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“Tag — you’re it!” There’s a reason tag is a classic game for kids across the world: Everyone loves it! There’s just something about chasing and being chased that makes people of all ages giggle and shriek in mock-fear as they take turns pretending to be predator or prey. Best of all for run club coaches and PE teachers, there’s no set-up or equipment required for a classic game of tag.

There are even hidden benefits to playing tag. It builds physical strength and endurance along with speed, agility, and coordination, but many experts say it also teaches children social skills regarding boundaries, consent and compassion. As always, there are two sides to the issue; certain schools around the country have banned tag due to concerns about boundary and consent issues. On the other hand, this has led to low- and no-contact versions of the game becoming more popular, which is a good thing for everyone — now there are more fun twists on the classic game than ever!

If you’re looking for ways to freshen up an old standard, check out the top ten twists on tag.

1. Robot Tag – This one’s perfect for hot days outdoors. One student is “it” (the tagger), while another student has an “oil can” — a spray bottle filled with water — and is safe from being tagged. When a player is tagged, he or she must freeze and then do rusty robot movements until the player with the oil can unfreezes them with two squeezes of “oil.” The player who was just unfrozen then takes over the oil can and runs to unfreeze someone else.

2. Shadow Tag – Sunny days, whether cool or warm, are perfect for playing Shadow Tag, in which the tagger steps or jumps on other players’ shadows to tag them. This no-contact version of tag is a fun twist for any group of kids, and especially for children who don’t enjoy actual, bodily tagging.

3. Ninja Turtle Tag – Thanks to Marathon Kids coach Jeff Byerly, whose run club kids love this fun version of the game. Coach Jeff sets four cones of different colors in four corners of the room or outdoor space, and gives pool noodles, cut in half and in colors matching the cones, to four taggers. To begin the game, kids yell “Turtle power!” and start running. When a runner is tagged, she or he must head to the matching-color cone and perform two exercises, such as burpees and jumping-jacks, until everyone has been tagged. Then four new taggers are selected, the kids yell out “Turtle power!” again, and the next round begins.

4. Dragon Tag – All players line up and hold onto the waist of the person in front of them. The person at the front of the line is the head of the dragon, who tries to “bite” (tag) the last person in line, who is the tail. Players must hold on and not break apart as the dragon-head runner leads them in the chase; if someone lets go, they’re out for that round and will be the dragon’s head in the next.

5. Freeze Tag – When a player is tagged in this fun version of the game, they must freeze until another player tags them to unfreeze them. There are many versions of Freeze Tag; in one, tagged players must freeze with their feet planted widely apart, creating a tunnel. They can be unfrozen only when another student crawls through. Teachers or coaches can support group cooperation by encouraging students to unfreeze as many of their classmates as possible and awarding points to students who unfreeze the most players.

6. Turtle Tag – Just as in Freeze Tag, players are frozen when tagged until another player tags and releases them. In Turtle Tag, however, players who are being chased can avoid being tagged when the tagger gets close by quickly lying down on their backs with their hands and feet in the air. They can stay down only for three seconds or less, and taggers must move on rather than hovering until the turtle stands up to start running again.

7. Flag Tag – This version of tag allows everyone to be the tagger at once, and it’s a low-contact way to play the game. Every player tucks a flag (this can be a handkerchief, a hand towel or simply a swatch of fabric) into their waistband or pocket, leaving at least half of it hanging out. Then everyone chases each other, trying to grab other players’ flags. When a player’s flag is taken, they’re out; the player with the most flags at the end of the game wins.

8. Stick Figure Tag – This one gets everyone laughing — players and teachers alike! For each round, there is one tagger as well as one un-freezer who is safe from being tagged. Everyone, including the tagger and the un-freezer, must run with their arms and legs held stiff and straight. When a player is tagged, they must freeze in position with their limbs held stiff until the un-freezer arrives to release them.

9. Chain Tag – This version of the game begins like classic tag, with one player designated as the tagger. As soon as the first player is tagged, they join hands with the tagger; the two then run together, holding hands and using their free hands to tag more players. Each new player who is tagged joins hands with the taggers, forming an ever-lengthening chain. The game is over once every player has been tagged and joined hands to make a chain with the whole group.

10. Crab Tag – As the name suggests, this fun version has players and taggers crab-walking around instead of running. Crabs aren’t the only possible animal to mimic; try Bunny Tag, with hopping players and taggers, or Sloth Tag, in which everyone must move on all fours, as slowly as possible.

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Looking for the best adapted and inclusive PE games for your students? Adapted physical education involves PE games and activities that have been modified to accommodate students with disabilities or who have gross motor delays.

We applaud PE teachers, run club coaches and schools looking for ways to provide a more inclusive physical education curriculum for diverse groups of students! After all, students with physical or other disabilities are, first and foremost, students. The following PE games, activities and modification strategies are great for groups of students with varying needs and abilities.

Best Adapted and Inclusive PE Games

Kids warming up before run club

Activity: Dance Warm-Up

Kids can warm up together for PE class or run club by moving their bodies to music. (Arms, legs, hands, feet and heads all count!) Everyone can first stretch their limbs as a group, and then perform any of the following that they are able to do: waving their arms, bending their knees, rotating their hands, feet and necks, touching their toes, doing jumping-jacks or clapping their hands, and so on. You can incorporate learning about the different muscles by having students call out muscle names, clapping with each one; those who are able can also touch those muscles on their own bodies, such as their biceps, pectorals and quadriceps. Younger students can also have fun warming up their bodies and voices at the same time by roaring and baring their “claws,” making bird squawks while flapping their “wings,” or barking or meowing while crawling on all fours.

Game: Life-Sized Chutes and Ladders

While this game requires a fair amount of equipment and setup, it’s fun for players of all ages and abilities, and a great choice for giving students practice in taking turns while developing their fitness skills.

Lay out a long rope (or series of ropes) on the floor of the gym, arranging it in a path with several straight sections as well as a few bends to change the path’s direction. Then, lay hula hoops interspersed with foam squares along the path, and set cones — weighted, if possible — at each turning point of the rope.

Similar to the board game, players take turns by rolling foam dice and then moving that number of hula hoop/foam square “spaces” along the path. Students with impaired vision can use the rope as a guide, while students on foot or in wheelchairs can step or hop in the hoops or wheel alongside them. Landing on a square sends the player back to the start; the first player to reach the end of the rope path wins. Players can also buddy up and assist each other to the finish line.

Activity: Obstacle Course

Students of all abilities can work in pairs to navigate an obstacle course complete with scooters for pulling each other along, hula hoops for stepping or crawling through, ropes laid out on the floor to create a path to follow, a parachute for whole-group play, and more.

Game: Balloon Polo

Students can use pool noodles to tap balloons, keeping them aloft in the air. They can divide into teams, set up goals (hula hoops and large open boxes both work great), and follow basic rules about passing to teammates, making goals, scoring points, and what to do when the balloon touches the ground.

Game: Soccer

Adapting classic team sports like soccer involves making simple shifts, such as having students walk or wheel instead of run; reducing the size of the playing field and clearly delineating boundaries; and using a larger, softer or lighter-weight ball instead of a traditional soccer ball. Players can also be allowed to use their hands in order to hit the ball or pass it to a teammate. Players in wheelchairs can hold the ball on their laps while they wheel across the playing space. (Note that similar adaptations can apply to other classic team sports such as basketball, softball and more.)

Activity: Cultivate Mindfulness

PE teachers and coaches know that mindfulness plays an important role in physical education, and it can also have a positive effect on students’ academics as well as their moods and self-confidence. Best of all, students of all abilities can practice mindfulness, cultivate related skills and reap the benefits.

Start with one of the simplest mindfulness activities: counting your breaths as you breathe slowly in and out as a group. Another great and simple activity involves taking slow, deliberate breaths as you talk your students through relaxing each major muscle group, starting with the head and neck and working downward.

Game: Bowling

Adapted bowling is fun and easy for students of all abilities, and it’s simple to set up. Stretch exercise bands between the legs of a chair or desk so that students can use their hands or feet, or enlist a partner, to slingshot a ball across the floor toward bowling pins. Balls can be foam, yarn or any other type that is appropriate for your students; pins can be plastic cones, blocks, smaller balls, or anything else that works. For students with visual impairment, use tape on the floor to mark off the optimal path for the ball.
happy kids at run club

General Adaptive Strategies

▶ Use targets or goals that make noise when hit by the ball, or radios under the basket in a game of basketball.
▶ Vary the size, weight and texture of balls so students with visual impairment can more easily tell them apart.
▶ Designate a quiet area where students can take a break from the noise and hubbub, and another area where students can take movement breaks with mini-trampolines or squeeze balls.
▶ Use simple visual reminders and cues, such as photographs of students performing each pose of an exercise routine, to help students remember steps, rules or movements.
▶ Use smaller playing areas with well-defined boundaries, including tactile boundaries.
▶ Use Velcro on balls as well as in gloves, in mitts and on paddles, so every student can have success.
▶ Have students pair up so partners can assist each other.
▶ Lower baskets and nets, enlarge goals and targets, and loosen or eliminate time limits.
▶ Give students choices to help them feel empowered in their physical education.
▶ Keep it consistent: Students with many types of disabilities benefit from knowing what to expect, including what the rules and expectations are, what types of activities they will be doing, what types of noises they will hear and make, and when all of these will occur.

ABOUT MARATHON KIDS

Marathon Kids is on a mission to get kids moving. The nonprofit organization offers free physical education programming through Marathon Kids Connect, a cloud-based PE and run club management platform that includes a mobile app for digital activity-tracking. 

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This post is brought to you by CROSSNET, a four-way volleyball net that was designed with the physical education teacher in mind. With just a click of a button and detachment of poles you can easily set up your net to be a variety of heights. This provides gym teachers and volleyball coaches with easy flexibility allowing them to use CROSSNET with both their younger and older students.

There are so many classic outdoor Physical Education games (soccer, kickball, flag football…) that are great for getting kids moving while encouraging teamwork and strategy along with strength and endurance. But that doesn’t mean you have to keep it classic every time the bell rings. Here are eight of the best outdoor PE games, using balls, beanbags, flags, hula hoops or no equipment at all, for keeping things fresh and fun on days when it’s time to head outside and team sports just won’t cut it.

best outdoor pe games

8 Great Outdoor PE Games for Kids

1. Freeze Tag

Great for any age group, freeze tag is just like regular tag, except when a student is tagged, they must freeze with their feet planted widely apart; then they can be unfrozen only when another student crawls through their legs. Teachers can support group cooperation by encouraging students to unfreeze as many of their classmates as possible, and even award points to students who do the unfreezing.

2. Crazy Hoops

While this game works great as an indoor gym activity, it can be even more fun outdoors, where there is plenty of room plus more potential for obstacles and twists. In Crazy Hoops, students build teamwork and strategy skills along with math skills as they work together to grab colored beanbags from a central location and bring them back to drop into their team’s hula hoop. The teacher assigns point values to each color of bean bag: five points for beanbags that match the team’s hula hoop color, ten points for other colors, and one point for white, for example.

If your students are working on fractions or negative numbers, you can incorporate those skills as well (purple beanbags are worth -10 points, for example, or each purple beanbag divides the team’s total points by two).

There are also numerous ways to add twists to this game: You can allow students to use a turn to grab a beanbag from an opponent’s hula hoop and drop it back into the main pile, or instead of locating the main pile in a central spot, divide the beanbags by color and locate the piles in several different areas that students will have to run, climb or crawl to reach.

3. Capture the Flag

This game is great fun when played the traditional way, with two teams, each with its own territory, and one flag per team to guard or steal. Capture the Flag gets even more fun, however, when you switch things up.

Try selecting one spy per team, secretly and at random, who gets one chance to steal the flag belonging to their supposed team and bring it back to their actual team.

Or, for a fast-paced twist, use balls instead of flags and incorporate rules about throwing the “flag” to teammates in order get it back to the home base as quickly as possible. If you have a large PE class, try playing a chaos version of the game by dividing the field or court into multiple sections and having the same number of teams and flags compete for the win.

4. Frisbee Golf

Have students throw soft foam flying discs into buckets, baskets, cardboard boxes and other goals positioned all around your outdoor playing space. This game can be played by taking turns in a big group or in teams, and you can incorporate extra rules, such as having students dance in place for five seconds if they don’t land the frisbee in the goal in three or fewer tries.

best outdoor pe games

5. CROSSNET

This four-square version of volleyball is a super-fun take on the traditional game. Incredibly easy to set up, with adjustable height levels for any age group, it’s a blast for kids from elementary up through high school. CROSSNET targets throwing and catching skills and helps kids develop their hand-eye coordination, while tapping into their competitive natures. It doesn’t take up a lot of room, making it perfect for days when you’re setting up stations outdoors for students to cycle through.

You may also interested in the Best Indoor PE Games for Kids

6. Hopscotch

This classic game offers great plyometric exercise and balance training along with silly fun. Multiple teams of three or four students each can play at once on multiple hopscotch grids, racking up cumulative team points and competing to win.

It’s easy to switch things up in hopscotch to keep everyone engaged. For example, instead of writing numbers in the squares, have students draw animals, like cats, dogs and frogs, or write down the names of exercises, like jumping-jacks, squats and high-knees, in the squares. When students toss a marker onto a square, they have to make the corresponding animal sound or perform repetitions of the specified exercise before they can begin hopping.

Another twist is partner hopscotch, in which two students hopping along two grids drawn close together must hold hands as they strive to hop with balance and accuracy.

7. Topple Ball

Divide students into teams of four, and set up one cone per team with a tennis or Wiffle ball balanced on top. Have students take turns rolling other balls toward the cones, trying to topple them over. When the ball on top falls, the student who toppled it must try to chase it down and grab it within five seconds to win a point for their team. They also must set up the cone and ball on top for the next teammate to take their turn.

8. Beanbag Relay

Students develop teamwork along with speed and agility in a beanbag relay, which can be held on an outdoor track or blacktop, in an open field, or in nearly any other outdoor space. Set out cones or other markers, divide students into teams, and give each team three beanbags. Teams line up at the starting point with their beanbags, and the first runner from each team runs with one beanbag to drop it at the first marker. Then they race back to grab a second beanbag and run it to the second marker, and finish up by repeating with the third beanbag and marker. When they return to the starting point, they tag the second runner’s hand so the second runner can retrieve all the beanbags in reverse — racing to the first marker, grabbing the beanbag and running it back to the starting line, racing back to the second marker for the second beanbag, and so on.

best outdoor pe games

Bonus: Fartlek Runs

Marathon Kids is all about running, but not necessarily about speed. We believe in getting kids moving by motivating them to cover cumulative distances over time, but we don’t really care about how fast they go — unless they or their coaches want to work on developing their speed. If you have students in track or who are simply interested in improving their running speed and endurance, Fartlek runs are a great way to kick things up a notch.

No, Fartlek training isn’t a PE game, per se — and yes, you’ll have to allow your students extra giggle time to adjust to the silly-sounding name (“fartlek” is a Swedish word that means “speed play”). But soon they’ll recognize the serious fun that Fartlek runs can be. Whereas regular interval training has runners recover between higher-intensity intervals by walking or even stopping altogether, Fartlek training has athletes continue running at a steady pace between bursts of speed, which helps condition both the body and the mind to build speed and endurance. Best of all, the natural challenge and variations inherent in Fartlek training can keep students motivated and engaged.

ABOUT MARATHON KIDS

Marathon Kids is on a mission to get kids moving. The nonprofit organization offers free physical education programming through Marathon Kids Connect, a cloud-based PE and run club management platform that includes a mobile app for digital activity-tracking. 

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After a run, kids should take a few moments to cool down and stretch. Use some of these fun cool-down activities with your runners to wrap up each running club session.

Cool-Down Activities for Kids

Cool Down Activities

WINDSTORM: Pretend to be trees in a windstorm, with wind blowing arms as branches. Start while the windstorm is strong and blowing hard, and finish as the wind calms and blows softer.

CAT STRETCH: Start on hands and knees, with a flat back. Take a deep breath in and arch back so that belly is moving down towards the ground and shoulders move back so “cats” can look up. Exhale and reverse the curve in the back as the “cats” stretch their backs.

COOL DANCE: Slow-motion dance for 30 seconds, then rest. Repeat until cool.

DON’T ‘SKIP’ THIS: Skip for a designated distance, gradually reducing the skipping speed and length until skipping slowly in one place. Reduce to a march, then to a walk in place.

SKY HIGH: Reach up and touch the sky for 20 seconds. Now, reach down and touch toes for 20 seconds. Repeat until cool.

GROUP WALK: Walk together as a team for at least 1/4 mile. Don’t leave anyone behind. Keep walking until cool.

BEACH TIME: Pretend to be at the beach, walking through deep sand, jumping over waves, shaking off the sand. Continue until cool.

BUTTERFLY STRETCH: Sit on the ground with knees bent and feet touching (legs look like butterfly wings). Slowly flap wings 15 times. Rest, then repeat until cool.

CLIMB THE LADDER: Pretend to be climbing a really tall ladder. Stretch out arms and knees. Do this for 30 seconds. Rest, then repeat until cool.

TOUCH YOUR TOES: Sit with legs outstretched, shoulder-width or more apart. Lean forward and try to touch toes, one leg at a time. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat until cool.

MUSCLE MIX: Coach calls out two body parts (ex: elbow to knee, hand to foot). Runners find a partner and perform the activity. Coach changes the “muscle mix” each round.

Cool-Down Activities Printable

MARCHING BAND: March in place for 30 seconds, pumping knees high and arms from side to side. Rest, then repeat until cool.

QUAD STRETCH: Stand, reach backwards and grab left ankle with right hand, bending knee. Work on balance. Hold for 20 seconds. Switch legs. Repeat until cool.

COPY CAT: Kids take turns to demonstrate their favorite stretch while the group copies. Remember to stretch gently and slowly. Repeat until cool.

GROUND DOWN: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Touch the ground for 20 seconds. Touch right foot for 20 seconds. Switch legs. Repeat until cool.

RUNNER’S CHOICE: Have each runner pick his/her favorite cool down exercise and perform for 30 seconds. Rest, then repeat until cool.

OBSTACLE COURSE: Make a simple obstacle course. Ideas include zigzagging between cones, hopping over imaginary lines, etc. Repeat at a slow (walking) pace until cool.

SNOW ANGELS: Walk in place until heart rate slows. Then, make snow angels on the ground for 20 seconds. Rest, then repeat until cool.

HEEL, TOE: Walk in circles on heels for 20 seconds. Walk in circles on tip toes for 20 seconds. Repeat until cool.

SHARKS AND FISH: One runner is a shark. The other runners are the fish. Whatever the shark does the fish have to copy. Repeat until cool.

STRETCH AND SPELL: Use body to spell out “Marathon Kids,” one letter at a time. Hold each letter for 3 seconds. Repeat until cool.

RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT: Act like cars while Coach calls out a traffic light color. Run on green. Walk on yellow. Stop on red. Call the colors with fewer green lights and more yellow and red lights. Repeat until cool.

CALF STRETCH: Start in push-up position. Bring one knee forward. Try to touch the heel of your other foot to the ground. Hold for 20 seconds, then switch legs. Repeat until cool.

Find 23 Warm-Up Activities for Kids here!

Start a Free Run Club

ABOUT MARATHON KIDS

Marathon Kids is on a mission to get kids moving. The nonprofit organization offers free physical education programming through Marathon Kids Connect, a cloud-based PE and run club management platform that includes a mobile app for digital activity-tracking. 

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Kids should do a warm up before every run. Here are a few tried and true warm-up activities you can use to prepare your runners before each running club session.

warm up activities

Warm-Up Activities

PLAY TAG: Choose one person to be “it.” As the “it” person tags others, they too begin chasing those who have not been tagged, until everyone has been tagged.

FOLLOW THE LEADER: Choose a runner to be the “leader.” Have the “leader” choose their favorite warm-up activities that get them moving, that the others will copy. Play Follow the Leader until warm.

FIGURE EIGHTS: Walk/run in figure eights of varied sizes. Be sure to keep quick feet and feel your back and hips stretch.

BICYCLES: Lay on backs with legs and feet in the air. Move legs like pedaling a bicycle. Pedal slow, medium, and fast for 30 seconds each. Rest in between each pedaling speed.

HIGH SKIPS: Skip as high as you can for a designated distance. Be sure to stretch your raised arm up high when you skip, to jump even higher! Repeat until warm.

ROBOT WALK: Bring one leg straight up, bend waist to touch toes with hand. Walk slowly and touch alternating toes with each step until warm.

CRAB WALK: Walk backwards like a crab on hands and feet for a designated distance. Repeat until warm.

HIGH KNEES: Do high knees for 20 seconds. Jog in place, bringing knees up as high as they will go. Rest, then repeat until warm.

MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS: Start in push-up position. Legs “climb the mountain,” similar to running, for 20 seconds. Hands stay on the ground. Rest, then repeat until warm.

STAR JUMPS: Do 10 star jumps. Jump with arms and legs outstretched, like a star, while in the air. Rest, then repeat until warm.

BEAR CRAWL: Crawl on your hands and feet, like a bear, from one designated spot to another. Rest, then repeat until warm.

Warm-Up Activities Flyer

LEG BALANCES: Make 30 circles with both arms at the same time. Next, make 10 circles with one straight leg lifted off the ground. Switch legs. Repeat process until warm.

RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT: Act like cars while Coach calls out a traffic light color. Run on green. Walk on yellow. Stop on red. Mix up the colors and continue until warm.

OBSTACLE COURSE: Make a simple obstacle course. Ideas include zigzagging between cones, hopping over imaginary lines, etc. Repeat until warm.

TOUCH YOUR TOES: Spread arms out to sides. Bend at waist and touch right hand to left foot. Stand up, then touch left hand to right foot. Repeat until warm.

FLAP YOUR WINGS: Flap arms like a bird for 20 seconds. Now jog in place while flapping arms for 20 seconds. Repeat until warm.

DANCE PARTY: Turn on music and dance in place for 30 seconds. Stop the music. Rest, then turn the music back on and repeat until warm.

JUMP ROPE: Pretend to be jumping rope for 30 seconds. Rest, then repeat until warm.

JUMPING JACKS: Spell out “Marathon Kids” while doing jumping jacks. Rest, then repeat until warm.

JOG AND JUMP: Jog in place for 30 seconds, then jump in place for 30 seconds. Rest, then repeat until warm.

ARM CIRCLES: Move your arms in big forward circles for 30 seconds, followed by backwards circles for 30 seconds. Rest, then repeat until warm.

FROG JUMPS: Jump like a frog 10 times. Touch the ground and reach for the sky during each jump. Rest, then repeat until warm.

TUCK JUMPS: Do 10 tuck jumps. Jump up and tuck knees up to chest. Land with knees bent. Rest, then repeat until warm.

Find 23 Cool-Down Activities for Kids here!

ABOUT MARATHON KIDS

Marathon Kids is on a mission to get kids moving. The nonprofit organization offers free physical education programming through Marathon Kids Connect, a cloud-based PE and run club management platform that includes a mobile app for digital activity-tracking. 

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Walking or running in the summer is possible and doesn’t have to leave you feeling tired. Hot weather can often turn people away from exercising outdoors, but with the proper preparation, it can be done. The added sunlight also provides kids with essential amounts of vitamin D, helping to fight certain diseases and leading to better calcium absorption and stronger bones.

Hot Weather Running Tips Flyer

How hot is too hot to run

How hot is too hot?

According to research by the American College of Sports Medicine, the risk of developing heat illness while exercising is high when the temperature exceeds 85°F. Be sure to keep an eye on the weather during your running session. Avoid the hottest part of the day, between 12 and 4 p.m. When looking at outdoor temperatures, pay attention to the humidity factor or the “feels like” temperature to get the most accurate idea of comfort level for your runners. And be sure to know the warning signs associated with heat illness and dehydration, to keep your kids safe.

Hot weather running tips

☀️ Stay hydrated.
☀️ Drink water before, during, and after your run club session.
☀️ Warm up before running and cool down afterward.
☀️ Take breaks.
☀️ Find some shade to allow your kids to catch their breath.
☀️ Use sun protection and sunscreen.
☀️ Wear the right type of clothing, such as UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) clothing.

If it’s too hot to be outside, try playing some indoor running games or sports to allow kids to reach Moderate-to-Vigorous Physical Activity (MVPA) and earn some miles. Remember, 20 minutes of MVPA equals one mile.

Hot weather running tips

Tips from Marathon Kids Coaches

“In the sweltering afternoon heat, we usually escape the heat by doing some activities indoors in a gym: plyometric exercises and drills, stretching and core strength exercises, meditation, and indoor running games. My kids enjoyed running suicides in the gym. When we run outdoors, we offer frequent water breaks, we squirt them with water guns and we play water games. Coach Snyder set up water cups with holes in them, and [students] had to transport the cup over their heads to the next person in line before it ran out of water. The last person at the end of the line dumps the remaining water in the bucket and then runs to the front of the line. The first team to fill up the bucket with water wins. Sometimes after a long run, you have to reward them with a frozen treat!”
—Coach Elizabeth Malesich in San Antonio, Texas

“My running club takes place in the mornings before school. We start at 7:00 a.m., which helps with dealing with heat. On a couple of occasions, we played games in one of our buildings’ hallways and that was a big hit. The other thing we did was that every Friday we played a new game. The kids knew that Fridays were game days and showed up no matter what the weather was. We played games that involved running, like ‘Zombie,’ ‘Centipede,’ and ‘Wreck-it Ralph vs. Fit-It Felix.’ The kids loved the games and always asked to play.”
—Coach Cinthia Rodriguez in Pacoima, California

“Here are a few things we do to stay active during the warmer months without compromising physical activity. Start the session by making every student get water. Make sure your students carry a water bottle with them or go to a fountain at least every 10-15 minutes. Instead of distance, we do more timed runs. This gives [students] the option to walk or run. Any movement is better than no movement. It’s our responsibility to keep them safe and let them have fun.”

—Coach Chris Tamez in Rancho Cordova, California

ABOUT MARATHON KIDS

Marathon Kids is on a mission to get kids moving. The nonprofit organization offers free physical education programming through Marathon Kids Connect, a cloud-based PE and run club management platform that includes a mobile app for digital activity-tracking. 

(Index Template)

This post is brought to you by CROSSNET, a four-way volleyball net that was designed with the physical education teacher in mind. With just a click of a button and detachment of poles you can easily set up your net to be a variety of heights. This provides gym teachers and volleyball coaches with easy flexibility allowing them to use CROSSNET with both their younger and older students.

Best Indoor PE Games

Looking for some great indoor options for getting your PE students moving when it’s wet, blazing hot, or freezing cold outside? When the weather isn’t favorable for heading out to the track to run laps, PE teachers and coaches have to be creative about getting kids moving indoors, where it’s dry and climate-controlled. And while Duck, Duck, Goose is a classic for a reason—everyone loves it!—there are plenty of other great ways to get kids moving and hit their PE curriculum goals inside. Remember, 20 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise equals one mile!

1. Pickleball

A bit like tennis played with a Wiffle Ball and large, wooden, ping-pong-style paddles, Pickleball has been around for decades, but lately it’s been enjoying a bit of a renaissance in PE classes across the country. This game is perfect for indoor play, especially if you have either a smaller class or plenty of space for multiple games to be played at once. Pickleball encourages teamwork and as well as developing students’ hand-eye coordination and strategy skills, and there are numerous variations on the game that can be implemented to fit your particular class and indoor space.

2. Shark Zone

Lay out mats throughout the gym—blue if possible!—and then set up a series of items on top of the mats that students can stand on and move from one to the next without touching the mats. These items might include balance beams, benches, chairs, pieces of plywood and so on. Tell the students that the mats are the shark-infested waters, and the items on top are the safe zone. Then divide them into teams, and have them work and strategize together on how to move safely from one safe zone to the next without ever falling to the mats. Shark Zone helps build teamwork along with balance and coordination, and it’s just good, silly fun on a rainy indoor-PE day.

3. Fitness Bingo

Make up Bingo-style sheets for your students with exercises listed in the squares, along with number of repetitions or length of time for each exercise. These might include 10 pushups, burpees or jumping-jacks; 20 seconds of mountain-climbers, jumping rope or running in place; and so on. Give each student a Fitness Bingo sheet and a pencil or marker to mark off which activities they complete as the teacher or leader calls them out. The first person to call out “Fitness Bingo!” when they’ve marked off all their squares gets to be the leader of the next round.

4. Musical Chairs

This classic game might seem like it’s only for young children, but the truth is that students of any age can enjoy the silliness and fun that Musical Chairs provides. Best of all, this game gets kids moving while also honing their listening skills. The basic, classic format of the game involves setting up chairs in a circle with their backs to the inside of the circle, starting with one fewer chair than the total number of students playing the game. Students form an outer ring around the chairs and walk, skip, run or jump around the chairs to music. When the teacher hits Pause at random moments, everyone must scramble to find a seat. Whoever doesn’t find a seat is “out”; set one chair to the side and continue the game in rounds until there’s only one final student standing (or sitting, as the case may be)!

Depending on the age of your PE students, you can add fun twists to the game to switch things up and help your students work toward different fitness goals. For example:

▶ Students who are “out” must do jumping-jacks, high-knees or pushups while the other students are busy moving to the music.

▶ Walking, running, skipping and hopping are all fun ways to move around the circle as the music plays, but students can also do other fitness-building movements around the chairs, such as lunges, dancing, high-knees, running backward or somersaults (if the game can be played on mats or another soft surface).

▶ Don’t have chairs in your gym or other workout space? No problem — Musical Chairs can be played without chairs as a move-and-freeze game, in which the last student to freeze when the music pauses is “out.”

▶ Add extra movement requirements for students to perform as quickly as possible when the music stops: Have them do five jumping-jacks or touch their heads, shoulders, knees and toes before finding a chair.

5. CROSSNET

This four-square version of volleyball is a super-fun take on the traditional game. Incredibly easy to set up, with adjustable height levels for any age group, it’s a blast for kids from elementary up through high school. CROSSNET targets throwing and catching skills and helps kids develop their hand-eye coordination, while tapping into their competitive natures. It doesn’t take up a lot of room, making it perfect for smaller indoor spaces or for interval stations set up throughout the gym.

6. Red Light, Green Light

This is another simple movement game that seems childish but can be lots of silly fun for all ages, and which can be used to build cardio endurance, strength or flexibility as well as skills related to listening, observing and following instructions.

In Red Light, Green Light, students line up on the starting line; when the teacher or leader calls out “Green light,” everyone advances toward the finish line until the teacher/leader calls out “Red light,” at which point everyone must freeze as quickly as possible. The game is played until everyone has crossed the finish line. The movements students use in moving toward the finish line are up to them and the teacher to decide; they can run, skip, dance, or do jumping-jacks, high-knees, lunges or even burpees. The possibilities are nearly endless!

The teacher can also add in a “yellow light” twist: When they call out “Yellow light,” students must slow down in whatever movement they are performing. Then, when the teacher calls out “Red light,” students must freeze in place and hold their form or position until “Green light” is called out once again. The slow movements followed by holding a particular position can help students build both muscle and endurance.

7. Indoor Free-Play Stations

Many kids love having some free choice and autonomy built into their school day, and indoor PE days are perfect for blending free choice and autonomy with movement and fun. Set up stations around the gym (or wherever you’re meeting with students) and have children cycle through activities of their choice. These can include activities that develop their persistence as well as their spatial awareness and hand-eye coordination, such as hula-hooping or underhand throwing with bean bags; plyometrics activities, such as jumping rope, jumping-jacks or long jumps; strength-training activities, such as pushups or planks; or cardio endurance builders, such as burpees, high-knees or running in place.

8. Yoga and Mindfulness

A chilly, rainy day can be perfect for helping students develop mindfulness with a yoga and stretching session. Yoga is great since it can be modified to work for almost any age and ability level, and the benefits for students extend well beyond the gym. When students have a few minutes during the school day to calm down and focus on their breathing or how certain stretches or poses make their bodies feel, they can develop mindfulness over time. This can help improve their test scores and focus in class as well as their mood and confidence levels.

9. Cat and Mouse

This game is like Flag Tag, except the flags are pieces of cloth or string tucked into students’ waistbands to represent tails. One or two students can be the cats that chase the mice; mice are “out” when the cats pull out their tails.

10. Hula Hoop Tic-Tac-Toe

This game requires nine hula hoops and ten beanbags—five of one color and five of another. Lay out the nine hula hoops on the floor like a tic-tac-toe grid and then divide students into two teams. Both teams must line up at a starting line some distance away from the hula hoops. When the teacher says “Go,” Player One from the first team runs to the hula hoops and drops a beanbag into the hoop of their choice, and then runs back as quickly as possible. As soon as that player returns, Player One from the second team does the same thing, running to the hoops and dropping a beanbag into another hoop, attempting to block the other team from winning, just like in regular tic-tac-toe. If any player accidentally kicks the hula hoops out of formation, they must stop and re-form the tic-tac-toe grid. Players who are standing in line waiting for their turn can keep moving with jumping jacks, high-knees, or running or marching in place. Hula hoop tic-tac-toe games move quickly; an average-sized class will play several games before every player has had a turn, and then they can start all over again.

11. Gym Laps

When you have to get a group of students moving indoors, sometimes it’s best to just get back to basics. If you can’t have students walk or run on the outdoor track, why not have them walk or run the perimeter of the gym? If you’re the coach of a Marathon Kids run club, your students can log miles just as well inside as outside! You can also have them use the hallways (quietly, of course, when class is in session!). Make it fun by splitting students into relay teams or having them track their own steps or mileage in a data spreadsheet. Students can also do laps by lining up and having the student at the back of the line walk or run as quickly as they can to the front of the line, making slow group forward progress by taking turns until the finish line.

ABOUT MARATHON KIDS

Marathon Kids is on a mission to get kids moving. The nonprofit organization offers free physical education programming through Marathon Kids Connect, a cloud-based PE and run club management platform that includes a mobile app for digital activity-tracking. 

Free Marathon Kids Program