The best way to get your Students/Campers to exercise is to make it fun. Most of the time it’s easy to disguise the exercise with a fun activity, but you can make the more obvious exercises just as fun.
Follow The Leader
- Place class in groups of 4-6.
- Each group will start in a straight line.
- The player in front of the line will lead his/her group in any direction with a hop, skip, jump, jog, sprint, etc…
- When you say rotate the leader will go to the end of the line and the now each group will have a new leader.
- This a great 3-5 minute game/warm-up.
Throw On The Go
Equipment: 1 ball per 2 students. Type of ball is up to you. Yarn, foam, basketball, rubber ball.
- Place all students with a partner.
- When you start the music, your students will move around the gym passing and catching with the partner.
- Require students to make short throws when the activity begins.
- When the music stops, each pair must perform chest passes.
- Once the music begins again, now the pairs can make longer throws.
- Music stops and pairs must perform a throw each time the do a sit-up as they face their partner.
- Music starts again, but not their rolling the ball to their partner as they move around the gym.
- OPTION: Every time a pass is dropped while the music is playing the pair must perform an exercise such as 5 push-ups, jumping jacks, wall seat, etc…
Steal The Tail
Equipment: 1 tail per group of 3-5 players. A football flag is ideal for a tail.
- All of the players but 1, will form a circle and hold hands.
- The flag will tuck in the back pants or pocket of one player.
- The player on the outside of the circle will attempt to steal the flag.
- The group in a circle may only rotate clockwise and counter clockwise. They’re not allowed to run around the gym.
- Each round should be 30 seconds or less.
- Rotate taggers and player with the tail.
- Note: If a group
3 Legged Tag
- I use old pinnies to tie the right and left leg of partners, but you may have something different in your storage room.
- This is played just like freeze tag.
- If a pair is tagged by one of the teams that are it, then they’ll freeze until another team gives them a high five.
- Pinnies are used to indicate which players are it.
Bean Bag Attack
Equipment: Bean bags and 4 cones.
- This is a relay race. Place as many bean bags as you wish in the center of your gym.
- Each team is placed behind a cone in the 4 corners of the gym.
- On your signal, the first player in line will run to the center and bring a bean bag back to their team.
- The next player in line will go as soon as their teammate returns.
- This process will repeat until all the bean bags are taken from the middle.
- At the completion of the race, each team will count up their bean bags to see who has the most.
Sideline To Sideline Relay
- This race can be performed solo, pairs and groups of 3 or 4.
- Players will start on one sideline with their nearest players closest foot.
- On your signal, the class will race by shuffling sideways to the other sideline.
- OPTION: You can have the teams race to the opposite sideline or return back to the original sideline. This can be done base line to base line, if you have the space.
Equipment: Pinnies or Wrist bands and Tokens or erasers
- The offensive team starts on their goal line. 5 players are given a token or eraser in their hand, but the defensive team on the other goal line is unaware of who has a token.
- The offensive team will have football flags in their back pocket or pants.
- The offensive team will receive a point for every player with a token that made it successfully into the end zone of the defense.
- Alternate offense and defense.
Equipment: Foam football, football flags, cones & Pinnies or Wrist bands.
- I recommend setting up two games simultaneously with cones diving the center of the gym base line to base line.
- Each player has a football flag tucked in their back pocket or back of their pants.
- The teacher can start each game with a toss of the football.
- The player that catches the ball can run to either end zone for a touch down.
- After a score, the player that scored will go to the center of the field and toss it up.
- If a players flag is pulled, they must toss the ball up in the air.
- VARIATION: Play with a partner and incorporate laterals. Option: Add forward passes.
Equipment: Football flags and Foam footballs.
- Place for of your students in the center circle of your gym. You can use poly spots if your circle doesn’t work for this game.
- The players in the center have flag tucked in the pocket or pants.
- On your signal, the players in the center will attempt to run off the field, over the sideline or goal line.
- The other players will start the game, by spreading out on the goal line and side lines.
- Outside players (defense) will attempt to pull a flag of the running backs.
- The defender that pulled the flag will keep it and become a running back for the next round.
- If a running back successfully crosses the sideline or goal line, they have a choice to play again in the second round or give the flag to another player.
- OPTION: If you want to keep score, players can earn a point every time they get off the field with their flag.
Vacancy (Tag) CLICK HERE to check out more tag games.
Equipment: Poly Spots & Pinnies or Wrist bands
- Place poly spots in a large circle in your gym or on the base lines and side lines of the basketball court.
- Give each student a number. For example, if you have 25 kids in your class everyone will receive a number 1-25.
- Place 6 taggers to start in the center of the gym.
- The other players must start the game on any poly spot.
- Call 2-4 numbers at the same time. Players must look for a vacant spot without getting tagged.
- If a player is tagged, they must perform an exercise before re-entering the game.
- VARIATION: If a player is out, they must take their poly spot out of the game and not come back in until the game is over. My Students climb on the rock wall until the next game. You can set up stations for players that are out, if you don’t have a rock wall.
- VARIATION: I have X’s (squad spots) painted all over the gym and I use these for this game instead of poly spots. The game is played the same way, but now players must look for vacant x’s. You may have something like this in your gym.
- Balance on right foot.
- Balance on left foot.
- Balance on right foot with eyes closed.
- Balance on left foot with eyes closed.
- Jump up.
- Balance on one foot and touch other foot.
- Balance on one foot and touch other foot with eyes closed.
- Jump into a squat.
- Lay flat on stomach and chest.
- Jump up into a squat position.
- Jump up into a burpee or jumping burpee.
- Perform a plank, right side plank, left side plank.
- Perform an air jack. This is a jumping jack in the air.
- Balance on one foot while touching nose,ear, lips, etc…. Same with eyes closed.
- Hold a push-up in the up position.
- Bear crawl or crab walk.
- Upside down turtle.
- Mountain climbers.
- Knee hugs.
- Running in place.
- Chopping wood.
- Jump rope without the rope.
- NOTE: As you can see, you have an endless amount of movements to use for this game. Students will enjoy the competition.
- OPTION: Students that get out can perform an exercise to get back into the game, such as 20 push-ups, 30 second wall seat or 30 jumping jacks.
Babies On The Back
Equipment: Bean bags
- Spread out bean bags all over the gym.
- Your students must walk around the gym on their hands and feet.
- When they come to a bean bag, they must go in a down push up position and place the bean bag on their back.
- The player will then push up and continue walking on their hands and feet.
- The player with the most bean bags on their bag will win the game.
- A few 1 minute rounds are perfect for this game.
Physical Fitness Testing-Should It Still Be Used In Schools?
Gone are the days of the Presidential Physical Fitness Test where kids are forced into performing physical exercises in front of their peers.
- Is this a good decision?
- Should kids be forced to do this test?
- What about the kids that do poorly on the test?
- Do we want to make kids feel bad about themselves?
- Can they benefit from this test?
In my school they recognize students for their success in Art, Music, Reading, Spelling Bee and more…., so why not Fitness? We’re in a day and age where children could spend all day watching youtube and playing Xbox. I’ll admit Fortnite is awesome, but there has to be a balance.
My own children have a weekend and Summer rule. No electronics allowed 12-4pm, which includes phones, laptops, tv, etc…. It’s painful for them in the first few minutes, but before you know it, they use their imagination, play outside and look for friends.
- I 100% believe students should be tested and recognized for success in physical fitness, but my approach is a little different.
- My approach is somewhere between old school and the everyone wins approach.
- The only way some students get recognized is thru physical fitness.
- You can be the judge.
- Instead of taking 5-7 tests on physical tests, my students are allowed to choose 3 tests.
- They’re given a 2 month notice before testing begins. Students are given ideas for training on their own.
- I give reminders every week and ask students if they’re doing any training. It becomes a discussion for a few minutes every so often leading up to the test.
- Nutrition is discussed as often as training. We even do a nutrition relay to teach about sugar, fats, sodium, protein, carbs and more.
- Students are continuously reminded to focus on improving for themselves.
- I don’t have any set scores for the students to achieve. They make their own goals. For example; I did 37 curl-ups in one minute last week in my living room, so my goal is 42 next month.
- We express learning what we’re good at and where we need to improve.
- I even show students how poor my flexibility is and I make a goal for myself. I’m good at pull-ups, but I set a goal to do more. It’s good for the kids to see their phys. ed. teacher participating.
- Of course not everyone can do this, but it’s an option. Most of us should be able to participate in the flexibility test. It’s not necessary to do 3 tests.
- When training in class the students participate in stations with groups, partners or solo. Whatever makes them comfortable. At least half of the stations are not on the test, such as rock wall climbing and rope jumping.
- We only train a few times in physical education class, but we talk about training at home for 2 months. This test is more for students to help students recognize the importance of a strong healthy body. I’ll tell the students If your practicing for a spelling test and you only got half of them correct, what would you do? Obviously the kids know they have to study more and I relate that to training their body.
- On the days we do the physical fitness tests, students can choose 3-5 tests and we only perform 1 or 2 a class. Just like the training, students can choose to take the test in groups, partner or solo. I have no intention of embarrassing the student who you know can only do a few curl-ups or not finish the 1/4 mile. These students were able to train without embarrassment and able to be tested without embarrassment. At the same time they learned where they were successful and where they need to improve.
How Do My Students Get Recognized?
- Test choices: Pull-ups, Flex Arm Hang, V-Sit, Curl-ups, Shuttle-Run and 1/4 mile & 1/2 mile. I shorten the run tests a little bit, but I don’t tell the kids.
- When I discuss goals with my students, we talk about improving from last year, improving from two months ago. Getting two more reps in pull-ups, 1 seconds faster in the shuttle-run, not walking in the 1/4 mile run etc….
- We focus on many goals, but students can be recognized by finishing in the top 10 for one of the events. All 2nd and 3rd graders compete for this in each event and 4th an 5th graders are in another competition.
- Updates are constantly posted in the Gymnasium. It’s a lot of work, but the kids love it!
- The kids that are still in the top 10 once everyone is done testing, will be recognized in front of the school, along with the artists, musicians, spelling bee winner and so on…
Athlete Of The Year
- This is another award that I give out. It may be something you want to add to your program.
- I give a 1st,2nd and 3rd place award for athlete of the year for each grade level for boys and girls.
- VERY IMPORTANT! My students know they won’t be considered for their athletically ability if they don’t meet the following qualifications; behave, good sportsmanship, leader, help others and be prepared (attire). If they meet these standards, than they can be judged on their athletic ability.
- My students will often ask me if the physical fitness testing is more important than the other sports we play all school year and I say no. All activities are just as important.
- I’ve taught K-5th, but now I only teach 2nd-5th, so I give out a total of at least 6 awards per grade level. 3 for the boys and 3 for the girls. I usually give some ties for 2nd and 3rd place, it may add up closer to 14 awards per grade level.
- 2nd and 3rd place winners receive a certificate and 1st place receives a medal, ribbon and certificate. The medal has their full name and athlete of the year inscribed. I buy the medals at Dinn Bros every year for about $3.99 each which includes 25 letters inscribed on the back and all sport design on the front plus the ribbon.
- Focus at the youth level should be on improvement and enjoyment. At the same time, there is no need to completely shelter our children from a challenge where they may succeed or fail. As adults we all know this is a part of life. There are different levels of success. We need to show our children we are proud of their effort. A child who improved their curl-up score by 5 should be praised along with the child that finished with a top 10 score.
I would love to hear your opinion, please feel free to leave a comment or question below.
- There are so many ways to set up you’re own course. I will list how I set up one of my course, but you can adjust to your gym set up and what supplies you have available.
- My course starts on the endless bridge (bleachers) I have two rows of bleachers with a separation in the middle. Poly spots are placed back and forth from 1st row to 2nd row and students must step on each spot.
- At the separation I have a balance beam set up that they must walk across. It’s about 1 1/2 feet off the ground.
- Once they cross the bridge balance beam they must crawl thru the cave (tarps placed over the bleachers).
- When they reach the end of the endless bridge, they will come to the sky way (pull up bar) the must climb across without falling onto the killer chickens below on a mat.
- At this point they will reach the mountainside (rock wall).
- After they complete the mountainside I have an agility ladder that they step thru.
- At this point they reach another balance beam, connected to two ball carts. The students must attempt to hang upside down using hand and feet working their way over a mat.
- I than have a Vine (tug of war rope tied to the basketball hoop), they must swing across the crocodiles below.
- I have a lower basketball hoop that I tie two other tug of war ropes and the kids attempt to go from one rope to the other. They use their feet on the wall.
- Now I use tires, but you can use hula hoops. One foot in and out of the tires as you would see in a typical obstacle course.
- They finish, by going thru the cave ( I have parachutes and some old bed sheets that are placed over small goals).
More ninja course ideas
- In and out of cones.
- Hurdles & Arches.
Physical Fitness Stations
- With the use of cones, break up your gym into different stations.
- If you have a ROCK WALL, make it as one of your stations.
- JUMP ROPES: You can teach all the basic styles of jumping rope for singles but group rope jumping is a good way to mix things up in your lesson and have some fun while you’re at it.
- ELIMINATION(LONG ROPE): Have the class line up in a straight line. One student at a time run thru the turning rope, then 2 at a time, 3 at a time and so on.
- LONG ROPE BALL TOSS: Groups of 4. Two students turn the rope, one student jumps while playing a game of catch with the student not jumping.
- LONG ROPE RING TOSS: Two jumpers at the same time toss a deck ring back and forth. Option: 2 deck rings at the same time.
- LONG ROPE BASKETS: One jumper receives pass from a non jumper and attempts to make basket in the basketball hoop.
- TIP: You can tie the rope to something, if you don’t have another teacher in the gym.
- HULA HOOPING.
- HOPPITY HOPS.
- DIPS: Using bleacher or chairs.
- THE CAN CAN: Using a chair or bleachers, one foot touches the first bleacher and the other is on the floor. Alternate back in forth mimicking the can can. (Similar to jogging in place.
- CONE TOUCH: 4 cones approximately 20 feet apart. Sprint diagonally from back right cone to front left, job backwards to back left cone, sprint forward to front right cone, jog backwards to back right cone and repeat.
- CONES UP CONES DOWN: Half of the students in the station will attempt to knock cones down and the other half will set them up. Using hands only.
- GLIDER PUSHES: You can use old rags. The kids will place one rag in each hand on the floor. Only their feet and hands will be on the floor, They will proceed to run with their feet and slide the rags along the floor with their hands.
- FOLLOW THE LEADER: One student in each station choose an exercise that everyone must perform together. This can also be used with an entire class setting. One student at a time goes to the center of the gym, with the class surrounding them a circle. The leader will choose an exercise and the amount of rep’s.
- 1. HIGH 5 PUSH-UPS: Each partner gets in a push up position and proceeds to high five their partner with opposite hands. Left to right and right to left.
- This can be made into a competition by counting.
- 2. STAND UPS: Sitting back to back with elbows locked, partners attempt to stand up. Feet to feet in sit position, grab partners hands and attempt to stand up and you can also attempt to sit back down, still feet to feet while holding hands.
- 3. PARTNER PUSH: Each partner stands on a hula hoop facing each other. They go palm to palm with both hands and attempt to push the other partner off the hoop.
- 4. BEAN BAG TOSS & RUN: Partners start at close range near the half court line with a toss. After they toss, each player runs to the base line behind them and back.
- When they return to the center, they’ll separate and make a longer toss.
- This process repeats until the bean bag is dropped. If the bean bag is dropped both partners will have to do a designated exercise and start over.
- Set a designated distance for each team to accomplish.
- 5. BEAN BAG HOCKEY: Partners are in the push-up position.
- Their feet and hand spread apart.
- Each partner attempts to pass a bean bag thru the partners arms and thru the legs for a point while holding the push up position.
- If a player falls out of the push up position, the point will not count.
- 6. GRAB & GO: Each partner is in the push-up position at the half court line, with a bean bag on the line.
- On the signal of the teacher, the students will attempt to grab the bean bag. 1 point for grabbing the bean before your partner. OPTION: After the bean bag is grabbed the player with the bean bag will attempt to put the bean bag in a bucket 30 feet behind them for an additional point.
- VARIATION: You can simply have the player with the bean bag touch the wall behind them instead of using a bucket.
- 7. SHADOW: One partner runs, hops, skips or just moves in a bunch of silly movement and the other partner attempts to shadow them.
- SHADOW VARIATION: Players stay in one confined area with the movements instead of moving all over the gym.
- 8. FEET TO FEET: Partner’s sit and put the feet together, pushing back and forth as if they’re riding a bike.
- 9. CONES UP CONES DOWN: Set up 4 cones in a confined area. One partner is standing cones up and the other is trying to knock them down. Hands only.
- 11. JUMP & PUSH: One partner performs push ups while the other jumps over the lower legs side to side.
- 12. SCARF TOSS: Partners stand approximately 10 feet apart. Each partner throws a scarf up in the air and they each try to catch it before it falls to the ground. The can be done with a ball. Possibly allowing one bounce before the catch.
- 13. HOOP THRU: One partner is in the push-up position and the other partner runs a hula hoop thru their partner. The player in the push-up position must jump their feet up to get hoop thru and then their hands. You can reverse the direction and go hands first. (It’s similar to when a magician runs a hoop thru their assistant to show there’s no wire’s)
- 14. POP & GO: One partner lays on the ground, chest down. The other partner drops a ball with some bounce to it. The partner on the ground must jump up and catch the ball off one bounce.
- Variation: Partner has one ball in each hand and only drops one ball, so the player on the ground must anticipate which ball is going to drop.
- Another variation: Partner with the ball has a choice to drop ball or toss in the air. If the ball is tossed in the air, they must catch it before it hits the ground.
- 15. BALL EXCHANGE: One partner on opposite sideline’s from each other. Use any type of ball that has some bounce to it.
- Roll the ball toward your partner and catch up to the ball before the ball reaches your partner. Your Partner will perform the same exercise while you catch your breathe.
- Variation: Perform an exercise before catching up to the ball such as a burpee or 3 push-ups, etc…
- 1. A,B,C PUSH-UPS: Students get in the push up position. One hand at a time will touch their shoulder/chest area. Right hand to left shoulder and left hand to right.
- 2. BURPEE’S
Increased difficulty option: Bring knees to chest when jumping.
- 3. PLANKS.
- 4. JUMPING JACKS.
- 5. MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS.
- 6. AIR JACKS. Jump while performing.
- 7. JOGGING IN PLACE.
- 8. WALL SEAT.
- 9. POP & GO: This can be done almost like the partner pop and go. You can lay on the ground chest down, toss ball and catch off one bounce.
- Variation: Start in a standing position, toss ball, drop to chest and pop up to make the catch.
- 10. DIPS: Using bleachers or chairs.
- 11. THE CAN CAN: Using a chair or bleachers, one foot touches the first bleacher and the other is on the floor. Alternate back in forth mimicking the can can. (Similar to jogging in place.
- 12. CONE TOUCH: 4 cones approximately 20 feet apart. Sprint diagonally from back right cone to front left, job backwards to back left cone, sprint forward to front right cone, jog backwards to back right cone and repeat.
- 13. GLIDER PUSHES: You can use old rags. The kids will place one rag in each hand on the floor. Only their feet and hands will be on the floor. They will proceed to run with their feet and slide the rags along the floor with their hands.
- 14. ROLL & GO: Roll ball to one end of the gym. Catch up to it before it hits wall. Same can be done with a hula hoop.
- 15. BATTLE ROPE EXERCISES: Alternating waves, Hip toss, In & out waves, seated hip toss, waves together,Out to in, In to out, Jumping jacks, Slams, Side to side waves, Shuffle, and Skiiers.
- TIP: Tug of war ropes are lighter than most battle ropes and you can always use a long jump if needed.
- 1.CIRCLE BALL: 4-8 players in a circle facing each other. Feet are spread apart and making contact with other players in the circle.
- Object is to strike the ball so it rolls between the legs of another player.
- If the ball goes thru the legs of another player they must perform an exercise of your choice.
- Variation: If the ball goes thru a players legs, all players must do the exercise except the player that struck the ball.
- 2. THROW & GO: This game is best played in groups of 3. One player throws a ball anywhere in the gym and the other two players attempt to retrieve the ball first.
- The player that lost, will now compete vs the player who just threw the ball.
- TIP: No one knows your students/campers better than you, so try and match them up by speed.
- TIP: Give each player a number 1-3. Every minute rotate one of the numbers to a new group.
- 3. ME FIRST: Scatter different color poly spots all throughout the gym. Students will skip, walk fast, jog around the gym. When you call a color, they must stand on the correct color spot. Players that don’t stand on the color called but perform the designated exercise. 5 push-ups, air jacks, sprints, etc…
Equipment: Aerobic Steps (If you don’t have steps, anything will do)
- You don’t need to be an instructor to lead a 5 minute warm-up for your class.
- I teach 5 minute routines to my classes. After a few lessons, ask for volunteers to lead the routine. The kids are more than capable.
- MOVEMENT IDEAS
- Step up & down.
- Up & down sprint.
- Up & kick.
- Step, knee up.
- Step up with knee, side to side.
- Around the world: Up & down while moving in a circular pattern.
- Add arm movements. Jumping jack movements, boxing, etc…
I hope you enjoyed these activities! I’m always looking for more, so please feel free to share!