The best games for me are the ones with limited equipment and little setup. A quick setup means quick takedown which means faster transitions. Also, with less equipment, there is usually less explanation and rules. Ultimately, this is what’s best for students, more movement and less time sitting. Especially for my younger students, this holds true. Here are ten of my favorite games with limited equipment. My hope is that you can grab a few ideas from below and add them to your physical education repertoire.
This partner challenge includes a fine balance of fitness and teamwork. I partner the students up and then send them to one end of the gymnasium with a bowling pin. On the other end of the floor, I place one spot in a straight line for each set of partners. On the signal to go, partners sprint across the gym to their spot. With their hands on each other’s shoulders, they attempt to stand the pin on the spot using only their feet. When successful, they grab the pin, sprint back to the other side to grab a laminated strip of paper, which represents a point. Students repeat the process, trying to score as many points as possible in three minutes.
Roomba Clean-up is a variation of Hungry Hippos gone wild. Scatter various equipment throughout the gym. I use a variety of balls. This represents the mess the Roomba vacuum cleaners need to clean up. Each Roomba consists of a set of partners, a scooter board, and a laundry basket or bucket and a hula hoop to place collected balls in. One student sits with crossed legs on the scooter, holding a laundry basket upside-down. The other student is the Roomba’s motor. On the signal to go, the motor pushes the Roomba throughout the gym in an attempt to collect three balls. Once three balls are in the “vacuum bag,” the Roomba returns to their hula hoop to empty the bag. At this time, the two players switch roles and repeat.
I use this as an instant activity for my 3rd-5th grade classes. Half the class receives two dice each and the other half each receives a cone. Players with the dice find a player with a cone to challenge.
Although this game can be played at any time of the year, I use it as a Valentine’s Day game. It begins with a discussion on what it means to be a pal or a friend. A good pal will always be there for you in a time of need.
Cupid and his/her helper are on the loose and want to turn you into a chocolate heart. If tagged by Cupid or the helper, players turn into a solid chocolate heart by freezing with their arms over their heads in the shape of a heart. The spell is broken when another student with a ring asks, “Will you be my “PAL” – entine? Of course, the only answer is yes. The “proposer” places the ring on the other player’s arm and the game continues. The player who had the ring now has to avoid Cupid while the player with the ring seeks a solid chocolate heart to rescue. I play this game with 1st grade -5th grade with equal success. The smiles and laughter are incredible!
Sometimes the simplest games are the best games. Hit or Miss is definitely one of those games. My students play this game to help reinforce striking fundamentals. Simply place a pin equidistant from each partner. Students take turns striking a ball at the pin. I encourage them to step to the target for accuracy. Also, make sure students trap the ball each time with their paddle rather than striking the ball back and forth like a tennis rally.
This is a game that’s been around forever and is not one of my originals. However, I decided to include it because of its whole class cooperative component and the fact that it can be played in a limited space.
Begin the game by creating several lines. For example, for a class of 25, make five lines of five. Or for a larger class of 40, make eight lines of five. Before playing the actual game, students practice three formations; streets, allies, and lamp posts. Students face forward with their arms holding each other’s wrist. These are the streets. On the signal, “allies”, students quickly turn to the left, holding the wrists of the people who were in front and in back of them. Students create lamp posts by either lifting their arms above their heads of by placing their arms to their sides. Practice, theses formations repeatedly by calling them out until the students can quickly change from streets to allies to lamp posts without hesitation.
Next, select a cat and a mouse. The cat chases the mouse throughout the streets, allies and lamp posts. When the cat catches the mouse, select two other students to chase each other. With my older students, I introduce a dog. The dog chases the cat who chases the mouse who chases the dog.
Partners try to clear the poly spots from the floor while tossing and catching with a deck ring. If a ball is caught while standing on a spot, the spot is taken back to the home hoop. Partners alternate tossing and catching. Balls can be tossed from anywhere on the perimeter, not just from the home hoop. For my younger grades, I allow the ball to bounce once for a successful catch.
Jump Rope Tag is my go-to warm-up games during my jump rope unit. It’s simple, fun, and exhausting. I select two taggers per 20 students. If tagged, students go to one of two jump rope stations on either end of the floor to complete 10 jumps to shake the spell. Jump ropes can also be made into the shape of a heart on the floor to jump in and out of 10 times! I play one minute rounds, changing taggers each time.
Anybody who follows me knows that traditional Toss 12 is one of my favorite games. Toss 12 Turbo is just a faster, more aerobic version of the same game. Partners work together to try to be the first team to score 12 points. Here’s how:
I love the cooperative component of this game as well as its versatility.
How to play:
Depending on your group, you can instruct your students to use anything but their arms and hands.
There you have it! My 10 Random yet SUREFIRE games for PE. Give a few of them a try and let me know what you think!
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