As Physical Education teachers we have the best job! Our students come in excited to see what equipment is out and quickly start guessing what we are doing that day. Nothing gets my students more pumped up than seeing a parachute on the ground as they walk in, and they love parachute games. A classic and iconic piece of equipment that has been around the gym for generations. Parachute games are always known to be a crowd favorite.
Here are three parachute games my students love to play!
I will say that this first game took me a while to get on board with. I had a difficult time getting over allowing my students to crawl on top of the parachute. I mean what if their shoes are dirty? Or they rip the seams crawling all over the top of it? I laugh about it now, but I seriously didn’t play this parachute game for the first couple of years after seeing it, because I just couldn’t handle my parachute being mishandled. Or so I thought… Gopher’s parachutes are so durable! They also come in several different sizes, making them perfect for any size group. This game is so much fun that I wish I would have played it sooner with my students.
Cat and Mouse
In this game, pick a student or students to be a cat. I wouldn’t do any more than 3 depending on your class size. Then choose several students to be mice, I typically choose an entire color to be mice, “if you’re on red, then you are a mouse this round!” If you’re not chosen to be a cat or a mouse, then your job is to move the parachute to keep the mice hidden from the cat. The cat’s job is to crawl around the top of the parachute trying to find the mice. If the cat tags you then you come out and join the rest of the group moving the parachute. Here is a demonstration of this game.
Talk about excitement, this next game brings it! It’s a very fun game, but beware of the screaming! Students just can’t contain themselves.
In this game, you have sharks, swimmers, and lifeguards. The size of your class determines the number of sharks and lifeguards. With a class average of 45, I chose four and four, but do what you think is best for your class size and modify the number to make it work for you. Sharks are taggers, they ride around on scooters under the parachute and tag swimmers, like they are attacking them. The swimmer’s job is to sit with their legs extended and move their hands while holding the parachute to make waves. This disguises where the sharks are underneath the parachute, surprising the swimmers when they’re tagged. When a swimmer is attacked/tagged they lay down and shout for help from the lifeguards. The lifeguards’ job is to save the swimmers by running around the outside of the parachute saving the swimmers by pulling them back up into a seated position. Here is a short video of this game in action.
Let me preface the next game with, you have to always think safety first! Having trust in our students is huge with this next activity. Some classes, I just don’t even dare to do such an activity with… which is super sad, but safety first. If their behavior can’t be trusted, then they’re going to miss out. If you have a great group of students too, you can rely on doing a great job trapping the air and keeping the air underneath the parachute. This parachute game is called “Climb the Mountain”.
Climb the Mountain
Instruct your students to let all the air out of the parachute by using side-to-side easy movement. Then on the count of 3, have students bring the parachute all the way to the ground and quickly raise the parachute back up completely above their heads. Don’t forget to instruct having straight arms above their heads to really get as much air underneath the parachute as possible. Then instruct your students to quickly trap the air underneath the parachute by bringing the parachute back down to the ground and sealing off any air from escaping. This will create a dome, or as we like to call it in this game a mountain! Once the air is trapped, choose a few students to race up the mountain and try to be the first to the top. It’s so important that the students keep the air trapped underneath the parachute to protect the climbers. Once climbers have reached the middle, instruct your students to very slowly let the air out from under the parachute. The more students you have in your class to squeeze around the parachute the better this activity will be. The class I have demonstrating the video is almost too small, I would have like to have more kids helping keep the air under the parachute longer, and it didn’t help that the center of our parachute has seen better days which allowed our air to escape faster than preferred, but the blog video must go on!
So, there you go, 3 parachute games that will sure to be a hit with your students. Students love parachutes, and they provide a full-body workout for students! I encourage you to view some of the resources below and check out Gopher’s wide selection of parachutes and games.
- Building Character in PE by Chad Triolet
- 5 Must-Haves for Elementary PE by Jason Gemberling
Thank you Shannon! I like the version you play with Shark Attack and kids only get pulled under slightly, not entire body which can cause a lot of ruckus. lol But the kids do like excitement and adventure as long as it is in the safe zone. The Climb the Mountain game is new to me since we do not have a parachute that large! These were excellent videos that show just how much kids love any parachute game really! It’s all about that control and safety aspect that allow your students to enjoy gritty, adventurous games like these.
Yes but it is so fun we play that way too. The kids love it!
We play a shark game that is similar to yours, but they lift the parachute up, then bring it down. Then they put only their head under leaving their body and legs out. The shark goes around and pulls people out by the legs. Everyone that gets pulled out, becomes a shark and goes around pulling anyone that is left. The only thing i tell them is when they get pulled out, they should put their hands out in front of them and head up so they don’t bump their nose on the ground when they are pulled, and also hands out so they don’t hold on to the parachute when pulled. They like this game because they don’t know when someone is going to pull them out.
I love this! Where can I get a parachute that big? My school does not have one that big. Any ideas on where I can get a parachute that big? Is it one that is 30″ in diameter? And how many handles are on this parachute?
Thank you your comment! I love sharing great ideas! This is a 24ft parachute. I would recommend no bigger than a 30ft. I made the mistake of purchasing a 45ft, and it’s just too large for these games and too heavy for my students. I only purchase from Gopher because they back their products. I would also recommend getting a parachute without handles. The handles on mine have ripped. I instruct my students to not even use them. Good luck! I hope your students enjoy the new activities.
Correction: it’s a 35ft parachute!