Fit Kids

The way you can measure a society’s soul is by the way that it treats its children.
Nelson Mandela

Issue No. 34 – 8th March 2007

Welcome to Kidz Newz especially to all new subscribers.  Kidz Newz is a regular newsletter with information and teaching tips for anyone involved with young children.  You are receiving this because you have attended one of my workshops, purchased a book, or you have requested to be on the mailing list.  Thank you.  Please forward this to anyone you feel it may be of interest to.

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My PD/Conference Updates

ECCPA (Early Childhood Conference of Performing Arts) Genazzano FCJ College, Cotham Road, Kew, Melbourne 16th and 17th June 2007.  My presentation will be on multicultural music and movement.

ASME (Australian Society for Music Education) 40th Anniversary Conference. Perth (Western Australia) Convention Centre 6-10 July 2007.  I will be presenting two workshop sessions –
Movement and Dance in the Early Childhood Classroom
Multicultural Music and Movement.

CAYPAKS (Children And Young People Are Key Stakeholders) Conference Perth Western Australia 23-25 July 2007.  I will be conducting a Skills and Activity Based Workshop titled “Using Music and Movement to Empower Children at Risk”.

Fit Kids 

I had the privilege recently of working for four days in a primary school (K-7) in the south-west of Western Australia. The purpose was to teach musical appreciation and interpretation along with basic musical elements of pitch, dynamics, tempo, beat and rhythm. I decided to have fun with this to show the children, and their teachers, that music can be a full-bodied adventure. The experience reinforced the benefits of physical fitness.

My sessions were often very physical, as children learnt to listen to the music and keep time as they skipped, galloped, ran, walked with beanbags on their heads and so on.  They participated in various dramatic activities and they danced. Of course we did lots of work on beat and rhythm too. All this required high concentration levels which they were able to do while sustaining energy and enthusiasm, for up to 1.5 hours at a time.

It was a successful and fun week all round with teachers enthusing and eager to put their new skills into practice and the children having a great time. What I gained especially from it, however, was an acute awareness of the difference in physical skills and fitness levels of country children compared with their city counterparts.  None of these country children was obese, and only one child slightly chubby but not fat.  There were no ADD/ADHD kids.  They were generally well-behaved, well-mannered, fit and keen. There were the usual attention seekers but nothing that was out of the ordinary or difficult to manage. And, their ability to concentrate was remarkable.

I thought after the first day of my running them ragged that they’d be subdued and begging for mercy the next day. Instead I was greeted with a crowd of eager faces asking what we were going to do today and could we please play this or that game again or use this or that piece of equipment. It was very pleasing to see. What was even more pleasing is that their enthusiasm and energy levels continued throughout the week. 

What I find sad is that this is how all kids used to be. Nowadays it is unusual to find a whole school full of fit and skinny kids with great attention spans. The difference, of course, relates to physical activity. Almost all of these children live on farms where they have their farm chores to do before and after school. They also play a lot of sport as this forms the basis of social activities in the community.  At school they play actively and there is a dedicated fitness program in place within the curriculum.  Consequently my activities didn’t tire them out; they just brought them to another level.

This school shows it is possible, despite the temptation of junk food, to have fit and healthy kids.  They perform better academically, socially, emotionally and most especially, physically. Children who have too much body fat are at risk of major health problems later in life and indeed it seriously increases the chances of juvenile diabetes. (For more on this topic see my newsletter # 17 ‘ click on news in

To ensure your children are physically active enough, start a fitness programme as well as a sports programme at your school post-haste, if not there already. For kindergarten and pre-primary, practice basic motor skills of throwing and catching, hopping, skipping, galloping etc. and include music and movement in your daily programme.

Fit kids are happy kids. What’s more, physical activities are fun.


To access the results of Barbara Pheloung’s study into physical activity and academic performance, go to her website (  She is currently looking for K-2 teachers willing to take part in her 2007 study.  All the details are on her website.

Quotes of the Week

Excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of a habit.  W. Somerset Maugham

God’s gift to you is more talent and ability than you will ever use in this lifetime.  Your gift to God is to develop as much of that talent and ability as you can in this lifetime.  Steve Bow



1. Laughing so hard your face hurts.

2. A hot shower.

3. No queues at the supermarket.

4. Taking a drive on a pretty road.

5. Hearing your favourite song on the radio.

6. Lying in bed listening to the rain outside.

7. A good conversation.

8. Running through sprinklers.

9. Accidentally overhearing someone say something nice about you.

10. Waking up and realising you still have a few hours left to sleep.

11. Sweet dreams.

12. Making eye contact with a cute stranger.


The drama sessions were great and the kids had lots of fun. 

Brooke Maxwell, Frankland Primary School, Western Australia

About The Author

Marlene Rattigan B.A., Dip. Ed. (ECS), CELTA

Marlene Rattigan is an Early Childhood teacher, a teacher of English as a Second Language, and from 1987-2000 was a nationally accredited fitness leader. Her background is in music education. A keen interest in motor development in children led to the creation of Kidz-Fiz-Biz which she taught successfully for 13 years. Marlene also conducts workshops for children, teachers and parents at schools, in the community and at festivals. She has produced teaching manuals complete with audio CDs which are an extension of her ‘Kidz-Fiz-Biz’ program.

57 Henry Lawson Walk, East Perth WA 6004
T: +61 8 9325 1204 M: 0410 64 2781 E:

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Until next time – continue being a legend in your classroom.

Marlene Rattigan, Editor
Kidz Newz

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