For new physical education teachers or those who frequently substitute in PE classes, one of the biggest roadblocks is creating fun games that encourage students to exercise while engaging them by making the experience fun.
Finding indoor and outdoor PE games for elementary school students is a challenge for teachers without years of experience in this unique area of education. That’s why many new PE teachers and frequent PE substitutes can benefit from professional development classes focusing on developing productive and fun PE courses for students.
Elementary PE Courses From Around the World
Fresno Pacific University specializes in creating high-quality online professional development courses for educators. Two courses help educators develop expertise in creating PE games for elementary school students (K-6).
In Elementary Sports: Games From Around the World, teachers draw on ideas from games played by children worldwide. These activities expose students to a variety of cultures. Teachers learn to:
- Articulate a children’s games curriculum, including the materials needed, rules, regulations, safety and grade level.
- Integrate national standards into aspects of their teaching, including coursework and games lesson plans.
- Teach language, social studies and math through games emphasizing cultural differences and similarities.
- Learn how to encourage students to create their own games.
Educators learn about setting physical education goals and objectives in Teaching Elementary Physical Education. They delve into movement, learning, curriculum planning, class management and equipment. Educators learn to:
- Explore physical education goals and objectives based on national education standards.
- Describe guidelines for exercising children safely.
- Develop a PE curriculum for elementary school children.
- Teach rhythmic, manipulative and other physical activities.
- Align lessons to education standards.
Educators who complete either course earn three graduate-level professional development credits.
Elementary PE Game Ideas
For teachers who need ideas for PE games for elementary school students, one of the best ideas is to look at the games elementary school children play around the world. They include variations on a common game such as tag, including Honeycomb (El Salvador), Mother Raven's Eggs (Thailand) and Boa Constrictor (Ghana).
While available for many years, educators still find such games in the well-regarded book Play With Us: 100 Games From Around the World.
In the United States, some of the most popular PE games beyond the basics include the following:
Two students start as the “blob,” linking arms while they chase down other players. Every tagged student must join the blob, requiring that students collaborate as a team.
In this variation of Dodgeball, a pair of students start the game by throwing balls and attempting to hit students as they run across an open area. Every student hit with the ball joins the line of players throwing balls.
Head, Shoulders, Knees and Cones
Two students stand on either side of a cone. When the teacher calls out “heads,” “shoulders” or “knees,” students touch the appropriate part of their body. But when the teacher says “cone,” the students race to see who can pick up the cone first.
Simon Says Get Moving
This is the game of Simon Says, except every command involves some form of stretching and exercise, such as touching toes or doing jumping jacks.
There are many games teachers can create using a parachute. A favorite team game is to place beach balls on a stretched-out parachute with students holding it open, then have them bounce the balls and work together to keep them on the parachute.
Volcanoes and Ice Cream
In another popular team game, cones are placed on a playing area. Some have the wide base at the bottom—these are the volcanos. Others are flipped with the base at the top—the ice cream cones. Students split into volcano and ice cream teams. Then, for a predetermined amount of time—anywhere from a minute to three minutes—they flip the cones into their team's position. When the whistle blows, everyone must stop. The team with the most cones in their position wins.