15 Outdoor P.E. Activities for Grades K-12
Good weather draws everyone outdoors, regardless of the season. Younger children naturally adventure outside for playtime, while older children usually gravitate toward more focused activities including team and individual sports.
No matter their age, it’s important for children to use their imaginations and explore their interests when they spend time outside. It’s also a good idea for them to make the most of their time outside by getting valuable exercise.
As a virtual school family, you may have already developed your own physical education program. Below are some ideas geared toward summer that you might not have thought of and may want to add to your list! Or, if you’re a parent who is just starting to develop ideas for your child’s P.E. program, then you may use this list of outdoor physical activities to encourage him or her to stay active. Whatever your situation, the activities on this list will remind you of favorite pastimes and give you new ideas.
Children can get cardiovascular exercise by walking, jogging, or running, but races add excitement and help children increase their speed and agility. Here are some ideas for races.
- Timed scavenger hunt. Set a time limit for kids to find all of the objects on a list of items found in nature. Whoever has the most items when the clock runs out wins. Older children can even coordinate the scavenger hunt.
- Lightning bug hunt. Encourage children to catch as many lightning bugs in a jar as they can, and see who can capture the most. Make sure you set the bugs free again!
- Sponge race. Each participant in this race needs a sponge and two buckets, one filled with water, and the other empty. Participants run from the empty bucket to the full bucket across the yard, filling the sponge and returning to the empty bucket to squeeze the water into it. The first person to fill the empty bucket to the designated line wins.
- Shoebox shoe relays. Take two shoeboxes and tape the lids to them. Cut an opening in each lid that’s big enough for a child’s foot to slip into. The first participant will put on the shoebox shoes and walk as fast as he or she can to the next player, who will then put on the shoes and continue the race. Repeat until all the participants have gotten a turn. Time the group and then tell them to try again to see if they can beat their original time.
- Wash the car. Ask younger kids to guess how long they think it will take to wash the family car. Set a goal and race together to the deadline, giving your arm muscles some good exercise. Teens who are becoming new drivers can try speed-washing on their own to earn privileges for taking out the family car.
Outdoor Yard Sports and Games
These activities require equipment, but you can easily set up and play them in your own yard.
- Field sports. Activities such as handball, kickball, baseball, and flag football require a larger outdoor space and group of players. You’ll need the right athletic balls and materials to mark bases or lines on the grass.
- Net sports. Tennis requires a flat court, but you can set up outdoor volleyball or badminton in the grass. Each sport requires a net, and you’ll also need racquets and birdies or a volleyball. Badminton nets are hung right above the ground, while standard volleyball nets are about seven feet high. Two to four people can play each sport, although larger teams are usually more fun for volleyball. Volleyball is always more fun at the beach, but you might find volleyball courts at a public swimming pool in your area.
- Frisbee games. Ultimate Frisbee is fun for all ages and is more active and competitive than simple catch. You can also try a simple form of Frisbee or disc golf by placing baskets in different parts of the yard and trying to land the Frisbee inside.
- Solitary exercise. Practice jumping rope or Hula-Hooping, both of which are excellent forms of exercise if done regularly.
- Group games. Try some variations on classics: freeze or flashlight tag, Simon Says with balls or other items, and water bottle bowling in the yard.
Outdoor Pool Activities
- Endurance training. Swimming or jogging laps is great for cardio exercise and muscle toning. Both younger and older children who want to become better swimmers and stronger athletes should do laps regularly and track their progress.
- Diving games. Diving for objects at the bottom of the pool helps swimmers practice holding their breath longer. It’s also a lot of fun if you play diving games, such as racing to find as many coins as possible within a time limit or within one breath.
- Water aerobics. Instead of signing up for a water aerobics class, create your own exercise routine for the backyard pool. Children of all ages and their parents can get involved. Watch water aerobics videos to learn some moves, and consider using a pair of water weights.
- Water sports. If you get tired of playing Marco Polo, try more advanced water sports. You need a goal for water polo, a net for volleyball, and a hoop for basketball, and all three require balls.
- Water wars. There are plenty of ways for groups to have fun with water fights. Challenge children to stay on their rafts while practicing their splashing techniques on each other or while shooting water guns.
Let us know your favorite races, games, and sports for the yard and pool.