Escape Room Activities for Physical Education

Engaging middle school students in a Physical Education lesson can sometimes be challenging. With this in mind, I am always trying to be creative and come up with new and fun ideas that are engaging for students, but are also aligned with curriculum standards. (Check out my Fortnite PE Activity blog post after trying this activity!)

While brainstorming ideas for new and fun lessons, the thought of an “Escape Room” came to mind. I have experienced the adventure of escape rooms in the past and found them to be a great physical activity. Therefore, I decided to develop a PE lesson that would simulate an Escape Room game.

Set Up

The basic set up is to split the gym into 4 to 8 “rooms” using standing mats. Each room has an interdisciplinary problem to solve, a skill to perform, and a fitness routine.

Anywhere from 6 to 14 students can go through each room, but, based on your class size, you may need to designate a section of the gym for students to complete fitness and sport skill stations while they wait their turn. Or, if you have a co-teacher or assistant, you can divide the gym and set up equal numbers of “rooms” on opposite sides of the gym and have two groups compete at the same time. (You can use the honest system too if you believe your students will fairly and honestly complete the rooms without supervision.)

Escape Room Examples

I will explain each of the rooms that I came up with. However, you can add or modify the rooms to fit your needs! When incorporating interdisciplinary skills in the PE classroom, consult with the students’ teachers to find out what they are learning.

Room 1 – Math

escape room physed

Equipment needed:

The interdisciplinary skill in this room is Math. Students are given 3 math problems to solve. The solutions to the problems are the number combinations needed to open a lock that I placed inside a treasure chest along with a basketball and instructions to the skill and fitness component that the students must complete. (The treasure chest is a wooden box my grandpa made me when I was younger. You can use anything that locks like a combination lock box, or just have them complete a math problem, and, if they get it correct, hand them the basketball.)

Next, one student takes the ball and tries for a foul shot. This student cannot perform anymore skills after this one. (This gives every student a chance to perform a skill.) While this student is attempting the foul shot, the other team members perform a fitness exercise. In the example shown below, the exercise is push-ups. Once the student successfully makes the shot, the team can stop doing push-ups and move ahead to the next room.

Room 2 – Science

escape room PE

Equipment needed:

The interdisciplinary skill in this room is Science. Students are given a science question related to a topic they have recently learned. For this activity, I place several balls in a corner and attach sealed envelopes with answers to the science question on them. Some envelopes will have a note saying “wrong answer try again.” The envelope with the correct answer will have the instructions to the skill, and the fitness component to be performed in it.

In the example below, the envelope instructed them to have one student pick up the football and throw it from the poly spot or from the “x” marked in tape on the ground successfully through the hula hoop suspended in a corner of the room.  While the one student is trying to complete the skill, the rest of the students are doing planks as their fitness component. After successfully completing the skill, everyone moves into the next room.

Room 3 – Social Studies

PE Escape Room

Equipment needed:

In this room, the interdisciplinary skill is social studies. Students will complete a Social Studies question related to a topic they are learning. In this room, there will be many and different sets of equipment, such as a golf club and ball, a racquet and birdie, and a pickle ball paddle and ball. Similar to room 2, there will be several envelopes with answers in them. The envelope with the correct answer will have the directions and fitness component inside. The instructions will direct one student to grab the racquet and birdie and attempt to hit the birdie with the racquet from a poly spot into a bucket about 5-10 feet away. The other students will be completing sit-ups until the student is successful. They will then move into room number 4.

Room 4 – Arts

Escape Room activity PE

Equipment needed:

Students will complete a language arts problem. There will be several envelopes with keys inside them. The envelope with the correct answer will have the right key to open a safe. Inside the safe will be 4 jump ropes and the instructions for the skill and the fitness component. Four students will use the 4 jump ropes to move a volleyball from on top of one cone to another without dropping it. If they drop it, they must place the ball on the starting cone and start over. The other students will be completing jumping jacks while the skill is being performed. Once successful, students move into room 5.

Now that you get the idea, I will briefly explain the last 4 room activities. Each of these rooms will have several envelopes with answers inside.

Additional Escape Rooms

Room 5

Escape Room PE activity

Interdisciplinary – World language question

Skill – Frisbee throw through a hula hoop or into a net

Fitness – Leg raises

Room 6

PE escape room activity

Interdisciplinary – Art question

Skill – Students will lie down on their backs with their legs against a wall. The first student will start with a yoga ball pressed against the wall with his/her feet. They need to successfully pass the ball from the starting spot to the end line 10-15 feet away without using their hands. If they drop the ball, they need to start over. After the student passes the ball, they have to get up and go to the end of their line and lay down to successfully complete this skill.

Fitness – None, as all students participate

Room 7

Escape room physed activity

Interdisciplinary – Health Question

Skill – Chipping a golf ball into a chipping net

Fitness – Mountain Climbers

Room 8

escape room for physical education

Interdisciplinary – Current Event’s Question (This should involve something that interests the students, for example, Fortnite)

Skill – Students will all stand on a small tarp and flip the tarp over successfully while only using their feet and never stepping off the tarp.

Fitness – None, as all students participate

These are just a few room ideas, but the possibilities are endless! Remember to only allow students to perform one skill so that everyone gets a chance. (Unless the skill calls for all students.) You can also have the students rotate after each attempt at a skill until they successfully complete the skill. Check out the video below for visuals of this idea! This is a great activity as it fortifies what the students are learning in other subjects while not compromising the integrity of the physical education lesson.

About the Author:

Erik Schlemm is a Health and Physical Education teacher with one year of teaching experience. Erik graduated from Montclair State University and is an advocate of incorporating interdisciplinary learning and technology into physical education classes. His School Videos YouTube channel is starting to grow so be sure to check it out.

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5 thoughts on “Escape Room Activities for Physical Education

  1. I am excited to try this! I do not have a gym or mats so I will need to be creative with the space! Also, does everyone start in different rooms? Or does one team start and when they have completed the mission, they move on and the next group goes into room 1? If that is the case, what are the students doing while they are waiting?

  2. Dear Professor Schlemm, thank you so much for sharing your experience,

    I’d like to make something similar here in northern Italy and this page is gourgeous.

    I’d have only a question at the moment;
    What did you use to split the gym into eight different rooms?
    Did you only draw the lines on the floor or did you physically separate the space (i.e., using paper or cloth wall)?

  3. Escape Room fails to unlock much of the potential in its premise, but what is left is still tense and thrilling, and should keep the students engaged in the different activities.

  4. The best way to implement physical education is with the help of interactive games. It will allow students to be interested in it which will lead to better exercise or activity.

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