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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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Running is one of the simplest and most basic ways the human body is built to move—which is probably why it’s on almost every physical education teacher’s agenda, regardless of their students’ ages or grade levels. But just because running is fundamental doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Instead of heading out to the track to run laps, why not spice up the routine?

Fun PE Running Games

The following five PE running games are fun for students of all ages and will help you keep things fresh for your gym class.

1. Red Light, Green Light

This classic running game is great for interval training as well as building physical endurance and listening skills. Students line up at the starting line, and as soon as the teacher calls out “green light,” everyone starts running as fast as they can toward the finish line. When the teacher calls out “red light,” all the runners must freeze in place until the teacher calls out “green light” again. If the teacher calls out “yellow light,” the students must slow their pace until it’s time to freeze or run once again.

2. Band-Aid Tag

There is one Tagger and two Doctors in this silly twist on tag and the rest of the students are potential Patients who run to avoid being tagged. When runners are tagged, they must hold a “Band-Aid” (a hand) over the spot where they were tagged and continue running. If they’re tagged a second time, they have to hold their other hand over that spot as well and keep going. If they’re tagged a third time, they’re out of “Band-Aids” and become Patients, which means they have to freeze and wait for the Doctors to come “operate.” Both Doctors must tag a frozen player at the same time in order to “operate” and “heal,” or un-freeze, the Patient, so the player can start running again. This game gets goofy when the Tagger tags runners on silly or hard-to-reach spots like their heads, knees or backs! 

3. Sharks And Minnows

This game might seem childish, but it can be lots of silly fun for all ages and in almost any space, whether you’re holding class in a gym, on a basketball court or in a field. Designate one student as the shark, and have them stand in the center of the play area. All the other students are the fish and should line up side-by-side at one end of the area. All the fish call out in unison, “Shark, shark, may we cross your ocean?” When the shark responds, “Go, minnows, go,” every student runs for the far side of the play area, trying to avoid being “eaten” (tagged) by the shark. If a runner is tagged, he or she then becomes a second shark and works with the first to tag other fish. The round or game is over when there’s only one minnow left.

4. Wacky Laps

There are times when running laps around a quarter- or eighth-mile track is necessary—but it never has to be boring. To make running laps more fun and interesting for your students, introduce Wacky Laps, in which they run every lap in a different (and wacky!) way. Students can run the first lap to music, the second lap backward, and the third lap as slowly as possible. They can run a lap weaving among cones, another while holding hands with a partner and another jumping over mini-hurdles (such as bean bags or any other small item that won’t trip them up). Letting the students brainstorm their own Wacky Laps is another great way to keep them engaged.

5. Criss-Cross Relay

Relay races are another great way to blend running practice with interval training and teamwork. For this whole-group relay, divide students into four groups and have each group line up in the four corners of your gym or play area. Designate the first runner—the first student in one of the lines, who will run diagonally across the play area to the group at the far corner, high-five the first runner there, and go to the end of that line. Meanwhile, the second runner (who received the high-five) has taken off to the third corner’s group to high-five that group’s first runner and head to the back of that line. That third runner will run diagonally across the area to high-five the fourth group’s first runner—and so on. The running pattern follows a continuous hourglass shape. To switch things up, have two students run at a time, and always diagonally across the play area, to create an X-shaped running pattern.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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