Hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills has always been an important component in my elementary physical education program. Through my 15 years of teaching P.E., I noticed that a lot of many students lack hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.
One thing I have always done each year to help students develop these skills is Sport Stacking – view the blog here. However, I’m always looking for new activities!
Three years ago I decided to incorporate the game of Jacks (the mini ones). It did not take long for the students to catch on to the game. As a matter of fact, a lot of our faculty and staff at MSA-West would come participate in our P.E. class just so they could play jacks. Most of our guest had played Jacks as a child, and loved sharing their knowledge with our students. After the first few days of playing jacks, I had at least 6 parents contact me asking where they could purchase a set of jacks for their child. It was so rewarding to know students were taking what we did in class and now playing it at home too. Most of the time I use jacks when we do stations or when we have limited space. I have also included a few sets of jacks in our recess kits.
I was so thrilled to find out that S&S Worldwide started carrying Jumbo Jacks. This was my way of incorporating fitness and cooperation. Learn more about the Jack set below and the 4 activities I use the most during our Jacks unit.
About Jumbo Jacks
Jumbo Jacks are exclusive to S&S! They come in a set of 10 and measure 8-3/8 inches. The jacks are lightweight yet durable, made of hollow high-density polyethylene plastic. Our innovatively designed jacks come in 3 sections that quickly screw together. Use them for the activities above, to play traditional jacks games, for relay batons in shuttle races, or create your own activities!
Group Jumbo Jacks
Students need to be put into groups of about 2 to 5 students. Place all the jacks in the middle of the group. Assemble the group in circle around the jacks. You can use polyspots to mark where bounce the ball and cones to set up a perimeter. We usually play Rock, Paper, Scissors to determine who will go first. Student 1 tosses the ball into the air and runs to the center of the circle to grab one jack, letting the ball bounce only once. If the ball bounces twice, the player is fouled, and the next player takes a turn. The student with the most jumbo jacks at the end of the game wins.
Depending on how big the groups are, sometimes I let the students play an individual game of jacks while they are waiting.
Ping Pong Jumbo Jacks
Each student has a ping pong ball and 1 jumbo jack. The student bounces the ball and tries to clap one time before picking up the jack and catching the ball. The student repeats and claps two times before picking up the jumbo jack and catching the ball. Repeat and progress to more claps. If a student misses the ball, they must start back at one clap.
Variations: You could do this same activity using jump jacks or other exercises. Another variation is to do this activity with a partner. To make the game easier, a playground ball or tennis ball may be used.
Jumbo Jacks Eliminate
- 1 set of Jumbo Jacks per group
- 1 Playground Ball or Tennis Ball per group
- Hula Hoops
- 20 Jacks Sets (regular size)
Spread out your jumbo jacks with a space of about 6 inches between each jack. Students need to be put into groups of about 2 to 5 students. Place all the jacks in the middle of the group. Assemble the group in circle around the jacks. You can use polyspots to mark where bounce the ball and cones to set up a perimeter. We usually play Rock, Paper, Scissors to determine who will go first. This student will bounce the ball off the ground and into the air. For an easier game, players are allowed to catch the ball with either one or two hands. For a more challenging game, players are allowed to only catch the ball with one hand. They may want to use part of their arm to hold the jack against their body so they that they have two free hands to catch the ball. If the player is able to pick up a jack and catch the ball before it hits the ground without dropping the jack, they remain in the game. If they fail to pick up a jack and or catch the ball before it hits the ground, they are out of the game. After the first student has made his or her attempt, they pass the ball to the player on their left for them to try.
After all players have attempted to bounce the ball, pick up one jack and catch the ball the next round starts. Only the players that were successful at picking up one jack are involved in the next round. If a player gets out, I have the student(s) play an individual game of jacks using the regular size sets until the game starts over. I have these individual games set up in hula hoops around the playing area. In the second round, players try to bounce the ball and pick up 2 jumbo jacks before the ball hits the ground. Round 2 continues until all players have had a chance to try to pick up 2 jumbo jacks. The game continues with one jack being added in each round until only one player is left and declared the winner. Once the game is over all the players start over.
Variation: Instead of a player being eliminated, have them do some type of exercise to get back in (ex. jumping jacks). Another way to play is each player is on his or her own level.
Double Bounce Jumbo Jacks Elimination
Play any of the above the games, but in this variation the ball is allowed to bounce twice before the player must catch the ball.
About Jennie Graves:
I am a Physical Education teacher in Plaquemine, Louisiana who loves crafting, my students, my family, and riding on the back of my husband’s Harley Davidson. I currently live in Addis, Louisiana with my husband Chris and our three kids: Abby, Wyatt and Kameron. This is my 17th year as an Elementary P.E. teacher. I got my Master’s Degree in Kinesiology from LSU. Go Tigers!