Campus: CSU Sacramento -- November 14, 2001
Part reading, part recreation - it's the Harry Potter workout From CSU Sac, Professor Lindy Valdez
Not content to conquer the book world and the movies, Harry
Potter is headed to the playground, with a little help from California
State University, Sacramento professor Lindy Valdez.
Inspired by his daughter's love of the books, the kinesiology and health
science professor has developed a series of games that uses the popularity
of Potter to encourage physical activity. Valdez hopes the adventures
of the young wizard can turn kids on to movement, much as the books inspired
them to put down the video game controls.
"I felt I had a great opportunity to reach kids through movement.
It's a way to harness the enthusiasm generated through the literature,"
says Valdez, a former elementary and middle school physical education
teacher who now works with aspiring teachers enrolled at CSUS.
It's also a way to increase learning opportunities. "A lot of kids
learn better through movement. Their learning style is by doing,"
Valdez presented his project at the 25th annual Cal Poly Elementary Physical
Education Conference for elementary school teachers. He's also had a successful
tryout with a tougher audience - his daughter's sixth-grade class.
The game features a series of challenges, each of which promote both literacy
It begins with The Sorting Hat where each child draws the name of one
of the series' colorful characters and assumes that character's identity.
It can be followed by one or more activities, with names like Cauldron
Crossword, Magical Names, Sorcerer's Spell, Potion Locomotion Punctuation,
Word Wizardry, Scabber's Scrabble, Marauders Map and Hogwart's Tag. All
use familiar elements found in common children's games but with a language
element that corresponds with the Harry Potter theme.
For example, a couple of games are forms of tag, where children can be
"unfrozen" if they spell a word correctly or answer questions
about the stories. Others are variations of word games in which the kids
use various types of movement - walking, hopping, skipping - to collect
letters that spell out words and sentences. Or they physically "punctuate"
sentences with actions such as stopping at periods and moving in the opposite
direction for question marks.
In addition to his success in getting kids to read books again, Valdez
says he also sees value in embracing Harry Potter because he's an imperfect
"He is an ordinary person who rises to the task when faced with great
difficulty," Valdez says. "He is an orphan with unmanageable
hair, who wears broken glasses and who has a very noticeable scar across
his forehead. Kids can relate to a character who is a reluctant hero with