Noodle Ninja

This game is a favorite with my classes and is especially effective with 3rd and 4th grades.  It is good for cardio exercise and to get the class mixing together and playing with lots of different friends.  It is also a fun use of new equipment.

I use pool noodles for this game.  I buy them on clearance at the end of the summer and then cut them in half. For less than $20 I have a class set.

Game:  Give each student 1 noodle.  Students meet with a partner and tap their noodles 3 times together.  They then try and bop their partner’s ankle or foot.  Each time a foot is hit, start a new round.  At the end of three rounds students must find a new partner.  When they need a new partner, I have them go to the center of the room and hold their noodle in the air as a signal.  Since the rounds go so fast, they are constantly mixing and finding new partners.

Management:  When teaching the game, I demonstrate what is an appropriate hit and what is not.  Be specific on rules!  I also spend some time on the method for finding a new partner.  I stress that they duel with the first person to become available.  Once these things have been taught, you can throw out the noodles and have a quick 3 minute game whenever needed.

Notes:  I have found that 1st and 2nd graders have a hard time holding on to the noodles; their hands are too small.  The game has also worked well with my 5th graders.  My 6th graders tend to get aggressive fast so keep the time played short.  The game is fun outside or in.  As always, fun music adds to the energy.


beach-volley game

In 5th and 6th grade we have been working on the volleyball skills of bump and set.  At the end of each class period we played this game with a beach ball to practice the skills in a fun way.

Divide gym space into 4 squares.  I did this using poly-spots.  Class is divided into 4 equal teams (about 8 students per team) and each team positions themselves in one of the squares.  I serve a beach ball into the playing area.  Teams try and keep the ball from hitting the ground in their square using sets and bumps.  We also practice a couple of volleyball rules:  no double hits and no carrying the ball.  Anytime the ball hits the ground the team in that square gets a point (least points wins) and the ball returns to the side to be served in.  By serving the ball in myself I can vary the area the ball begins in to maximize keeping all students involved.  My students have gotten quite good at keeping the ball in the air and loved playing this game.  We played it for just five minutes at the end of each class.  It is quick to set up and clean up as well as lots of fun.

*notes
I also tried it with multiple balls in the air — doesn’t work as good, too confusing

Could potentially try it using a real volleyball


Merry Go Round Parachute Game

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!


Centipede Relay

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.


Rock, Paper, Scissors made active

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.


4-way capture the flag

I have never been a fan of the game “capture the flag”.  When I tried it with my classes I always ended up with a lot of students standing around and plenty of fighting over rules being followed.  However, I get asked by students to play it quite frequently.  I modified some rules and came up with a new version that I like a lot.  The students had a great time as well and my 6th graders requested to play it during their last week of PE this year.

Play area is divided into 4 equal areas.  Make them big (about 30 paces square) if possible.  I used poly spots to mark dividing lines.  All areas should be connected — like a large rectangle divided into fourths.

Each area has a hula hoop with 5 bean bags in it and 4 cones set up in a square (jail)

Students are divided into 4 teams and each team takes a square.  They wore pinnies to separate teams.

Goal is to try and get the most bean bags into your team’s hula hoop.

Bean bags can be stolen one at a time only.  They can be passed from player to player but not thrown.

Players can be tagged anytime they are out of their own area.  Tagged players must go to the tagging team’s jail.  They can be rescued by one of their teammates.  Rescued players get a free walk-back with their rescuer, but they must be touching as they walk back.  You can only rescue one teammate at a time.

Hula hoops are a “free” area.  Players cannot be tagged if they are standing in a hula hoop.  You cannot stand in your own team’s hula hoop.  One person can guard your team’s hoop, but must be three steps away.  One person can be in a hoop at a time.  (It is fun to see the strategies team members come up with when a person gets trapped in a hoop)

Can steal bean bags from any other team’s hoop.

The game does not stop once started.  At the end of a play session, teams can count up their bags and see who has the most.

This version brought about much more involvement from all class members.  Teams really had to pay attention or their whole team could end up in jail. (I called occasional “jail break” when this happens).  The multiple bean bags really made a difference in keeping things moving and allowed for natural score-keeping for the more competitive types.


3 on 1 frisbee keep-away

My classes have been practicing their frisbee skills — catching and throwing.  I used this game as a final activity for my 3rd and 4th graders and as a lead-in to ultimate frisbee for my 5th and 6th.

Divide class into groups of 4 (groups of 3 or 5 also work).  Each group makes a playing field by using poly-spots to mark corners of a 10×10 box (I teach them to take big steps and count off 10 paces).  Each group has one person that is defense and the other 3 are offense.  Offense tries to keep the frisbee from the defense.  Basic rules are:

1. person with the frisbee may not take steps

2. must pass the frisbee within 3 seconds

3.  players must stay 3 feet from each other

4.  if the frisbee is thrown out-of-bounds, the thrower becomes the defense

5.  if a catch is missed or dropped, the catcher becomes the defense

6.  if the defense intercepts the pass, he or she chooses who becomes the next defensive player

I add the option that if I blow the whistle, a new person becomes the defensive player.  With my younger classes, I had to help some groups understand the idea of the defense trying to get in the middle of the offensive players to intercept; and also showing the offensive players how to move around when they don’t have the frisbee in hand.  Once they get the hang of it, they have a great time.  My older classes were playing within seconds and kept an active game going.  It was a fun spring-time activity.


Ball Chase

Here is a fun, fast, and easy game idea:

I labeled old tennis balls with numbers 1-8 (or how ever many groups you want to have).  Then labeled five or six extra balls with random symbols (triangle, smiley face, star, etc).  I divide the class into groups and line them up behind cones.  Each group draws a numbered tennis ball and that becomes their group number.  I then throw all the tennis balls out into the gym.  The first person in each line runs forward and tries to find their numbered ball.  When they do they bring it to me and I give them a point value.  The first person to bring me a ball gets 8 points, the second 7 points, and on down.  After they have found their ball they can go and grab symbol balls one at a time.  Each of these are worth 5 points.  When all the balls have been picked up, I gather them, the team adds up their points and the next person moves forward in line.  I throw the balls out and repeat.  We play until each group member has had a turn to chase.  The groups have to add on to their points each time so they use some math skills.

The main rule you have to emphasize is that they can only have one ball in their hands at a time.  Depending on the level of competitiveness and the students’ ages you can let them toss or kick unwanted balls around the room making it harder for other groups to find their ball.

The kids really get running.  It is mainly luck to find their ball so anyone can win the game.  My class had a lot of fun playing it and all had their heart rates up.  I love the math element with the points.


National Archery in the Schools Program

This year, our school was able to participate in the National Archery in the Schools Program.  This program is designed to bring the sport of international style archery into the school-day (4-12 grades).  Because I started knowing nothing about archery, I was not sure of how everything would work.  I wanted to be involved in this program because I wanted to bring something into my PE program that was new and different and everyone would be starting as a beginner.

Archery became a favorite at our school!  The students loved learning the sport during PE class and all were anxious to try and learn.  We had try-outs for an after school team and over 100 students tried out (about 1/3 of the eligible students).  40 students made the final team and they practiced for 8 weeks before attending the state tournament.  Our team took first in the state!  It was a rewarding and a unique experience for so many of the students.  I found that students succeeded in archery that struggle with every other sport.  It turned things around for some of my more negative students.

The challenge of teaching archery during the school day was the size of our gym versus class size.  I have about 36 students at a time and only 10 could shoot at once.  I organized the classes into 4 groups.  One group would be shooting at targets, one worked on archery-related fitness skills, one practiced the motions with string bows, and the last group was allowed to watch the shooters.

Our school was able to initiate this program due to a grant offered by the Utah Division of Natural Resources.    The Utah DNR provided us with the equipment needed and also the training for me to become a certified instructor.  Grants are available in many states.

To learn more about the NASP program, visit their webpage here.


Jump Bands

Have you ever seen jump bands?  They are a new piece of equipment I have been trying out.  They are long, stretchy bands with a handle on each end.  Two players stand across from each other and hook the handles of 2 bands over their feet (kind-of like chinese jump rope).  Those two players then jump in rhythm — in, in, out, out, in , in, out, out (feet together, feet apart).  The jumper(s)  jump opposite the band holders — feet apart for 2 beats then together for 2 beats.  It is a very active activity for both jumpers and holders.  After my students got the basic rhythm down, I let them get creative.  Some did cartwheels or break dancing moves through the moving bands.  Other crossed four bands into an “x” and got a group going around in a circular motion. We ended by lining up 8-10 sets of bands on the gym floor.  All holders jumped the rhythm together.  The rest of the class lined up and went down the row with this rhythm —  one foot in, 2nd foot in, 1st foot out, 2nd foot out.  It was a lot of fun and great exercise.