By J.D. Hughes ( pe2themax.com)
The Hula Hut Phenomenon
I never knew since coining the phrase “Hula Huts” in a cooperative lesson I created in the mid-90s, entitled Hula Hut Relays, that there would be an overwhelming response worldwide leading to what appears to have become the Hula Hut phenomenon. The game made its debut in my first book No Standing Around in My Gym (Human Kinetics, 2001) and did not really get any traction until I started giving demonstrations of the lesson at local school districts and state conferences. Now, just about anywhere you look on social media like Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and most recently on a Philippine children’s television show, you will find numerous Hula Hut demonstrations, creations, modifications, and ideas flooding the internet.
My teaching career started as a high school teacher with a major focus on being a coach and unfortunately, “roll the ball out” was my main go to strategy for physically educating students. My circumstances soon changed the following year, leading me to an elementary physical education position and I quickly realized the day 60 kindergarteners came bouncing in my gym that my “go to strategy” was quickly going to lead to a HUGE FAIL! It was a tough first year, but interestingly enough I fell in love with those little rug rats and set out to doing whatever it would take to physically educate these students. The internet was very new and foreign to me anyways, so I read anything I could get my hands on to improve my craft. In 1996, I attended my first physical education workshop, attempting to find useful behavior and classroom management strategies along with some fun, games and activities for large classes. The fellow that was presenting slips my mind and the day was a blur, but I vividly remember one idea that in retrospect helped ignite my future love of writing.
Interestingly enough, the activity shared was not even a lesson or game at all. In fact, it was a simple demonstration on how to use six hula hoops to build a “Geo Dome” as a house for children to sit inside. Hula hoops and hula hooping were not part of my repertoire so seeing this creation blew my mind!
I loved the idea, but knew it was not useful “as is” in my classes of 60 or more to get students active. I renamed Geo Dome to Hula Hut Relay, wrote the following procedures, and tested it out.
Hula Hut Relay
*I prefer using the 36″ Spectrum Flat Hoops
— JD Hughes (@pe2themax) September 26, 2017
A quick, 1-time demonstration (to encourage listening) of how to build a hula hut will be provided by the teacher.
To build a hula hut, place 1 hoop on the ground to be the foundation. Place 2 hoops on the inside edge of the foundation, but on opposite sides of each other and lean them together at 45-degree angles. Place 2 more hoops on the inside edge of the foundation, but on opposite sides of the other 2 hoops. Again, lean them together at 45-degree angles over the first two hoops. The sixth hoop, which is the roof, is placed on top to hold the walls in place.
Form groups of 4-8 and give each team 6 hula-hoops. On the signal, each group will work together, building their hula hut as quickly as possible. Once the hut is completed, each team must successfully get all team members through one side of the hut and out the other without knocking it down. If the hut is knocked down, quickly repair it and attempt to get everyone through the hut successfully. The first team to complete this wins! Remember that EVERYONE must go through the hut. Play another round and see who can do it the fastest.
- Add blindfolds by making a few students in each group wear them. Teams must now use lots of verbal communication (no touching!) to get their teammates through the hula huts.
- Make up your own method of getting through the huts in order to win. For fun, build another hut on the existing hut. How many stories can you build? Hula hut building also can be a fun activity for all children on Fun Days.
Hula Hut Relay was action packed, challenging, and very cooperative, proving to be a huge success and has since become a staple game in my Cooperative Unit to this very day.
Protecting a Hut in Hula Hut Throw Down
The overwhelming success of Hula Hut Relays with my students and teachers who had attended my workshops and sessions put into motion another Hula Hut game creation. A frequent reader of Great Activities and visitor to the PE Central website, I came across Castle Ball (Louis Larouche, PE Central; Nancy Kelley-Cram, Great Activities), a game where teams are given castles (Hula Huts) and opposing teams try to destroy the castles. Oddly enough, their idea of building the castles was referenced from Hula Hut Relays. I reached out to the authors and gained permission to build off their idea of castles and created the game of Hula Hut Throw Down, a non-stop, action packed game adapted from Hula Hut Relays.
Hula Hut Throw Down combines the art of hula hut building, the strategical tactics incorporated in offense and defense, the skills of hitting various targets, along with the “never give up” attitude it takes to be successful. Go to my website to check it out and get a free download at pe2themax.com/product/hula-hut-throw-down.
I have thoroughly enjoyed teaching Hula Hut Relays to thousands of students and teachers over the years, but seeing how the game has evolved and created a new frenzy of fun, cooperative activities goes beyond what I ever fathomed. Check out some of the games’ evolution on the PE Specialist website and on YouTube. Please share any of your experiences with Hula Huts in the comments.
Hula Hut Popularity on Twitter
— Lisa Foster (@MrsLFoster) September 21, 2018
Pe is such a fun place! Hula hut building! pic.twitter.com/0TvSmGIG1C
— WestsideCabot (@WestsideCabot) September 28, 2018
— Rob Maldonado (@RobMaldonado5) September 24, 2018
Hula Hut Throwdown
Hula Hut Throwdown ready! Thanks J.D. Hughes and Ben Landers! pic.twitter.com/FDX6UbHAky
— Danielle DeLappe (@DanielleDelappe) May 31, 2018
— Isaac Russell PE (@PEIsaacR) November 10, 2016
Hula Hut Variations
— N Donnelly (@ndonnelly14) January 25, 2018
— Tami Voegeli (@hofervt) December 19, 2018
— Mike Graham (@pe4everykid) September 11, 2018
Hula Hut Challenges
— Patrick (@PatStiner) September 6, 2018
This 3rd grade group successfully accepted the challenge of moving their hula hut with two jump ropes!! @GGEseagulls @ccpsDRIVE2BFIT @Kaeta_Choquette @DoaneTeresa #teamworkmakesthedreamwork pic.twitter.com/B7hU7pX7Zl
— PE & Wellness at GGE (@HealthySeagulls) September 14, 2018
Hula Hut Challenge with 4th grade! Challenge #6: Each student must crab walk through their hula hut! pic.twitter.com/q9LtexaRrt
— Mrs. McClure (@ParkwayManorPE) January 3, 2019
About J.D. Hughes
J.D. Hughes has taught elementary physical education since 1995 in Douglasville, GA. He has received numerous awards including 2015 Georgia and Southern District SHAPE America Elementary PE Teacher of the Year and the GAHPERD Acknowledgement Award. J.D. provides a challenging yet developmentally appropriate physical education learning environment striving for motor skill and social skills development, physical fitness and cognitive awareness as recognized by SHAPE standards. He has published five books and produced four related DVDs including No Standing Around in My Gym, PE2theMax, PE2theMax II, PE² and HyPEd Up.
Visit his website at pe2themax.com for more PE resources!
You can also check out JD’s page on our site!