Tag Games with Hoops and Noodles

Tag.  I fondly remember playing tag games as a child in my neighborhood.  Little did I know at the time, the benefits of such games were countless.  Specifically, I recall playing a tag game called TV Tag.  The rules were simple.  As a tagger was about to tag you, you had to quickly say the name of a television program and squat down.  If you were able to do this before getting tagged, then you were safe until the tagger left to chase somebody else. Each TV show could only be called out once per round.   “Happy Days” and “CHiPs”  were consistently my “go to” shows for the first few minutes of the game.  Later, as I’d run out of options, I’d rely on shows like  “Rhoda” and “The Odd Couple“.  As my Rolodex of programming continued to dwindle I’d have to resort to desperate measures which included soap operas like “The Edge of Night”  and “The Doctors.”  Okay, now I’m showing my age.

Benefits of Playing Tag – just a few of the many

  • Enhances speed and agility
  • Engages the brain through critical and strategic thinking
  • Can be played with any size group
  • Excellent mode of interval training
  • Minimal Equipment


Hula Hoop Shuffle by Benjamin Pirillo

There are several variations of this game.  Each student stands inside a hula hoop.  The only way to move is by shuffling your feet to advance the hoop across the floor.  I choose a certain color hoop to be it.  If tagged, students must spin their hoop five turns on any body part in order to re-enter the game.

I also play a version where one color hoop is always it.  Therefore, if a student is tagged by the chosen color, then they switch hoops. The person who has been tagged becomes the new tagger.

Jumper Cars

This is another form of shuffle tag.  My pre-kindergarten classes love this game.  Every time the students bump into each other, they each need to complete five jumps before continuing.  Sometimes, instead of jumping, I’ll have the students hop five times on the right foot, then five times on the left foot.

Kick the Hula Hoop

I’ve played this game with 1st grade-5th grade.  For a class of 20 students, I spread out around 12 hula hoops on the floor.  On the signal, students attempt to kick the hoop into another student (any student can kick a hoop).  When hit by a hoop, students must go to the sideline to perform 10 jumps on the aerobic steppers.  Of course, you can have the students perform any exercise to get back into the game.  For me, steps add a little extra motivation.

Elf Switch

This is a great game to play around the holidays.  For a class of 20, I evenly space 15 hoops around the gym floor.  One student stands inside each hoop (Elf power station).  They are the elves.  The other five students who are not standing in the hoops are the trolls.  The goal of the game is for the troll to become and remain an elf.  Elves can only be in a hoop for three seconds at a time.  They must make eye contact with another elf and quickly switch hoops.  The trolls try to jump into a vacated hoop to become an elf. With my older classes, I like to play this game without talking.  They have to solely rely on nonverbal communication.

Twister Tag

Students are partnered up.  Each set of partners has a hoop.  One partner (the tagger) spins the hoop. As the hoop is spinning,  the tagger must attempt to tag his partner before the hoop completely stops.  The game takes place around the spinning hoop.  Each partner gets a chance to spin. Switch partners often.

Noodle Nugget Tag

Full Explanation within the video

Toe Fencing Mixer 

I give the students a brief explanation of fencing.  In particular, we discuss the difference between fencing and sword fighting.  Students partner up, each holding a noodle saber.  To begin, students stand in the lunge position with their sabers crossed.  They each say “en guard” in order to begin fencing.  To score a point, a saber must touch the opponent’s foot.  Following a round, each student quickly finds other students to duel.

Scooter Kayak Tag

This is a simple tag game on scooters.  Each student has a scooter (kayak) and a noodle (paddle).  I choose one color noodle to be it.  Students use the paddle as they would in a real kayak.  If tagged, students go to the exercise zone and perform 3 knee tucks on their scooter, then return to the game.

A HUGE thank you to all my friends within my professional learning network who have shared countless activities of Twitter and Facebook! In particular:

Benjamin Pirillo: @coachpirilloCoach Pirillo’s blog

Chad Triolet: @chadtrioletPE Rocks


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Is there Puppy Guarding?

Big Time Puppy Guarding

The year was 1995, my first year teaching.  I was at Hyde Elementary School in Washington, DC.  While on recess duty, monitoring a game of Capture the Flag, I noticed a fifth grader approaching me with a full head of steam, taking very heavy steps with an even heavier scowl.  “Alex is puppy guarding.”

“Alex is what?” I responded.

“I was standing in the safety zone and Alex wouldn’t let me out.  There’s NO PUPPY GUARDING!”

According to urbandictionary.com puppy guarding is when a person guards a “safe” or “base” spot during a game of tag, forcing the person at the base to get tagged when they come out.

Puppy Guarding Defined by the Experts

I had never heard this before.  In my four years of college, studying everything PE, my professors neglected to mention anything about puppy guarding.  

Throughout the remainder of my rookie season at Hyde, I would hear the term puppy guarding regularly.  Anytime I would introduce a new tag game, inevitably a hand would go up to ask, “Is there puppy guarding?”

For the five years I spent at Hyde I assumed puppy guarding was unique to the school.  I thought some clever, puppy loving student coined the phrase and introduced it to the rest of the school.

Fast forward to the year 2000.  I began my second teaching job about 5 miles across town at a small independent elementary school.  Low and behold, on the very first day of school, during my first class, a hand shot up like a rocket as I was introducing the closing activity.  “Is there puppy guarding?”  

What-what-WHAT!!  Puppy guarding must be native to Washington, DC much like Go-go music, I thought.

Jump ahead to 2007.  My next stop was Atlanta, Georgia, more than 600 miles south of Washington, DC.  “Is there puppy guarding?”  Oh my!  There it was again the very first time I introduced a game with a base.  WHOOOAAA!

So apparently, puppy guarding is commonly used up and down the east coast of the United States.  I can’t help but wonder if it’s a national phenomena or even global.  Just how far does the expression puppy guarding reach?  Where was it first used?  When was it first used?  Do any of my colleagues or fellow PE teachers remember using it as a kids?

Somewhere throughout my twenty years of teaching, I’ve added puppy guarding to my vernacular.  Now, many of my explanations of games will include whether or not puppy guarding is permitted, in an attempt to beat my students to the punch.

So when playing your next tag game, make sure you don’t break the number one rule – with the most mysteriously cute name:  puppy guarding.

Oh yeah, and why puppies?

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January’s High Intensity Fitness Challenge

For the month of January, students will have a choice of four high intensity interval workouts.  Each workout can be adapted to fit the level of each student.  *Some students may be inclined to go through a chosen workout more than once while others may need to do partial workouts or lower the intensity.  This is the first challenge where students will use a stopwatch or a clock to time their workout.  Parents are encouraged to help and even participate.

Students write down their specific workout on their workout calendar each day.  At the end of the month, they will turn in their calendars to receive an award.

*Many students will find it difficult to complete an entire workout.  If this is the case, their goal is to improve throughout the month.  Students should give themselves credit for completing a workout as long as they give their maximum effort.  I explain this to the students each month and also notify the parents.



Click Januarys-high-intensity-fitness-challenge for a copy of the challenge.

Stay health, stay active, and stay fit over the holiday!

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