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Copy Cat

A playful way to experience how attitude affects running, acting out various moods while on the run

Objective and overview: Students learn how to “run tall” by first walking with a beanbag balanced on their heads. Then they run without the beanbag, using the same form that enabled them to keep the beanbag balanced while walking.

National Standards for Physical Education (NASPE)
Standard 1
Standard 2

New York State Education Department (NYSED)
Standard 1

Time Required: 20 minutes
Materials: Beanbags (one per student if possible)
Cones to mark where students will run or walk to (optional)

Prepare for the Activity

Watch the Copy Cat video to see how to conduct the activity.


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Copy Cat

Cultivates positive attitudes and teaches how attitudes affect running.

Click here to access on Teacher Tube

Introduce the Activity

  • Tell your students the name of the activity and its purpose: to see how their attitude affects their running posture and form, and how having a positive attitude can make running easier, faster, and more fun.
  • Tell the students that you're going to call out different attitudes or emotions, and you want them to act them out while they jog in place. You will act them out as well. First, you'll call out a negative attitude or emotion, and they'll act it out, and then you'll call out the opposite attitude or emotion, and they'll act that out.

Conduct the Activity

  1. Have students begin jogging in place.
  2. Call out a negative attitude or emotion, such as “tired.” Lead the students in acting this out.
  3. Then call out its opposite—“energetic.” Lead the students in acting this out.
  4. Continue with negative and positive attitudes or emotions, such as tense/relaxed; flailing/controlled; shy/confident; heavy/light; angry/happy;and weak/strong.
  5. Reinforce positive manifestations of the attitudes. Point out the effects that positive emotions had on their posture and form (e.g. when acting out happy they were likely more relaxed). Discuss how attitudes or feelings can affect running posture and form. Tell students a big part of being a good athlete is believing you can be and simply acting like one—for example, standing up tall and confident. Encourage them to cultivate positive attitudes, which will help them to be happier, more confident runners, with better form.
  6. Finally, ask students to show you their “ready to run” attitude.

Assess the Students

What to watch for:

  • Students who are using body language to express the various attitudes and emotions appropriately.

Direction cues to share with students:

  • Share cues as appropriate to help students better express their emotions, such as:
    “Show me happy. Think of something that makes you really happy.”
  • Reinforce the impact on posture and form, for example:
    “Feel your shoulders relax” (as you switch from angry to happy).
  • For “Ready to Run” attitudes:
    • “Stand up tall.”
    • “Be happy.”
    • “Be relaxed.”
    • “Feel energetic.”
    • “Be confident.”
    • “Look straight ahead. Not at the floor.”

Note: Only give a student one direction at a time.



When you've completed Copy Cat, talk to your students about their experience with the activity. Here are some sample questions to get you started:

  • Why do you think negative attitudes make it harder to enjoy your running? (Your thoughts have a lot of power over your feelings. Negative thinking can make you feel badly. Likewise, positive thinking can help you feel better and when you feel better your mind and body are more able to enjoy things.)
  • Why do negative attitudes make it harder to have good running form? (When we have a negative attitude it often shows in our body. Sometimes it makes us tense or sloppy and that can make running form, and running, harder.)
  • How did you feel when you showed the positive attitudes, compared to the negative attitudes?
  • What are some of the key attitudes of good athletes? (Confidence, control, energy, determination, positivity)
  • Who can be an athlete? (Everyone! If you find something you like and work hard at it, you will get better. The best athletes were not always good on their first try.)


  • Have students try calling out the attitudes.
  • Try acting out some attitudes and have the students guess what you're acting out. Then have them act it out as well.
  • Create notecards with opposite terms written on front and back.  Go through some of the cards, acting out the emotions on both sides while standing still.  Then incorporate jogging in place while going through the cards.

Inclusion Strategies

Classrooms are filled with learners who demonstrate a variety of needs and abilities, including ESL students, those with disabilities, and gifted/talented students. Consider these adaptations as you work to modify the lesson for student success.

  • Encourage partners to run together and “mirror” the emotion of the other to demonstrate a level of empathy vs. sympathy (caring for but not feeling sorry for the other person).
  • Remember that some children may have difficulty understanding the emotion. Ask them to show you what is “sad” or “angry” by using facial expressions. Keep it fun and copy cat with a partner for better understanding.
  • Allow for all to participate in the discussion regardless of the level of understanding. “As a child with a disability, I have a right to speak about how I feel!!”

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