I pulled out an old set of “UNO” cards this week and used them for a quick and easy warm-up with my K, 1, and 2 classes.
Give each child an UNO card. Assign each color a locomotor movement. For example:
green = slither like a snake
blue=swim (arm motion)
Start some fun music and the children perform the locomotor movement associated with their card. When the music stops, they must trade cards with someone. Repeat about every 30 seconds. Not only was this a good warm-up, but a chance for me to assess locomotor skills. I focused on the skip and watched those students only. If someone was having a hard time with it, I could step in and help them out and the rest of the class was still busy and active.
Does anyone else have young classes that are obsessed with the movie Frozen? My students love it when I put on Frozen music for them to listen to while we are doing our activities. We have danced with ribbon wands to Frozen, learned to scarf juggle to Frozen, rolled balls, etc, etc. They can’t get enough of that soundtrack! And while I am getting sick of it, I love it when they are all engaged in a physical activity while singing at the top of their lungs a Frozen song! So, here is an old game with a new Frozen twist . . .
The game is usually called “stuck in the mud”. I changed it to “frozen tag” and we listen to “Frozen Heart” while we play. Choose 3-4 children to be taggers. I use a yarn ball for them to tag with. When the music begins, they try and tag other students. When you are tagged you must freeze with your legs spread apart into a bridge. To get “unfrozen” another student must crawl under your legs. Play for a few minutes and then change-up who your taggers are. You can also designate the movement used — instead of running you must fast-walk, skip, gallop, etc.
I usually play tag games only outdoors, not in the gym, to avoid injuries on the hard floor. I found that using this music, which has a slow beat, slows the game down enough to keep the movement at a safe level for indoors.
Scooter games are one of my kids favorite activities. This one was fun with soccer balls so I adapted it for a scooter version that my classes just loved.
Equipment: hula hoop for every 4-5 students, lots of bean bags, 2 scooters per team
Divide the class into teams of 4-5 students each team. Each team has 2 scooters and 1 hula hoop that is their “cookie jar”. Place equal number of teams on opposite sides of the gym. In the center of the gym place a hula hoop and fill it with bean bags. This is the “bakery”. Two students from each team can scooter in to the center and steal a “cookie” (bean bag) from the bakery and take it back to their own cookie jar. They then pass the scooter to the next team mate. They may only take one at a time and it must be placed not thrown into their cookie jar. I let them ride their scooters anyway they want, as long as they follow our safety rules. Once the bakery cookie jar is empty, they may steal from each others’ cookie jars. Again, one at a time and no throwing. I also tell them they can’t steal from neighbors on the same side of the street as them, they must go to the houses across the gym. Once they get to this part of the game, it really gets moving! At ending time, I have them count up how many cookies they have. I downplay the competitive side by saying “wow, big numbers” or something like that instead of declaring a winner.
Adaptations: For 1st grade I eliminated the steal from the neighbor step and had smaller teams with only one scooter for team. It simplified the game and the instruction time and they still loved playing.
Parachute activities are a favorite with all my students. They always cheer when I bring out the parachute! This is our very favorite game:
Cat and Mouse
Class sits in a circle with the parachute covering their legs.
One child is the mouse and crawls under the parachute.
Another child is the cat and crawls on top of the parachute.
The rest of the class makes small waves with the parachute to hide the mouse.
The cat has to try and find the mouse and tag him/her.
Switch parts for cat and mouse and repeat.
The downside is that all the children want a turn to be the cat/mouse. It does move fairly quickly and I can give most of my class a turn in about 10 minutes playing time.
Last week in class, I taught my animal movement lesson plan (see here). Today I wanted to do something new with my warm-ups so I tried this:
Set up 6 cones spaced apart in the gym
Label each cone with an animal movement: crab walk, frog hop, puppy run, etc
Let students choose a cone to start at (I limit the number of how many can start at the same cone)
Play fun music
Students move from cone to cone matching the animal movements on the cone. Each time they reach a new cone, they change their movement.
It was a very successful warm-up. Their favorite animal movement was the 3-legged dog!
My first and second graders really loved playing with scarves this week. They are a colorful and fun manipulative to try. I first passed them out and we played “freeze dance” while holding the scarf. They loved dancing around with a scarf in hand. We then did some beginning juggling:
1. Hold the scarf by the corner. Toss across your body and catch with the opposite hand.
2. Stand across from a partner. Both toss scarves at the same time and catch your partner’s scarf.
3. Give each student a second scarf. Scarves are tossed across the body, making an ‘x’. Follow this pattern: toss, toss, catch, catch. I have them repeat with me “toss, toss, catch, catch”. (they tend to want to toss, catch, toss, catch).
4. Play fun music while students practice. They love it!
My classes love to play tag games and this one adds a little extra fitness:
Divide playing area in half using cones to mark dividing line. Use 2 cones in each area to mark a “door”. There is a tag game going on in each area. If a person is tagged, they go out of the door in the gym-half they have been playing in. They complete 10 jumping jacks (or any fitness task you designate) then enter in the door of the adjoining game and play in that game. I designate 3-4 children per game to be “it”. They use a yarn ball to tag. Every few minutes, I blow a whistle (students freeze) and trade students who are “it”.
Most tag games work better outside, but this one seems to work well in a gym space. We were driven inside today due to wind and my students loved playing this game.
We have been working on throwing and catching in 1st and 2nd grade. This creative story and game made practicing the skills fun.
Make a big rectangle using cones or poly spots. This is the ship.
Throw 8-10 hula hoops around the ship — about 4 paces away.
Place a bin of soft yarn or foam balls on the “ship”.
I had all the students sit in the cone box for a story. I told them they were on a ship, but in a minute a big storm was going to hit and most of them would be knocked off. They would need to swim quickly and climb on an iceberg (hula hoop) because the water around them was full of hungry sharks. I demonstrated that those sailors still on the ship would need to save their friends by throwing them a life preserver (yarn ball). If the ball is caught you can reel your friend in with the imaginary rope tied to the life preserver. If the ball is not caught, it must remain in the water. I note that the water also has some friendly and brave dolphins who will retrieve the lost life preservers and bring them back to the ship.
I then send all the students to stand in a hoop (several can stand in the same one). I then designate 3-4 children to stay on the ship and be rescue sailors and 3-4 to be dolphins. The sailors then begin tossing balls to their friends in the hoops. Once these students are pulled on board they can help with the rescuing. The dolphins run around and retrieve lost balls so the ship doesn’t run out. You can add a timer, if wanted, and see if all our friends can be rescued in one minute before their ice berg melts.
The children love the imagination of the game as well as getting lots of throwing and catching practice. A round just takes about a minute, then I scattered them in hoops again and start over. They loved it!
My 3rd and 4th graders have been working on frisbee skills. We worked on backhand throw and 2-hand clap catch. We spent the bulk of class practicing with a partner using a regular plastic frisbee. I ended the lesson by switching to some foam frisbees and playing this game:
“It” has a foam frisbee. Have one “it” per every 5-7 players. ”IT” backhand threw the frisbee to try and hit another player. If a player was hit, they became “it”. The game was very simple and the class did a lot of running. ”It” player changed frequently so no one got too tired. It was a fun ending game for a frisbee day. I have also tried the game with 1st and 2nd grades with good success.
My warm-up routine has gotten a bit boring so I wanted to spice it up a bit for my younger students. I placed 10 cones around the gym. Each cone had 2 cards attached labeled with different warm-up exercises. Some were stretches, some balance moves, and some locomotor movements. The students chose a cone to start at. I set the rule that no more than 4 students could be at a cone at a time. I played music that paused at 30 second intervals. When the music paused, the students rotated to the next cone. They could choose between the two cards which exercise they wanted to do at each station. Total equaled a 5 minute warm-up session that was fun and gave them some autonomy. The music added a fun boost as well. My students really enjoyed it and it solved some management problems I have been having during warm-up time!