If you want to engage children in some physical activities that are disguised as play, these outdoor physical education games will be a big hit!
These are great ideas for a kids birthday party or simply as ways to increase physical fitness with your child’s neighborhood playmates.
In addition to the fun outdoor games, physical play like this helps children develop age-appropriate motor skills.
If you’re looking for unique ways to present structured activities for children, these 3 physical education games are a good place to start:
#1 – Builders and Bulldozers
Geared towards the early elementary age, the Builders and Bulldozers game only requires some small cones.
Set up the space with cones spread out randomly. Divide the children into 2 teams — the Builders and the Bulldozers:
- The job of the Bulldozer team is to knock down as many cones as they can.
- The job of the Builders is to pick up the cones that have been knocked down.
From the adult’s perspective, this game has a very simple set-up, and it’s easy for kids to achieve success.
Having the kids ‘walk’ first, then ‘speed walk’, and then ‘jog’, may be beneficial in creating a safe environment.
The underlying skills being worked on are locomotor movements and moving in space. The children can also get a great workout with this activity, and they will surely enjoy the chance to knock things over!
This video shows yet another way to play Builders and Bulldozers:
#2 – Sink the Ship
Children should be familiar with overhand throwing cues and catching to play this game.
Materials needed to play Sink the Ship:
- 4 mats to act as ships
- approximately 20 soft balls
- 20 cones
Divide the group into 4 teams and send each to their ship.
In front of each ship should be a line of 5 cones — these cones will act as the targets for the other teams.
One person on the team should be designated as the ‘life boat’ and have the ability to leave the ship to retrieve balls once the game begins.
The objective of each team is to sink the other ships — by throwing balls and knocking down all of a ship’s cones. Each team starts with 5 balls.
All team members (except for the life boat) must keep at least one foot on the ship at all times!
Overhand throwing is an extremely important skill for children to master early on, and this game provides a fun environment to practice.
This video shows children playing Sink the Ship game:
#3 – Fitness Monopoly
In order to instill the importance of fitness, children need to be exposed to physical activities early — Fitness Monopoly does this in a fun way!
The entire play space is transformed into a game board by creating a large square with poly spots.
Under each spot is a card with a designated activity (jumping jacks, single leg jumps, push ups, or any age appropriate fitness movement).
The adult will roll the dice (preferably large dice), and the kids will move clockwise the specified number of spaces.
When they all arrive on their spots, they look under their own spot, read the card, and perform the activity.
Children may enjoy this game even more if they have a part in the making of the cards!
This video shows how to play the Fitness Monopoly game:
The Bottom Line…
A great addition to all of these outdoor physical education games is music. Music can assist the adult(s) in controlling the tempo and duration of the activities — while also providing some motivation for the kids.
In addition to developing motor skills that the children will utilize throughout their lives, these physical education games will provide a time of fitness and fun that many will never forget!
I grew up playing board games and card games. It's a pastime that I've never outgrown. The games mentioned here are great for your home parties, family game nights, camping outings, and RV road trips. (We play some of them on our cross-country motorcycle trips, too.) When I'm not playing games with my friends and family, you will find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites).