10 MORE Instant Activities for PE

“Instant activities are designed to actively engage students in PE class the moment they walk through the gymnasium doors.  Usually posted on a whiteboard or monitor, instant activities involve every student with very little teacher involvement.  They’re typically high energy, but can also take on a cooperative component. Instant activities are an effective way to stimulate student learning prior to the day’s lesson.” Click here – (Top 7 Instant Activities for PE)

Instant activities are also a useful means to spiral back to a previous unit. For example, if we cover basketball skills in September, we will incorporate similar basketball skills as instant activities periodically throughout the school year.

What about fitness? We love incorporating bodyweight challenges, AMRAPs (as many rounds/repetitions as possible), jump ropes, and hula hoops as instant activities. Instant activities help to fulfill our mission of keeping our students thinking and in motion throughout each class.

Below is a list of ten more of my favorite instant activities. Enjoy!

Exercise Creation with Foam Cylinders – “With a partner, create an exercise that can strengthen your core muscles.”

Instant activities allowing students to create with a partner are always popular. Try leaving sets of 2-3 pieces of equipment around the gym. Challenge your students to create a game using the equipment. Give them parameters such as boundary limits and basic guidelines to keep everyone safe.

In the following video, students were challenged to create a core exercise with a foam cylinder. Prior to their arrival, I spread out the cylinders throughout the gym. As they entered I quickly partnered them up. After reading the challenge on our video screen (or whiteboard), they immediately began the task. As the students create, I like to filter through the gym, observing partner dynamics.


Kangaroo Tag – Welcome to Australia! It’s time for Kangaroo Tag. Green kangaroos are it.” 

As the students enter the gym, I hand them a noodle and call out, “Welcome to Australia! It’s time for Kangaroo Tag. Green kangaroos are it.” Students immediately put the noodle between their feet and begin jumping. Anyone with a green noodle is a tagger, while everyone else is a fleer.  When tagged by a green kangaroo, the student performs ten mountain climbers on the sideline with hands on the noodle before reentering the game. After one minute, I call out a different color kangaroo to be the taggers.


Roll for Fitness Challenge 

I’ve done this with groups of 2-4 students depending on class size. Spread out the Roll for Fitness sheets along with two foam dice throughout the gym. As the students enter, quickly group them up and immediately send them to a challenge sheet. Partners each toss a die into the air then catch it. They add the two numbers that are facing up. Each number, from 1-12, has a corresponding exercise on the Roll for Fitness challenge sheet.

Note: I’ve used this as a station during prior PE classes. For this reason, students are familiar with the directions, and I’m able to use it as an instant activity.

Click Roll for Fitness Instant Activity for a copy of the challenge.

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Paddle Challenges

Evenly space enough paddles with a bean bag throughout the gym for each student.

Instant Activity #1 – Individual challenges

Students practice tossing and catching the bean bag in their own space. I’ll post individual challenges on the screen.

Instant Activity #2 – Partner Challenge

Students toss their bean bags to each other, attempting to catch the bean bag in their hands. I’ll post the following challenges on the screen?

  • How many times you can both catch the bean bag?
  • Can you toss the bean bag with your non-dominant hand?
  • Can you toss the beanbag to each other, then catch it with your paddle?



Plank Hand Tag 

Students enter the gym and without hesitation begin the challenge. In plank position, each student tries to tap the opposing student’s hand. The first one to tap the opponent’s hand three times wins the round. Each player then searches for another challenger.


Ice Cream Parlor – “The Ice Cream Parlor is about to open. The manager is hiring anyone who can scoop the ice cream into a cone. Be careful not to drop the ice cream on the floor.”

This is a favorite instant activity with my first-grade students. Before the students enter the gym, I greet them at the door and tell them that the ice cream parlor is open.  Students enter the gym and retrieve a plastic scoop, a yarn ball, and a small cone and practice tossing the ice cream with their scoop into the cone. After a brief amount of time, students will partner up and toss the ice cream to each other. I’ll let the videos speak for themselves.

Individual Ice Cream Scooper


Partner Ice Cream Scoopers


Noodle Fun“Create as many movements as you can with your noodle in personal space!”

You’ll never know what the kids will discover when given the opportunity to create with swim noodles. Before your students arrive, spread out one swim noodle for each student. Below are two videos showcasing movements create by first graders. I now use their ideas with my other classes!

Noodle Skate Boarding

Noddle Pogo Stick


Freeze Dance“Find your own personal space and move to the beat of the music. Freeze when the music stops.”

Students enter the gym and begin dancing to the beat of the music. When the music stops, they freeze!

For more INSTANT ACTIVITIES check out one of my previous posts called, TOP 7 INSTANT ACTIVITIES FOR PE!

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February’s Healthy Breakfast Challenge

Students, teachers, and families have enjoyed each of the first five monthly fitness challenges I’ve presented to them this year.  However, for February, I’m offering a healthy breakfast challenge (link to document below) instead of a fitness challenge.  This idea came to me as I overheard a group of 5th grade students discussing their morning routines before school.  Several of the students mentioned that they either didn’t have time for breakfast or just didn’t like to eat breakfast.  I then took a quick survey of the class and discovered that some students eat breakfast everyday, others sometimes eat breakfast, and more than a few never eat breakfast.

February’s Nutritious Breakfast Challenge Goals

  • to educate students and parents about the significance of eating a complete, nutritious breakfast
  • to define what a complete breakfast includes (carbohydrates, protein, vitamins/minerals)
  • to introduce students to a variety of options for a complete breakfast

Click February’s Nutritious Breakfast Challenge for an editable copy of the challenge.

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The Challenge: Students will choose one food from each of the three columns (carbohydrates, protein, fruit) listed below for breakfast.  One their calendar, they will mark each of the items they ate.  They only mark the calendar on days they eat a complete, nutritious breakfast.  At the end of the month, students turn in their calendars to receive an award certificate and toe token.

Click February’s Nutritious Breakfast Challenge for an editable copy of the challenge.

Click Healthy Breakfast Certificate 2018 for an editable copy of the February certificate.

“Breakfast Basics.” KidsHealth. The Nemours Foundation, n.d. Web. 30 Jan. 2017.

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Volleyball Serving Progressions…with a SWIM NOODLE?

Each year volleyball has proven to be one of our students’ favorite units. Beginning with third grade, we introduce the basic volleyball skills and present them with lead-up games to help familiarize them with passing, serving rotation, etiquette, and rules. Eventually, as sixth graders, students will have a strong foundation of skills and knowledge to participate in regulation games.

With third grade especially, we begin with the underhand serve. After all, it’s the very first hit of each point. Therefore, without a consistent serve traveling over the net, you limit scoring opportunities for your team (with our younger classes we do not play regulation games). We introduce the basic cues of striking an underhand serve. Swing your arm straight back like a pendulum, step with your opposite foot, slightly bend forward holding the ball at waist level, then strike the ball out of your hand. We teach our students to strike the ball with the heel of their hand.

This can be extremely difficult for students of all ages. There are so many components to the underhand serve, where the correct form is challenged. Young servers tend to lift the hand that is holding the ball as their striking hand comes forward. This will significantly decrease the likelihood of striking the ball over the net, and on many occasions striking the ball at all.


Put a swim noodle (cut each noodle in half) in each student’s hand. We accidentally discovered this teaching tool while playing a game called Noodle Rocket Launchers with our first-grade students. Noodle Rocket Launchers is a simple game where students pop the noodle out of their hand using an underhand tossing motion. They experiment with a trajectory based on the angle of the noodle. See a video of an advanced version of Noodle Rocket Launchers at the end of this post. 

We couldn’t help but recognize the similarity to an underhand serve in volleyball. We soon began using the noodle to introduce serving to our third-grade students. We found it to be an excellent tool for differentiation and instruction. Through repetition with the noodle, we noticed vast improvements in the fundamentals of serving across the board.

Below are 5 progressions we now use to teach the underhand and overhand volleyball serve.

Progression 1

Each student practices with a noodle in personal space. The focus is on stepping with the opposite foot, swinging the striking arm straight back and forward while stabilizing the arm holding the noodle, then striking the noodle in the air.

Progression 2

With a partner, students stand about ten feet from each other. Along with the skills practiced in progression one, students now bend slightly at the waist lowering their shoulders and experiment with the angle of the noodle. Instead of serving the noodle straight in the air, they are now serving it out to their partner. Encourage students to strike with the heel of their hand.

Progression 3

Students practice serving the noodle to each other over the net. Again, students experiment with trajectory and distance, focusing on proper fundamentals.

Progression 4

For students who have mastered the underhand serve, we introduce the overhand serve. With a partner, each student takes turns striking the noodle with an overhand motion.

Progression 5

Students practice the overhand serve over the net.


Using a noodle has helped our students to increase their success when serving an actual volleyball. It also gives the teacher another way to differentiate instruction. For every child that can consistently strike a serve over the net, there are several others who experience frustration from repeatedly trying to correctly piece together all the serving cues in stereo.  The swim noodle can alleviate much of this pain and frustration.

Advance Version of Noodle Rocket Launchers

You can play this game across the floor while using the volleyball net as an obstacle.

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