With schools starting back up around the globe educators are looking for fun games that can help students run and getting their “wiggles” out while still maintaining social distance.
Most districts are still recommending that students:
Keep 6 feet apart
Do not touch others
Do not share equipment
Here are some games I’ve been playing all summer with students. Some can be used to play in gym class or outside at recess. Some are great games that can be used to give a few minutes break in the classroom. Students will not be moving around as freely and often in the classroom as they may be used to so giving “brain breaks” for students to get up and move is going to be extremely important.
Large Space Games (Outdoor/Gym)
One or two students are the buyers. Everyone else is a statue that can only move when the buyers aren’t looking. Every student has to move at some point. The riskier, the better. If a buyer sees a statue move then that statue is out. The buyer is always right, no arguing with the buyer. Game play continues until there is only one or two people left, then they become the next buyers.
There is one student who will lie face down in the middle of the playing space. Teachers ahead of time will point out the four corners of the room, numbering them aloud so that all the students know which corner is which. The teacher will count down from 10 and all students need to be in one of the four corners. At the end of the countdown, the student in the middle will declare a number without raising their head. All students in that corner are eliminated. When it gets down to 4 or less students in play, then there can only be one student in each corner. Game play continues until there is only one player left. That player gets to be the person in the middle for the next round.
Musical Chairs with Hula Hoops
Give each child a hula hoop. They should lay the hoops on the floor in a circle keeping several feet in between each hula hoop. Take out one hula hoop so that you have one less than the number of players. Play some music. When the music stops, students need to find a hula hoop to sit inside. The student who does not get a hula hoop is out. If you don’t have hula hoops you could make circles out of sidewalk chalk or tape.
Tic Tac Toe With Bean Bags
Create a tic-tac-toe board with tape or chalk on the floor. Have two students sit on either side of the board. Student one gets 5 blue bean bags. Students two gets 5 green bean bags. Toss the bean bag into the square they want as their X or O. Student who gets three in a row wings.
Ships and Sailors
There are different actions, areas or grouping that the Captain declares and the crew has to follow the Captain’s orders. For the first round, the adult leading the game is the first Captain. The next Captain is designated by the last person standing at the end of the first round.
Designate one side of the room to be ships and the opposite side sailors. You can call out ships or sailors and students will need to run to the designated spaces. Other things to call out in between (but not limited to):
- man overboard – they fall on their stomachs and pretend to be swimming
- walk the plank – take three steps and jump into the water
- Captain’s Coming – they all stand at attention with their right hand over their right eye
- Penguins – they waddle like penguins
- Whales – they swim like whales on the ground
- Swab the deck – pretend like you’re mopping the floor
Students may get out by being the last person to get to a side or complete the action or if they do the wrong action or go to the wrong side. Game continues until there is only one person left. That person then becomes the next Captain.
You need a sunny day for this rendition of tag. It works the same as normal tag except the tagger steps on a runner’s shadow. If they hit their shadow, they call out, “SHADOW” and that student becomes the next shadow tagger.
Most traditional tag games that you know can still be played safely by using a noodle. Purchase a noodle and cut it about in half. Wrap duck tape around one end of the noodle. Students can hold where the duck tape is that way you can easily wipe it with a sanitizing wipe when you want to switch taggers. Now, students will stay further apart from each other and won’t have to touch each other!
Small Space Games (Classroom)
How students interact at recess isn’t the only thing that will be changing this school year. Since students will be more isolated and confined at their desk for a large part of the day, it will be vital to give them a chance to play some games, socialize and move in a way that maintains social distance. Here are some ideas.
Change One Thing
One person is selected to leave the group. Before they leave, that student should stand in front of everyone so that they can get a good look at them first. While they are out of the room, they make one physical change and then return to the group. They will choose people from the group to say what they think is the change. Whoever guesses the change correctly gets to be the next person to leave and change something about them.
All My Friends
Students stand in a circle, facing inward. Mark spots with x’s on the ground or have students stand next to their desk. There is one person in the middle who says a statement starting with, “All my friends…” then whoever that statement applies to has to go and find a new, empty spot to stand in. For example: All my friends go swimming in the summer or All my friends wear tennis shoes or All my friends are wearing black today etc
The only rule is that players cannot move back to the same spot they just left or directly beside their original spot. Whoever is left without a spot at the end, gets to say the next statement.
Find the Drummer
Students sit criss-cross in a circle (6 ft apart). A teacher will choose someone to leave the group. This person will turn their back or go around a corner to be out of ear shot. The teacher will then point to someone else sitting in the circle to be the Chief. The Chief will lead the group in a rhythm or pattern and everyone else needs to follow carefully. The person who left will return and be given three chances to determine who is the Chief. Players within the group need to follow the leader, but do so subtly. They don’t want to give away who the Chief is. The person chosen to leave the room earlier must guess who the Chief is.
The group is all facing the same way. The teacher chooses someone to make the club. This person determines a physical feature to make up a group, such as a color everyone is wearing, if a person has glasses or not, a certain kind or type of shoe, etc. Students sitting down raise their hands to ask if they can be in the club or to guess as to why people are in this club. The creator of the club will let them know if they can or cannot be in the club or if they are right or wrong as to what the club is made up of. Game play continues until someone figures out what the qualifications are for the club.
The teacher starts with it. As the leader of the game, it is your job to hype it up. The teacher will hold their hands like they’re holding a ball. They’ll explain the game while tossing it back and forth in their hands (remember there is no actual ball). Then when the students are ready, the teacher passes “the ball” to another student. Play continues with students passing the ball back and forth with one another. You can pretend that it is heavy or light, huge or small. However you want to change it up.
Hot or Cold
Choose an object to hide. One student steps out of the room. Everyone else decides where to hide the item. When the person steps back into the room people give him/her clues as to how close they are to the hidden item by saying “cold” if the person is far away and “hot” if the person is close.
If you would like to download the directions for all of these games as well as a few more click below.
Be sure to check out my other related posts about social distance and how to start the school year off right.