Sharks and Lifeguards is a classic parachute game. I have been hesitant to play it in the past due to the potential roughness of the game. I decided to give it a try this year with some added caution. It was very successful and a favorite for my students.
Students sit in a circle around the parachute with their legs straight out in front of them. Their legs are underneath the parachute. A few students (I started with 3) are “sharks” and swim underneath the parachute. The sharks try and pull beach dwellers under the chute by grabbing their legs. A few students (equal in number to starting sharks) are “lifeguards”. The lifeguards circle the parachute on foot and rescue those being pulled under. I instructed my students that if they felt themselves being pulled under, they must let go of the parachute and raise both hands and call to a lifeguard for help. They cannot kick at the shark or hold on to anything, but they can try to scoot away and get extra help from the lifeguards. The lifeguards help by grabbing the victim’s arms and pulling. Once a player is pulled under, they become a shark. If they are saved, they stay in position with legs under the chute. As the game goes on more and more players become sharks. When 90% of the group is under the chute, I blow my whistle for everyone to come out and we start a new round.
Play outside on the grass versus inside on a hard gym floor
Instruct sharks that they may initially only grab one leg — this way the person being pulled will not get yanked too hard and bump their head on the ground
Have those sitting around the parachute wave it up and down slightly to keep air moving underneath — it gets hot under there!
I played the game with 2nd thru 5th grade and they all had a blast!
Here is a quick and easy game that doesn’t require a lot of equipment. It also can be done in small spaces so it works well for classroom teachers that want to get kids moving a bit.
Students get in groups of 5-6. They form a big circle facing in and take a wide stance with the side edges of their feet touching. Place a playground ball in the center of the circle. Players try to score a “goal” by rolling the ball between someone else’s legs. They can block with their hands, but cannot move their feet. They should try and keep the ball rolling, not bouncing in the air (for safety).
My students had a lot of fun with this once they got the ball rolling fast. You can add movement by having the student who lets a goal get by run a lap, etc. Scoring is optional depending on the level of competition you want to have. Quick and easy games like this are great to have in your head when you need a quick filler.
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!
This game was a favorite this fall with my 3rd and 4th graders. I also played it with 5th & 6th. Class is divided up into two teams. They each form a line on opposite sides of the field. The offensive team has small token (I used a bottle cap). Each team member holds their hands together as if holding the token and runs to cross the line of the defensive team. The defensive team starts tagging members of the offensive team. When tagged, they must stop and show what is in their hands. If they don’t have the token they just move on. If the person with the token is tagged then the defense becomes offense. If the token makes it across the line, it is a point for that team and they retain possession. Leadership ability really comes out during this game. I saw teams work together doing things such as blocking for the person with the token or faking who had it while someone casually crossed the line. Teams with out a clear leader struggled to be successful in scoring a point. As the game ended, I pointed out the need for strategy and teamwork and we talked about why or why not a team was successful.
I tried another couple of basketball-based games with 3rd and 4th graders this week. These focus on dribbling skills. I divided my class of 35 into 3 groups. One group had shooting practice while the other two played dribbling games.
Dribblerama: everyone has a ball. I used a big circle painted on the black top as boundaries. They must stay in the circle and dribble their ball. While dribbling they try and knock another players ball, causing them to lose control. If you lose control of your ball you are out. They played until their were 2-3 players left and those were declared winners. I had the “out” players dribble on the line around the edge to practice while they waited.
Stealer Ball: 1/2 the players have a ball. They must dribble continuously. Other players try and steal a ball. If stolen, then the stealer gets that ball and begins t0 dribble. The person who lost their ball must then try and steal from a different player. I used a half court as their boundaries.
Before these games I taught basketball standards of traveling, double dribble, etc. They could not stop and hold the ball or dribble with both hands.
PROS: Good dribbling practice with everyone engaged. More fun than just dribbling up and down and also gave them practice of staying in control in a game-like situation.
CONS: For dribblerama, you need a lot of balls (luckily my school has a good supply of equipment). Kids wore out quickly, don’t do for too long (5-7 minutes)
My 3rd and 4th graders have been working on a basketball unit. It is a challenge to find games that challenge those who are more skilled and experienced and give the others the practice they need. This game worked really well as a follow-up to our work practicing bounce and chest passes:
Circle Guard and Pass
Form 2 teams: offense and defense. Offense team makes a large circle with one team member in the center. Defense team makes a smaller circle inside the offense circle. It works best if you have actual circles drawn for them to stand on. (Our school has 2 large circles like this painted on the black top outside — perfect!) The offensive team tries to get the ball into the person in the center with a bounce pass or a chest pass. The defensive team tries to swat or steal the ball as it passes through. All team members must stay on their designated lines, but can slide along them. I really worked with the offensive to move the ball quickly and look for holes in the defense to pass through. It took some time for them to quite throwing the ball overhead and look for ways to bounce pass instead. After about 5 minutes I would rotate the teams. We played this two weeks in a row because they were just catching on at the end of the first session. The second week they really had a good time with it. They all love being the person in the middle.
PROS: Only need one ball to play, if played right all children can be involved and active, great way to show the correct way to use a bounce pass and its potential effectivness
CONS: Tendency to just chuck the ball overhead must be overcome, some kids can get ignored and never touch the ball. I solved both these by playing the game along with them. I had to play it inside one day due to bad weather and without the drawn lines it didn’t work as well. They really need a line they have to stay on.