Over the last couple of years I’ve always insisted that I teach a unit of tennis during a certain two weeks in July. Even those who aren’t interested in tennis know about the Wimbledon fortnight, it’s hard to avoid. I’m not at all sporty but I really enjoy watching tennis. I feel much more confident teaching tennis than other sports – I know where to go with it. My aim is to get as many children interested in tennis as possible, it’s an interest of mine that I want to pass on.
I start the fortnight with pictures of previous Wimbledon tournaments, I talk about the players and we keep up to date with the latest results via Newsround and First News. Twinkl also provide a comprehension each year so I made good use of that.
So, the hook has been set…now it’s time for a game or two…or 25+.
After a term of teaching tennis, I organise a tournament like the championships at Wimbledon. As we don’t have the luxury of a roof like on centre court, I kept checking the weather to see which day would be best. I intended on spending a whole morning outside playing tennis so I had to pick the right day.
Wednesday it was. My class had no idea.
I set an early alarm and headed for Tesco to buy strawberries, cream, plastic cups, bowls and traditional Robinsons fruit juice…no Pimm’s in sight. It was a warm morning, I set up the courts with our new nets (luckily delivered the night before) and we were ready for a morning at Wimbledon. Year 5 children were the first to arrive on the playground and they knew straight away that we were having a ‘Mini-Wimbledon’ competition. The rumour spread so I didn’t even get chance to explain what we were doing that morning – the excitement had begun.
I asked my class if they wanted to play mixed or boys/girls games. They decided on boys/girls games so that they would have a final for both. We played through the first, second and third rounds. Then it was time for a break with strawberries and cream. The kids loved it and were so excited to see who would win the tournament. Those who had been knocked out were desperate to be ball boys or girls and they did a fantastic job. We had quite a few long matches, every single child was able to score points, they are such a good group of players. I was worried I might have to sacrifice my afternoon PPA session to complete the tournament…and I would have!
Eventually, we reached the finals. To help build the excitement further I invited the whole school to come outside to watch the last two matches. A few of my decisions as umpire were questioned and I soon realised how difficult the job is. A few children requested hawk-eye, sadly the school budget didn’t allow for such technology.
There was plenty of cheering when the winners were declared and it was such a great atmosphere – proper Wimbledon weather too. Teacher points scored.
Children love role play and I’m a strong believer that it can be used way beyond EYFS. They love getting into ‘character’, even when it’s not specifically a Drama based lesson/activity. I love creating learning situations based on something real. Not one of them said “It’s fake, a set up, I’m not doing it” they were all completely engaged in the situation. As a teacher, you also need to be ‘in the zone’, you need to do a bit of acting and, in this case, believe that you are actually taking part in one of the biggest tennis competitions in the world. Children would reach the end of a match and would shake hands unprompted, they were all completely in the moment. It was a fantastic morning of sport.
We presented the certificates the following day and the children were still buzzing about it.
There are four days left, it’s not too late to have a go at your own Mini-Wimbledon.
Enjoy the final. Come on Federer!