5-Minute Challenge – WOW your students!

download.pngWhat works?

I am always searching for new and exciting ways to motivate my students through fitness. After all, as a physical education teacher, promoting lifelong fitness is one of the most important lessons I MUST instill in each and every student I teach.

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Here’s the HOW! Variety is Key

In order for students to buy into our lessons, it is imperative exercises are challenging AND enjoyable. Repeating the same old routines is a sure-fire recipe for stagnation and disinterest. Students will inevitably lose motivation and ultimately tune out any message you’re attempting to instill.

Bright Ideas – that work!

  • Tabata-style workouts
  • AMRAP routines
  • Boot camps using a variety of equipment
  • Interval training
  • Hill repeats
  • Cross country running through the wooded trails
  • Short and long jump rope

Our list of exercises and routines continues to grow!

Here comes the WOW!

Presenting…the all-time favorite running activity EVER…or maybe just at our school.

Related imageThe 5-Minute Challenge!

The 5-Minute Challenge came about five years ago when I was trying to motivate my 1st-grade students to complete a 5-minute run around a coned off 1/10 of a mile oval measured on our field. I could see my students weren’t giving their best effort – you know the “defeated before they even start” look? Even the best runners in the class were walking after only a couple of laps. To make the situation worse, the higher the grade level, the less motivation I witnessed. Now what?

After brainstorming various ideas, I decided to make the 5-Minute Challenge an assessment tool to track each classes overall growth throughout the year.  A secondary outcome is the friendly grade-level competition between classes. How will each class compare to each other?

I connected to the tug-of-war dilemma…each class had a different number of students. Therefore, some classes would have an advantage. A class of twenty would likely run more laps than a class of eighteen. Students of all grade levels would quickly discover the flaw in this system. Now what?


Here’s the formula that transformed the 5-Minute Challenge:

Total # of laps ÷ # of runners = average # of laps per person

The above formula worked like magic. I took the total number of laps completed by the students in a five minute period and divided that number by the number of students. This gave me the average number of laps per runner.

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Editable 5-Minute Challenge template below


I announce the 5-Minute Challenge about one week in advance of starting. During this time, I mentally prepare the students to do the best they can.

Prepare their minds first:

  1. Discuss what it takes to be a good teammate.
  2. Talk about reliability and how they are each depending on each other to do their best.
  3. Remind students that each member of the class has their own unique running ability and the need to respect and applaud their extraordinary effort.

On the day of the run, we have one final pep talk prior to hitting the track. Then I divide the class into two groups. One group will run first, while the other group encourages them from the sideline. You can have the whole group run at once, however, I discovered that my runners respond better with a cheering squad. I blow the whistle for the first group to begin.

I promise you, you won’t believe the enthusiasm exhibited by each cheering squad during the five-minute run. Throughout the run, I stand on the sideline and tally the laps with a pencil and paper. I realize there are tally apps for smartphones but I prefer good-old-fashioned pencil and paper. 


After each group completes their run, we meet one final time to plug the data into the formula. I report the number of laps completed and divide it by the number of students in the class on my calculator. Once I have the average number of laps per student, in my best ESPN reporting voice, I report the score. Finally, as a group, we reflect on the challenge. Students enjoy sharing what they experienced during their run. I encourage them to think about what they might do differently next time as an individual and a team to increase their level of success.

Then what?

The 5-Minute Challenge occurs 4 times throughout the school year. This allows me and the students to track their class growth. After each round, I post the scores on a bulletin board outside the gymnasium. I never stress the competitive side of the challenge. I encourage the students to compare their score with other classes in their own grade level and even other classes in different grade levels. I want them to use this as motivation for future rounds of the challenge.

Below, you’ll see an example of the first round of the challenge with our 2nd-grade classes. You’ll also see the same grade level’s growth over the course of the year.

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I highly recommend presenting the 5-Minute Challenge to your students. Our 1st-6th graders have been highly motivated for several years taking this simple challenge. I truly believe middle school and high school students would be equally motivated. It just takes a little work from the teacher. How you present it is key. Follow-up is a must.

Click 5-minute challenge for an editable template of the 5-minute challenge.

Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/justybubpe.

Check out my Facebook group called Keeping Kids in Motion!

Subscribe to my Youtube Channel for over 100 useful games for physical education!



Let’s Roll for Fitness – January Fitness Challenge

For January, it’s time to get back to some basic movements using a pair of dice. The Roll in the New Year fitness challenge consists of exercises ranging from strengthening the upper and lower body to increasing aerobic endurance.

Each day, roll two dice and add the numbers together. The sum of the dice determines the exercise movement. Your workout should consist of at least 10 rolls of the dice. However, if you’re feeling extra motivated, especially as you roll into late January, roll a few extra times to intensify your workout!

Click Roll in the New Year 2019 for an editable copy of the January fitness challenge.

Click Roll in the New Year 2019 PDF for a PDF version of the January Fitness Challenge. Use this version if the editable version’s format is incompatible.

Click Roll in the New Year certificate PDF for a copy of the Roll in the New Year Award Certificate.

Happy New Year! Are you ready to ROLL?  

Dice, Box, Christmas, Cube, Event, New Year, 2018, 2019

Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/justybubpe.

Check out my Facebook group called Keeping Kids in Motion!

Subscribe to my Youtube Channel for over 100 useful games for physical education!

PLAY FOR FITNESS – December Fitness Challenge

Never Stop Playing

The December Flourish with Fitness challenge stresses the significance of good old-fashioned PLAY. As Albert Einstein famously stated, “Play is the highest form of research.” It is my belief that play is the ultimate means of physical, social, and emotional exercise for children.


Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Through play, children learn at a very early age to engage and interact in the world around them. Play is a cherished part of childhood. By finding the right balance between work and play, children will grow up happier, well adjusted, and more prepared to conquer the world.

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  1. Each day, students PLAY FOR FITNESS indoors or outdoors.
  2. Use the indoor or outdoor activities listed or create your own fitness fun.
  3. Participate in one or more activities for at least one hour throughout the day.
  4. Write down your chosen activities on the calendar provided!

At the end of the month, students add up the total number of days completed, have their parents sign the bottom of the sheet, then return it to a PE teacher. Students completing at least 10 days will receive an award certificate and toe token.

Click 2018-December 2018 PLAY FOR FITNESS Challenge for an editable copy of the challenge!

Click 2018-December PLAY FOR FITNESS Challenge PDF  for a PDF version of the challenge in case the font on the editable copy is compatible with your computer.

Click Play for Fitness Certificate Final for a copy of the award certificate.

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Adults and Children – It’s time to PLAY FOR FITNESS!

Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/justybubpe.

Check out my Facebook group called Keeping Kids in Motion!

Subscribe to my Youtube Channel for over 100 useful games for physical education!

Master the Minute; 14 Active 1-minute Challenges for PE

Have you ever watched reruns of the classic game show, Beat the Clock?  It was a television game show that involved people trying to complete challenges to win prizes while faced with a time limit. The challenges were extremely goofy, yet challenging using a variety of everyday materials and equipment. I recently stumbled across the 1979 version of the game on the Gameshow Network and was riveted. I couldn’t stop watching. The challenges had the perfect balance of simplicity and fun. Anyway, below are 14 challenges inspired by Beat the Clock.

My version for physical education is called Master the Minute! Each of the challenges is done with a partner and has the ultimate goal to fulfill in one minute or less. However, I decided it would be better for my students to receive credit for partially accomplishing the ultimate goal. Therefore, each challenge has several ways to earn points.

Included below are written descriptions of each challenge, a video of each of the Master the Minute challenges, and scorecards for you to use with your students.

After reading this post, be sure to check out 8 More Master the Minute Challenges.



Below are the scorecards. One card is for each of the 14 stations while the other two cards break the stations down into two separate courses. I call them the red and blue courses. Be sure to print out the scorecards at the bottom of the post!


Full Scorecard





Descriptions and Scoring for each Master the Minute Challenge!

Pool Sharks

Challenge: Shoot 10 balls into the hula hoop in one minute or less.

How to Play

Using a swim noodle as a pool cue, attempt to shoot 5 balls into 5 different hula hoops in one minute or less. If a ball misses the hoop, the other partner retrieves it and places it back on the starting point, while the shooter moves on to the next ball. Partners switch roles after 5 shots.

Equipment: Hula Hoops, 5 Gator Balls, 1 Swim Noodle


5 balls -10 points

3-4 balls – 7 points

1-2 balls – 5 points


Ring It! Version 1


Challenge: Partners work together to catch 10 rings on a swim noodle in one minute or less.

How to Play

Stack 10 deck rings at the tossing line and place one swim noodle at the catching line. Set the distance based on the level of your students. One the signal to begin, partner one tosses a deck ring to partner two, who attempts to catch it with the swim noodle. I like to allow each partner a chance to toss and catch. Therefore, I encourage them to switch roles after every 5 tosses or after partner one catches 5 rings.

Equipment: At least 10 deck rings, 1 swim noodle, 2 spots to mark the tossing and catching lines 


10 rings – 10 points

6-9 rings – 7 points

3-5 rings – 5 points

1-2 rings – 3 points

Ring It! Version 2 – Advanced

Challenge: Partners each catch 4 deck rings on a swim noodle from 4 different distances for a total of 8 deck rings in one minute or less.

 How to Play

Stack 10 deck rings at the tossing line. Mark 4 catching lines at increasing distances with a spot or chalk line. Set the distances according to the level of your students. Partner one, the tosser, stands at the tossing line while partner two, the catcher, stands with the swim noodle at the closest catching line. On the signal to begin, the tosser tosses a ring to the catcher. If the catcher catches it, she moves back to the next line where she’ll remain until she catches another ring. If the catcher catches a ring at all 4 levels, the tosser and catcher immediately switch roles. You can also encourage partners to switch roles after each successful catch to ensure equal opportunity for each role.

Equipment: 10 deck rings, 1 swim noodle, 5 spots or chalk to mark the tossing and catching lines


8 rings – 10 points

5-7 rings – 7 points

2-4 rings – 5 points


Challenge: Partners score 5 baskets in one minute or less by striking a tossed ball with a plastic disc.

How to Play

Place a spot for the tosser to the side of the goal along with a bucket of gator balls. Place another spot approximately 5-10 feet in front of the goal for the shooter. Choose a distance that works for your students. On the signal to begin, the tosser tosses a ball to the shooter who tries to strike the ball with the disc into the basket. The shooter and tosser switch roles after each successful attempt.

Equipment: 1 small goal (could be a bucket or small basketball goal), 2 spots to mark the tosser and shooter lines, bucket of balls


5 goals – 10 points

3-4 goals – 7 points

1-2 goals – 5 points

Pin Up

Challenge: Partners stand up 5 bowling pins using only their feet in one minute or less.

How to Play

Spread out 5 bowling pins in a line on their sides. On the signal to begin, partners stand face to face, holding each other’s shoulders, while attempting to stand each of the pins up using only their feet.

Equipment: 5 bowling pins


Stand up 5 pins – 10 points

Stand up 3-4 pins – 7 points

Stand up 1-2 pins – 5 points

Flippin’ Cones

Challenge: Partners simultaneously flip 8 small cones onto 1 large cone in one minute or less.

How to Play

Set up a circle of 8 small cones. Each cone should be approximately 3 feet apart. Place one large cone in the center of the circle. On the signal to begin, partners begin flipping the small cones onto the large cone.

Equipment: 8 small cones, 1 large cone


8 stacked cones – 10 points

5-7 stacked cones – 7 points

2-4 stacked cones – 5 points

Paddle Ball Pick Up

Challenge: Partners transfer 3 plastic balls, one at a time, and place them onto 3 large cones using 2 foam paddles in one minute or less. The balls must be transferred between each of the 2 paddles, one held by each partner. 

How to Play

Spread out 3 plastic balls. Line up 1 large cone per ball about 15 feet away. Adjust the distance to work for your students. Each partner holds a paddle. On the signal to begin, partners pick up one of the balls using only the paddles, then transfer it to the aligned cone. They carefully place the ball onto the cone, then quickly return for the second ball.

Equipment: 3 plastic balls, 2 lollipop paddles, 3 large cones


3 balls – 10 points

2 balls – 7 points

1 ball – 5 points

Paddle Pitch

Challenge: Partners flip a lollipop paddle to each other, successfully catching it by the handle 20 times in one minute or less.

How to Play

Partners stand alongside each other. One the signal to begin, one partner flips a paddle to his partner, who must catch it by its handle. The paddle is continuously flipped back and forth. The paddle must complete one rotation, and be caught by its handle in order to be considered a successful catch.

Equipment: 1 lollipop paddle


20 catches – 10 points

15-19 catches – 7 points

10-14 catches – 5 points

5-9 catches – 3 points

Riding the Rails

Challenge: Partners carry 4 different balls, one at a time, across the floor using 2 swim noodles in one minute or less.  

How to Play

Place a basketball, playground ball, volleyball, and a football on a starting line. Spread out 4 deck rings at the finish line, approximately 25 feet away from the starting line. On the signal to begin, partners each hold the ends of 2 swim noodles. They attempt to pick up the first ball using only the noodles. Balancing the ball on the noodles, they take it and carefully place it on the first deck ring, they sprint back a repeat with the next ball.

Equipment: 2 swim noodles, 1 basketball, 1 volleyball, 1 football, 1 playground ball, 4 deck rings


4 balls – 10 points

3 balls – 7 points

1-2 balls -5 points

Hockey Strikers

Challenge: Partners knock over 10 bowling pins in one minute or less.

How to Play

Set up 10 pins in bowling formation along a wall. Set up 10 hockey pucks along the shooting line, 5 for each partner. Adjust your shooting line according to what’s suitable for your students. Place a bucket of extra pucks behind the shooting line (you can also use any type of ball if you don’t have pucks). On the signal to begin, partners quickly shoot the pucks, trying to knock over the 10 pins. Continue shooting until all pins are knocked over or until time runs out.

Equipment: Bucket of hockey pucks and/or balls, 2 hockey sticks, 10 bowling pins, 2 cones to mark the shooting line.


10 pins – 10 points

9 pins – 7 points

8 pins – 5 points

Fill the Bucket

Challenge: Partners work together to bounce one ball in each of the 10 buckets in one minute or less.

How to Play

Set up different sized buckets in a circle. Each bucket is about 3-4 feet apart. Place a bucket with 10 balls in the center of the circle. On the signal to begin, partners take turns trying to bounce a ball into each of the 10 buckets. 

Equipment: 11 buckets (1 for the balls), 10 plastic balls. I use balls from a ball pit.


Fill 10 buckets – 10 points

Fill 7-9 buckets – 7 points

Fill 4-6 buckets – 5 points

Fill 1-3 buckets – 3 points 

Jumping Dynamic Duo

Challenge: Partners share a long rope to simultaneously jump the rope 15 consecutive times.

How to Play

Partners position themselves so their outside hand is holding one end of a long rope. On the signal to begin, both partners turn the rope. Each partner must be “inside” the turning rope so they can both jump it. The goal is to jump 15 consecutive jumps without missing. If the partners miss prior to reaching 15 jumps in a row, they immediately start over and continue to do so until time expires.

Equipment: 1 long rope


15 consecutive jumps – 10 points

10-14 consecutive jumps – 7 points

6-9 consecutive jumps – 5 points

2-5 consecutive jumps – 3 points

Munch Man

Challenge: Partners retrieve 4 balls and place them in their basket in one minute or less.

How to Play

Set 4 balls along a sideline about 2 feet apart (I recommend 6″ gator skin balls). Set 1 medium sized cone at the starting line about 15′ feet away from the balls. Place one basket/bucket behind the starting line. On the signal to begin, one partner jumps to a first ball, pinching the cone between his feet. When he gets to the ball, he jumps the cone onto the ball, turns around and jumps back to the starting line. Once he successfully returns the ball to the starting line, he jumps off the cone, to allow his partner to retrieve the second ball. The partner who retrieves the ball must place it into the basket using only his/her feet.

Equipment: 4 (6″) gator skin balls, 1 cone large enough to fit over the ball, 1 basket or bucket


4 balls – 10 points

3 balls -7 points

2 balls – 5 points

1 ball – 3 points

Kangaroo Catch

Challenge: Partners catch 20 balls using a bucket strapped around their waist in one minute or less.

How to Play

Set up two throwing lines, one for each partner, about 10 feet apart. Adjust the throwing lines to fit your students. In the video, you’ll see a short distance and long distance version of the game. Each partner straps a small plastic bucket to their waist using a strap. I use flag football belts. On the signal to begin, players pass a yarn ball back and forth attempting to catch it in their bucket without using their hands.

Equipment: 2 plastic buckets, 2 belts, 4 cones to mark the throwing lines, 1 yarn ball


20 catches – 10 points

15-19 catches – 7 points

10-14 catches – 5 points

5-9 catches – 3 points

Click RED COURSE for a copy of the Red Course Scorecard.

Click BLUE COURSE for a copy of the Blue Course Scorecard.

Click FULL COURSE SCORECARD for a copy of the Full 14 Challenge Scorecard.


Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/justybubpe.

Check out my Facebook group called Keeping Kids in Motion!

Subscribe to my Youtube Channel for over 100 useful games for physical education!

Keeping Kids in Motion by Keeping Fitness Fun – 2018 NYS AHPERD Conference

Keeping Kids in Motion by Keeping Fitness Fun!

Presenter: Justin Cahill (Keeping Kids in Motion) 

Location: Mohawk

Description: This session will be chock-full of fun, dynamic, and challenging ways to keep kids moving throughout their physical education class. Play equals exercise, therefore exercise equals fun! Can we provide other opportunities for students to move throughout the day? Together, let’s discover the possibilities.

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Fitness Table – Personal Trainer Challenge

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Tabata Table

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 5-minute challenge template

Slide Deck from my presentation with active links.

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