Gym games for kindergarten physical education (P.E.) classes should mix fun with basic motor skills. The Society of Health and Physical Educators, or SHAPE America, has set national P.E. standards for each grade level to help you identify which skills need to be included in your gym games for kindergarten.
Indoor Gym Games for Kindergarten
Indoor gym games for five- and-six-year-olds typically require a large open space like a gymnasium and standard kids' gym equipment such as bean bags, hula hoops, a variety of balls, cones, and music.
Bean Bag Hoopscotch
Gym games that use bean bags are great for this age group because if a child accidentally gets hit with a bean bag, it won't hurt much. This simple game is played like Hopscotch and focuses on the skills of hopping and maintaining momentary stillness in various positions.
- Set up a station with four bean bags and four hula hoops in a circular pattern, each with a position written on a piece of paper placed in them like one-leg stand, squat, downward dog, and crab.
- Set up a separate station that has one bean bag and is a Hopscotch course, or Hoopscotch course, using hula hoops that is at least 7-10 hoops long.
- On a turn, a student goes to the position station and tosses each bean bag until it lands inside a hoop. The order of the positions they land on is the order they use for the Hoopscotch course.
- The student then goes to the Hoopscotch course and tosses the bean bag. The hoop it lands in is how far they have to go.
- The student hops into the first hoop, lands, then strikes their first position and holds it for a count of five.
- The child continues hopping to hoops and holding positions until they reach the bean bag hoop.
- You can set up three of these stations and have kids race against each other or keep track of who goes the farthest correctly in the Hoopscotch course.
Drop, Catch, Throw Tag
The gym teacher and kids will work together to try keeping everyone in this unique game of tag rather than trying to get others out. Kids will practice dropping a ball, catching it before it bounces twice, and throwing it.
- To start, kids should run around the gym like they would in a game of tag while the teacher holds the ball.
- When the teacher yells out "tag," all kids stop and look at her.
- The teacher throws the ball to a student who must drop the ball and catch it before it bounces twice.
- The player throws the ball back to the teacher and the game continues until everyone has had a turn.
- Any child who does not catch or throw the ball properly is out of the game.
Musical Basketball Dribble
Kids will learn to dribble a basketball with one hand in this basketball activity for kids that resembles Musical Chairs. You'll need a basketball for each student and something to play music on.
- Have kids spread out around the gym so they have at least two arm lengths of space between them.
- Start the music and have kids start dribbling.
- When you stop the music, kids must immediately stop dribbling and sit on their ball where they stand.
- If a child has lost control of the ball when the music stops, they can't chase it down.
- Any child who can't/doesn't sit on their ball when the music stops is out.
- The last child left in the game is the winner.
Balloon Name Drop
Students will learn each other's names and how to volley a lightweight object upward in this easy game. You'll need one balloon to play.
- The teacher starts with the ball in the center of the gym while the kids run around him in a clockwise motion.
- The teacher demonstrates how to volley the balloon upward as high as he can while calling out the name of one student.
- That student runs to the center and catches the balloon before it hits the ground.
- The student then repeats the teacher's actions.
- Game play continues until the balloon hits the ground, then it starts over with the teacher in the center.
- As a class, see if you can get each person to volley the balloon once without it ever touching the ground.
Outdoor Gym Games for Kindergarten
Games for children to play outdoors in kindergarten feature large physical movements and throwing or kicking balls because the open space makes them safer games. Look for ways to utilize your natural surroundings or stationary outdoor equipment in gym games.
Over the Line Relay Race
Kindergartners learn how to throw overhand with their opposite foot forward in this simple relay race. You'll need a small ball for each teams, a starting line, a finish line, and five long ropes or a set of five jump ropes for each team. Set the lines and ropes horizontally in line with about ten feet between each rope. Split the class into teams of four.
- The first player on each team starts at the starting line, runs to Line 1 and throws the ball overhand to Player 2 (who is on Line 2) with their opposite foot forward and over Line 1.
- Player 2 runs to Line 3, then throws the ball overhand to Player 3 (who is on Line 4) with their opposite foot forward over Line 3.
- Player 3 runs to Line 5, throws the ball overhand to Player 4 (who is at the finish line) with their opposite foot forward over Line 5.
- Player 4 catches the ball and crosses the finish line.
- Any team member who does not throw the ball properly and within a foot of their next teammate, has to go back to where they started and try again.
Make a standard game of kickball more fun when you play in reverse. Kids learn to kick a stationary ball with the inside of their foot in this wacky game. Set up a standard kickball field with home base, first base, second base, third base, and a pitcher's mound. Split the kids into two equal teams.
- The pitcher is actually the kicker in this game.
- The pitcher sets the ball down and kicks it toward home plate then runs to third base.
- Kids on the kicking team wait behind home plate as they normally would, but step up to the pitcher's mound on their turn to kick.
- Play with all the same rules as kickball only runners go from third base, to second base, to third base, then home to score a run.
Capture the Jump Rope
Set up a simple game of Capture the Flag where each team has a jump rope to protect rather than a flag. This game works best when you have several smaller teams and helps kids learn to jump rope. Each team tries to steal the jump ropes from all the other teams while keeping their own jump rope safe. Each team's jump rope should be within easy reach of others and not held by a team member. If a child steals another team's jump rope, they jump rope back to their "base" where their team's rope is being kept and jump rope using the opponent's rope for the remainder of the game at the base. The team who captures the most other jump ropes while keeping their own safe wins.
Kindergarten Gym Games With No Equipment
When you've got a limited budget or don't want to drag out a bunch of gym equipment, gym games for kindergarteners that don't use any equipment come in handy. These games can be played indoors or outdoors and make it easy for you to utilize your entire gym period without wasting time setting up or getting out supplies.
Red Rover Roll Over
Kids practice the gym standard of rolling sideways in narrow body positions in this take on the classic playground game Red Rover.
- Separate the group into two teams and have them stand in horizontal lines facing each other with about ten feet between them.
- On a turn one team calls out "Red Rover let (insert student name from opposite team) roll over."
- The student they name has to roll sideways from their position until they can reach out and touch one member of the opposite team.
- While the player is rolling, the team who called her counts down from 20 to 0.
- If the player touches an opposing team member before the count of zero, they join that team.
- The team with the most players at the end wins.
Simon Says Secret Dance Tag
Using locomotor skills in response to creative dancing led by the teacher can be a tough standard to incorporate. This fun mash-up of Simon Says and Tag will get the whole class grooving.
- Choose about 10 different dance moves to use in the game.
- Pick one student to be "It" and whisper one of these dance moves to them.
- Play a game of Simon Says using these dance moves as your directives.
- When you say "Simon says" to do the secret dance move you whispered to "It," they get to start trying to tag other kids until you state the next Simon directive.
- Any kids who get tagged also become "It" and you tell them all in secret what the next secret dance move is.
Follow the Pattern
Get ready for wild and crazy kids in this energetic game that incorporates balance activities with moving in patterns. Kids run around the space like they would for tag as the teacher calls out directives every few minutes. Each directive should include what type of movement to use and what pattern to use it in. For example, you might say "Hopping zig-zag!" and kids would have to hop in a zig-zag pattern around the room. If a child does the wrong movement or the wrong pattern, he is out. The last child in the game is the winner. Other actions and patterns to use include:
- Jumping and landing on two feet
- Jumping and landing on one foot
- Hopping on one foot
- Circle pattern
- Straight line forward
- Straight line backward
Get Kids Active in Gym
While gym class is meant to be fun and a place where kids can let off some of their energy, they are also supposed to be learning and practicing important skills to maintain physical health. Kindergarten physical education games and movement games can include competitive and non-competitive activities that feature a variety of physical skills and get kids excited about physical activity.