Most kids love the opportunity to run around and play games. It’s part of being a kid. Whether you teach gym in school and are looking for some unique gym games for kindergarten, or older grades, or if you are looking for something new for your kids to play and be active doing, these gym games are all kid tested and kid approved!
I am a firm believer in introducing kids to a variety of games and sports even at a young age. We played basketball, floor hockey, soccer and volleyball, to name a few. For many of the kids, gym class is their first exposure to these sports.
Introducing kids to different gym games and sports may spark an interest and skill that may turn into something for life.
I love doing different active games with kids because the difference that I always see from the first class, where equipment and basic skills were introduced, to the last class, the amount of growth is always amazing.
I never underestimate what a child can do – given the opportunity. There are the classic gym games for kindergarten that will always remain popular, such as Octopus and What Time is it Mr. Wolf? There is always time for these games.
However, there are also lots of other gym games that are worth introducing to kids of all ages. Below is a collection of a few of the gym games and activities that my students loved and became popular for us to play.
You don’t have to do the games exactly the same way that I describe them. You can always alter them to fit what supplies you have the age group you are working with. However, I hope an activity, or two, sparks an idea for a new gym game to take back to your gym class.
Some of the games require more equipment than others. A few of the games also integrate other subject areas into the activity.
Gym Game for Kindergarten – Hula Hoops
For our first game, we went outside. All you need are hula hoops. Lay the hula hoops randomly around the playing area. I used roughly 1 hoop for every 3-4 players.
Each of the hula hoops are an island. Outside of the hula hoops is water, but in the water there are ‘sharks’. One child is it, or a shark, for the game and cannot go onto an island. This game is basically a different version of tag.
If a child is on an island, the shark cannot touch them. However, on the island, children have to count to 10 and then they have to get off of the island. This prevents children from simply standing on the island.
If they get tagged, they became a shark! Eventually all but one child will become a shark and they are the winner.
I played suspenseful music over my speaker which added to the excitement.
We used the idea of islands and sharks because we were learning about sharks and the ocean in class. You can adapt this game to integrate science by doing a predator-prey type tag.
We did this gym game outside because the weather was beautiful. However, you can do it in a gym. The hula hoops can be slippery if kids are running and step on the hoop. A sheet of construction paper taped to the ground is a better option inside.
Gym Games for Kindergarten – Active Math
The next gym game for kindergarten is a favorite that we play a lot because the children request it. It is simple enough to take outside for a quick gym game and for kids to burn off some energy. I love this active game because it integrates math and gym.
The activity is very easy to prepare, yet it was a lot of fun and it allowed me to take our gym class outside. This activity can be adapted to varying grade levels and various math strands.
The materials you will need are a class set of large wood slices and a large sensory ball.
The wood slices were simply to help with classroom management and indicate to children where they need to stand. If you don’t have wood slices, but like the idea, I have used chalk on tarmac to mark the places.
I laid the slices out in a circle on the grass and each child stood on a wood slice.
Bounce, or throw the ball to the first child and count aloud “one”. The children who caught the ball then bounces it to another child across from them and says “two” as they throw.
Continue counting as high as the children are able to. We worked together when the numbers got big and children helped each other with the counting.
This activity could easily be changed for older children learning their math facts, such as multiplication. Children need to be listening and following along in case the ball is thrown to them
They would only have a few seconds to think of their answer before they have to throw the ball to the next player.
One child could say a multiplication fact for another child to solve and then bounce the ball to them.
If you are working with young children they could sit and roll the ball instead of bouncing it. It is such a simple idea, but I personally love using it because it gets kids active and engaged in math.
Gym Games for Kindergarten – Team Building
I love this gym game! I have used it with children in intermediate games all the way down to kindergarten. This is a really easy team building game that I remember doing as a kid. It is simple, but requires children to really think and strategize together.
This activity requires no prep and all you need are two large mats. If you don’t have gym mats, you can use large sheets of fabric.
Divide the group of kids into 2 groups and give each group 2 mats. I had at least 10 children in each group.
Starting at the same line, each team needs to figure out a way to get across the gym using only the mats. Oh, and pretend that the floor is lava so you cannot touch it at all!
Groups have to come up with a plan where they are always only touching the mat, but somehow get to other side of the gym. Those were the only instructions that they were given. Usually children start by trying to push one mat across, which, slowly but surely may work.
Ultimately, children will need to all huddle together on one mat, but then lift the other mat around in front of the one they are standing on and set it down – and then jump over and repeat.
This is a great activity to create team building and problem solving. You won’t believe how engaged and excited children are as they work to get to the other side. There have been many requests to do this again… and again… and again.
Gym Games for Kindergarten – Giant Balloons
Everyone was excited to get their hands on these huge balloons! When were were working on volleyball skills in gym these huge balloons were a great way to introduce the unit.
I find with young kids, using any new or interesting equipment for gym games encourages them to move their body and develop their gross motor skills.
You will need 4 large balloons blown up and ready to use (I used a pump). I drew some silly faces on them with permanent marker, just for fun.
We started off in 4 small groups volleying the balloons around to each other. I then challenged children to not touch the balloon twice in a row. Everyone had fun working to keep the balloon off the ground.
I then got out hula hoops and spread them out around the gym. Each child stood in a hula hoop and had to hit the ball to keep it in the air if it came to them.
The hula hoops were a great way to help make sure that everyone got a chance to hit the balloon by keeping children in a specific spot.
We then counted together each time someone hit the balloon and kept counting until it touched the ground.
The balloons would also work well to play a small game of volleyball over an actual net.
Gym Games – Relay Race
Kids love relay races. This gym game took a bit more prep and time to create, but we had a lot of fun with it. I initially created these slider shoes to use for a relay race outside in the winter. I used cookie sheets and created a handle so that they acted as almost snowshoes.
They were a bit slippery and children wore a helmet during their turn, but they had a blast trying out the shoes as they participated in the relay.
I have the rope come up to about waist height for kindergarten so that they can comfortably hold the rope and carefully sanded and sealed off all of the holes.
They were originally designed to use in the winter on snow for a relay, but it turns out they are just as much fun on grass in the spring! So easy to make and hours of fun.
If you create a relay race, you can use a bunch of different equipment that you have on hand. Walk across a skipping rope, jump through a hula hoop, throw a ball into a basket and race back so the next player can have their turn.
Art + Gym Activity – Scooter Boards
This is a really simple gym activity that also integrates art. I have great memories using scooter boards at school as a child. This activity uses them in a whole new way.
For this activity, take the scooter boards outside to try out this gym game. All you need is a scooter board and some chalk.
First, discuss the rules when using the boards (no standing on them, stay sitting and avoid putting fingers on the ground). Then give each child a board and a piece of chalk.
I encouraged everyone to first try turning in a circle and checking the mark they made with the chalk.
Children quickly discovered that our tarmac had a bit of a hill and used it to roll down while dragging the chalk.
It works well to have everyone lined up and then call out what kind of line they need to make as they move (squiggly, zigzag).
It is fun to then see all of the marks created by everyone and it makes a beautiful, huge piece of art! This activity also gives you something unique to do with the scooter boards.
All of these gym games for kindergarten work well for young children, but can be adapted for older children as well. Regardless of the activity, children get a chance to be active and try something new.
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More Hands-On Teaching Ideas
If you are looking for more learning activities, below is a collection of my most popular and favorite activities for kids to try at home, or in the classroom. From choice boards and math activities to outdoor activities and escape rooms, there are lots of things to keep kids busy and learning.