Combining movement with brain work is a great way to improve learning and I am trying to do more of this in my classes. This week I tried this fun game that combines practice on multiplication skills with cardio movement. My classes loved it! The novelty of the obstacle course made it lots of fun.
Set up: 5 rows of hula hoops that decrease in number. The first row has 5 hoops, the second 4, etc. In each hula hoop place 2 dice. Around the borders of the hoop set-up, make an obstacle course. I used cones with jump ropes stretched across to make hurdles and foam noodles and cones to create tunnels. Along one side of the course, I just had the students side-slide.
Game: Players begin at the row of 5 hoops. 2 players begin at each hoop (10 kids starting and the rest are waiting in line so I have them stretch until their turn, it moves fast). Each player takes a turn rolling the dice. They multiply the 2 numbers together. The player with the largest product advances to the next row of hoops. The losing player must complete the obstacle course and then start over at the beginning level. As they rotate levels, they just find another waiting player to roll against. If they advance (and win) all the way to the top hoop, I tape a “hall of fame” paper on the floor for them to sign their name on. Any time they lose, they must run the obstacle course and begin again at the first level. The fun thing about the game is that they love running the obstacle course so win or lose, they are all having fun!
I played fun music while they played which added to the energy.
Adaptations could easily be made to practice different math skills: add or subtract numbers, add another dice, etc
One of my favorite games of the year — so energetic and fun!
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.
Here is another fun parachute activity that my students love . . .
I begin by having them pull the parachute tight. Tell them to lean backwards and let the parachute hold them up. Then walk in a circle together keeping the speed consistent and the chute tight. Now your students are prepped for the game.
Give a scooter to about every fifth student around the parachute. These students sit on the scooter and hold onto the parachute with one hand. Tell them if they lose control or start to fall off, they must roll UNDER the parachute. That keeps them from getting stepped on or tripping someone. The standing students walk fast in a circle pulling the scooter students along. After those students ride, stop and pass the scooters forward and repeat.
This activity is a tight squeeze in my small gym, but the kids love it!
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.
This game is an adaptation of the traditional “Rob the Cookie Jar”. I used it for my 3rd and 4th graders to practice their soccer dribbling skills.
Set up a large playing area with hula hoops arranged in a big circle. Each hoop should be at least 10 paces from another one with a free area in the center. Students all get their own soccer or kick ball and place it in a hula hoop. Set up enough hoops so that each hoop has 5-6 balls (vary hoop number according to your class size). The hoop where their ball starts is their home hoop. The goal is to get as many balls into your hoop as possible in a set amount of time. On the start signal, students run to another hoop, lift a ball out, set it on the ground, and then dribble it to their own hoop. They use their feet to trap the ball in their own hoop. Then go and “steal” another ball. At the end of the designated time, students return to their own hoop and count to see which team has the most balls.
Here are a few rules my students came up with as we played the game:
1. can only steal one ball at a time
2. you cannot steal from a person kicking, just from the hoops
3. you cannot rob from your “next door neighbor” (hoop on either side of yours) 2 times in a row
4. you cannot rob from the same hoop 2 times in a row
5. no hands after you pick the ball up out of the hoop, kicking only
Fun, active, and good practice!
We have been practicing soccer skills, mainly different kinds of kicks in PE this month. This game was a fun, quick way to practice.
Students find a partner
Each partnership needs 1 ball and 1 hula hoop
You need a large playing area (perfect for outside fall weather)
Player throws hula hoop into empty space
Partners then take turns kicking the ball and trying to get it to land in the hoop
Count and see how many kicks it takes to get the ball to stay in the hoop (if it rolls out, that counts as 1 kick and play continues)
Throw the hoop again and try to decrease your number of kicks or throw the hoop farther
Today was one of those days where everything went perfect! My students responded to this game with such enthusiasm and it was really fun. It was our “mission possible” fitness day. Here is what we did:
I divided the class into groups of 4-5. Each group had a cone that was their “home base”. I gave them 30 seconds to appoint a team captain, then had the team captain come up and get an envelope with their “mission”. Each envelope had slips of paper with different fitness tasks on them (for a total of 10 tasks). They had to complete the tasks as a group. I play the theme from Mission Impossible while they worked. The music was key to making it fun! I told them when they finished, they could come to me for an extra challenge. That kept the fast groups busy. (challenge was to repeat task cards, but double all numbers) You can use any exercise on the task cards. Here are the ones I used: gallop 1 lap, 30 jumping jacks, curl-ups for 60 seconds, 10 super mans, 20 high jumps, grapevine 1 lap, 20 step jumps, 10 push-ups, plank for 60 seconds, wall sit for 60 seconds. They all laughed and had fun while working hard.
Our second activity was a relay activity. When we finished our first mission, I had them move their cones into a row and line their groups up behind them. Each group had 3 bean bags. In front of each line I put 3 dome-style cones spaced across the gym floor. The first person in line ran to the first cone, turned it over and put a bean bag inside. They then run back and pick up a second bean bag and run to the 2nd cone, turn it over, put the bean bag in. Repeat for 3rd cone then run back to the group and high five the next person. That team-mate reverses the action by bringing the bean bag back and turning the cone back to “mountain” position. Because of the ladder-style running, the students got a lot of cardio exercise. I played the Mission Impossible music again and the groups kept going until the music stopped. I told them it wasn’t a race, just to try and see how many rounds their group could do. They loved this activity as well. It was a super fun and active PE class!
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.
Centipede Relay is a fun game that can be played indoors or outdoors. It is a good cardiovascular activity as the students really get moving, but can be done in smaller spaces. The game works with small or large groups; just adjust the amount of teams you have. Teams should have 4-8 players.
Place 2 hula hoops per team on opposite ends of play area. Fill 1 of the hoops with miscellaneous tossables such as bean bags, different ball sizes, etc. I always throw in a rubber chicken for fun and the kids love that. Students then line up behind the hoop with the tossables. The task is to move the items down to the other hoop. They do this by passing between the legs then over the head (every other person) one item at a time. When the first person has handed off, he/she runs to the end of the line so that the line keeps shifting and moving towards the next hoop. They move one object at a time and then run back and begin passing the next object. You can play race-style and see which team gets their objects to the other hoop first; or have them play for a certain amount of time. When indoors, I add fun music and they play until the music stops. It is a crazy, fast-moving game.
I have several versions of rock, paper, scissors that are easy to add-in as needed to any lesson. They are also good for regular classroom teachers to use when their students need a break. They are fast, require no equipment and get the children moving around and interacting.
Whole body: Instead of using just your hands; rock, paper, or scissors is made with your whole body. Curl up for a rock. Body in an ‘x’ shape for scissors. Feet together and hands straight in the air for paper. Students jump 3 times then make their shape.
Olympic: Divide the room into 3 sections using cones or any visual markers. One section is bronze, one is silver, and one is gold. In the gold section make a “podium” using a mat, chair, or any raised surface. All students begin in bronze and find a partner to play. Winner moves into the silver section and loser stays in bronze. Continue to find new partners and play, moving up or down levels when you win or lose. If you win in the gold section you stay there and play again. If you win 3 times in a row you stand on the podium. I play with my classes that as a new person gains the podium they must challenge whoever was there first. The winner stays on the podium and the loser goes back to bronze. You can also play it that the podium can have multiple players. Play for any amount of time (usually about 5 minutes)
Train: Players form a train of 3-4 people standing in a line and placing hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them. The front player challenges the “engine” from another train to RPS. The loser becomes the caboose of that train. The train then chugs the room and looks for another train to play. See who gets the longest train.
Chicken, Monkey, Superman: This one is my favorite. It is similar to Olympic (above). All students start out as chickens (crouch down and make chicken wings) and find a partner to play. Winners move up to monkeys (stand and make monkey arms). Winning monkeys become superman (arms out as if flying) and losing monkeys go back to being a chicken. Chickens must play chickens, etc. I place mats at both sides of the gym. If a person wins 3 times in a row as superman; he/she becomes the king and stands on either mat. Another winner can challenge them and take their place if they win. Losers go back to being a chicken. The children really get giggling with this one and it is fun to watch.
This is the first week of school for me. I have been spending lots of time going over the class rules with my students and these simple games have been a good way to break things up and make the class fun.