A Field Day Formula for All



Plunger Relay

Field Day is annually one of the most exciting events for elementary school students.  It’s often a culminating activity where the entire school community comes together to celebrate the completion of the school year.  I’ve grown to enjoy getting a glimpse of field day throughout the world via social media.  It’s evident that every school has its own personal touch.  Throughout my career, I’ve worked at several different schools, each with a different take on this extravaganza.  The one common factor in every field day is fun! I’d like to share with you a 26 year field day formula with proven success from my current school.  It’s a well-oiled machine, too good not to share (see videos of our field day in action below).  

Bucket Brigade

How do we make teams?

  • Three days prior to the event, our PE team divides the school into two teams.  To make it easy, one side of the hallway is white and the other side of the hallway is blue.  Each grade has 4 classes so two classes are white and two are blue.
  • Two days prior to the event we notify the students of their color.  This gives students plenty of time to put together their uniform for the event.

What is our field day format?

Our field day is structured around a variety of eight different relay races.  As you can see below, races start out dry, then eventually turn into water events as the students get hot.  In my experience, water is a must!  Each race lasts three minutes (except water events, which last until a team’s bucket is filled with water).

  • Two classrooms from each grade level (2nd-5th) will compete at a time.
  • The other two classes will cheer from the bleachers, which are divided into blue and white sections (blue on the left side and white on the right).
  • Groups rotate on and off the field following each of the two events per rotation.  This lessens the number of students on the field, increasing the number of repetitions per student competing.  It also gives you a built in cheering section.  If you could only hear the excitement and encouragement coming from the bleachers during each race!


Blue/White divided on the bleachers
Cheering for their classmates


How do we mark the field?

Blue and White teams compete between each set of yellow cones
  • The day before the event, my team and I paint ten lanes on our field.  We keep the distance short to increase repetitions.
  • Each lane is again divided by hash marks to allow space for blue and white to compete. (example: blue from one classroom will compete white from another classroom.
  • Two buckets of water are placed on the hash marks in each lane for the water events. During the water events each bucket is placed in the center of each blue and white lane. (Notice the back-up buckets in the background.)
  • There are 10 separate competitions (same event) taking place during each relay race.

How do we keep score?

  • Each Blue/White lane has a parent score keeper tallying up the score for blue and white.
  • Each time a student touches the end line, they team receives one tally.
  • After each full rotation, a master scorekeeper receives all the scores from the parents, adds up the points, and gives a score updated to the crowd.
Score Sheet
  • Water events are scored differently.  Each team is trying to be the first to fill their 1 1/2 quart pail with water.
  • The winning team receives 10 points and the losing team receives 5 points.

Our Field Day in Action





After completing our relay races, we finish with the tug-o-war as a grand finale.  Each grade takes takes turns competing in their blue/white teams.  The winner of each round receives 50 points while the losing team receives 40.  Following each round, the blue/white teams shake hands, get a popsicle, and return to the bleachers to cheer on the rest of the groups.


Each school has its own unique formula for field day. Our school has kept field day competitive yet fun, with all grades from 2nd-6th sharing the same field and same events.  We find it’s a great way to end the year as a community.

Thanks to my PE teammates Brian, Jedd and Laura for another fantastic day of fun and excitement!  Kudos to our parent volunteers, teachers, and staff for making the day run so smoothly!

We would enjoy learning about YOUR field day!  What works for you and your school?


If you enjoyed this post, consider following my blog to receive future posts.

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

Search #trinitype to see what my amazing PE team is doing with their classes.

Check out my Facebook group called Keeping Kids in Motion!

Freedom to Explore and Create in PE


I recently read Free to Learn by American Psychologist, Peter Gray.  Dr. Gray explains that “in order to foster children who will thrive in today’s constantly changing world, we must entrust them to steer their own learning and development.”  He states that “free play is the primary means by which children learn to control their lives, solve problems, get along with peers, and become emotionally resilient.”

To help solidify his argument that children have a high capacity for self-education through curiosity and play, Dr. Gray cites Sugata Mitra’s experiment in India back in 1999.  In this experiment, Mitra installed a computer in the middle of one of the poorest slums in New Delhi, where most children were unschooled, illiterate, and had never seen a computer.  He turned on the computer and told the nearby kids they could play with it.  Over a course of three months, without any adult input, more than 300 kids became computer literate.  Mitra repeated the experiment 100 times in different areas of India with similar results.  Mitra defined computer literacy as follows:

  • use of Windows operation functions (click, drag, open, resize, navigation, etc.)
  • draw and paint with the preloaded program
  • load and save files
  • play games and run educational programs
  • browse and surf the Internet if a connection was available
  • set up email accounts
  • chat on the Internet
  • simple troubleshooting

As a physical education teacher, it made me realize that I sometimes underestimate the power of student learning.  Often I spend unnecessary amounts of time explaining directions and giving detailed examples of activities and challenges.

For example, at the end of each marking period, my team and I like to set up stations around the gym for our pre-kindergarten-2nd Grade students.  Stations include fitness, manipulatives, throwing and catching, striking, scooters, etc.   Yesterday, for the first time, I divided the students up into groups of three and sent them to each of the seven stations.  Instead of explaining each station in detail, I simply instructed the groups to stay in their general area, be safe and work together.   I was astonished by the cooperation and creativity.  As expected, there were a few disagreements, however, this is where I challenged the students to problem solve on their own.  Students were creating games and challenges that I could have never imagined through THEIR interpretation.

We recently listed a bunch of partner exercises on our whiteboard.  In a given amount of time, partners had to complete the list of five partner exercises as many times as possible.  The students and I gave detailed examples of how to perform each exercise with their partner. I now realize this limited their creativity and ability to freely explore movement.  It also took away a huge cooperative component in problem solving and communication.

For our next class, we offered the same workout.  However, this time we didn’t include examples and explanations.  The results were astonishing! We witnessed communication, experimentation, and problem-solving. I even learned there are other, and sometimes more effective ways to do each of the partner exercises.

As an educator who is constantly seeking professional development, I learned a huge lesson from reading Peter Gray’s book, Free to Learn.  I need to give children more freedom to explore and create throughout our curriculum. I learned that students often learn best without me over explaining a game or a challenge.  I learned that children are often the ones teaching me, as they work together to invent, explore, and create.  Finally, I learned the importance of free play at school and at home, and its benefits on our children.  Children who are granted the freedom to play are more passionate about learning.  They enhance social skills and means to resolve a conflict.  They become more emotionally resilient.

Along with PE teachers, ALL teachers and administrators should consider giving students more freedom to explore and play.  Taking away recess to increase class time is such a backward way of thinking, yet still exists.  Parents could possibly encourage less structured sports and activities, and allow their children more time to simply go out and play.  After all, play is a child’s work!

“In a healthy human being, the thirst for knowledge is never quenched.” -Peter Gray

Gray, Peter. Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-reliant, and Better Students for Life. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

If you enjoyed this post, consider following my blog to receive future posts.

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

Search #trinitype to see what my amazing PE team is doing with their classes.

Check out my Facebook group called Keeping Kids in Motion!

7 Simple Instant Activities for PE


Be sure to check out (click for link) 10 More Instant Activities for PE after reading this post!

Instant activities are designed to actively engage students 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.  Typically lasting about 5 minutes, instant activities are an effective way to stimulate student learning prior to the day’s lesson.  Below are a few instant activities your students might enjoy.

Plank, Paper, Scissors, Shoot! 

Plank, Paper, Scissors, Shoot is based on a game called Head Honcho by JD Hughes.  To begin, students pair up at the first of 5 levels.  I use the lines on my gym floor to divide each level.  You can also use spots or cones.  When the music begins, each pair plays rock, paper, scissors while holding a PLANK position.  The winner of the challenge advances forward to the second level, while the loser remains at the first level.  Students quickly find another challenger within the same level.   Once a student reaches, then wins at the fifth and final level, he receives a winning ticket.   He returns to the first level to repeat the process.  I’m sure your students will enjoy working on their core strength while playing this fast-paced game!


Hula Hoop Fitness Timer

This is another instant activity that works well for all ages.  As students enter the gym they each pick up a hula hoop and find personal space.  Next, they spin their hoop on the floor, then perform an exercise of their choice until the hoop completely stops spinning.  Once the hoop falls to the floor, they choose a different exercise and repeat the process.  You can also specify the types of exercises wherever you post the instant activities (aerobic, lower body, etc).

The Race to 3

I love using my old coffee cans for a variety of games.  One of my favorite “coffee can” games is the Race to 3.  Before the students arrive I set up the cans throughout the gym, each with two hollow plastic balls.  When students enter the gym, they immediately pair up and go to a coffee can.  The object of the game is to be the first to bounce a ball into the can three times.  Once a match is over, each player MUST shake hands and say, “good game.”  The winner of the game stays and raises his hand while the loser travels to find another person to challenge who is seated with their hand up.  I use this instant activity as a way to reinforce SPORTSMANSHIP with my students.  It also happens to be an all-time favorite among students.

Jump Rope

Good old-fashioned jump rope is one of THE best instant activities.  It gives students an opportunity to work on their coordination, timing, and creativity while getting a significant workout!  Long rope challenges in groups of three or four are also a fun way to increase hearts rates while enhancing teamwork and cooperation.

Build and Take Shelter

Hula Hoops are one of my favorite pieces of equipment for PE.  Build and Take Shelter is another reason why.  This instant activity can be modified for any grade level.  Prior to PE class, I space out several groups of six hula hoops.  I will also set up one hula hoop sphere in the center of the gym as a visual. Upon entering the gym, students are instructed to find a group of three, then Build and Take Shelter.  Their mission is to work together to build a sphere.  Once the sphere is completed, each student must climb through without knocking it over.  Once each player has crawled through successfully, they repeat the process.  Students also have the option to try and fit each member in the sphere at one time.  This makes for a great photo!

For older students, you can make this challenge more competitive.  Before class, the teacher can spread out spots throughout the gym.  Each group must Build and Take Shelter on as many spots as possible in five minutes.


As teachers, we all want to increase students’ ability to concentrate, enhance hand-eye coordination, and build self-confidence. Juggling can benefit all three.  Juggling is an awesome instant activity; after you’ve taught the basics in prior classes.  We teach juggling from kindergarten – 6th Grade.  With our students we begin with scarves and later progress to bean bags, juggle bugs, and sometimes juggling pins.   You’ll be shocked at how quickly your students will pick up this skill with a little practice and determination.  Juggling is another one of our students’ favorite instant activities.

Partner AMRAP (As Many Rounds as Possible)

Finally, anything fitness related makes an outstanding instant activity.  Popular with our program is a partner AMRAP.  As students enter the gym, they read the whiteboard and get to work. Partner AMRAPs can include a variety of exercises and skills relating to your present unit. Check out one of my previous posts called Top 5 Motivating Fitness Routines to see a video of a basketball AMRAP.

Although these are seven of MY favorite instant activities, there are certainly hundreds of more that are equally effective.  Please share some of your ideas!

Be sure to check out  (click for link) 10 More Instant Activities for PE after reading this post!

If you enjoyed this post, consider following my blog to receive future posts.

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

Search #trinitype to see what my amazing PE team is doing with their classes.

Check out my Facebook group called Keeping Kids in Motion!

Youtube Channel




Exit mobile version