As physical education teachers, one of our biggest goals is to instill a passion for lifelong learning in our students through physical activity. With this in mind, I try to incorporate plenty of variety into my Unit lessons in order to reach as many of my students’ interests as possible.
Some of my students’ favorite activities include Team Handball, Pickleball, Fitness, Rock Climbing, and many more. Among my students’ preferred activities are those that incorporate Outdoor Yard games. Outdoor yard games such as Kan Jam and Spikeball have become extremely popular in recent years. Outdoor yard games not only teach students the fundamental skills needed for physical activity but also instill a drive for lifelong learning that can motivate students to be active outside of school.
The following Unit on Outdoor Yard games is great for grades 6 through 12. It requires multiple Kan Jam sets, Spikeball sets, ladder ball sets, and a few cone-hole sets (2 hula hoops, 2 cones, and 8 bean bags per set) depending on your class size. I typically devote one day of instruction for each yard game in order to teach the rules, strategies and skills involved before implementing game play. To start, I set up stations throughout the gym. The students will have approximately 10 minutes at each station before they rotate to the next one. This is how my setup looks:
Check out the video I created for visuals of this activity, and a description of each activity below.
Station 1: Cone Hole
The first station is called Cone Hole. It is a cost-effective alternative to the popular game “Cornhole.” In this game, students are paired up and each player takes turn tossing 4 beanbags and trying to score points. A beanbag in the hula hoop counts as 1 point, a beanbag in the cone counts as 3 points. The scores for each team are counted at the end of each round and then the lowest team score is subtracted from the highest team score. For example, if the green team scores 3 points and the red team scores 1 point, subtract 1 from 3 and now the green team is winning 2 to 0. The game is played until a team scores 21 points or the 10 minutes is up.
Station 2: Spikeball
The second station is Spikeball. In this game, students are partnered up and work together in a volleyball-like game. The first team serves off the net and then the other team has 3 attempts to hit it back off the net. If the ball cannot be returned within 3 hits, hits the ground, or the rim, it is a point for the other team. A player cannot double hit the ball or catch/carry the ball. Games are played to 21 or until the 10 minutes is up.
Note: Check out these alternative games if you don’t have the budget for Spikeball.
Station 3: Kan Jam
The third station is Kan Jam (or Saucer Smash). In this game, teammates stand on opposite sides. Team members work together to try to hit a can with a Frisbee. If a student throws the Frisbee and their teammate deflects it off of the can the team scores 1 point. If the Frisbee hits the can directly without being deflected it counts as 2 points. If the Frisbee is deflected inside the top of the can it counts as 3 points. Lastly, in the rare occasion that a student throws the Frisbee through the slot, it counts as an automatic win for that team. Games are played to 21 or until the 10 minutes is up.
Station 4: Ladder Ball
The fourth station is Ladder Ball. In this game, each team takes turn trying to make the rope on one of the ladder rungs. The top rung is worth 1 point, the middle rung is worth 2 points, and the bottom rung is worth 3 points. At the end of the round, teams tally the points and the game is played until 21 points or until the 10 minutes are up.
I hope you and your students enjoy these “Outdoor Yard Games” and let me know how it goes in the comments below!
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.