The history of Hula Hooping dates back to 500 BCE where Egyptian children played with hoops made out of dried grapevines, rolling them with sticks or whirling them around their waist. The ancient Greeks even used hoops to exercise. Today, hula hoops are still extremely popular with kids and adults on playgrounds, exercise gyms, and school gymnasiums around the world.
As a physical education teacher, the hula hoop is my favorite piece of equipment due to its versatility. Throughout my career I’ve called on the hula hoop to assist me in teaching teamwork, to help the youngest students recognize personal space, to improve fitness, to simply act as a base for games like kickball and capture the flag, and to be a manipulative for building and spinning.
I’d like to share with you 10 of my favorite hula hoop activities. Each activity can be adapted for all grade levels and abilities.
Hula Hoop Fitness Timer
This is one of my favorite instant activities for any grade level. Students simply spin their hula hoop and perform an exercise until the hoop stops spinning. For younger grade levels, I post different exercises on a white board for students to choose. Sometimes I give the students a chance to work with a partner. They alternate spinning the hoop and choosing the exercise. I can also assess upper grade level students’ knowledge of muscle groups by asking them to choose exercises targeting specific muscle groups. Thank you @PECoachLaura, my colleague, for this idea.
Please give this activity a shot! I’ve used it for my conditioning classes with excellent results. It’s a combination of strategy, endurance, and determination. Set up a square with a hula hoop in each corner. I like the hoops to be 15-20 feet apart. Place one hoop in the center with 5-6 bean bags. One students begins in each of the outer four hoops. The object is to collect three bean bags in your hoop first. Only one bean bag can be taken at a time, and must be dropped into your hoop, not tossed. Once the bean bags from the center are gone, players then steal from the other hoops.
This game can also be played with partners. One partner waits at the hoop while the other partner retrieves the bean bag. Partners switch roles after each retrieval.
Divide the class into sets of partners. The goal of the activity is for partner A to pass a hula hoop over partner B, who is holding a high plank (push up) pose, as many times as possible in 30 seconds. After the first 30 seconds, partners have 3 seconds to switch roles. The process is then repeated with partner A holding the plank and partner B passing the hoop. You can have the students do several sets depending on the grade level and individual strength. Be sure to encourage the students to try moving the hoop both head first and feet first.
Hula Planking with Knee Tuck
Around the Clock Push-ups
This is my new favorite upper body strengthener because there are so many ways to do it. The first video shows you a basic 1-hour push-up, while the second video gives you an extension. Each video also has an explanation.
Cooperative Caterpillar Crawl – Version 1
Version 1 of the Cooperative Caterpillar Crawl begins with students holding hands in a straight line behind a path of hula hoops. If the group has four members, then there are four hoops making up the path. They must pass an extra hoop from the back of the line to the front without breaking hands. When the first person in line successfully receives the hoop he runs along the path and drops the extra hoop in the front of the path. Each player moves up into their own hoop. The player in the back picks up the empty hoop and passes it to the front where it is also dropped in front of the path. This continues until all the players reach the end of designated area. Play is then repeated on the way back. I play two minute rounds. Each time a team successfully moves to the opposite end of the playing area, they receive a point.
Cooperative Caterpillar Crawl – Version 2
I use pinnies to tie students legs together.
Strike Ball Junior
Video contains full explanation.
Bean Bag Toss with 3 Builds
Video contains full explanation.
Hula Hoops Scramble
This is a great “getting to know you” game for the first week of school. For a class of 40 students, spread out 20 hula hoops throughout the gym floor. When the music is on, students perform the teacher’s chosen motor movement. When the music stops, students enter the closest hoop. There must be at least two students per hoop. There is no maximum. At this point, the teacher instructs the students in each hoop to tell each other their favorite sport, PE activity, flavor of ice cream, vegetable, subject etc. Each time the musics stops the teacher gives the group a different prompt. Following each round, take away a couple of hoops so there are more students in each hoop per round. Don’t forget to remind the students of the importance of body control and sharing space.
Innies versus Outies
Spread out as many hula hoops as there are students throughout the gym floor (at least 5 feet between each hoop). Half the hoops will have a bean bag inside and the other half will have a bean bag placed outside. Divide the class into two even groups. One group will be the “innies” and the other group will be the “outies.” When the music begins the innies must place the bean bags inside the hoops while the outies must remove the bean bags from the hoops (placing the bean bag directly outside the hoop). This continues for one minute. When the music stops, the innies and outies must “stop and drop” to the floor. The winner of the round is determined by the number of bean bags in and out of the hoops. For the next round players switch roles.
Hula Hoop Twister
This is a brand new favorite for my kindergarten and 1st grade students. This simple game includes locomotor movements, learning left from right, spacial awareness, and identifying body parts.
I hope you can use at least a couple of the above activities. Do you share my passion for the hula hoop? What are some of your favorite hula hoop activities?
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