No matter what traditions their individual families celebrate at home, most kids love the holiday season for the sense of warmth and excitement that permeates the air, and of course the approaching break from school. These holiday PE games are a great way to channel students’ excitement, and also any stress they might be feeling. Yes, the holidays can be a bit tense and chaotic for everyone, including children, who pick up on any strain the adults in their lives may be feeling. Good thing getting the body moving is a known stress-reliever!
These five holiday PE games tap into the joy and cheer of the season, and are great for helping kids of all ages stay centered in both mind and body through the holidays. Play festive holiday music during activity time and decorate cones and other areas of the gym with snowman cut-outs or wrapping paper to add to the festive fun!
Holiday PE Games
1. Winter Stations
Set up the number of stations that works for your space and then divide students into the same number of groups. Stations can include a Wreath Toss (tossing hula hoops or actual wreaths over cones), Snowball Target Practice (tossing foam balls, bean bags or any other type of smaller balls toward a target), Snowball Relay (kicking soccer balls along a path or using hockey sticks to push them along to the next student in line), Scooter Bobsledding (one student sitting on a scooter as their partner pushes them along a designated path), or Ice Skating (sliding around with each foot on a paper plate — students can also balance a bean bag as a “snow hat” on their heads for an added challenge).
2. Reindeer Tag
Kids love a good game of tag, and this holiday version is sure to delight. Taggers are elves, and runners are reindeer; when runners are tagged, they must freeze in place and put their hands to their heads, thumb-first with fingers outstretched, to simulate reindeer horns. Other “reindeer” who haven’t yet been tagged can un-freeze tagged runners by singing the first phrase of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” while releasing the frozen runner with a high-five.
3. Santa Stations
Students get to be Santa Claus! Have students deliver presents (running with balls or bean bags from a central pile to designated drop-off points around the gym, such as bins or hula hoops laid out on the floor); climb the chimney (practicing their rope-climbing skills); build toys (stacking foam blocks in a tower — extra points for precision!); ride in Santa’s sleigh (pushing or pulling each other on scooters along a designated course); and work off all those cookies and milk (doing set repetitions of jumping-jacks, mountain-climbers and other cardio moves). Santa Stations work great as a timed course for older kids, or simply as skill-building stations for all ages.
4. Christmas Tree and Menorah Tag
This simple game of tag can be played in short rounds, rotating taggers each time. Before beginning the game, talk with the students about which of their families celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah and decorate a Christmas tree, light a menorah, or both. You can discuss the fact that these are traditions for some but not all families each December. Then begin the game: Depending on the size of your class, designate between two and four taggers and give each of them a small ball (softer ones work best). Taggers will use these balls as either “ornaments” or “candles” to tag other runners; when tagged, runners can choose whether to turn into a Christmas tree or a menorah, either by using their arms and legs to make triangle shapes with their bodies, like a tree, or by putting up their arms to simulate the shape of a menorah. They can hold that position until the end of the round, when all tagged runners are released and new taggers take over.
5. Melting Snowmen
To play this fun and fast-paced game, lay out hula-hoops on the floor throughout the gym with a bowling pin, representing a snowman, in the center of each hoop. Students stand inside the hula-hoops, protecting their own snowmen while “melting” others’ pins by rolling balls into them. Depending on class size, two or more students should line up on the sidelines of the game and wait their turn to jump in on the action. Anytime a snowman melts (meaning a bowling pin topples over, whether because a player hit it with a ball or knocked over their own pin in the heat of the game), the first student in line on the side heads to that hoop to take over, while the original player heads to the back of the waiting line.