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Instant Activities to Maximize MVPA

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Here they come, 30 students ready for the best class of the day! Full of energy, they are ready to go! It is important to use that energy to engage them from the start of class. How do we do that, sit them down and go over the lesson objectives and learning targets, right? Of course not! We channel that energy into a fast activity to get their heart rates up, wake up their brains and bodies, and maximize the time we have with them!  Getting students moving and engaged from the beginning of class can be challenging at times, but I have learned that having a simple activity makes a world of difference in classroom management and overall learning. There are tons and tons of these activities and every teacher can put their own spin on them to make them successful for their students. I have borrowed many such activities from lots of great teachers. Here are some of my favorite instant activities that I have used over the years to get students engaged and moving from the get-go!

Ultimate Tag / Everybody’s It tag

  • Everyone is a tagger and Everyone can tag anyone
  • If a student gets tagged they must sit down until the person who tagged them gets tagged.
  • Once the person who tagged them gets tagged then the student can stand up and join the game
  • If they tag each other at the same time, they do rock-paper-scissors. The winner keeps going and the loser sits down

2 Person Tag

  • Partner students up as they walk into the gym
  • Students play rock paper scissors
  • The student that wins runs away and is the runner
  • The student that loses does 5 jumping jacks and then is the chaser
  • Once a tag is made repeat.

Fast Feet

  • Students put a flag or ribbon in their shoe so that it hangs out and touches the ground
  • The goal is to try and step on other student’s flags and pull them out of their shoes while protecting your flag in your shoe
  • If a student’s flag gets pulled out, they must go to the middle of the gym and answer a question from the board, based on the color of the flag they have. Either to the teacher or another student (examples below)
    • RED- What’s the best thing you’ve learned today?
    • PURPLE- Favorite activity?
    • BLUE- What is your favorite part of school?
    • YELLOW-What is your biggest fear?
    • ORANGE- what have you done to make someone smile today?
    • GREEN- What was your favorite memory from the last school year?
    • Then they switch flags and re-enter the game.

Atom Ball

  • As students enter the gym, put them in groups of 5 or more.
  • Students get into a circle standing foot to foot with feet shoulder-width apart
  • Each group gets a reaction ball
  • Place the ball on the ground
  • Students use an open hand to swat the ball around the circle
  • The goal is to hit the ball between someone else’s legs and protect it from going between yours
  • If a student gets out they must do an exercise of their choice and then join a different group

Four Line

  • 4 cones about 10 ft apart, one poly spot in the corner
  • 2 people on each line between the cones
  • The person on the poly spot is the server
  • The server hits the ball across the square
  • The ball must stay on the ground
  • The object is to knock the ball past other people while protecting your line for the ball going past
  • If the ball goes past the line between a person and a cone or between a person’s legs, that person is out.
  • If the ball goes past the line between two people both people are out.
  • When someone is out, new people rotate in.

I try to teach my students these games during the first few weeks of school and after that, they run themselves as they enter the gym. No matter what activities or routines you use, remember why you do what you do… and that’s what is important.

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  • Joe Bishop

    Joe is in his 15th year of teaching physical education. He currently teaches at South Middle School in Aurora, Colorado. In 2016 Joe was named SHAPE Colorado Middle School Teacher of the year. Joe has served on the SHAPE Colorado Board for over 11 years. When not teaching, Joe loves to spend time outdoors, hiking, biking, golfing paddle boarding, enjoying the fresh air and Colorado sunshine!

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