July is National Parks and Recreation Month, and it’s a great time to encourage more kids and adults to visit national, state, and city parks. What better way to spend outside at a park than with some physical activities that keep you active, engaged, and having fun? At S&S, we attend several workshops and share some ways to spend a day at the park enjoying team building games, parachute activities, tossing games, and more.
When we go to parks, we are looking for a variety of activities, views, open spaces, and resources we don’t have at home. Among the natural resources that parks provide for recreation, S&S has an unlimited number of resources that support the goals of our national parks and the programs many of them run. We have shared a few below.
Governors Island, NY
Cooperation Kickball Game
In this kickball game, the kicker kicks the ball and starts running around the bases without stopping. Meanwhile, a fielder catches the ball and the fielder’s team lines up behind them. When everyone gets in line, they pass the ball either over their heads to each other or under all of their legs to the last person who yells STOP. When this happens, the runner in the first team is out if they did not cross homeplate. If the ball pops out without going through all the legs, the ball must be contained and brought back to the person who was missed, or that person can go to the end of the line to make sure they either “STOP” the play or get the ball through their legs or over their heads, depending on what pass was selected.
Variations: Challenge participants with using a larger ball, like this 16″ playground ball.
This activity combines teamwork, listening, reaction time, balance, anticipation, and movement! The standing noodle exchange allowed me to play the game with 12 noodles and 40 players. The first group of 12 players started close to each other, and as they moved without dropping a noodle, they took a step back. When they dropped a noodle, they traded places with one of the players that was watching. Once we stepped back far enough I brought all the participants into the group, so some had a noodle and some didn’t, but everyone moved.
Variations: I added different directions and words to indicate direction, such as left/right, derecha/izquierda, or port/starboard. If you have speakers, you can also make this a game like musical chairs – move until the music stops!
PE teacher Fran Kreisberg shared a video on PE Central of students practicing this activity. Members of the PE Central group can view the video here.
You can also view the video below from Raising Dragons’ Youtube channel.
Giant Ball Pass
This is another game that allowed me to scale based on how many wanted to play. Initially you can do it with a group of just a few, then you can put two lines of players next to each other and they can compete passing the ball (under control) from feet to feet backwards to see who moves the ball faster. Other variations are allowing people to use their hands and pass the ball backwards without looking or you can give them a bigger challenge with a smaller ball (like a kickball) and if people don’t want to lay down and pass the ball then they can support and participate by cheering and collecting the ball when it gets kicked away from the group.
The video below from That Teaching Spark was shared on the PE Central Facebook group and inspired this idea!
Randalls Island, NY
I love this game because it can be scaled to any size group, field, ability, and age. I can use different types of balls to throw at the target to incorporate STEM and challenges. Meanwhile, there is so much history to the game both within professional sports and recreational play. Not only can everyone play this game, but the story behind the game can inspire even your most difficult players. Download and print this PDF to learn how to play Angleball.
Variations: Use handballs as a variation to make the game more challenging.
Everyone loves a parachute – the colors, the movement, the music that typically goes along with it, the flying objects, the challenges, and the ability for all to participate. There are so many activities and variations, including the mushroom, where everyone can get under the parachute. Some favorites I have experienced over the years are when kids lay on their back under a parachute while people outside lift it up fast at the count of three, and they also love sitting in the middle of the parachute while everyone shakes it, so you are enveloped in color and wind!
A fun idea for the summer on a hot day is called a Shower Shake. Simply lay the parachute down and allow several players to go sit in the middle, then pour water along the outer edge, holding the edges down, on the count of three lift and shake! It creates a great shower for those sitting in the middle.
Parachute games, Angleball, and games with a net are also great for Adapted PE. They are inclusive and can be adapted in many ways.
View more Parachute Play ideas here!
Pop Up Parks
Another exciting place to visit this summer is called a Pop Up Park. You often see these in cities such as New York. I was able to attend one in Penn Station that included activities and equipment like Jumbo Chess, hula hoops, juggling, Gator Skin® balls, and more.
If you are planning some jumbo activities for your group to celebrate National Parks and Recreation Month, here are some of our favorites:
Submitted By: Brian Armstrong, Key Accounts Representative at S&S Worldwide
More About the Author: Brian Armstrong began working with S&S Worldwide in the spring of 2015. His background includes 9 years as a Middle School Special Education teacher, 5 years as an After School Program Manager and Summer Camp Advisor, and 3 years as a Fundraising Consultant. He has three children that have helped him become an expert in the products and activities that he works with at S&S. Fusing his personal and professional experiences, Brian has been a huge support to his his customers and co-workers with providing solutions and ideas for their programs.