Phone screens shrinks your kids’ daily physical activity requirements, which may hurt their physical motor skill development. However, recess and gym games for kids are a great stimulus to develop their motor ability. A great idea would be to engage them with age-appropriate yet fun games. If you are looking for such exciting games for your gym class, here are 30 games that will make your job easier.
List of 30 Best Gym Games for Kids
With different types of games available in the market, we have classified our list in categories to help you to find the best PE games for kids:
Exciting Gym Games For Kindergartners
Preschoolers are full of energy and excitement, and physical activity boosts this trait. Physical exercises also improve their balance, reflex, flexibility and other motor skills crucial for their holistic development. Here are some amazing gym activities and workouts for kids to boost their fitness as well as their overall well-being:
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1. Bean Bag Balance
A good game to start with, it’s all about challenging the little ones to balance the bean bag on different parts of their body. Ask kids to walk or crawl with balancing bean bags on the shoulders, between the knees, on the back, etc.
This game will enhance their fine motor development as it involves walking, running, hopping, and maintaining momentary stillness- all by striking the right balance.
Tip: Get creative! Engage with them by visualizing funny scenarios, like asking them to imagine the bean bag as an egg that will fall and crack if the balance goes off.
2. Bean Bag Toss
This is another game where bean bag just serves the purpose. Bean bags are easy to grip and cause no injury even in accidental hits. To play the game, you can draw the targets on the floor and have kids throw the bean bags into targets. This will develop their accuracy, throwing and coordination skills.
Tip: To make the game livelier, you can put down hula hoops or baskets instead of drawing targets manually.
3. Balloon Drop
Volleying the balloon up high for as long and not letting it drop is the essence of the game. Allow kids to use their hands to keep the balloon off the ground, as this will enhance their flexibility and striking abilities.
Tip: As an add-on in the game, a teacher can ask students to call out a fellow student’s name while volleying up the balloon. This way, students can learn each other’s names and coordinate.
4. Animal Jumping Tracks
For little ones, this outdoor game can prove to be engaging. The idea is to draw different colored tracks and ask the kids to jump by chanting the color names. This game will foster color recognition and gross motor skills in kids.
Tips: Do not use more than four colors for preschool kids otherwise they will feel burnout switching colors and will /eventually lose interest.
5. Animal Yoga
It’s time to get some yoga poses for kids to get them moving. For this game, you can use cards with animal yoga poses on them. Simply ask the kids to pull out a card from the deck and imitate the yoga pose shown on the card. Playing such games regularly can improve their overall flexibility.
Tip: You can make the game more interesting by playing it in groups with half the class strength. Make a group of four students each and assign a card to them. Let the other half of the class decide on the best performers!
6. Drop, Catch, Throw and Tag
Preschool years are the best when it comes to firming the hand grip of kids. You can play this Drop and Catch game in groups but with a twist. Ask the kid in the middle to tag another kid and throw the ball to him while the latter will have to catch the ball before it bounces twice. This is a fun ball game for kids.
Tip: If the ball is too challenging to catch for kids, use a balloon.
7. Simon Says!
Wanna know how to get your students hooked to giggles on Wednesdays? Well, Simone says ‘play’! Simon Says is one of the best games to achieve fun and physical movement at the same time. You can use all the exercises to get the kids moving such as touching toes, side bends to touch the ground, hopping forward and backward, flamingo legs, jumping in one place, etc.
Tip: To add a more exciting touch to the game, you can incorporate dance songs for kids and get them grooving.
Related Reading: Co-curricular Activities and its Benefits for Students
Gym Class Games for Lower Elementary Kids
Gym games for kids are a fun way to make your classroom fun along with encouraging kids to stay fit. Here are some of the most exciting gym class activities for lower elementary kids:
Hopscotch is a classic, loved game among children and adults alike. It not only contributes to developing gross motor skills, but also coordination and numeracy skills. Draw numbers from 1 to 10 with some boxes and you are good to go!
Tip: Bring a fun twist in the game by making new rules such as ‘low feet jump to 10’, ‘hope like a frog as you count’, etc.
9. Move it or Lose it
Incorporating movement in the classroom routine using visual cues card can do wonders for the overall development of kids. You can make a set of visual cue cards and mention different actions on them such as jumping high, marching around, running in place, etc. Have your kids pull out a card and mimic the action. This will help improve their gross motor skills, receptive language, and motor imitations.
Tip: Attach the visual cards to popsicle sticks to make them easy to carry and increase their mean life.
10. Red Rover RollOver
Every so often, schools have either limited budgets or are unable to get supplies when needed. In such cases, gym games for kids that can be played without any equipment come to the rescue and RRRO is one of them. Teachers should challenge the students to roll sideways from their position until they reach the finish line and touch one member of another team. It’s a great game for pleasant weather days and gives good exercise to little ones.
Tip: The bigger the team, the better the game.
11. Shark and Minnows
This one is another great game that doesn’t require any equipment or setup but will surely bring up some cute giggles. It’s a tag game where one student i.e., the shark chases the rest of the students i.e., minnows. Consequently, every tagged student becomes a shark until there is a single minnow left- the winner of the game.
Tip: Don’t forget to set some ground rules else the kids may run hither and thither, eventually increasing the risk of getting hurt.
12. Beach Ball Blanket Toss
Make groups of four and ask kids to hold all four corners each of a big cloth or bedsheet. Throw a beach ball on the blanket and watch the excitement of the other kids as they try to catch the bouncing ball. In all, a good game to build grip and patience.
Tip: Instead of using a big cotton cloth piece, you can use a quilt as it will give a good bounce, adding more thrill to the game.
13. See if You Can
Activity card games are a brilliant educational resource to teach kids, be it academics or movement skills. You can use such cards conveniently to teach kids about body composition and get them on a moving spree. The cards have instructions that go around movements like jumping, skipping, sprinting, balancing, leaping, etc.
Tip: Challenge kids to attempt 3 activities each within a set time.
14. Make an 8
This game will prove to be an excellent physical activity for teachers, let alone students. All you have to do is arrange for two tall cones and place them 3-4 meters apart. Now ask your students to face forward and move side-to-side in and out of the cone making a figure 8.
Tip: Once the students form an 8, ask them to repeat the activity while holding a basketball.
15. Catch the Cones
Teachers can stand on a box with 10 colored cones in her hand while the students stand all around the box. The game begins when the teacher throws the cones in the air all around and the students will have to catch the cones before they hit the ground. The student with a maximum number of cones at the end will be the winner. Playing this game repeatedly will enhance the catching and coordination skills of the students.
Tip: You can add a fun element to the game by giving points for different colored cones.
16. Obstacle Course
This is a fun indoor game for kids, Obstacle Course improves agility, balance, and coordination in young kids. Place obstacles such as hula hoops, chairs, or ropes on the floor and ask kids to move swiftly as they dodge them.
Related Reading: Best Outdoor Games for Kids of All Ages
Fun PE Games for Upper Elementary Kids
Physical activity games for kids are crucial for their growth. Let’s have a look at some fun PE activities for upper elementary kids!
17. Egg and Spoon
You cannot deny playing this ultimate hand-eye coordination game in your childhood. Simply give your students a spoon and ask them to balance the egg as they move from one point to another. The one who reaches the finishing line first wins the game.
Tip: Dancing or singing while balancing the egg on the spoon will make it all the more challenging and fun.
18. Follow the Pattern
Get set for an energetic and entertaining game that encompasses balancing activities with moving in patterns. The teacher will give calls throughout the game that will have instructions about the movement such as jumping and landing on two feet, galloping, hopping on one foot, etc. The students who follow all the patterns without fail will win the game.
Tip: You can level up the game by giving out calls every 20 seconds.
19. Tail Tag
Students aged 9-12 years can be taught skills such as teamwork, healthy competition, strategy, and other physical skills through such games. As the name suggests, Tail Tag is all about grabbing as many tails as possible. Here tails are nothing but a piece of cloth that will be tied to a belt. Students have to grab and collect these tails as they chase each other.
Tip: Do not tuck or tie the cloth too tightly for kids as unmindful grabbing might lead to subtle hurt.
20. Bounce the Bucket
Another game that will surely make a PE class exciting! You will require 8 cones, 3 buckets, and 4 balls. Arrange the cones on the sidelines and buckets in the middle, and Tada! your setup is ready. The students will have to bounce the ball on the ground once and then throw it into the bucket from a distance. Bounce the Bucket will help motor skill-building in upper elementary kids.
Tip: Use a basketball for a great bounce!
21. Jump the Noodle
In this game of two, you will just need a foam noodle. The idea is to jump over the noodle without touching it as the other player swipes it left, right and center. A pair that can finish 10 jumps each without any interruption receives the prize.
Tip: Allow the students to pair up themselves with their choice as it will help them coordinate and play.
22. Rob the Nest
All the basketball lovers, assemble! The students will love the thrill and competition that this game offers. A large square is to be made using 4 hoops with many basketballs in the middle. Each team member will come forth and dribble the basketballs from the middle to their team’s spot. Once no ball remains in the ball, know that it’s time to run around and steal the balls from each other.
Tip: Make 4 teams with no more than 2 players to avoid complexity and confusion.
23. Cat’s Corner
Similar to dodgeball, the throwers in the game are cats who try to hit the runners i.e., mice using the ball. If the mouse gets hit by the ball before landing in the corner safe space, he is considered out.
Tip: To keep the game interesting, there must be an equal number of cats and mice.
24. Shadow Tag
Tag games are a great way to engage the students. They aid in the development of skills like gross motor, endurance, and social and cognitive skills. Unlike other tag games, here students have to tag a runner’s shadow. A perfect time to play this game is during mid-day.
Tip: Set a rule where the player has to call out ‘SHADOW’ as soon as they hit a runner’s shadow, else they’ll be out of the game.
Top Gym Games for Middle Schoolers
PE games that incorporate empathy and teamwork are very important for middle schoolers ranging between fifth grade and eighth grade. Here are some of our favorites:
25. Backward Soccer
Where are all the soccer lovers? This game is soccer but with a backward twist. Players are not allowed to use their feet to advance the ball; their hands are the action weapons now. They must use only their hands to shoot, pass or dribble. Even goalies will only be allowed to use their hands in defense.
Tip: Keep a guide ready in case the students get all mixed up with the rules.
26. Yoga Cards
Yoga is a good option for middle schoolers. Keep some yoga cards ready for your next PE class and ask them to hold each yoga pose for not less than 10 seconds.
Tip: If some students repel the idea of yoga, don’t worry. They will surely appreciate how relaxed they feel after some meditation treat. You can also show them some meditation videos for added engagement.
27. Noodle Archery
This is a classic archery game but with some fun modifications. Hang one hula hoop or have someone hold for you at some distance. Set up three lines at a different distance from the hula hoop which will act as the shooting positions. Ask each student to throw the pool into the hoop once from each line.
Tip: Assign points to each line- highest to the farthest line and lowest to the closest one. This will make the game more competitive.
28. Relay Race
Relays are the real ‘old is gold’. This game has been there for ages and never fails to excite the players and spectators. Relay Race not only enhances the natural competitive side of children but also encourages the development of gross motor, teamwork, and empathy skills. One high-five between players and you know it’s time to take over the race.
Tip: The tip here is that there is no need for any tip. The game in itself is sufficient to keep you on your toes.
29. Pole Weave
This is a great exercise to do twice or thrice a week. Place three straight poles and three crossed poles diagonally on the ground. To win the game, students will have to jump over the cross poles and sprint to weave in and out of the straight poles without touching any of them.
Tip: You can make the game more challenging by asking students to jump over the crossed poles and back at least 3 times.
30. Speed Ball
A mix of basketball and soccer, this is a challenging brain game for kids. It is played in two groups where both teams have access to a basketball net and goals each on their side. A team player passes the ball in the air like a basketball, but if it falls on the ground, the game switches to soccer. It’s all hands now!
Tip: Keep negative marking when the ball falls on the ground to make the game competitive.
Related Reading: Enjoyable Kids’ Activities for a Whoopee Time
Let’s Make Fitness Fun for Kids!
PE classes can be very fulfilling if the games are both exciting and physically challenging at the same time. Instead of forcing them for boring squats and push-ups, you can engage them in such games. Motivation is necessary but how it is conveyed also plays a central role. And, it’s all up to PE teachers to how tactfully they face this challenge. Moreover, the list of the gym games for kids is not exhaustive. There’s always room for tailoring a game to your student’s needs and skill requirements.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How can I motivate students to be physically active?
It’s a challenging task, but you do not need to worry! Apart from engaging them in group gym games for kids, you can allow them to groove to some dance and music, with activities like Zumba and Dance Aerobics. However, you must be vigilant about the kind of music being played on the speakers. A smart move would be to decide student-friendly music playlist well in advance. Secondly, you must highlight the difference between being a fitness freak and being physically active.
How often can I let students play these games?
It depends on the schedule of PE classes provided by the school authorities. For preschool kids, the gym games for kids could be played once every day. However, for upper elementary and middle schoolers, twice or thrice a week would be enough.