10 Simple RELAY RACES for YOUR Students

Relay Races are be a quick and easy way to promote teamwork, active participation, integrity and fun. One of the keys to a successful relay is group size. Depending on the relay, limit the number of students per team to maximize movement and excitement. Of course, fast-paced relays can have more students than some of the slower relays where students are waiting for a turn.

Throughout any unit, I will sometimes take a quick “relay break,” even if it doesn’t directly relate to the topic. Other times I’ll incorporate a skill related to a unit into a relay race. For example, here’s one called The Hiking Relay I did with my 5th grade students.

Most of our relay races have a time limit, rather than the first team that finishes wins. A time limit allows students to continuously participate no matter how fast they are.

Here are three common ways we challenge our students when participating in a relay race:

  • “How many times can your team pass the ball down and back in two minutes?”
  • “How far can you team travel in one minute?”
  • “How many repetitions can you and your teammates complete in three minutes?”

Overall, relay races are a cost-effective, high energy way to boost the excitement level in PE class. Many relays can be done with large groups in smaller spaces with limited equipment.

Check out some of our favorite relay races. I hope you can use them. Please comment on relay races you use with your students!

The following relay can be adapted for multiple sports.


Thank you to everyone on Twitter who has contributed to our growing list of relay races.

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Blowing off S.T.E.A.M. in PE: Design a Kicking Tee for Football

How this video and the process my sons’ took to create a kicking tee inspired this challenge!

It began one morning in January when my sons wanted to go to the soccer field in our neighborhood to practice kicking field goals with an American football. Instead of an actual field goal post, they would use the soccer goals measuring about six feet high and ten feet across. I always admire the way kids can improvise.  *Click Blowing Off Steam – Football Tee for an editable copy of the challenge.

“Has anyone seen the kicking tee?” I didn’t have the heart to tell the boys that one of our dogs had used the tee as a chew toy several months back.

The Typical Kicking Tee

Typical Kicking Tee

A kicking tee is used to hold the football in place, allowing the kicker to kick the ball. The alternative is having a brave sibling or friend (or father) hold the football between the ground and index finger, often resulting in a kicked digit. I’ve been there on many occasions. Ask Charlie Brown what else can tend to happen when someone holds the ball for you.

After several minutes of searching, rather than giving up, they began to once again improvise. They tried balancing the football on a large bottle cap but alas, it kept tipping over. Next, they attempted to balance the ball on the ground by digging a small divot. This had limited success and they didn’t want to keep digging every time they needed to increase the distance of the field goal attempt. Back to the drawing board!

How about a roll of duct tape? The football stood perfectly in the roll, however, too much of it was covered. Each attempt resulted in the roll being kicked, rather than the football.

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Duct Tape Tee

Their minds began to shift from a traditional kicking tee to a football holder.

Football Holder

Football Holder

“Why don’t we try a stick with a “v” shape on one end.”

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My son’s diagram

For the next fifteen minutes, the boys searched the wooded area for a stick that fit their description. No luck!

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The Tinker Tee

Just when I thought they were about to ask me to sacrifice my fingers, they took another trip back to the lab (playroom). They pulled out the Tinker Toys and began to design a functional football holder through trial and error. Back and forth they travelled between the playground and their lab, making subtle tweaks to their design. Finally, they had it! They created the perfect apparatus for their mission. Check out their creation, the “Tinker Tee,” in action.

Witnessing my sons’ take on this dilemma, inspired me to create the latest “Blowing Off S.T.E.A.M. in PE” Design Challenge. I hope you and your students can find it fun and challenging. Good luck!

Click Blowing Off Steam – Football Tee for an editable copy of the challenge.


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Lucky Leprechaun’s MARCH Fitness Challenge

 

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Lucky Leprechaun’s March Fitness Challenge consists of three different workouts focusing on endurance, upper body, and lower body strength. As the month progress, the time and number of repetitions for each exercise gradually increases. There is a built-in rest day every fourth day. Each rest day includes an additional challenge.

Each student’s fitness level varies. Therefore, the guidelines on the calendar are not set in stone. With help from an adult, each of the exercises and/or repetitions and times can be adapted to appropriately challenge the student. For example, if a student doesn’t have a jump rope, he can jump with an “imaginary” jump rope. This will allow him to reap the healthy benefits of continuously jumping for the given amount of time. Never hesitate to contact the physical education department with any questions or comments regarding the challenge.

Click March fitness challenge  for an editable copy of the post!

Don’t forget to turn in your calendar at the end of the month!

 Mark each day a workout (including the “rest day” challenge) is completed with a check mark. At the end of the month, students count up the total number of checks, then write that number on the bottom of the calendar where it says, “Total Days Completed.” Students complete the rest of the information on the calendar before asking a parent to sign it.

 Calendars can be turned in to a PE teacher any day after March 31st.  All students who take part in Lucky Leprechaun’s March Fitness Challenge and return their calendar will receive an award certificate and a toe token. The names of the students who complete the challenge will be proudly posted outside the gym.

Students do NOT have to complete each day to receive a certificate. We understand that our students have busy schedules, or sometimes just forget to complete a workout. That’s being human.

Parents are encouraged to help and even participate in the workouts.

 Your child may need a little guidance. We encourage parents to assist with form and necessary adaptations based on fitness level. Finally, students get so excited when parents and siblings participate in the challenge with them. What better way to lead by example and promote lifelong fitness!

Click March Fitness Challenge for an editable copy of the post!

 


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Design Challenge: Create an Obstacle Course Using Prepositions

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PrepositionA word governing, and usually preceding, a noun or pronoun and expressing a relation to another word or element in the clause. (1)

Design Challenge: An open-ended project that encourages students to ask questions, take initiative, and think creatively. (2)

Recently, we developed a design challenge project for our physical education classes. We challenged groups of four to build an obstacle course using the following guidelines:

  • Use anything within the boundaries of the playground.
  • The course must have a clear STARTING line and FINISH line.
  • Include the following 4 prepositions plus 1 choice obstacle:
    • Under
    • Over
    • Through
    • Around
    • Choice – The “choice” obstacle is one that will set your course apart from all the other groups. Dazzle your classmates with this element.
  • The course must be safe yet challenging
  • Work TOGETHER

Once the obstacle course was designed, students each had to practice their creation until they could consistently complete it without hesitation. Each group member would then take turns running though the course while being timed by another group member with a provided stopwatch.

Finally, groups shared their obstacle courses with each other.

Goals of the Design Challenge lesson:

  • Reinforce teamwork and communication skills
  • Provide a creative outlet for our students
  • Enhance student understanding of prepositions
  • Incorporate a full-body workout
  • Provide an opportunity for me and my colleagues to observe our students in a nontraditional PE setting

Click Design Challenge for a link to the design challenge document!

Writing Extension – After designing their course and practicing it several times, students can write out the step by step progression using the prepositions and descriptive words. Then they can give their written description to another group who would then have to figure out the course using the step by step directions.


(1) “Preposition | Definition of Preposition in English by Oxford Dictionaries.” Oxford Dictionaries | English, Oxford Dictionaries

(2) Design Challenge – http://www.raft.net/public/pdfs/tip-sheets/creating-a-design-challenge-tip-sheet.pdf


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“If a Bee Stings You, Give it a Flower”

Perspective:  Seeing life through the lens of a child. 

Recently, we were deep into the culminating lesson of our team handball unit. After several fundamental classes based on skills and lead-up games, we decided it would be fun to break our class into teams of three to play small-sided, competitive games. The students would have a chance to apply their well-rehearsed skills plus their new and existing knowledge of strategy to a competitive setting. We, the teachers, would also have the opportunity to observe and reinforce gamesmanship and proper game etiquette. After all, once the scoreboard is turned on, sportsmanship can take on multiple personalities. Our numbers allowed us to have four games going on at once. Three of the four games were in cruise control. We witnessed shared responsibilities, movement from each player, strategic passes, integrity, and positive communication. They were a thing of beauty.

Our fourth game was equally poetic…or so we thought.

It is customary during the closing minutes of our classes to meet in the center of the gym as a group to process the day’s lesson. On this occasion, we asked the students to comment on their games, specifically, the participation, communication, gamesmanship, and integrity. Following several uplifting comments and compliments, one student raised her hand and stated that her team was NOT nice to her.

“When I dropped a pass, one of my teammates yelled at me. It’s not like I meant to miss the ball. It made me NOT want to play anymore.” Nearly in tears, it was apparent the girl was sincerely stung by the words of her teammate.

Anticipating a rebuttal from at least one of her teammates, there was nothing but silence. With the end of our time together quickly approaching, I was about to intervene when a hand shot up in the center of the group. Eager to share, the student exuded her familiar look of confidence and determination as she calmly waited to be called upon. It was a look that said, I know exactly how to remedy this situation.

I gladly called on Celeste.

My mom was recently trying to sell our house. She spent a lot of time getting the house in order so that people who were interested in buying the house would be impressed. She even baked cookies so the house would smell nice. A man and a woman came to look at our house. They were kind of obnoxious. They were saying things that didn’t make my mom happy. They didn’t seem to appreciate our house. When they left, my mom was really sad. She had worked so hard. So I just told my mom If a bee stings you, give it a flower! Maybe they had a bad day. Maybe they need us to be nice to them. Don’t let their mean words hurt you. Instead, maybe they need our kind words. We have a beautiful house, and it even smells like cookies.”

 With that, there was a brief silence in the gym. Thirty-nine other students and two teachers were in complete reflection mode. Celeste’s words were INDEED the perfect remedy for the situation. If a bee stings you, give it a flower.  So simple. So meaningful.

“How can we apply this to our situation?”

Without hesitation, Celeste responded. “That’s easy! You look the person who was being mean in the eye, and with a smile give them a friendly pat on the shoulder, then carry on. Go about your business. When people tell me I’m short, I just shrug my shoulders, give them a smile and go about my business.”

Often in life, we’re going to get stung by a bee. People are going to say or do mean things to us. How we respond to that bee sting is up to us. You can leave in the stinger, allowing it to fester and get infected, and over time, the pain will eventually lessen then go away. Or you could remove the stinger, apply ice, and understand the bee was simply trying to survive and protect itself or its family.

In any case, we should reflect not only on Celeste’s empathetic and compassionate statement, but the action she had poised behind those words.  As parents and teachers, we are constantly looking for the perfect, appropriate, and impacting lessons to impart on our kids. But maybe next time conflict arises, we should stop our words in their tracks and allow children to share their thoughts, flourishing in their own teachable moments.


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Olympic Alphabet Fitness Bingo

Here’s a simple warm-up for your PE classes called OLYMPIC ALPHABET FITNESS BINGO! Organize your students in groups of four. Give them an Olympic Alphabet Fitness Bingo card.

Challenge: How many squares can your group complete together in 5 minutes?

  1. Take turns choosing a word on the Bingo card.
  2. Match each letter of the word to the “Alphabet Fitness Key” to decipher your workout.
  3. Complete the exercises associated with each letter.

Example:

LUGE

L – 25 lunges

U – 15 Squats

G – 10 Arm Circles

E – 20 Mountain Climbers

Click OLYMPIC ALPHABET FITNESS BINGO  for a copy of the challenge!

I’m sure there are other ways to use this challenge. Let me know if your discover any!

 


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10 MORE Instant Activities for PE

“Instant activities are designed to actively engage students in PE class the moment they walk through the gymnasium doors.  Usually posted on a whiteboard or monitor, instant activities involve every student with very little teacher involvement.  They’re typically high energy, but can also take on a cooperative component. Instant activities are an effective way to stimulate student learning prior to the day’s lesson.” Click here – (Top 7 Instant Activities for PE)

Instant activities are also a useful means to spiral back to a previous unit. For example, if we cover basketball skills in September, we will incorporate similar basketball skills as instant activities periodically throughout the school year.

What about fitness? We love incorporating body weight challenges, AMRAPs (as many rounds/repetitions as possible), jump ropes, and hula hoops as instant activities. Instant activities help to fulfill our mission of keeping our students thinking and in motion throughout each class.

Below is a list of ten more of my favorite instant activities. Enjoy!

Exercise Creation with Foam Cylinders – “With a partner, create an exercise that can strengthen your core muscles.”

Instant activities allowing students to create with a partner are always popular. Try leaving sets of 2-3 pieces of equipment around the gym. Challenge your students to create a game using the equipment. Give them parameters such as boundary limits and basic guidelines to keep everyone safe.

In the following video, students were challenged to create a core exercise with a foam cylinder. Prior to their arrival, I spread out the cylinders throughout the gym. As they entered I quickly partnered them up. After reading the challenge on our video screen (or whiteboard), they immediately began the task. As the students create, I like to filter through the gym, observing partner dynamics.

 

Kangaroo Tag – Welcome to Australia! It’s time for Kangaroo Tag. Green kangaroos are it.” 

As the students enter the gym, I hand them a noodle and call out, “Welcome to Australia! It’s time for Kangaroo Tag. Green kangaroos are it.” Students immediately put the noodle between their feet and begin jumping. Anyone with a green noodle is a tagger, while everyone else is a fleer.  When tagged by a green kangaroo, the student performs ten mountain climbers on the sideline with hands on the noodle before reentering the game. After one minute, I call out a different color kangaroo to be the taggers.

 

Roll for Fitness Challenge 

I’ve done this with groups of 2-4 students depending on class size. Spread out the Roll for Fitness sheets along with two dice throughout the gym. As the students enter, quickly group them up and immediately send them to a challenge sheet. Partners each toss a die into the air then catch it. They add the two numbers that are facing up. Each number, from 1-12, has a corresponding exercise on the Roll for Fitness challenge sheet.

Note: I’ve used this as a station during prior PE classes. For this reason, students are familiar with the directions, and I’m able to use it as an instant activity.

Click Roll for Fitness Instant Activity for a copy of the challenge.

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Paddle Challenges

Evenly space enough paddles with a bean bag throughout the gym for each student.

Instant Activity #1 – Individual challenges

Students practice tossing and catching the bean bag in their own space. I’ll post individual challenges on the screen.

Instant Activity #2 – Partner Challenge

Students toss their bean bags to each other, attempting to catch the bean bag in their hands. I’ll post the following challenges on the screen?

  • How many times you can both catch the bean bag?
  • Can you toss the bean bag with your non dominant hand?
  • Can you toss the bean bag to each other, then catch it with your paddle?

 

Plank Hand Tag 

Students enter the gym and without hesitation begin the challenge. In plank position, each student tries to tap the opposing student’s hand. The first one to tap the opponent’s hand three times wins the round. Each player then searches for another challenger.

 

Ice Cream Parlor – “The Ice Cream Parlor is about to open. The manager is hiring anyone who can scoop the ice cream into a cone. Be careful not to drop the ice cream on the floor.”

This is a favorite instant activity with my first grade students. Before the students enter the gym, I greet them at the door and tell them that the ice cream parlor is open.  Students enter the gym and retrieve a plastic scoop, a yarn ball, and a small cone and practice tossing the ice cream with their scoop into the cone. After a brief amount of time, students will partner up and toss the ice cream to each other. I’ll let the videos speak for themselves.

Individual Ice Cream Scooper

 

Partner Ice Cream Scoopers

 

Noodle Fun“Create as many movements as you can with your noodle in personal space!”

You’ll never know what the kids with discover when given the opportunity to create with swim noodles. Before your students arrive, spread out one swim noodle for each student. Below are two videos showcasing movements create by first graders. I now use their ideas with my other classes!

Noodle Skate Boarding

Noddle Pogo Stick

 

Freeze Dance“Find your own personal space and move to the beat of the music. Freeze when the music stops.”

Students enter the gym and begin dancing to the beat of the music. When the music stops, they freeze!

For more INSTANT ACTIVITIES check out one of my previous posts called, TOP 7 INSTANT ACTIVITIES FOR PE!


If you enjoyed this post, consider following my blog to receive future posts.

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