Active Ways to Integrate Yard Games Into Your PE Program

What do you think of when you hear the words “yard or lawn games”? 

Do you integrate yard games and activities into your PE program?  How can you connect the physical activity aspect of yard games to your physical education program?

g 58196 spikeball game kids outdoor set

For me, they are part of a quality physical education program.  Physical education without a clear understanding of the benefits of lifelong physical activity misses a large opportunity to promote a healthy and active lifestyle.  Often, yard games are a vehicle for physical activity post-schooling. What happens in a society where no one knows the rules or has the skills to partake in yard games?  Have we done our job if we just teach football, soccer, and volleyball?

In my program, there was a balance between many sport, individual, and recreational (yard/lawn games) activities.  In my opinion, yard games are important and students need to be exposed to each to build the confidence they will need to be successful lifelong movers. However, there is also a social aspect of yard games that I find fascinating.  There is nothing like talking a little smack when playing horseshoes or ladder ball.  Could you imagine going to tailgate at a sports event without a Frisbee or Cornhole?  I certainly cannot.

In my opinion, yard games are important and students need to be exposed to each to build the confidence they will need to be successful lifelong movers. – @chadtriolet Click To Tweet

I find it very refreshing to see other PE teachers share creative ways to integrate yard games in their PE classes.  Former Middle School National PE Teacher of the Year (2012), Jessica Shawley, is well-known for her PE Yard Games session at conferences.  In the past, I have also offered a “RecFest” session to highlight creative ways to use these activities in physical education settings.

The important concept to remember is that it’s not the traditional form of the yard game that is important.  Finding creative ways to teach the rules and skills in fun ways that also include health-related fitness, skill-related fitness, and nutrition is what really broadens the reach of these games. There is a traditional way to play each of the games; however, adding some creativity and getting students and parents to realize there are fun ways to add movement to the games is essential. 

As part of many of my sessions, I share what I call “Cardio Cornhole”.  The object is to work with your teammate to reach 21 the fastest (no 12oz. curls here).  It’s all about speed and agility and most of all teamwork (for a description of Cardio Cornhole, scroll down).

As a physical education teacher, I have seen the true value in adding PE yard games to my program.  From horseshoes to table tennis, find ways to make these activities part of your program.  Think outside the box and maximize student participation and fun while teaching the basic skills and rules for each game.  


g 41884 baggo beanbag game outside

Students will find a partner.  Each pair will collect 1 poly spot and 2 beanbags.  Each pair will place the poly spot about 10-15 feet away from them (the teacher can designate the distance from the pair using cones).  When the activity begins, both partners will toss their bean bag toward the poly spot using an underhand toss and try to get the bean bag on the spot or touching it.  If a bean bag is all the way on top of the spot, it is worth 3-points, if it is touching the edge of the spot, it is worth 1-point.  When both partners have taken one toss, the partners will quickly gather the bean bag add any new points to the total and return to the starting position.  The first team to 11/15/21 points wins the round.
** Remind students that the faster they go the better their chances of scoring more points.


  1. Change the size of the poly spots to make the activity more or less challenging.
  2. Have students use different locomotor patterns when traveling to collect the bean bags
  3. Change the distances between spots and teams based on ability level
  4. Add fitness by having students complete a simple fitness activity every time they collect a bean bag (i.e. – elbow to knee squats, cross crawls, jumping jacks, push-up shoulder taps, etc.)
  5. Change the way that the students can toss the beanbag (i.e. – non-dominant hand, through the legs, behind the back, etc.)
  6. Have the partners join another team and have a competitive match of Cardio Cornhole.
  7. The teacher can do an authentic assessment while students playing the game to assess the underhand throwing pattern or stepping with oppositional movement.

Don’t miss out on these other fun Yard Games from Gopher!

Related Blogs:

CONE Hole: A Simple Twist to a Classic Lawn Game! By Mike Morris
Favorite Frisbee-Themed Invasion Games in Physical Education by Jessica Shawley
We’re Teaching What in PE?! by Peter Boucher
Enriching Participation in P.E. with Progressions & Equipment by Jessica Shawley

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