Any teacher, no matter the discipline, has a few favorite lessons or activities. Something they enjoy sharing or watching the students learn. For me, a physical educator for more than 27 years, it’s a game called the 6 PILLARS OF POWER. From start to finish, I enjoy playing this game with my students as a culminating activity for our throwing and catching units as well as our plastic scoops unit. An added bonus is that the game can be differentiated for all grade levels.
Before I explain the magic of this highly engaging game, I want you to understand that you can make this game work with the equipment you have. My way is not the only way. You’ll see in the videos below, there are different ways to set up the game using a variety of equipment. Honestly varying the setup each time you play can make it more fun for the students.
THE 6 PILLARS OF POWER
Divide the gym in half with cones.
Evenly space 6 poly spots behind each team’s baseline. Each spot is the foundation for each of the pillars.
Fill 2 bins with cylinders (foam activity pins), and place one bin on each sideline.
SIDE NOTE: Many readers may not have enough or any foam cylinders. Have no fear, there are other options. Alternatives could include tennis ball cans, coffee cans, boxes, or other recyclables. Many teachers have asked the cafeteria staff for their large, empty vegetable cans.
Put at least 2 pools or buckets or mini basketball hoops in each of the 2 play areas. I’ve even used soccer goals on each side. You determine the distance from the centerline based on the level of challenge you’d like to present to your students.
Players try to accumulate as many tiers (cylinders) as possible to build their PILLARS OF POWER. A complete pillar consists of 3 vertically stacked tiers.
There are two ways to earn a tier:
Toss a ball into the opposing team’s pool, hoop, laundry basket, soccer goal, or whatever other receptacles you may use.
Catch a ball thrown by the opposing team.
Players can defend the receptacles to prevent the opposing team from earning tiers.
Any stacked tiers or completed pillars can be destroyed by the opposition. If this happens, any tier that is knocked on its side MUST be returned to one of the bins on the sideline. Each round ends when a team successfully builds 6 PILLARS OF POWER or when the round expires. Each round lasts no longer than five minutes.
Prior to each round, students are granted two minutes to formulate a strategy. I carefully monitor this time, seeking positive communication and teamwork. Sometimes I need to interject to assist the team if the team dynamic is heavily lacking. This time also gives each team the opportunity to discuss what worked and what didn’t work.
“STOP AND DROP!”
This is the signal I call out when time has expired. Students immediately fall to the ground and stop throwing and building. I remove one tier for each ball thrown after the signal.
Why do I love this game so much?
First and foremost, the 6 Pillars of Power provides ample opportunity for students to enhance their throwing and catching skills with or without plastic scoops.
The team concept is a crucial part of the game. Each strategy session is not only fun to watch but also gives the students the needed time to problem solve, negotiate, and enhance social interactions.
Students share the varying roles of the game. Whether accumulating tiers by throwing balls into the buckets or goals, building and protecting pillars, defending the pools, baskets, or goals, or destroying pillars, each role is crucial for team success.
Throughout each round, I’m consistently impressed with how students share the balls, defend together, and communicate with each other.
The excitement and energy inside the gym are incredible.
There you have it! One of my favorite games to play with my students. Let me know what you think. I’d love to learn your favorite activity. Post it in the comment section.