10 NOODLE Activities to Embolden Your Arsenal

When Steve Hartman invented the pool noodle three decades ago, I bet he had no idea they would become one of the most cost-effective, beneficial tools in nearly every physical education teacher’s arsenal. Below are ten of my all-time favorite pool noodle activities. Be sure to comment on your favorite pool noodle games below!

Check out my previous post called Tag Games Using Hoops and Noodles!

*If embedded videos do not show up on your device, click the name of each activity for a link to the video.

Pool Sharks

Pool Sharks has become a noodle favorite with our students. It begins as a partner activity with one partner on each side of a hula hoop, each with a noodle pool cue. From about 5-10 feet away, they take turns shooting the ball into the hoop. Students experiment with different ways to hold the stick as they work on accuracy and pace.

Next, I spread out hula hoops around the gym floor. Students can move freely around the gym shooting at each hoop. I give them the freedom to choose the distance.

Video Credit: Jedd Austin (@jeddaustin)

Noodle Sprockets

Noodle Sprockets is a fun fitness-based activity which works in groups of 2-4 students. However, I always begin with partners. Not only does this activity increase heart rates, but it also challenges students to think strategically. Especially in groups of three and four, students need to slow down and maneuver themselves to avoid jumping into each other. It’s always exciting for me to observe groups as they gradually develop a rhythm and jump their way across the floor.

Noodle Walkers

Noodle Walkers is actually a student discovery. It looks like the old-fashioned wheelbarrow race but is actually easier on the hands and wrists. Students find it to be even more fun. It shouldn’t be a surprise when your students fill the gym with laughter and excitement while increasing heart rates and working on physical strength.

The Great Spaghetti Incident

How many pieces of spaghetti can each team move across the kitchen without using their hands and without allowing the spaghetti to hit the floor? After dropping the spaghetti into the colander, the team retrieves another piece of spaghetti and attempts to move it across the kitchen using a different method. Encourage open, positive communication and teamwork during this fast-paced cooperative activity. Don’t forget to process during and after the game.

Pogo Stick Tag

Aren’t noodles fun? Seeking creative ways to use our noodles, one student discovered that his hopping motion reminded him of his pogo stick at home. Brilliant! Let’s play Pogo Stick Tag! Every student has a noodle. For my classes of twenty, I break them into groups of five. Each group receives a certain color. I choose one color to be it. If a student is tagged by the chosen color, she walks to the sideline and completes ten repetitions of a predetermined exercise, then reenters the game. After one minute, I choose another color to be it.

Noodle Whirlers

1/3 of the students are NOODLE WHIRLERS. The Noodle Whirler’s mission is to hop over to any standing cylinder and knock it down by jumping and spinning the noodle into it. It’s like a baseball bat striking a ball. The other 2/3 of the class must pick up the noodle using two Lummi sticks. No Lummi sticks? No problem! Instead, use paddles, or short noodles, or even elbows! Make it your own!

Noodle Fitness Creations

So many of my noodle activities have come from this activity. Students are challenged to create exercises using noodles. This is another fun, teambuilding activity geared to make fitness fun.

Video Credit: Jedd Austin (@jeddaustin)

Noodle Transfer

How many ways can you transfer the noodle across the gym without using your hands? The noodle must be touching both of you. To observe young minds at work throughout this activity will without a doubt put a smile on any teacher’s face.

4-Team Noodle Hockey Clean Up

I use this activity during our manipulatives unit. I set up four even teams. Each team has its own color noodle and goal. I spread out a bucket of balls on one end of the gym and each of the four goals, backward, on the opposite end. On the signal, students move the balls across the floor and shoot it into their own goal. The goals are backward to prevent full court shots. I encourage the students to move quickly and safely while maintaining control of the ball. “Be alert since there are so many of you moving at once!” After each goal, students run back to retrieve another ball.

Team Building Noodle Walk

Create teams of four. Taking turns, each team tries to step across the boundaries (water) touching only the noodles. Teammates who are not walking on the noodles must reposition the noodles for the walker. When a partner makes it across the “water” successfully, another teammate attempts to do the same. I encourage groups to explore a variety of ways to complete the challenge. Remind students that it’s not a race.

There you have it! 10 noodle activities which will hopefully embolden your arsenal!

Be sure to check your local dollar stores and big box stores toward the end of the swim season. I recently found noodles for $0.22 each.

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For the Love of Exercise – February Fitness Challenge

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The trusty JUMP ROPE once again grabs the spotlight for February’s Flourish with Fitness Challenge. For the Love of Exercise is designed to increase awareness of all the benefits from jumping rope. Jump rope is one of the most effective cardiovascular exercises. Along with benefits to the heart, jump rope also enhances coordination, agility, and strengthens bones, arms, legs, and core.


For the Love of Exercise also offers other exercises to help enhance full body fitness. Throughout the month, participants will be challenged with exercises including plank, squats, and burpees, where the degree of difficulty gradually increases week by week.

The workouts posted on the calendar can be adapted to fit the fitness level of each participant. Students may need to perform fewer repetitions on a given day due to fatigue or if they’re physically not ready.

This workout is an excellent opportunity for jump rope beginners to strengthen their jump rope ability. I encourage beginner jumpers to persevere. If you put in a little work each day, your ability will increase steadily. For the advanced jumpers, you are encouraged to push yourselves and even try the more difficult challenges demonstrated in the video below.

CHECK THIS OUT! Below is a Blowing off S.T.E.A.M project I created for my students. Here, they are challenged to use available household materials to create their own jump rope.

(Click Blowing Off STEAM in PE  for an editable copy of the challenge!)

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Click For the Love of Exercise for access to the challenge.

Click CERTIFICATE for access to the FOR the LOVE of EXERCISE participation certificate.

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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!


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