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Halloween may look different this year, but these five spook-tastic PE games for Halloween can be played with social distancing in mind, making them a blast to play in this season of ghosts and goblins. Turn on some Halloween theme music and get your students running, laughing, and building their fitness!

1. Pumpkin Patch Circuit Training

Prep for this activity involves cutting pumpkin shapes out of orange construction paper—at least twice as many pumpkins as there are students participating—and writing the name of a fitness skill or physical activity on each one. You might include jumping jacks, skipping, jumping rope, Burpees, hopping on one foot, push-ups, mountain-climbers, lunges, crab-walking, planks, and so on. Also, write down the target duration or number of repetitions for each activity. Then place all the pumpkins in the “pumpkin patch” at the center of the gym or activity area.

Students can circle up around the outer perimeter of the area. When the teacher blows the whistle, students must run to the pumpkin patch, grab a pumpkin and run back to their spot to perform the activity listed on their pumpkin. When they finish the specified number of repetitions or the teacher blows the whistle again, students can run back to the pumpkin patch to return their pumpkin and grab a new one.

2. Rolling Pumpkin Relay Race

Divide students into relay teams, mark off a starting line and set up one cone for each team at a good distance from the line. The first student from each team will roll a pumpkin from the starting line to their team’s cone, around it and back to the start, where the next student will take over. Orange balls are perfectly fine for pumpkin stand-ins, but this is also a fun game for using real pumpkins, since they’re often irregular in shape and are rarely perfectly round, which can make them challenging to roll in a straight line!

3. Ghost Bowling

Have students develop their coordination by rolling orange “Jack-o-lanterns” at “ghost” bowling pins! Transform simple white bowling pins into spooky ghosts by drawing on ghostly eyes and mouths with a black dry-erase marker. The same dry-erase marker can be used to draw Jack-o-lantern faces on orange balls (gator balls and regular, lightweight bouncy balls work nicely). You can even use real pumpkins if you use smaller ones that won’t break open and make a mess if tossed by overly enthusiastic students!

4. Zombie Tag

This classic twist on tag is a kid favorite at any time of year, but it takes on an extra dose of creepy fun around Halloween. Children love pretending the zombie apocalypse has arrived as they run, giggle and evade the zombies as long as they can. For social distancing, give the zombies pool noodles for tagging. Add further twists by designating a Doctor—one student with the imaginary antidote that can “save” tagged runners, returning them from zombies back to their human state. Remember, zombies can’t run in Zombie Tag; they can only walk, arms outstretched as they relentlessly pursue their prey. Extra points go to students who make the creepiest, most convincing zombie groans!

5. Freeze Dance To Halloween Music

Kids love dancing, especially when they can groove to the Monster Shuffle or other seasonal songs! The teacher can start and stop the music at random intervals, and when the music stops, dancers must freeze in place. The last person to freeze in each round is out, and the last student standing at the end of the game wins. This game can also make for a Halloween-y twist on Musical Chairs.

Marathon Kids is a nonprofit youth running program that is free for schools and community organizations. Visit Marathon Kids Connect to learn more.

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The very idea of indoor recess can make teachers feel like tearing their hair out, but inclement weather doesn’t have to strike fear into educators’ hearts! Research has shown time and again that kids need plenty of time to move their bodies, especially during the school day—and when it’s too cold, hot, wet, snowy or icy for kids to play outside, indoor recess games become a necessity.

Fortunately, there are plenty of fun indoor recess games that children love, that aren’t screen-oriented or Internet-based, and we’ve got a kid-approved list of the very best ones. These are eight indoor recess games for children of all ages, from preschool on up through elementary and middle grades, and easily adapted all abilities. Let the games begin!

Best Indoor Recess Games

Best Indoor Recess Games

1. Dance Party

This one can be as simple and easy as turning on some tunes and letting students groove to the beat. Tailor the music to your particular students’ ages and interests; encourage them to hop, skip or shake their arms and their hips. Give students lengths of ribbon if you have them, to incorporate colorful beauty along with their movements. You can also do a version of musical chairs; if you don’t have actual chairs available, simply use removable dots of tape on the floor.

2. Would You Rather?

This game is great for indoor recess with students of any age and ability, as both questions and accompanying movements can be tailored to any group of kids.

Students line up in two lines on either side of a long strip of tape laid out on the floor; one side of the taped line will correlate with Option A, and the other side with Option B. The teacher will ask the group a series of “Would you rather…?” questions, making them as fun, gross or hilarious as is appropriate. Questions might include things like, “Would you rather eat ice cream with mustard on top or an apple with a worm in it?” or “Would you rather somersault or run backward all the way around the room?” As students choose which option they would rather do, they jump (or step, roll or otherwise move) from one side of the taped line to the other.

3. Tag (Any Version)

This oldie-but-goodie is a favorite among kids of all ages, and best of all, there are tons of different versions of the game to choose from! Check out our Top Ten Twists on Tag post for some great variations on this timeless classic game of chase-and-catch.

4. Paper Plate Balloon Badminton

This fun, active indoor recess game, perfect for kids of any age, creates the best kind of chaos. Best of all, it’s incredibly simple! Children use paper plates to bat at balloons. That’s it! You can set rules if you like, or divide students into pairs or teams—or just have a free-for-all that will keep everyone laughing and moving for as long as recess lasts. Also, there’s no reason the teacher should have to do everything (or have all the fun!), so be sure to have your students help you blow up the balloons before the games begin.

5. Yoga and Stretching

Best Indoor Recess Games

While not technically an indoor recess game, yoga—and stretching in general—can be a wonderful way to start and end recess with students of any age. Since yoga and stretching are also meditative activities, they can help students calm their minds and develop their focus before returning to the rigors of the classroom. Simple stretches or yoga moves can include child’s pose (kneeling and bending at the waist to rest the chest on the knees and the arms and forehead on the floor); downward dog (starting on hands and knees, and pressing upward on the hands and feet or toes into a whole-body, inverted-V shape).

6. Toss and Talk

Have students stand in a circle; the teacher calls out a category, such as Your Pet’s Name, Your Favorite Movie or Your Least Favorite Food, and tosses a bean bag, stuffed animal or other soft object to the first student. That student catches the item and holds it only long enough to call out their answer before tossing it to the next student to catch and give their answer.

7. Arts and Crafts

Moving the body and getting the heart pumping are undeniably important during the school day, but they aren’t the only ways for students to get a brain break. Sometimes, the best indoor recess games are arts-and-crafts-based, as these types of activities allow students to explore their imaginations and exercise their creativity as they get lost in colors, textures and lines. Give students large sheets of butcher paper and markers, pencils or even washable finger paints, and let them express themselves to their hearts’ content.

You can build in movement by making it a progressive group event: Have each student (or pairs of students) start at one sheet of paper and draw for thirty seconds to one minute before leaping up and moving on to the nearest paper, to add to that drawing. Ideally, by the end of recess, every sheet of paper will be a beautiful collaboration of multiple students’ work, and every student will have gotten some walking and plyometric jumps in along with their creativity session.

8. Charades

If you aren’t a theatre teacher, you might never have considered Charades as a good indoor recess game—but it can be a ton of group fun, whether your students are in preschool, middle or high school, or any grade level between. Have students act out book titles, characters, historical figures or scientific concepts they’ve been covering in class, or song or film titles that are currently popular among the kid crowd. Charades are fun as a whole-class activity or played in teams; you can even have play-offs, with winning groups going head to head in a final round.

Want more? Check out our list of the best indoor PE games!

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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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

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.

Want more? Check out 5 Fun PE Running Games!

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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.