Elementary PE Warm Up Activities

Elementary school-age children receive a number of physical and mental benefits from performing warm-up activities at the start of gym class. Warming up before physical activity helps limber up the muscles and increases blood flow. It also raises the body temperature, heart rate and air intake. A good warm-up will prepare students for physical activity. Getting students warmed up with games and exercises can help students see gym class as fun and exciting.

1 Spot Switchers

The Spot Switchers warm-up can get students excited about gym while increasing their heart rate, blood flow and air intake. In this warm-up, one student stands in the center of a large circle while the other students stand at various spots around the circle’s circumference. Each student must try to switch spots with another student across the circle without making any verbal communication. Students can wink, nod, or gesture. When another student reciprocates, the two students must dash across the open part of the circle without the student in the middle “tagging” either of them. Any student who gets caught crossing the circle replaces the current “tagger.”

2 Amoeba Tag

Amoeba Tag gives students a fun way to warm up by running while also learning coordination and teamwork. In this exercise, select two students to be the “amoeba,” which start at the center of a designated game area, such as half a basketball court. The amoeba pair must hold hands while trying to tag other students. The other students have to avoid becoming part of the amoeba by running away while staying within the boundaries. If the amoeba tags a student, that student becomes part of the amoeba. Every time the amoeba reaches an even number of students -- four, six, eight -- the students can split off into smaller amoebas or stay together.

3 Up, Down, Stop, Go!

Up, Down, Stop, Go! can help students stretch in an organized manner. This game requires the teacher to call out one of the four commands of the game’s title. The teacher stands at the end of a designated area, such as a basketball court, with the students lined up at the opposite end. On “go,” students walk or run toward the teacher. “Stop” freezes them in their tracks. “Down” commands the kids to stretch down toward the ground and then sit. When you say "up,” the kids stand back up and stretch toward the sky. Depending on the students' age and activity level, teachers can substitute other stretches or exercises for these commands, such as “push ups” for the down command and “burpees” for the up command.

4 Copy Me

Copy Me is a variation of Simon Says and can help students stretch while also teaching them the various parts of the body and how to listen. In this game, all of the students stand in a line in front of the teacher. The teacher then makes a motion, such as rotating her arms at the shoulders in a windmill motion that will limber up that joint. She should call out “OK, everyone rotate your arms” and have the students perform this for a 10 count. The teacher can then proceed to, “everyone twirl your foot in the air,” which increases flexibility in the ankles. After proceeding through all of the body parts -- “roll your head” to loosen up the neck” and other commands -- the students will be limbered up and can move on to an organized game or activity.

Since 2005, James Rutter has worked as a freelance journalist for print and Internet publications, including the “News of Delaware County,” “Main Line Times” and Broad Street Review. As a former chemist, college professor and competitive weightlifter, he writes about science, education and exercise. Rutter earned a B.A. in philosophy and biology from Albright College and studied philosophy and cognitive science at Temple University.