Games for K-6 as a non PE teacher - help a gal out
September 7, 2016 8:34 PM   Subscribe

Hi everyone! I'm working for an outdoor adventure company that is coming into a school system for 2 hour blocks per grade (typically 30 min stations) while they do professional development and we work with the students on "enrichment".

My own background and knowledge in the outdoor adventure field is vastly behind my coworkers but I make up for it in enthusiasm. I'm looking for some great games or ideas! One school is going to be ESL students in K and 1st, so any help in that realm would be great! Another school is 5-8th grade so a variety of games is welcome!

Thank you so much in advance meta filter community!

PS. One game I played the other day was Marco Polo, inside & within boundaries. Kept all the kids entertained for 15 mins and was great exercise
posted by Bossypants to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
What kind of space are you working with? And do you want your activities outdoor- themed?

Popular activities from my camp counselor days included a game where kids were herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores, and had to run around and collect cards for water and food (food type depending on animal type). Omnivores could steal food cards (by tagging the kid) from herbivores and carnivores. Carnivores could only tag other carnivores. Herbivores could not tag anyone but their food cards were most plentiful. If you ran out of cards, you were out of the game.

We also played Evolution rock-paper-scissors, where as you beat other kids, you become the next level of creature. If you lost, you went back a step. Twist: you can only battle kids at the same level as you. I think we played with tadpole-frog-moose-dragon, or some equally fanciful progression. This game moves very quickly and was good at engaging quieter kids.

Depending on the group and the school's policies, older kids might be able to handle activities like the trust sit, where everyone stands in a circle, then sits on the lap of the person behind them. They might like the kind of thinking games where everyone stands on a balance beam/2x4/line on the floor and without leaving the beam and without speaking, have to line up in order of birthday or middle initial.

Smaller kids might enjoy Mother May I or some kind of obstacle course.
posted by thewestinggame at 8:51 PM on September 7, 2016

Check out the games library of Playworks. They're a company founded on healthy play to promote positive physical and emotional health. You can sort by quick ice-breakers and transitional games (ie, games that end with everyone lined up in a row to move on to the next activity), or longer games. They have a lot of group-focused games, which involve everyone playing, and very little "out" time or just one winner. Also, they encourage games where even if you get tagged "out" you do a silly motion (like stomping each foot, pumping your fist, and yelling I'M AWESOME five times) and then getting back in the game.
posted by missmary6 at 8:58 PM on September 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

When I subbed for PE, we usually played sharks & minnows and hot dog tag.

For sharks & minnows: All but two of the students form a line. The two students not in line are the sharks, the rest are minnows. The minnows have to run together as a line, and the sharks have to tag them. If a minnow is tagged, they become a shark. The last minnow is the winner.

Hot dog tag: Two kids are it, and they have to tag the others. If a kid gets tagged, they have to lie on the floor, and they can't get up until two other kids lie on either side of them, like a hot dog in a bun. Once this happens, they can get up again. You can set a time for this, and either end the game, or change who is it.

I don't know if you will have any equipment, but I've also set up obstacle courses with hoops and whatever else I had on hand.
posted by lemonwheel at 9:34 PM on September 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Bean bag skid! Bean bag skid! Bean bag skid!

Basically it's like dodgeball but with beanbags that you slide along the floor and try to hit other people's feet. Use lots and lots so everyone's hopping around all crazy trying to avoid the constant barrage of sliding beanbags. People who get hit go to "jail" on the sideline, and then when there's ten or so kids in jail you shout "JAIL BREAK!" and everyone goes back out. You play in a gym on a basketball court in two teams with the center line dividing the teams, nobody can go across the center line.

Since it's played in two teams, kids who are coordinated can be on the front lines skidding and dodging beanbags; kids who are less-coordinated can appoint themselves shaggers gathering up the ammo that slides to the back of the gym and relaying it to the kids up front. It's pretty freakin' fun even if you're uncoordinated because you can be a crucial part of the team with the gathering and relaying to the good skidders, and since you're hanging towards the back you're not going out immediately and you're hard to hit with a skidded beanbag (as opposed to a thrown dodgeball) in the back.

Depending on prep time and equipment availability, some low-level orienteering is always popular with kids, where you provide them with maps to different "controls" (orange and white flag thingies) that have different shaped hole punches and they have to punch all the stations. Kids work in teams to read the map (which is educational!) and you can do it as a race so they do more running, or as a puzzle/treasure hunt, or whatever.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:35 PM on September 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

Paper airplane competition - longest throw wins

Chocolate River - have the kids move 20 feet apart. Tell them that to get to the other side of the chocolate river, they only have four marshmallows (piece of paper). They can't step in the hot chocolate lava or they all have to start over. They have to work out how to use the four pieces of paper to get across (either making sort of a snake, or tearing the paper, or piggy back, etc.). It's fun.

Rock paper scissors battle. Start in pairs, then the loser becomes the winner's cheerleader. They continue to compete winner against winner until there are only two left. Then everyone is cheering for someone. Super fun.

I also like to have the kids do silly things, like high fiving the universe. There are other ideas in this video for some silly fun stuff.

There are more, but I can't think of them right now...
posted by guster4lovers at 10:42 PM on September 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Parachute games! SO much fun, and there are all sorts of things you can do.
posted by SisterHavana at 12:05 AM on September 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Lemonade: Two teams stand at opposite sides of the playing area. Team A chooses a trade, which they will mime for their opponents to guess. They must also choose a location that hints at their profession. (Example: Logger, Canada) Teams step forward as they shout the following dialogue. Team A: Here we come! Team B: Where from? Team A: [Location]! Team B: What’s your trade? Team A: Lemonade! Team B: Show us if you’re not afraid! Team A then mimes their trade as team B shouts out their guesses. As soon as someone from team B makes the correct guess, team A must run back to their end of the field. Team B chases and attempts to tag players from team A. Anyone tagged joins the other team. On the next round, it is team B’s turn to mime.

Human Knot: Best for 10-12 people maximum. Players stand in a circle, cross arms, and take hands with other people across the circle. Group works together to untangle the “knot.” Variations: play with eyes closed; begin game with everyone laying on their back (heads in center).

Stalking Game (The Flour Trail Game): Team A has ten minutes to leave a flour trail for Team B to follow. To make this trail, flour is dropped every 10 - 20 feet in visible piles. Members of Team A hide together close to the end of their trail. After ten minutes, Team B may set out following the trail. The objective is for Team A to lead Team B right to (or past) their hiding place, from which Team A must jump out and ambush Team B. The bigger the scare the better.

Group Juggle: The group stands in a circle and a ball is thrown across the circle from one person to another until everyone has caught and thrown once. This sequence is repeated a few times for practice. More balls (or similar objects) are then added one by one until the group is passing several objects around in the established sequence.

Cookie Machine: Perhaps the most delightful version of group trust falls in existence. The “catchers” face each other in two lines approximately half an arm’s length apart, facing inwards with hands out palm-up in front of them, arms stiff, acting as the cookie machine. The “faller” is the cookie, and can either fall back into the ready arms of the group or take a running start and leap in. The cookie is then passed down the line (as the catchers lift their arms up and down) through the cookie machine to be “baked”. The faller should choose what kind of cookie they want to be!

Find the Rock: Group stands in a tight circle facing the center. One person stands in the center, and tries to guess the location of an object (e.g. a small ball) as it is passed around the circle behind everyone’s backs. The person in the center has three tries to guess where the object is.

Rattlers: The group forms a circle around two blindfolded players, who are given “rattlers” (as simple as pebbles in tin cans). The objective is for one of these two – the pursuer – to locate and tag the other. To locate each other, the pursuer and the pursued can shake their rattlers. The pursued individual must respond to the pursuer’s rattles. (Note: In New Games, it says that the pursuer may only shake their rattle five times in order to locate their target, while the pursued may rattle as many times as they dare.) A more challenging variation: take away the rattlers and have the two players locate each other based on the sounds of their movements. Then of course, there’s the “sophisticated, open-field version” in which the circle moves as the two players move within it. Variation: Bat and Moth. Instead of shaking rattlers, the pursuer is the bat and calls out “Bat!” The pursued is the moth, and must respond with a call of “Moth!”

Flash Flood: A trail game. While walking, a designated caller calls out “Flash Flood!” and counts down from 20 (or other designated number). Everyone must find a spot that is higher than the selected “water line” stick that the caller holds. After the countdown ends, everyone freezes and the leader checks to see who avoided the flash flood. Anyone who did not find a spot high enough is “swept away by the flood” and not able to be the next caller. The next caller is selected by the previous caller.

Ghost in the Garden: This game works best in a garden or an otherwise overgrown area. One person, the ghost, hides in the garden while the rest of the group counts to twenty. When they are finished counting, the group sets out to look for the ghost. When someone comes across the ghost, they yell “Ghost in the garden!” The ghost then jumps out and begins to chase everyone. If tagged, you turn into a zombie. Zombies can also tag people, but they must walk, not run, with their legs locked straight and their arms out in front of them.

What Time is it Mr. Fox: One person is Mr. (or Mrs.) Fox and stands at the end of the play area – preferably an open space like a field. Mr. Fox faces away from the field and the rest of the players, who are lined up across the opposite end. These players call out “What time is it, Mr. Fox?” Mr. Fox replies with a time, and everyone must take that many steps towards Mr. Fox. For example, if he says “Eight o’clock!” then everyone takes eight steps towards him. When Mr. Fox thinks the group is close enough to him, he answers with “Dinner time!” and turns to chase everyone back to the starting line. If you are tagged by Mr. Fox then you become a baby fox and you stand at the end of the field with Mr. Fox to help him tag others.

Octopus: One person is the octopus and stands in the middle of the play area. The rest of the players stand along one end of the play area. The octopus shouts “Fishies, Fishies, come swim in my sea!” The fish then run across the field and try to avoid being tagged by the octopus. Anyone who is tagged becomes seaweed, stuck in place. Seaweed may help to tag other fish. Variation: Fishy Fishy. A shark stands in the middle of the field and calls out “Fishy fishy, cross my ocean!” The fish reply “We’re too scared,” to which the shark says “Come anyway!” Fish then run across the field and try not to be tagged. Anyone tagged becomes seaweed. You could also play that they become a baby shark or a robot shark robot sharks may only walk and must keep their legs straight).

Please also see Silver Bullets.
posted by transient at 12:31 AM on September 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Rubber Chicken Toss: get a bed sheet or light tarp, have all the kids around the edge holding it up so it is stretched out in the middle of them all. Throw a rubber chicken or other stuffed animal in the center and see if they can work together to fling the chicken as high as they can and still catch it. If you have a lot of kids, use more sheets and more animals. You could build a scoring system or not. You could have them call out a specific cheer for a catch and a specific cheer for a drop. Or just let them toss it.
posted by CathyG at 8:16 AM on September 8, 2016

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