11 Hula Hoop Activities You May NOT Know About


The history of Hula Hooping dates back to 500 BCE where Egyptian children played with hoops made out of dried grapevines, rolling them with sticks or whirling them around their waist. The ancient Greeks even used hoops to exercise.  Today, hula hoops are still extremely popular with kids and adults on playgrounds, exercise gyms, and school gymnasiums around the world.


As a physical education teacher, the hula hoop is my favorite piece of equipment due to its versatility.  Throughout my career I’ve called on the hula hoop to assist me in teaching teamwork,  to help the youngest students recognize personal space, to improve fitness, to simply act as a base for games like kickball and capture the flag, and to be a manipulative for building and spinning.

I’d like to share with you 10 of my favorite hula hoop activities.  Each activity can be adapted for all grade levels and abilities.

Hula Hoop Fitness Timer

This is one of my favorite instant activities for any grade level.  Students simply spin their hula hoop and perform an exercise until the hoop stops spinning.  For younger grade levels, I post different exercises on a white board for students to choose.  Sometimes I give the students a chance to work with a partner.  They alternate spinning the hoop and choosing the exercise.  I can also assess upper grade level students’ knowledge of muscle groups by asking them to choose exercises targeting specific muscle groups. Thank you @PECoachLaura, my colleague, for this idea.


Please give this activity a shot!  I’ve used it for my conditioning classes with excellent results.  It’s a combination of strategy, endurance, and determination. Set up a square with a hula hoop in each corner.  I like the hoops to be 15-20 feet apart. Place one hoop in the center with 5-6 bean bags.  One students begins in each of the outer four hoops.  The object is to collect three bean bags in your hoop first.  Only one bean bag can be taken at a time, and must be dropped into your hoop, not tossed.  Once the bean bags from the center are gone, players then steal from the other hoops.

This game can also be played with partners.  One partner waits at the hoop while the other partner retrieves the bean bag.  Partners switch roles after each retrieval.

Hula Planking

Divide the class into sets of partners.  The goal of the activity is for partner A to pass a hula hoop over partner B, who is holding a high plank (push up) pose, as many times as possible in 30 seconds. After the first 30 seconds, partners have 3 seconds to switch roles. The process is then repeated with partner A holding the plank and partner B passing the hoop. You can have the students do several sets depending on the grade level and individual strength.  Be sure to encourage the students to try moving the hoop both head first and feet first.

Hula Planking with Knee Tuck

Around the Clock Push-ups

This is my new favorite  upper body strengthener because there are so many ways to do it. The first video shows you a basic 1-hour push-up, while the second video gives you an extension.  Each video also has an explanation.

Cooperative Caterpillar Crawl – Version 1

Version 1 of the Cooperative Caterpillar Crawl begins with students holding hands in a straight line behind a path of hula hoops.  If the group has four members, then there are four hoops making up the path.  They must pass an extra hoop from the back of the line to the front without breaking hands.  When the first person in line successfully receives the hoop he runs along the path and drops the extra hoop in the front of the path. Each player moves up into their own hoop.  The player in the back picks up the empty hoop and passes it to the front where it is also dropped in front of the path.  This continues until all the players reach the end of designated area.  Play is then repeated on the way back.  I play two minute rounds.  Each time a team successfully moves to the opposite end of the playing area, they receive a point.

Cooperative Caterpillar Crawl – Version 2

I use pinnies to tie students legs together.

Strike Ball Junior

Video contains full explanation.

Bean Bag Toss with 3 Builds

Video contains full explanation.

Hula Hoops Scramble

This is a great “getting to know you” game for the first week of school.  For a class of 40 students, spread out 20 hula hoops throughout the gym floor.  When the music is on, students perform the teacher’s chosen motor movement.  When the music stops, students enter the closest hoop.  There must be at least two students per hoop.  There is no maximum. At this point, the teacher instructs the students in each hoop to tell each other their favorite sport, PE activity, flavor of ice cream, vegetable, subject etc.  Each time the musics stops the teacher gives the group a different prompt.  Following each round, take away a couple of hoops so there are more students in each hoop per round.  Don’t forget to remind the students of the importance of body control and sharing space.

Innies versus Outies

Spread out as many hula hoops as there are students throughout the gym floor (at least 5 feet between each hoop).  Half the hoops will have a bean bag inside and the other half will have a bean bag placed outside. Divide the class into two even groups.  One group will be the “innies” and the other group will be the “outies.” When the music begins the innies must place the bean bags inside the hoops while the outies must remove the bean bags from the hoops (placing the bean bag directly outside the hoop).  This continues for one minute.  When the music stops, the innies and outies must “stop and drop” to the floor.  The winner of the round is determined by the number of bean bags in and out of the hoops.  For the next round players switch roles.

Hula Hoop Twister

This is a brand new favorite for my kindergarten and 1st grade students.  This simple game includes locomotor movements, learning left from right, spacial awareness, and identifying body parts.

I hope you can use at least a couple of the above activities.  Do you share my passion for the hula hoop?  What are some of your favorite hula hoop activities?


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10 Keys to Unlock Your Coaching Potential


Parents sift their children through activities and sports in an effort to make them more well-rounded and prepared for the world. Toward that effort, we place our children in the hands of teachers and coaches with a variety of approaches and philosophies. Some are hyper-focused on winning and losing, others on pure fun (“everybody gets a trophy!”), and some tackle the more sought after hybrid: win or lose, and have fun either way. However, if you’re lucky, you may win the coach lottery, as we feel we did. Our children have a coach who brings not only his knowledge and love of the game to his team, but also totes his heart, soul, and grit along for all to share.

Enter: 10 Keys to Unlocking Your Coaching Potential

Over the last six months, I’ve been inspired on a weekly basis by a gentleman who goes by the name Coach Zi (pronounced “zee”). Coach Zi is a tennis coach who came to us highly recommended by a family friend.  She told us Coach Zi would not only teach our children tennis skills but life skills as well. So with three children who were moderately interested in tennis at best, I was somewhat hesitant to pay for weekly lessons. However, my wife and I  decided to give Coach Zi a call and set up our first lesson at our neighborhood courts.

Fast forward 6 months

My kids along with two of their friends are not the only ones who look forward to their weekly tennis lessons with Coach Zi. On tennis days, I feel like a child anxiously awaiting recess, eager to watch Coach Zi instruct our kids with a formula unlike any other. For me, witnessing him in action is a refreshing reminder that there ARE amazing role models for kids.  In a time when there is so much pressure to win (see a previous post called The Art of Losing), Coach Zi’s emphasis is on teaching skills, building confidence, and crafting well-rounded citizens.

Coach Z in Action

What makes him so special and how can we learn from his qualities?

From day 1, Coach Zi keeps the kids at ease

He understands that each child is unique, and learns differently. He speaks in a calm, almost melodic tone, still demanding and receiving the respect he deserves.

Each lesson is peppered with skills and drills, as well as proper tennis etiquette on and off the court.

Today he demonstrated the proper way to shake hands at the net. “Gentlemen should always take off their hat while shaking hands with an opponent, especially when shaking hands with the opposite gender.”

Coach Zi searches for connections with each child.

Before, during, and after the lesson, he chats with the kids about their interests other than tennis. Once he makes a connection, he won’t forget it.  My son recently told him he liked lacrosse. Coach Zi was somewhat unfamiliar with the sport but asked my son many questions to help him better understand. Several weeks later, Coach Zi showed up and asked my son if he watched the NCAA lacrosse final. Coach Zi not only watched it but shared some of the highlights.

With Coach Zi, the well-being of our kids is always number 1.  

He preaches hydration, nutrition, sun protection, and overall safety each and every lesson. He not only tells them to hydrate but also how to hydrate properly and how it affects the body. The tennis lesson will briefly become a science lesson.  If it’s cold he’ll discuss the importance of layering and keeping an extra layer in your bag.

Coach Zi makes sure each child is equipped with the proper gear.

He would literally GIVE you a racket if you didn’t have one or if your racket was damaged. He emphasizes the importance of proper footwear, hats, and grips.

Coach Zi calls conditioning a reward and makes it fun yet challenging.

How many times have we witnessed the opposite? A student or young athlete misbehaves, and the coach or teacher makes him run a lap or do pushups as a punishment. The last thing we should ever do is give exercise a negative connotation.

 Coach Zi encourages reading and the importance of education.

He often checks in with each child to see what he/she is currently reading. He’ll also throw out random history, geography, and math lessons. My daughter enjoys when Coach Zi goes off-topic, like the time he explained square roots and quizzed them throughout the lesson.

Coach Zi respects each child whether a beginner or advanced.  

This is a HUGE reason why our kids LOVE tennis lessons.

Coach Zi keeps tennis fun by providing a positive atmosphere, and an unlimited Rolodex of drills and games.

My oldest son said, “Coach Zi notices the smallest mistakes and always help us fix them.  I like how he pays attention.”

Coach Zi has an infectious, deep, hearty laugh to complement his sensational sense of humor.

I guess for me, Coach Zi is remarkably inspiring because of the complete package he brings to each and every lesson. As a physical education teacher for more than 20 years, I’m always searching for ways to improve my craft. Having the honor of observing Coach Zi has provided me with professional development I could not find at a conference, hear at a lecture, or read in articles and self-help literature. I am privileged and humbled by my opportunity to meet and observe this outstanding coach.

Oh, and by the way, along with everything mentioned above, my kids’ skill level and knowledge of tennis have blossomed.  Thanks, Coach Zi.

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Join the Movement: Keeping Kids in Motion


If you’re like me, you consistently seek ways to improve your craft.  You search for the latest research and ideologies which have the potential to improve you as an individual as well as those you influence.  In my case, I’m a physical education teacher with a passion for keeping my lessons challenging, fresh and fun for my students.  I carve away at my profession by reading blog posts, articles, and books related to keeping children active not only during PE class and recess but throughout the day.  Of course, much of this research can be shared and implemented at home with my own children.

One of the MANY articles shared on KKM

As a way to share my professional knowledge and experiences with parents, teachers, and peers, I initiated a Facebook group called Keeping Kids in Motion.  Whenever I come across something exciting, innovative, and useful, I truly want everyone to know. Perhaps other teachers, parents and kids can benefit as well.  Posting information on Keeping Kids in Motion not only allows me to share, but also gives group members an opportunity to provide feedback and/or share any information they deem appropriate in regard to promoting lifelong fitness in today’s youth.

Backyard Game Created by Kids shared on KKM

If you answer “YES” to any of these questions, you’re ready to join Keeping Kids in Motion:

  1. Are you a teacher or counselor who shares a similar passion for improving your craft?
  2. Are you a parent looking for new ideas and activities to enhance child movement?
  3. Do you have a blog or have you written an article relating to keeping kids in motion?
  4. Do you have a video of your family playing a cool, active game in your backyard?
  5. Do you have a question another group member could answer?

If this is the case then I would love for you to join the growing Keeping Kids in Motion Facebook group.  Feel free to read the posted articles and watch the countless videos posted by people just like you.  Together we can teach each other.  Together we can learn from each other!  Together we can keep our kids in motion and prepare them for lifelong fitness!

Appeared on KKM

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

Check out my Facebook group called Keeping Kids in Motion!

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