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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 research is clear: There is a significant, positive and directly proportionate connection between school PE and academic performance. Children benefit from daily physical activity in multiple ways, many of which support their achievement in subjects like math, science, social studies and Language Arts. Schools and districts that prioritize movement during the school day are serving their students’ needs not just on a physical level, but also on social, psychological, emotional and academic levels as well. So why aren’t more schools making it a point to prioritize daily physical activity for their students?

Kids Aren’t Moving Their Bodies Enough—And Their Academic Performance is Suffering

In 2010, the federal government set a researched-based recommendation for how much moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) children should engage in on a daily basis for their health. The daily minimum that researchers determined was 60 minutes per day of activities like walking or running, playing basketball or tag, dancing or riding a bike, or anything else that gets the heart pumping. This daily minimum has been found to improve health, protect against preventable diseases, and promote overall quality of life.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children benefit in multiple ways when they meet that recommended minimum of 60 minutes of MVPA per day. Most schoolchildren aren’t able to meet that minimum, however, due to academic achievement standards and resulting pressure on schools to decrease recess and Physical Education time in favor of more core curricular instruction time. The unfortunate irony is that decreasing PE time in order to improve students’ academic performance is counterproductive.

Daily Physical Activity Improves Learning and Coping Skills

The physical health benefits of daily movement are perhaps the most obvious and well known to most people. PE class helps children develop their gross and fine motor skills and improve their strength, balance and cardiovascular health. Many may not recognize, however, that PE class also offers children myriad social, mental and emotional benefits that in turn improve their learning and academic performance.

For example, students learn better when their bodies are calm and in control, when they are able to focus, and when they possess strategies for managing stressful situations. Daily physical activity helps them develop all of these skills. Recess and PE help children develop empathy, cooperation and respect for others. Kids who move their bodies on a regular basis experience both personal and social benefits from working through the variety of challenges and feelings they experience during MVPA. All of these benefits translate directly to the classroom and academic achievement.

Daily physical activity has also been proven to offer cognitive benefits such as better concentration and mental alertness, which help children have the focus and energy they need to tackle academic challenges. Furthermore, physical activity has been shown to improve recall and memory, including the ability to move newly acquired information from short-term memory to long-term memory. This aids in students’ learning of facts, dates, vocabulary words and other important elements of their academic lessons.

Daily physical activity also improves student learning via the simple fact that improved physical health means fewer school days missed due to illness or injury, and more time in school means more opportunities for learning and academic achievement.

We Believe in the Long-Term Importance of a Physically Active Childhood

Research supporting the need for increased physical activity among people of all ages is abundantly clear. At Marathon Kids, we believe deeply in the importance of laying that foundation early. Children who develop the habit of being physically active from a young age have a much stronger likelihood of staying active throughout their lives, and that has multiple long-term health benefits.

The Marathon Kids program is based on cumulative mileage accrued over time. This emphasis on building slowly toward a long-term goal helps children develop skills that apply directly to their academic development as well. Setting goals and mapping out the step-by-step process to achieving them are skill sets that kids can use in all areas of their lives, including their core curriculum classes. Setting their own paces and tackling distances that match their own, individual abilities and fitness levels helps children learn to stretch themselves in ways that are right for them—regardless of what their peers might be accomplishing.

While the Marathon Kids mission focuses specifically on running (and walking), the benefits of regular exercise come from any type of aerobic physical activity. Still, research shows that the Marathon Kids program increases kids’ chances of meeting the recommended daily minimum of 60 minutes of MVPA. Schools that incorporate the Marathon Kids program into their daily schedules are making an important commitment to their students’ health in both the short and long term, by giving children the opportunity to improve their physical health, decrease their stress and anxiety levels, and shine academically.

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Are you familiar with Marathon Kids Connect, our all-new, completely FREE physical activity tracking app and reporting platform? We think all PE teachers and run club coaches should be, since we designed it with you and your student runners in mind, to make mileage and physical activity tracking and reporting a breeze! It bridges the gap between school and home, enabling students to continue working toward their physical activity goals even during periods of distance-learning.

The app and reporting platform are completely FREE. Registering for Marathon Kids Connect will give you access to free lesson plans and run club resources, enable you to effectively track students’ physical activity, and help you gather important data to support Physical Education and active minutes to meet mandates. To get started, simply create a free account!

USING MARATHON KIDS CONNECT TO CREATE A SAFE DISTANCE RUN CLUB

Kids can continue running together, gaining the benefits of community and accountability, while staying safe and healthy in a Safe Distance Run Club – a Marathon Kids club that prioritizes everyone’s wellbeing with safe, socially distant runs and best practices for good health.

The Marathon Kids Connect app makes hands-free lap-tracking a breeze: Coaches can download the app to their smartphones or tablets and set up a self-scan station where students scan their runner ID cards as they run past – no popsicle sticks, paper and pen or Wi-Fi needed. (The manual data entry feature is also still available for coaches who prefer it!)

Parents can also record miles their kids cover at home and submit the data through the platform for coach approval.

HELPING PE TEACHERS KEEP ADMINS IN THE LOOP

Daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity is incredibly important for kids’ health and wellbeing – not just physical, but mental and emotional as well. This has never been truer than now, since the spread of COVID-19 and all the uncertainty it has brought to families across the country. Kids need consistent physical activity and Marathon Kids Connect helps coaches show school administrators the difference they are making in keeping students active.

Our app and reporting platform make reporting a snap and allow you to share up-to-date impact dashboards with your school principal and other key stakeholders to demonstrate your runners’ progress and the importance of your running program.

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 YOUR SCHOOL STARTED

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Searching for PE games for small groups and striking out? Whether you’re seeking new ways to keep your kids active at home or heading up a class with just a handful of students, it can feel as if most sports and games are best suited for larger groups of kids. You might struggle to find activities that can be adapted to your little crew, but there are actually plenty that are fun in smaller numbers.

Small groups are also wonderful for teambuilding and honing both communication and cooperation skills. Plus, in many cases, kids get more chances to build their motor skills—which means everyone gets to be a VIP. From classics like Four Square to silly fun like Tissue Box Race, here are seven of the best PE games for small groups. May the games begin!

Parachute Ping-Pong

Kids stand in a circle, holding the edges of a parachute. (Don’t have a parachute? Use a bedsheet instead!) Place a ping-pong ball or any other small, lightweight ball on the parachute and have the kids raise and lower their edges, trying to keep the ping-pong aloft when it comes near them and send it off someone else’s edge if possible.

Simon Says

This one’s a classic for a reason—it’s just silly fun! Have “Simon” direct the group to perform various activities such as jumping jacks, mountain climbers, burpees, planks, squats and running in place. Everyone will crack up when someone accidentally does something Simon didn’t technically say to do. With a small group, there’s no need to count players out when they make a mistake; otherwise, the game will be over too fast. Staying in makes it more fun for everyone and ensures that everyone gets a good workout.

Up and Down

This game can be played with as few as two people, and works well with teams of two or three. A team of two children stands back to back, either interlocking arms or holding their hands in the air. The team tries to sit down and then stand back up again, all without losing contact with each other or falling down. If there are enough people in the group, once the teams of two have mastered the up-and-down movement, you can switch it up by adding a third into the mix or having one team link up with another. Teams can keep linking together until the whole group is sitting and standing together. This is a great activity for building both core strength and cooperative skills.

Pop-up Balloons

Blow up a balloon and tell children there are only three rules: The balloon must stay in the air, it can’t pop, and everyone must keep moving. Other than that, it’s open to interpretation! Kids can run, leap, twirl, somersault and dive as they go after the balloon. They can pop it up with their hands, heads or feet—whatever it takes to keep it aloft! This game is actually more fun with fewer players since everyone must actively contribute. If one balloon is too easy for your crew, blow up a few to keep the kids hopping!

Balancing Act

Give each player something to balance on their heads, such as a beanbag or stuffed animal, and turn on some music. As long as the music plays, the players must move around as quickly as possible while balancing their objects on their heads. When the teacher or leader pauses the music, everyone must freeze until the music starts again. If someone loses their object, they must freeze in place until another player comes to grab it and place it back on their head. To encourage even more teamwork and that helper spirit, award extra points to players who look for opportunities to assist frozen players.

Tissue Box Race

Two tissue boxes per player are needed for this simple game. To play, players slip their feet into their tissue boxes (one box per foot) and line up at the starting line. If you’re playing indoors, kids can race by sliding across carpet, wood or tile. If you’re outdoors, they can crack each other up by running clumsily toward the finish line.

Four Square

At least four players are needed to play this classic game, although it can work with two or three. Mark off a two-by-two grid of squares on the floor with chalk or masking tape. One child stands in each of the four squares; the person who starts the game bounces the ball in their own square once before tapping it into another player’s section. Players should let the ball bounce once in their own square before tapping it into someone else’s. If someone lets it bounce twice, misses it or sends it out of bounds, the play is over and the game resets. If there are enough players in the group, someone else can take the last player’s spot; otherwise, the game can keep resetting, cycling through players to start each new play.

More Free Resources

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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Looking for PE agility games to help you and your kids develop strength, speed, balance and bodily control? If so, you’re on a smart track. Agility is all about thinking fast under shifting conditions, and being quick and agile on your feet—important skills for people of all ages to develop in this modern and rapidly changing world. And we’ve got you covered!

Here are six fun PE agility games that you and your family can play at home, either indoors or outdoors. If your children play sports, they’ll definitely benefit from these activities—but everyone can benefit from increasing their facility with pivoting quickly, adapting to new conditions and heading in a different direction.

One of the best things about these games? Your kids won’t even realize they’re getting moderate to vigorous physical exercise as they play—they’re that much fun! If your children are school-aged, they might already be familiar with several of the following games—which means before you know it, they’ll be tweaking the rules and customizing the activities to make them even more dynamic.

Wacky Weave

Set out cones—or canned goods, stuffed animals or whatever else you have on hand—to create an obstacle course for kids to weave their way through. The closer together you place the cans or cones, the harder it is; the farther you place them apart, the easier it becomes (which can be an important adaptation for children who are younger, less balanced or less stable on their feet). Use a stopwatch to time their progress so each kid can compete against themselves, trying to best their own times. They can also dribble or kick a ball through the course for added challenge.

Agility Ladder

Set up your own agility ladder by marking off squares in a line indoors with masking tape or with chalk on the driveway or sidewalk. Then let children determine their own activities and rules: Will they hop on one foot in each square, or alternate feet while skipping every other square? Will they hop into the first square on both feet, the second square on just their left foot, and so on? Kids love making up their own sequences. You’ll be amazed at how many different ways they can figure out to use a simple ladder drawn on the ground!

Crazy Hoops

Set out colored hula hoops or use different colors of sidewalk chalk to draw large circles on the driveway, and have children jump from one circle to the next according to the colors called out by the leader. If you have several children playing at once who are all of similar abilities, you can mix it up (and make it competitive) by seeing who can process directions and leap into the right circle first. The last one in must jump rope or do pushups on the sidelines for the next round.

Fit-Tac-Toe

This game can be played as a warm-up or as the main event, and there are many different ways to structure it. Set out hula hoops in the pattern of a tic-tac-toe grid (three rows of three), or use chalk or tape to mark out a large tic-tac-toe grid on the ground. Children can play a traditional tic-tac-toe relay game by forming two lines a certain distance away from the grid. Each line is a team, and everyone on a team is given a shirt, bean bag or whatever items you have on hand, all of the same color. The first players from each line run to the grid, drop their items into their chosen section of the grid and then run back, so the next players can take their turns. It’s also fun to play a rousing game of fit-tac-to by giving kids set activities to perform, depending on which section of the grid they choose to run to—such as hopping, doing lunges, doing pushups, dancing or performing high-kicks.

Jump the Noodle

Children can play this in pairs or groups with a pool noodle: One holds the noodle close to the ground and swipes it back and forth, while the other players try to jump over it a set number of times without touching the noodle. The person holding the noodle can choose to speed it up, make it choppy, or otherwise switch things up so the jumpers must think quickly on their feet.

Sneak Attack

This game works best with several players, and requires at least three. Two or more players hold hands, facing one another, while one player outside the circle darts around, trying to grab a scarf (or colored shirt, stuffed animal or other item) that is tucked into one of the circle players’ back pockets. The players forming the circle together try not to drop hands as they twist and pivot together, turning the scarf-bearer away in order to protect the precious item. This activity builds teamwork skills along with agility—and, of course, it gives everyone a fit of the giggles.

More Free Resources

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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Finding the best PE games for middle school students is a surprisingly complex venture. Middle-schoolers are their own special breed, and for good reason. Stuck smack in the middle between elementary and high school, poised on the cusp of young adulthood, these pre- and early teens are dealing with social and academic pressures they’ve never faced before, and managing new stressors like heavy homework loads for the first time in their lives.

These factors make it more imperative than ever that they get regular, vigorous physical exercise to help them expend energy and manage stress levels, but as their social lives shift from the in-person playdates of their earlier childhood to a more isolated and disconnected online or phone-based forum, getting moving becomes less likely. As these children grapple with personal, familial and social issues such as emerging identities, puberty, divorce or bullying, it becomes more important than ever that they develop safe, healthy connections with adult mentors such as PE teachers and coaches.

And here’s a little secret about this age group: While middle-school kids definitely want to feel grown-up, they also still want to play like kids. PE games for middle school students that incorporate teamwork and empathy are perfect for this age group because they enable older children to learn to work together and accept each other’s differences along with their own strengths and challenges. With all of that in mind, here are six of the best PE games for middle school students, to get their bodies moving.

PE Games for Middle School

Relay Races

Classic and time-honored for a reason, relay races are excellent for middle-schoolers since they allow them to exercise their natural competitive sides while also developing teamwork skills along with their ability to empathize with, support and cheer on their classmates. Relays are also easy to set up regardless of space or equipment limitations; any area will do, and you don’t even need batons for the teams—they can simply high-five one another when each student completes a leg of the race so the next can take over.

Disc Golf

This game, which can be played indoors or outdoors, is structured similarly to a relay race and has similar benefits—helping middle-schoolers develop their hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills along with teamwork and related social skills. Use foam discs for safety, and instruct students not to run with the discs; they must transport their discs from the start line to the finish by catching it, pivoting if needed, and then passing it to others on their team.

Ball and Bucket

For equipment, this game requires only bouncy balls and some type of receptacle for catching the balls, such as buckets or cardboard boxes. Students are divided into teams; each team receives a ball and instructions to take five minutes to devise a creative strategy for getting the ball from the start line into the bucket at the finish line in a maximum of four moves. Teams must work together to determine unique moves and then execute them. Anything that’s safe is fair game: They can toss the ball, roll it, bounce it, or use their bodies in creative ways to reach the goal. This game taps into middle-schoolers’ need for silly play as it develops their collaborative and creative-thinking skills.

Obstacle Course

Obstacle courses are wonderful because they’re so easily customized to each space, equipment set and student group—and middle school students love to challenge themselves! PE teachers can get as creative as they like in setting up the course to test their students’ abilities on both physical and mental levels. Whether you’re in the gym or outside, incorporate ropes, balls, discs, hula hoops, ladders, balance beams, relay sticks and anything else at hand to create a fun course that will keep middle-schoolers smiling—and moving.

Capture the Flag

This classic game works best with two to four teams of students, each of which will work together to devise strategies for stealing the opposing teams’ flags without getting caught. Each team has its own flag and territory within the play area; inside their own territory, players are safe, but they must venture into other teams’ territories in order to steal their flags. If caught, or tagged, while in another territory, students must perform some PE-oriented task, such as a set number of jumping jacks, burpees or pushups, before they can return “home.” Students should be reminded that Capture the Flag is less about guarding their own team’s flag and more about working with their teammates on creative plans for nabbing the win.

Free-Choice Fridays

Middle school students are like kids of any other age: They love to feel independent and in control. Thus, Free-Choice Fridays are wonderful to implement with this age group so they can exercise some free will in their physical education. Each Friday (or whichever day of the week works best for your schedule), give students a portion of class time to determine which game they’ll play as a class. Majority rules, but they do have to switch it up each week. One of the best things about Free-Choice Fridays? It gives PE teachers a window into which games and activities students like best, to help you plan lessons for the coming weeks!

Free Resources for PE Teachers

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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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. 

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Marathon Kids’ youth running program is now FREE and includes access to Marathon Kids Connect, a best-in-class activity-tracking mobile app and cloud-based reporting platform!

Marathon Kids Connect - the free PE program

In addition to our free PE program, we’re happy to offer a host of free resources to make this the best year yet for you and your students!

Printable Resources

Marathon Kids Mileage Log (English and Spanish)
Mini Mileage Log
Activity Log
Running Games
Certificate of Accomplishment

Healthy Running for Kids

23 Warm-Up Activities for Kids
23 Cool-Down Activities for Kids
Cold Weather Running Tips
Hot Weather Running Tips

Indoor and Outdoor PE Games

Best Safe Distance Indoor Games
Best Indoor PE Games
8 Great Outdoor PE Games for Kids
Best Indoor Recess Games
5 PE Running Games
6 Agility Games

PE Games for Kids

PE Games for Small Groups
6 PE Games for Middle School Students
Best Adapted and Inclusive PE Games
Top Ten Twists on Tag!
5 Team Building Games for Kids

Motivation for Kids

Healthy Eating Fuel Logs
Motivational Tips

Themed PE Activities

Five Spooky PE Games for Halloween!
Five Festive Holiday PE Games

The Importance of Physical Activity

Essential Connection Between PE and Academic Performance
Daily Physical Activity Can Alleviate Anxiety and Depression in Children

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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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Marathon Kids was founded in 1995 with the simple idea that kids who set distance goals and track their progress on a mileage log will make healthier choices, both on and off the track.

Research findings from three independent studies on the Marathon Kids program confirmed this to be true. These studies affirmed that our program was making a difference in participants’ lives, and determined our six evidence-based pillars to long-term healthy behavior adoption.

This year, researchers from UTHealth School of Public Health – Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living conducted another independent analysis of the Marathon Kids program and its effectiveness with elementary school children. They were exploring if coach-led Marathon Kids run clubs help children reach the recommended daily minimum of 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), and to gather insights about intrapersonal factors such as goal-setting and self-efficacy.

Is the Marathon Kids program helping kids make better choices and reach their goals?

The results of this analysis revealed that the Marathon Kids program does help children reach their 60 daily minutes of MVPA, especially when their schools don’t have adequate Physical Education class time for students to meet that goal. The analysis found that the Marathon Kids program can help provide more than 100 additional minutes of MVPA outside of P.E. in the form of walking and running, an important contribution to the school ecosystem to provide additional opportunities for kids to engage in physical activity.

The analysis also found that the Marathon Kids program helps students with setting, working toward, and achieving goals. The structure of the program, based on cumulative mileage logged over time by walking or running, makes it accessible to students of all abilities and fitness levels. Of the students who set a goal of covering 104.8 miles (the distance of four marathons) within one Marathon Kids season, 44.7% of them reached or exceeded that goal. Over half—56.4%—covered at least three marathons, 69.7% completed two, and 87.5% completed at least one full marathon.

Are coaches satisfied with the program?

The study found a high rate of satisfaction among Marathon Kids coaches with the program, with a mean satisfaction score of 50.6 (with 56 representing the highest possible score), and more than 92% of coaches reporting they plan to implement the program with their students again next year. Furthermore, 21.6% of coach respondents indicated greater than 100% participation, meaning even more students participated than expected after the initial registration period. Coach respondents reported high overall confidence in implementing their run clubs, with a mean score for the total sample of 4.5 (with 5 being the highest possible score).

What are some coach-recommended best practices?

The respondents agreed it’s essential to provide student runners with praise and recognition. Finding ways to celebrate their students’ achievements, both major and minor, was a priority for many of the respondents. Nearly half held a season kick-off event or ceremony, while nearly three-quarters hosted a Finishers celebration or ceremony at season’s end. Others announced finishers at their schools’ Student of the Month assemblies or designated a Runner of the Week. One coach suggested finding ways to praise all kids, “not just the one who ran the most that day. I have a small running club, but I always try to give each child some type of compliment that makes them want to keep coming back.”

Other coach-recommended best practices include providing the runners with regular encouragement and motivation, not just at the start or end of the season, but throughout. Some made it a regular practice to discuss their students’ efforts and achievements during P.E. class. “I always recognize achievement in my gym,” one coach said, “regardless how small. Gains are gains!” Another emphasized the importance of teamwork and good sportsmanship, and providing social support for the student runners. “Encourage kids to cheer each other on, and not to treat it like a competition.”

The Marathon Kids program is helping children build fitness and healthy habits for life. These student runners are also learning to set goals and work steadily toward them as they value others’ achievements in the same process. Developing such important life skills from an early age will benefit everyone, not just as individuals, but as a community.