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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
I taught some beginning tossing and catching skills to my kindergarten classes this week. The sequence went smooth and the students had a great time. I began by placing poly spots around the floor and had them all sit on a spot. I then demonstrated tossing a bean bag with one hand and catching it with two hands. I had previously taught them levels for tossing: low is eye level, medium is as high as you can reach, high is towards the ceiling. For this activity, I told them to toss at a medium level. I stressed for them to stay standing on their spot to encourage them to make careful and straight tosses up. After a few minutes of practice, I showed them how to toss, clap hands once, and then catch. They loved trying that one. Next I collected bean bags from every other person and demonstrated tossing underhand to a partner. The cues I taught were: swinging arm straight back, stepping onto opposite leg, ending with throwing hand pointing at partner. More practice time.
For an ending activity we put the bean bags and poly-spots away and played a game called “Clean Your Room”. I have also heard it called “Snowball Fight”. Divide playing space in half. Dump soft yarn or foam balls equally on both halves of the room. I tell the students they are brothers and sisters and the gym is their bedroom that they share. They all want their half of the room to be clean. Class is divided in half and assigned a half of the gym to “clean”. I start some fun music and they try and throw all the balls out of their half of the room. When the music stops, they freeze and see who has the cleanest room. It is crazy and fun! We just played for a couple of minutes, but it was a happy and active way to end the lesson. All classes asked to play it again next week. *tip: I have a rule that they can only touch one ball at a time
The lesson took about 25 minutes. With a 5 minute warm-up it was perfect for a 30 minute class period.