocks causing rainbows to form in the mist. Above you, seagulls announce that this is an island, the Island of Paradise.”

You narrate to the students that you see something… floating in the water. You roll your pantlegs up and find a bottle…and there’s a message inside!

The Salty Dog has been shipwrecked for a long time and has written a message in a bottle. Well, that message contains a detailed account of the experiences he faces on the island.

From the moment the message is found to the last activity, the students will know what life is like stranded on an island. Each parachute activity is given a narrative monologue of the specific activity as well as directions.

It is important for the teacher to “ham it up.”

For the elementary school student (no matter what grade level), this story rolls like the tide of the ocean!

Message in the Bottle: The unit begins when the teacher finds this message in the bottle. Inside the bottle is the Salty Dog – Captain Jim Nasium’s account of his experiences.

THE MESSAGE: The teacher will read the following…

Dear “Finder of this Message,”

I am shipwrecked and stranded on a remote island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. I have been here for years and have many experiences to tell. Many of my adventures include parachute games. So, please read the following information to the Parachute class for a safe, yet exciting class. I hope the information is satisfactory.

Paradise Island Parachute Rules:

1. Time is sacred on my island-do not waste it in class.
2. All must be quiet so we can hear nearby planes or boats, be good listeners!
3. Try not to disturb the environment, leave the parachute alone when the teacher is talking.
4. Stay away from the giant clam hole in the center of the parachute.
5. Keep off the top of the parachute (unless instructed), it is like coral.

Yours on a Stranded Island,
The Salty Dog – Capt. J i m

P.S.-Send me a cheeseburger! I’m getting tired of coconuts!


Ripples and Waves: “Many times the ocean is rough one day, and calm on the next. This is what the water is like here on the island.”

- Over Hand Grip
- Above the Beach Positioning
- Alternate between Ripples (Quick and Short) and Waves (Slow and Big)

Ocean Breezes: “When I’m lonely, I’ll walk on the beach. The breezes come off the water. This is what it feels like:”

- Ripples and Waves Position
- Select a dividing line for two equal halves
- One half will execute a Wave to the other half – Other half does the same

Sun Block: “The island gets very hot! I wish I had an umbrella or some sun block!”

- Over Hand grip
- Above/On the Beach Positioning
- Go over the count–>Up-Up-Up-Lift or Up 2-3-4-5-6-7-8
- Lift arms up and back quickly and strongly
- Take a step forward (Get Under)

Scuba Diver: “I’m so glad I found my mask and snorkel. The water is gorgeous! And there are many fish here! Look for some.”

- Sun Block Inflation
- Call out one group at a time (A, B, C, D, E, F) – Under for 3 seconds.
Tape colorful pictures of fish on the inside of the parachute for the students to see!

Five Foot and Glassy: “One day I woke up and grabbed my palm tree surf board because the waves were five foot and glassy. The waves here are radical!”

- Inflate to Sun Block
- Once it reaches it’s peak, students force it down on a command
- They will hold it down with their knees and hands
- Up 2-3-4 –> Down 2-3-4

Man O’ War: “The Portuguese Man O’ War is a beautiful jelly fish with long tentacles that give a powerful, and deadly sting. I see them all the time here on the beach. This is what one looks like.”

- Inflate to the Sun Block
- As chute inflates, the students take 4 steps in and, as it falls, 4 steps back
- Up 2-3-4 –> In 2-3-4 –> 0ut 2-3-4

Sand Dollars: “Sand Dollars are one of the most intriguing shells on the beach, besides the Conch. I have an extensive collection. They really look like the sun on a hot day!” – Inflate to Five Foot and Glassy – Hold down with hands – Lay flat on stomach with feet pointing out Signal Clouds: “I have heard two planes so far. I try to make smoke signals from a big fire, but it is no use – the pilots just don’t see them! Maybe you can make a bigger one. I’ll watch for it!”

- Inflate to Sun Block
- When parachute reaches its peak, the teacher will yell “Now”
- All students let go and watch it go up

At this point in the activity, the search plane lands!

We all board the plane (parachute) and are flown back to the gym for more Physical Education activities!

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