Rock-Paper-Scissors Warm-Up

The classic game of rock-paper-scissors (R-P-S) can be used in the physical education classroom in many ways.

Students continuously travel from one corner to the next performing previously learned dynamic warm-up movements. Before moving to the next corner, students must participate in warm up activities. They first challenge someone to a game of ‘action-based’ R-P-S where they jump up and down three times, showing their choice on the third landing. To play “Rock” students land with both feet together and hands down at sides, “Paper” is landing with hands straight out to side and both feet spread apart (make a flat wall), or “Scissor” is landing with both feet spread apart front to back (like open scissors).

If a student wins the R-P-S challenge, they read the warm up activities sign to see the next one to perform, and travel to the next corner to find someone new to challenge. If a student loses they find another person in the same corner to challenge. The activity is inclusive for all abilities, can go on for any amount of time, can be used as an active warm-up or a longer large group fitness activity (I’d recommend you change up the different versions of Rock-Paper-Scissor movements or types of dynamic movements) and can be used to promote positive relationships amongst peers.  The combinations are endless!

Extensions:Students Playing Rock Paper Scissors - Warm Up Activities

  • Use a different version of R-P-S: Bear-Fish-Mosquito.
    • Bear = arms up and arched in claws.
    • Fish = hands together making a fishy swimming motion.
    • Mosquito = hand(s) pinched close like a stinging bug.
  • Have students jump up and down six times instead of three.
  • If a student loses three times in a row, they travel to the next corner and continue play.
  • Promote positive relationships: Challenge students to play against a different person each time so they interact with others. They can shake hands before they face-off or after. Have them introduce themselves before they play, etc.
  • End with a culminating class challenge: When a person wins, the person they beat will travel with them and will cheer them on as they find a new winner to challenge. As people continue to win their traveling cheer team will grow until two teams remain and do a final face-off in class.

Want more on Rock-Paper-Scissors? See my 2012 NASPE Talk Blog Post on Racquet-Skills Rock-Paper-Scissors and how I use it to teach tennis scoring and game play.
Continuing the Conversation: What other ideas do you have for using the game of Rock-Paper-Scissors?

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