Primary PE Ideas

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Develop a repertoire of enjoyable games for your primary pupils to play during physical education classes. Choose games with simple instructions and few rules for young pupils to remember. Use high-energy games to encourage physical fitness and maintain children's interest.

1 Excuse Me Tag

Add a twist to the traditional game of tag. Choose one pupil to be "it." This pupil chases his classmates and tries to tag one, who then becomes the next child to be "it." Create safe zones by placing a hula hoop in each corner of the gym. Pupils standing inside the hoops cannot be tagged. Only one pupil at a time can stand in each hoop. When another child approaches a hoop, he must say, "Excuse me." The two pupils trade places.

2 Crows and Cranes

Divide the class into two equal teams, naming them "Crows" and "Cranes." Have the teams stand along the center line in the gym, facing each other. Designate a line behind each team -- at opposite ends of the gym -- to be their "safe zone." Call out either "Crows" or "Cranes." The team that is called becomes "it." Their opponents turn around and run to their safe zone. If they are tagged before reaching the line, they join the other team. Continue playing until all players are on one team.

3 Beanbag Dumping Grounds

Divide the class into two teams and have them line up at opposite ends of the gym. Place a hula hoop at each end. Scatter bean bags -- one per player plus an additional six to eight beanbags -- across the center of the gym. Blow a whistle to start the game. Pupils run to the center of the gym and grab one beanbag each. They take the beanbags to their team's end and place them in the hula hoop. Once the bean bags are gone from the center of the gym, players can steal beanbags from their opponents' hoop. Players are not allowed to guard their team's beanbags. Blow the whistle to end the game. The team with the most beanbags in its hoop wins.

4 Pirate Ship

Have pupils stand in the center of the gym. They are pretending to be on a pirate ship. Teach pupils a variety of commands to follow. When they hear "Bow," they run to the front of the gym. "Stern" represents the back. When you call out "Port," they run to the left side, and when they hear "Starboard," they run to the right side. "Scrub the deck" means pupils must kneel down and pretend to wash the floor. They pretend to climb a ladder when they hear "Climb the mizzenmast." Pupils salute and say "Aye, aye, Captain!" when you call out "Captain's coming." Children lie down on their stomachs when you say "Hit the deck!" Vary the amount of commands used during the game to suit the age of your pupils. You can play this as an elimination game, with the last pupil to perform each command sitting out.

Mother of two, Erin Agnello writes about parenting, relationships, and education. She has been teaching since 2001 and works in special education and early literacy. Agnello holds a B.A. in psychology from Wilfrid Laurier University and a B.Ed. from Windsor University.