FMS Manipulative Skills Series 1 Introduction

Introducing The FMS Manipulative Skill Posters

For years now, I’ve been on a mission to make my physical education lessons as visually pleasing as possible. I’ve always liked making “pretty yet functional” resources for my students in order to help them better understand the concepts, skills and tactics we learn and develop in class.

That being said, there has been a resource that I have been trying to perfect for years now. It’s gone through several iterations, some ok and some terrible. However, I finally came up with the design that I have been trying to get out of my head and into print ever since I started teaching at the elementary level! Today I am ready to start sharing it with you.

The Evolution of an Idea

When I teach my students a new skill, I want them to be able to understand the components/critical elements/keys to success that they need to develop in order to be able to fully master the skill (and develop a mature pattern).

To help them do this, I have attempted to create visual resources that will help them see how to break down the skill. Here are some of the ideas I have tried out over time:

The “Important Keys” List (2014)

This is what I started out making when I first tried testing this out in my teaching (when I first got to St. George’s School of Montreal). Pretty straightforward: I just made a poster that had the name of the skill along with its critical elements listed below it (I wanted it to be aligned to the school’s branding):

Catching Important Keys List

I had a few problems with this resource. First of all, I found it boring and ugly. Why would I want to put something in my gym that I (and my students) didn’t find cool? Second, it was too text heavy. My younger students (and English Language Learners) had a difficult time understanding what was written on the poster.

Back to the drawing board…

The Sausage Finger Graphics (2015)

I decided to try and create different icons for each of the Fundamental Manipulative Skills that we work on in physical education (e.g. kicking, catching, throwing, dribbling, striking, etc). I wanted something simple that would help my students quickly identify and make better sense of the text presented. That’s how I wound up creating what I now call the “Sausage Finger” graphics:

Sausage Finger FMS Icons

Although I was pretty happy with how these turned out, I still had some problems with them. For one, the hands kinda looked funny. I mean, they were fine, just not great. Second, the graphics didn’t give a global idea of what the skill looked like. Third, I still had the issue of the text being too complicated for younger/ELL students. Here’s what the actual cards looked like:

Catching Card

So, I went back to the drawing board with a new mission in mind: to create a visual for each FMS skill that was easy to quickly identify and that helped students understand the critical elements (even when they have difficulty reading the text).

What I developed is what I’m calling the FMS Manipulative Skill Posters and today I’m launching the first series in the collection (which I have been using in my teaching this past term).

The FMS Manipulative Skill Posters (2017)

My first job was to create artwork for the skills that make sense, give students a global idea of what the skill looks like and that can be quickly identified. Although the process I’m using to produce this artwork is pretty intense, I could not be happier with it’s turned out!

2017 FMS Artwork

Next, I had to come up with a way to help my students identify the different critical elements without only relying on text descriptions. To do this, I created graphics for each critical element for each of the skills (a.k.a. Return of the Sausage Fingers):

Keys To Success Graphics

But just having a graphic beside text does not mean that the student will automatically understand what it means. That’s why I included a QR code on each poster that links to a video demonstration of the skill in which I showcase the skill and then break it down into its critical elements. The graphics appear at their appropriate moments in the video to highlight the critical element being demonstrated. This way, even if a student can’t read the text, they can associate the graphic to the action. Here’s the overhand throwing video to give you an idea of what I’m talking about:

The FMS Manipulative Skill Posters – Series One

As I mentioned earlier, today I’m launching the first series of the FMS Manipulative Skill Posters collection. Series One includes Catching, Underhand Throwing, and Overhand Throwing. There are two different ways that you can access these posters:

FMS Manipulative Skill Posters – Premium

The premium version of the posters are available for purchase as a set in the Shop. The premium download package includes the premium version of each skill posters as well as a few more goodies.

The Premium FMS Manipulative Skill Posters are larger than their free counterparts (legal vs letter-sized… I’ll get to that later), include the artwork for the skill, the text and graphics for each “Key To Success”, and the QR code which links to the video in which the skill is broken down and highlighted with the critical element graphics and text.

The premium download package also includes Key Focus Cards for each “Key To Success”. These are smaller printables that you can include in your teaching to help students focus on individual critical elements. I use these with my younger students in order to introduce each “Key To Success” one at a time in order to not overwhelm my young learners. I use them with my cone holders and place them in strategic locations where they will be front-and-centre as my students practice their skills.

Finally, the premium download package also includes Station Cards for each skill that have the skill artwork on one side and the “Keys To Success” (and corresponding graphics) on the other. These have come in handy when I set up stations in my class and want to help my students understand what it is they are working on at each station.

FMS Manipulative Skill Posters – Free

The free version of the each poster is available for download on the Skill Posters page. Each free version is a letter-sized poster (so slightly smaller than the Premium version) that includes the artwork for the skill and the list of “Keys To Success” (i.e. critical elements).

My decision to develop a free version of the FMS Manipulative Skill Posters came from my commitment to continue to provide teachers with as many free resources as possible on Although I do need to charge for some items that take a longer time/more resources to develop, I haven’t forgotten what it’s like to be working with a limited budget. If I can offer things for free and continue to build things at the rate I’m building things, then I will. That’s a promise.

So those are the FMS Manipulative Skill Posters. I’m super pumped with how they turned out and the impact they’ve already had on my students learning! I hope you enjoy them and I’m looking really forward to releasing even more series as the year goes on!

Thank you again for all of your amazing support and for taking the time to read this. ?

Happy Teaching!


Joey Feith is the founder of Having taught elementary physical education for 10 years, Joey is now focused on helping physical educators grow their confidence and competence as teachers.