As I write this, we are in the middle of a heat wave. The highs have been above 90 degrees, and the lows have been down in the 70s going on a week now. The humidity is high every day and night.
As an adult, it is very memorable when it is excessively hot. But looking back on my camping days, both as a counselor and camper, I cannot recall if any given summer was hotter than another, or if there was one particular stretch of high heat like the one we are currently experiencing. No, I can only remember the joys of playing games, swimming, laughing, and the freedom I felt. And I imagine that many of you reading this have similar memories where nuanced details, such as the day’s temperature and humidity while you played gaga ball for the 17th time, disappear like time itself. Because of this scorching heat wave, I thought I would share some large group games to help turn those hot days into fun memories that outlast the heat.
Center Ball Toss
To play, you will need a couple of large balls, or “earth balls”, as I call them. They should be about 4 feet tall and inflatable. You will also need a lot of smaller balls that are not too hard – the Gator Skin® Softi Balls work great. Set the two large balls in the center of the playing area and separate everyone into two groups. Put one group on each side of the playing area behind a line that they cannot cross. The game is simple – each team must throw the small balls at the large balls in the center to get the large balls to cross the other team’s line. The team that does this first wins!
Clean Up Your Room/Messy Backyard
This game is a favorite of many physical educators and most children as well. There is something about this game that is inherently fun. Maybe it is the ultracompetitive nature of the game or the simple joy of throwing things. No matter how you look at it, kids go googly-eyed for it. And even though it goes by different names, once you explain the rules, your group will likely have a lightbulb moment as they exclaim “Hey, I know this game!”
You will need several cones as well as a plethora of fleece balls. Place the cones in the middle of the playing area to cut the area in half and create two sides. Spread the balls close to the cones and evenly on each side of the room. Separate the group into two teams. Have each team go to the end of their side farthest from the cones.
When you tell the students to begin, they will run to the middle and start throwing the fleece balls over to the other side of the playing area. The goal is to try to get all of their team’s balls onto the other team’s side before you tell them to stop or use a stop signal. The team with the cleanest side wins that round. The game should be played for rounds of 3 to 5 minutes each. Students cannot throw the ball after you say stop, or their team loses. They also cannot intentionally throw the ball at another person. You can even change the game by making the players kick the balls over. You can also make the rounds shorter and mix up the teams. Keeping it fresh keeps it fun for everyone. Now, go clean up your room!
The beauty of this game is twofold. First, it involves no equipment. Second, it involves a reference to a very old movie called “The Blob.” The students will likely not get the reference, but you will!
The game is simple in nature but a bit challenging to play. You start with two students hooking arms. Their goal is to tag another student. When tagged, that third student must hook arms with the other two; thus, they start to form a blob. If you watched the movie or Googled it, you know what this should look like. Students may take to calling it chain or slime tag, which is more within their understanding. The game continues until one student is left. That student then starts as the tagger for the next game.
The blob cannot split apart to try to tag someone. If they do so, it does not count. You can also start with two blobs and see which one gets the most people in their group first. Ensure that the students are communicating with each other so that they are not going at different speeds and pulling each other down. Explain that they need to communicate whenever they want to go slower or faster or need a break. This game’s sub-focus is on cooperation and teamwork.
Once the students understand the game and have played around, they will want to play more. And in a large space, it takes time for the game to finish and gives students plenty of space to move and rest as needed. Watch out for The Blob!
Now you have three amazing large group games you can repeat on those inside or under-the-shade days, especially during days of excessive weather. If you have less-than-ideal space to play these games, check out this limited-space equipment pack. It comes with 10 games you can play in a limited space and the equipment you need to play them. Plus, you get a colored 96-page guide, including instructions and images.
As I contemplate how I will make it through the next two days of this heat wave, I hope you have found this useful. If you have a game you think is worth sharing, tell us about it below!
About the Author:
Charles Silberman has worked as a counselor and camp PE teacher for over 25 years and is currently a PE teacher at an Elementary School. He has become a leader and advocate for incoming physical educators by running workshops on teaching in limited space at staff in-services and conferences, assisting with new teacher orientations, and other initiatives. Charles has also created a niche as a physical education specialist who fuses technology and primary instructional subjects into physical education lessons.