(Index Template)

Classroom teachers are nothing if not flexible, adapting year after year to ever-changing standards and expectations, data gathering and reporting requirements, and more. Now, with this school year’s ever-shifting schedule modifications and new requirements, many classroom teachers are also adding physical activity to their lists of teaching duties. If you are one of these teachers, never fear – Marathon Kids has you covered!

Marathon Kids Connect is our all-new, completely FREE physical activity-tracking app and reporting platform that includes access to free lesson plans and resources to help you get your students moving in the classroom, or out in the schoolyard, safely. Getting started is easy: Just head over here. Once you’re registered, you’ll have instant access to Marathon Kids Connect along with all sorts of games, activities and lesson plans to help you hit the ground running – and again, all of it is completely free.

GETTING KIDS MOVING, EVEN DURING DISTANCE LEARNING

The Marathon Kids Connect app and platform make it easy to get kids moving, and track their progress towards physical activity goals. Teachers can print runner ID cards with unique QR codes for each student. Then, as students complete laps or minutes of physical activity, teachers scan the ID cards with a phone or tablet to capture the data. That data automatically uploads to the cloud-based platform, where teachers can view leaderboards and show students their progress.

Marathon Kids Connect also bridges the gap between school and home, helping students continue to meet their physical education requirements and activity goals during periods of distance learning. If your school must close periodically, you can use the platform to stay connected with your students’ parents. Parents can submit miles their kids have run at home through the platform, for your approval.

USING MARATHON KIDS CONNECT TO INSPIRE STUDENTS

Regular, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity is incredibly important for kids’ health and wellbeing – not just physical, but mental and emotional as well. There are new challenges with getting kids moving at school in this time of COVID-19, but the Marathon Kids Connect app makes contact-free activity tracking possible. Your smartphone or tablet can be set up at a self-scan station where students scan their runner ID cards as they complete their physical activity, or you can enter the data manually. Guide your students in keeping a safe distance from one another, washing hands before and after active time, and sanitizing their ID cards, and you’ve got a healthy group that can work together toward physical activity goals.

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. 

GET STARTED FOR FREE!

(Index Template)

Life is feeling unpredictable these days, with the unprecedented novel coronavirus pandemic causing widespread changes across the country and the world. School closures and bans on large gatherings are affecting everyone, including children. With organized sports also being canceled in many areas for the foreseeable future, kids have less daily structure and fewer outlets for their energy.

Regular physical activity has been proven to help alleviate anxiety in both children and adults, so in times like these, staying active is more important than ever. Fortunately, we have lots of great resources and suggestions for ways to keep your kids active at home—including running and walking, two of the most basic ways to move our bodies (and our favorite ones!).

Remember that positive modeling from the important adults in their lives helps children of all ages. Translation: Parents being active with their kids benefits everyone involved! Tackling physical activity as a family will help your children make moving their bodies a lifetime healthy habit, and will help you stay physically and mentally healthy as well.

Free Resources to Get The Whole Family Moving Today

Mileage Log (available in both English and Spanish): Kids and adults can use these logs to track their cumulative mileage on family walks or runs. You can set a goal of covering a marathon (26.2 miles) or more over the next three weeks, and work toward it together!

Walk and Talk Conversation Starters (available in both English and Spanish): Turn family walks around the neighborhood into quality connection time with your kids with our free conversation starters. These wide-ranging topics and questions are designed to stimulate fascinating conversations with kids of all ages (and as you walk and talk, you’re covering miles to check off on your mileage log!).

Fun Warm-Ups: Before you start walking or running with your kids, don’t forget to warm up your bodies first! These activities are guaranteed to make both children and adults giggle as they get their blood pumping.

Running Games: These games require little to no equipment and are a good time for kids (and kids-at-heart) of all ages. They’re a great way to switch things up and keep exercise fun for everyone.

Cool Down and Stretching Ideas: After you work out, it’s always smart to cool down slowly to prevent injuries. Stretch your muscles as a family and show your children how to prepare for the next workout.

More Fun Ways to Keep Your Kids Active at Home, Both Indoors and Outdoors

The following are five more fun (and free!) ways to keep your kids active at home during the coming weeks:

Family dance parties: Turn on some music or watch videos of your favorite tunes and dance it out with the whole family.

Balloon volleyball: Younger kids might love this one best, but people of all ages can get into the laughing fun of working together to keep a balloon aloft. Try to pass it to each other often as you keep it from touching the ground for as long as possible.

Mazes and obstacle courses: These can be set up inside the house or out in the yard, and can involve everyday items you have at home—couch cushions, sheets hung up as “walls,” stuffed animals, living room furniture and so on. Be sure to include your kids in the devising of the course, to engage their imaginations and problem-solving abilities along with their muscles as they navigate over, under, around and through to the finish line.

Family strolls, runs, and races: Along with exercise, fresh air and sunshine also have both mental and physical health benefits. Head outside with the family to walk or jog around the neighborhood, or go for a hike in a nearby, natural space. If you’re wanting to stay close to home, you can do short runs in the backyard or even up and down a hallway inside your home; mark off lines at each end of the space for runners to lean down and touch before returning as quickly as possible to the start.

Interval stations: Set up centers in the house or yard where each family member can perform predetermined physical activities for 30–60 seconds at a time before switching to the next station. Jumping rope, Burpees, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, squats, wall-sits, plyometric jumps, push-ups and running in place are all great options for both kids and adults to stay fit.

(Index Template)

Team building activities aren’t just for corporate groups. Teamwork is an important life skill for people of all ages. Any teacher knows that a school is a community, and so is a class. Even students who aren’t active in sports benefit from team building games for kids that develop their abilities to listen and communicate carefully, follow directions, strategize with classmates and build a sense of trust in one another, thereby building a stronger community together. Students are better off when they know each other well and have ample opportunities to learn how to work together, rely on each other and pitch in toward a common goal.

Enter team building games for kids. The following five games and activities are perfect for helping students develop empathy, learn to value each other’s skills, make space for each other’s vulnerabilities and cheer each other on—plus, they’re just a whole lot of fun. Game on!

Team Building Games for Kids

Hand Over the Hula Hoop

This activity can be done in groups of eight to 10 students with one hula hoop per group, or as a whole class with two or more hoops in rotation. Have the students form a circle and place a hula hoop around one student’s arm; then all the students in the circle should join hands. The students must devise ways to pass the hula hoop from one arm and body to the next without ever breaking the circle. Ideally, by the end of the game, each hula hoop should have made its way around the entire circle without anyone dropping hands. This game brings out the belly laughs, but it’s more than just silly fun; it also builds kids’ listening and strategizing skills while enabling them to move and wiggle their bodies in some fun and unique ways.

Minefield

Use masking tape to mark off a square or rectangular shape on the floor that is large enough to hold eight to 10 students at once, along with multiple, randomly placed X shapes (also made with tape on the floor) and multiple soft, squeaky items (such as dog toys). The X shapes are mines. To start the game, eight to 10 students should put on blindfolds and step just inside the rectangle, lining up together on one side. To play the game, the students standing outside the rectangle will call out verbal instructions to their classmates to help them navigate safely to the other side without stepping outside the taped boundary or onto a mine. When students do accidentally step on mines, their classmates must let them know, so they can freeze until another student inadvertently steps on a squeaky item. The squeaking sound signals that all frozen students are released to move again. This game helps students develop their listening and communication skills along with their ability to trust and rely on one another.

Word Leap

This fun and simple game is easy to set up, and it helps children get to know themselves as well as one another better. It also helps them learn to express their own opinions quickly and freely while learning to accept that everyone is entitled to their own perspective. Finally, it’s a plyometrics-based game that develops kids’ muscles and gross motor skills. To set up the game, lay out two ropes parallel to one another, two to three feet apart, and have the children line up between the ropes. The teacher calls out word pairs, such as dog/cat, spaghetti/salad, movies/video games, and so on. The first word will always be associated with one rope, and the second word with the other. The children must choose which word or concept they prefer, and jump as quickly as possible to the corresponding side of the rope.

Blindfolded Obstacle Course

For this activity, divide students into groups of four or five and give each group a blindfold. Students will take turns wearing the blindfold while the other members of their group give them verbal directions to help them navigate an obstacle course. The course should be constructed with play mats, piles of foam blocks and other soft items so it’s safe for kids who might bump into parts of it or even take a tumble. If the play space and obstacle course are large enough to accommodate multiple groups at once, this can be structured as a timed, competitive activity. Otherwise, groups can take turns and cheer each other on as the blindfolded students make their way to the finish line. This activity teaches kids about clear communication and the value of patience, along with their ability to listen closely and follow directions.

Human Words

This game lets kids get active and use their bodies in a fun way that keeps them laughing, while teaching them how to strategize and work together toward a shared goal. Depending on class size, this can be done in smaller groups or as a whole class. The teacher calls out words, one at a time, for the students to spell out together by forming the letter shapes with their bodies. Multiple students can work together to form just one letter; for example, if the teacher calls out the word “Hello,” two students might form the O together by facing one another with their toes touching, bodies leaned back and curved toward one another, and arms outstretched and curved overhead to join hands. Teachers with Smartphones or digital cameras can add to the fun by taking pictures of each completed letter or word, so the kids can delight in their creations and also improve on them in the next round.

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)

Coach Susan Cary first heard about Marathon Kids when the principal at Bennie L. Cole Elementary in San Antonio, Texas, where Cary teaches fifth grade, was working with a parent to find a sponsor to start a run club. “I love families and believe in the importance of building healthy habits together,” says Cary. “I have a passion for seeing healthy families thrive. This is what motivated me—the ability to accomplish this via Marathon Kids.”

Marathon Kids

Now in its third year, the Cole Mighty Milers consists of 72 third-, fourth- and fifth-graders. The club meets year-round on a weekly basis, and students run anywhere from a half-mile to two miles at a time; many students also run after school to increase their mileage. And the run club isn’t just about logging miles. Through the Mighty Milers, students also learn about stretching exercises as well as healthy eating habits and both short- and long-distance running strategies.

The New Marathon Kids Digital Lap Tracking App Makes Tracking Miles Easy

School staff members and run club volunteers use the new Marathon Kids digital lap tracking app—Marathon Kids Connect—to keep track of the students’ mileage. About Marathon Kids Connect, Cary says, “We LOVE it! It’s quite easy to use, primarily due to the fact that the Marathon Kids website has great tech support. They do a wonderful job of responding to our questions right away and walking us through the process in real-time.”

The Cole Elementary staff and volunteers who help run the Mighty Milers also love the reports that are available through the app. “It allows us to share real-time goals with our kids on a week-to-week basis, enabling them to adjust and push themselves more each week depending on what their personal goals are.”

Run Club Allows Children To Showcase Their Skills

“A good number of our kids come from low-socioeconomic backgrounds,” Cary says. “Some kids have a healthy background with their families, but many do not. They want to learn, and have a hunger for athletics and improving their health habits.”
Marathon Kids

One thing the Mighty Milers focus on together is goal-setting. “We are continuously helping our kids set goals every time we meet,” says Cary. “We use the Remind 101 app to communicate with parents and ensure they are partnering with us on this task. Parents love to know how their kids are doing. This enables parents to get involved alongside us in setting the kids’ goals, both in and outside of the school club.”

She also points out the importance for students’ self-esteem of participating in a school run club with appropriate support and encouragement. “Students with and without running talent gain an opportunity to showcase their special skills through run club! Being able to excel in at least one area in school is extremely important in improving students’ self-esteem, motivation and attendance. Our Marathon Kids Cole Mighty Milers Run Club has done this and more for our seventy-plus students.”

Running Enables Positive Changes—In Everyone

Each year, Cary has seen increasing interest among her student runners to be involved in the Mighty Milers in order to gain healthy habits as well as a clearer and more powerful mindset. “We have more than a one-hundred-percent return rate from last year’s students, and more students asking to participate every day. Through our run club, our students experience firsthand the joy of completion, competition and commitment.”

Through their Marathon Kids run club, the student runners are meeting goals they never imagined, and self-reflection from the students indicates they believe running has helped them achieve their goals.

Cary has also seen benefits for herself since starting the run club. “The Marathon Kids program has motivated and continues to motivate me to be a role model for these kids. It has not only impacted me positively, but also my school and my family. I was twenty-five pounds overweight when I started this run club; since starting the club, I have lost twenty-two pounds and am still losing. My mother passed away at the young age of sixty-three due to due to her lack of living a healthy lifestyle. I want to be an example to my brothers and sisters as well as my students of what living a healthy lifestyle can do.”

Teamwork Helps Runners Push Through Tough Moments

The Mighty Milers know running gets difficult from time to time. To push through tough moments, the students take frequent water breaks and encourage one another. “We motivate our kids by running alongside them and encouraging them as we go with high fives and feedback,” Cary says. “We tell them, ‘Come on, you got this, you’re almost there, you can do it.’ The kids also see us scan our mileage cards as well.”

The students learn through their Marathon Kids running that you can’t always rush to the finish, because sometimes you might run out of endurance and focus. “These lessons will stick with our students as they return back to the classroom and try to finish reading chapter books, work in groups, or write essays.”

Cary says, “We are thankful for the positivity and smiles Marathon Kids puts on our students’ faces, and how it gives them something to look forward to at the end of the day. There is nothing better than seeing the face of a student that just completed their first mile and every mile after!”

For anyone who is thinking of starting a Marathon Kids run club, Cary recalls the famous Nike slogan: “Just do it. The outcome far outweighs any negative thoughts or fears. You will be pleasantly surprised and more than pleased with the participation and the desire that your colleagues, students, parents and community have for the program.”

(Index Template)

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!

(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.

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.

Start a Run Club for Free

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)

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. 

(Index Template)

As the head coach for Fleet Feet Sports, a family-owned and operated specialty running shop in Lincoln, Nebraska, Eddie Walters was excited when Marathon Kids reached out to see if he wanted to start a running club for kids through the store. (His exact response: “Umm… YESSS!”)

That first club, in 2018, was such a success that it was clear it was time to expand. As of this summer, Eddie now coaches three run clubs, collectively called Fleet Feet Marathon Kids: two in Lincoln—one through the store, the other a downtown club partnering with the Lincoln Police Department—and a third through the Fleet Feet store in Omaha. There are over 125 kids in the program, ranging from three-year-olds to eighth-graders, and the club continues to grow.

“Just having the opportunity to help kids stay active and running is a beautiful thing,” Eddie says. “Not to mention, for one hour a night, I get to be a kid, myself. You get to be the biggest goofball! When you get to be a kid again, it makes the night fly by.”

Each club meets once a week for an hour, on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday evening. The groups usually cover two miles per session: one mile on the track, and then another through playing a variety of games. Each runner takes their mileage charts home with them and logs their own miles throughout the rest of the week. “We encourage parents to put the logs on the fridge,” says Eddie, “and celebrate every single mile! We check in each week to see who ran how far and where.”

Running Is For Everyone

All kinds of children participate in the club, which Eddie believes is one of the coolest things about Marathon Kids. “Running is something that every kid can do. We have kids of all ages, and they all have their own story and own background. Some of them love to run, while others love to play games. We have kids that walk, run, or even skip.”

Runners who receive free or reduced-price lunches at school participate in the downtown club for free, sponsored jointly by Marathon Kids and the Lincoln Police Department. “We make sure that every kid can participate,” Eddie says. “If they need shoes, we get them donated. The idea is that no matter where you are in our community, you can be a part of Marathon Kids and you can come run with us.”

The downtown program has participants who face “obstacles you don’t normally see.” For them, Eddie says, it’s important to check in frequently so the children know they have support. “It has built a great relationship with the local police department, so the kids know who is there to help them and who is there to listen.”

A Focus On Fun, Not Competition

Eddie loves it when he receives a text from a parent about how much fun their child is having with Marathon Kids. He especially loves it when kids are so motivated to run, they ask their parents to run with them. But he acknowledges that it isn’t always easy. “I also love the kids that struggle with running. Sometimes kids are having a tough day, but we get to work with them, too. We get to motivate them and support them. Our goal is to have fun with every kid.”

After School Run Club for Kids

When running gets tough—as it does at some point for every runner—Eddie tries to empathize with his students and motivate them to push through the tough spots. “Every kid has their ups and downs,” he says. Sometimes the kids cry, or struggle. “You have to find a way to understand what is wrong and overcome it. A high-five or a hug can go a long way. Sometimes it can be a little work, but when you break the barrier, it is worth it.”

For Eddie, it doesn’t matter how fast the runners are; it only matters if they have a smile on their faces and they’re having fun. He does, however, enjoy challenging them. “I bet them that they can’t beat me to the next corner or around the track. Sometimes all you need to do is take them by the hand and run with them.”

Battling Against The Pull Of Technology

Eddie acknowledges that the run clubs, and physical activity in general, play a huge role in the children’s lives. “So many kids sit at home, play on their parents’ phones, or watch TV. They don’t realize the amount of fun you can have while running.” In today’s technology-filled world, he says, just getting kids outside is half the battle. “We are getting kids to run, and they don’t see it as work. They see it as a place for them to hang out with other friends and play games.”

Fleet Feet Marathon Kids

Eddie’s playing a long game, hoping to make running a habit for his run club kids so it will become an enjoyable part of their lives long-term. He hopes Marathon Kids will inspire them to start running 5K races or join the track team in middle or high school. “If not,” he says, “I know they will take up running again one day when they’re older and find a love for it.”

It’s All About Community

The biggest benefit Eddie’s seen in his runners since starting the Fleet Feet Marathon Kids club? “It’s all about the community. We have created something special through Marathon Kids. We get to teach kids why running is fun, but in return, they remind us why we enjoy the sport. We now have kids that reach out year-round to tell me about their running. They want to go run with their parents and they want to spend more time outside.”

Fleet Feet Marathon Kids

For anyone who is considering becoming a Marathon Kids run club coach, Eddie has this advice: “Do it, but make a promise that you will always be there for those kids. They think the world of you. Inspire them all to start running, and remind them that running can be fun. Watching them grow and develop through the program is amazing. Just wait for the first kid to come back after completing their first MARATHON! The excitement that you share with them will give you the greatest joy in life.”

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)

If you’ve got kids, you’re probably all too familiar with the summertime blues—that is, the constant, annual struggle to think of fun kids’ activities, preferably that don’t involve screen time, to help you and your family enjoy a simple summer together. Fun activities for kids’ summers don’t have to be elaborate, and they definitely don’t have to be expensive—in fact, most of our ideas below are perfectly free. Read on for 40 family fun ideas that are sure to engage kids of all ages, and parents, too!

Get Moving

Get Moving

1. Sign up for Walk and Talk, a free program for parents and kids to connect and get to know each other better while they take a walk. Marathon Kids provides the conversation starters and mileage logs to help you cover a full marathon together by summer’s end.

2. Have a jump rope contest—see which family member can jump the most times in a row, who can jump the highest, or who can achieve two turns of the rope in one jump.

3. Have a dance party in your living room, taking turns playing each family member’s favorite tunes.

4. Go hiking together at a state park or greenbelt.

5. Take a family walk after dinner, or even after dark (bring flashlights!).

6. Find an online kids’ yoga video so you can stretch and build strength together.

Get Creative

7. Make coffee filter art: Draw on a white coffee filter with washable markers. Then use a spray bottle filled with water to spritz your creations and make the colors run. Let the filters dry and then hang them in the window to enjoy their colorful beauty.

8. Make up your own ghost stories, and take turns telling them—at bedtime with a flashlight, if you dare.

9. Make puppets out of socks, gluing on googly eyes and yarn for hair or drawing faces on with markers, and then hold a puppet show.

10. Make a fort using couch cushions or dining chairs draped with sheets, and have snacks or just hang out inside.

11. Clip paper to an easel and fill water guns with watered-down paint to make squirt-paint art.

12. Make your own bean bag toss by cutting holes in a cardboard box and filling socks with dried beans or rice.

Get Outside

Get Outside

13. Linger outdoors at dusk to catch fireflies.

14. Stay outside past dark to gaze up at the stars and see how many constellations you can find—or make up your own.

15. Get a pack of sparklers and use them to trace your names or the words “I love you” in the air—even if it’s not the 4th of July.

16. Head to the park for swinging and sliding fun.

17. Roll down a grassy hill with your kids—it’ll make everyone giggle.

18. Hold a scavenger hunt in your yard or neighborhood, or make up a treasure map for your kids to find “treasure” that you’ve buried (think plastic beaded necklaces, pennies or cool erasers).

19. Blow bubbles, and see who can catch or pop the most.

Get Cool

20. Have a water balloon fight.

21. If you have a trampoline, toss water balloons while jumping!

22. Run through the sprinklers together.

23. Visit your local splash pad. Don’t forget to bring water bottles and snacks!

24. Visit your neighborhood pool and do “whale rides”—a kid or two riding on the parent’s back while the parent swims (head above water, to keep everyone safe!).

Get Out of Town

25. Take a quick day trip to a nearby town.

26. Visit an antique store or swimming hole that’s far enough away that you normally wouldn’t make it a priority.

27. Go camping at a state park.

28. Visit a state fair in another city or county.

Get Comfy Indoors

29. Set up your camping tent in the living room for a family sleepover, and enjoy true “glamping” with all the comforts of home.

30. Have a family card or board game night.

31. Play hide-and-seek. Switch it up by playing a zombie or reverse version of this timeless game. (In reverse hide-and-seek, only one person hides, while everyone else seeks. When someone finds the hider, they join them by squishing together into their hiding space—no matter how small it might be!)

Get Bookish

32. Head to your local public library for new books, magazines, videos or music to enjoy, or check their schedule for story times and other family fun listings.

33. Attend a reading by a children’s or young-adult author at a local bookstore.

34. Write a story or make a picture book together, collaborating on words, plot and artwork.

35. Have a family book club—everyone reads the same book, either together or independently, and then meets up for snacks and discussion about what they read.

Get Yummy

36. Make s’mores together in your back yard, or simply over the stove.

37. Make lemonade from scratch. Mix it up by adding fresh orange or lime juice, strawberry slices, or frozen berry puree.

38. Find the nearest fifties-style diner where you can enjoy a slice of pie, or make your own pie at home from scratch.

39. Make simple popsicles: Freeze a mixture of pineapple and orange juices, or any juice you enjoy, in popsicle molds, and enjoy their sweet, drippy goodness together.

40. Have a blindfolded taste test with ice cream treats, or have each family member review their ice cream like a professional food critic.

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.