top of page

PE Games for Elementary Students: 6 Dynamic Physical Education Games to Transform Your Classes

Physical Education games serve as the heartbeat of an engaging and effective physical education curriculum. These activities not only energize PE classes but also bring to life the crucial motor movement, fitness development, and manipulative skills students learn throughout their PE journey. By transitioning from traditional skill practice to dynamic, inclusive games, physical educators can witness firsthand the transformation in their students’ abilities to navigate space, collaborate with peers, and apply strategic thinking in real-time. This evolution in teaching approach aligns seamlessly with the broader educational goals set forth by SHAPE America Standards, ensuring that each game played contributes meaningfully to the development of physically literate individuals.

6 Dynamic PE Games that will Transform Your Physical Education Classes

The incorporation of PE games into the curriculum offers a unique opportunity to cement the foundational skills taught in PE classes. Through carefully designed activities, students can apply and refine these skills in a context that emphasizes fun, engagement, and practical application. This method not only reinforces learning but also enhances students’ ability to adapt and apply various movement patterns and strategies across different situations, fostering a more comprehensive understanding and appreciation for physical activity.

Adhering to the SHAPE America Standards, this article aims to explore the multifaceted benefits of PE games. These standards serve as a guiding framework, illuminating the path towards achieving educational excellence in physical education. By integrating these games, educators can ensure their programs are not just meeting but exceeding the expectations for developing well-rounded, physically literate individuals who value and engage in physical activity for life. Through this lens, we delve into the transformative power of PE games, showcasing their potential to enrich the PE experience for students of all ages.


Benefits of Incorporating PE Games into the Curriculum

Incorporating engaging and fun games into the physical education curriculum offers multifaceted benefits, directly contributing to the development of students' physical, cognitive, and social abilities. These games are instrumental in translating theoretical knowledge into practical skills, enhancing the overall learning experience in physical education.

Benefits of Incorporating PE Games into the Curriculum

Engaging Students in Active Learning

Engaging students in active learning through PE games not only captures their interest but also significantly improves their motor skills and movement patterns. These activities offer a dynamic classroom atmosphere where students are eager to participate and learn. The skills utilized during PE games help address SHAPE America's standards as referenced below:

Fostering Motor Skill Competency (SHAPE America Standard 1)

Fostering Motor Skill Competency (SHAPE America Standard 1)

  • Variety of Movement Patterns: PE games introduce students to a wide range of movements such as throwing, catching, and kicking, helping to build a solid foundation of motor skills.

  • Skill Development Through Play: Engaging in a pe game allows students to practice and refine these skills in a supportive and enjoyable setting, encouraging continued participation and improvement.

Application of Knowledge and Skills (SHAPE America Standard 2)

Application of Knowledge and Skills (SHAPE America Standard 2)

  • Strategic Thinking and Decision Making: Games often require students to use strategy and make quick decisions, applying their understanding of movement concepts in real-time scenarios.

  • Real-World Skill Application: Through small and large group games, students learn how to apply movement principles and strategies, enhancing their ability to perform and collaborate effectively.


Promoting Physical Fitness and Well-being

By making physical activity enjoyable and varied, PE games motivate students in a middle, high or elementary school to participate more frequently, contributing to a healthier lifestyle. These activities are essential in demonstrating that fitness can be fun and rewarding, encouraging students to remain active both in and outside of school.

Maintaining Physical Activity Levels (SHAPE America Standard 3)

Maintaining Physical Activity Levels (SHAPE America Standard 3)

  • Regular Engagement: PE games ensure students are actively participating throughout the class, contributing to their daily physical activity quota.

  • Health-Enhancing Fitness: Activities are designed to improve cardiovascular health, strength, flexibility, and endurance, supporting a lifelong journey towards a healthy lifestyle.

Incorporating PE games into the educational framework allows physical educators to create a dynamic and engaging learning environment. By aligning these games with the SHAPE America Standards, educators can ensure that students not only achieve their physical education goals but also develop a lifelong appreciation for health and fitness.


The Role of PE Games in Promoting Social and Personal Responsibility

Physical Education games are essential in teaching more than just physical skills; they foster social and personal responsibility, encouraging students to act with respect and integrity both on and off the field. By embedding these values into the curriculum, students can partake in healthy competition and educators can leverage PE games to promote growth in every student, directly aligning with SHAPE America's Standards 4 and 5.

Cultivating Responsible Behavior and Respect

PE games serve as a practical tool for educators to instill important social skills, such as cooperation, respect, and responsible behavior, crucial for personal development and academic success.

Teamwork and Fair Play (SHAPE America Standard 4)

Teamwork and Fair Play (SHAPE America Standard 4)

  • Combined Effort and Responsibility: Games provide a context for students to practice teamwork and experience the importance of fair play. These activities encourage students to take responsibility for their actions and understand their impact on the group's success.

  • Respect for Diversity: Diverse PE games allow students to interact with a wide range of peers, teaching them to respect and value different abilities and backgrounds, fostering a culture of inclusivity and empathy.


Highlighting the Value of Physical Activity

Through engaging and enjoyable PE games, students can discover the comprehensive benefits of physical activity, including its impact on health, personal fulfillment, and social well-being.

Enhancing Health and Wellness (SHAPE America Standard 5)

  • Boosting Self-Esteem: Regular participation in PE games emphasizes the importance of physical activity for maintaining health, highlighting its role in enhancing physical and mental well-being.

  • Promoting Enjoyment and Self-Expression: Cooperative games or activities like an obstacle course offer students a platform for challenge, enjoyment, and expressing themselves, encouraging a lifelong engagement with physical activity for pleasure and personal achievement.

  • Facilitating Social Interaction: By participating in PE games, students develop social skills and build relationships, understanding the value of physical activity in creating and maintaining social bonds.

Incorporating PE games into the educational framework not only meets the SHAPE America Standards but also enriches the learning environment. Educators are equipped to guide students in developing a sense of responsibility, respect for themselves and others, and an appreciation for the integral role of physical activity in achieving a balanced and fulfilling life.


Featured PE Games

Explore the following selection of 6 dynamic PE games crafted to inject excitement, teamwork, and strategic thinking into your physical education classes. With each game offering distinct objectives and skill sets, they guarantee to captivate every student, reshaping your PE lessons into exciting and inclusive adventures. These featured games are perfect for aligning with SHAPE America's Standard 2 which states: The physically literate individual applies knowledge of concepts, principles, strategies and tactics related to movement and performance.

SHAPE America's Standard 2 which states: The physically literate individual applies knowledge of concepts, principles, strategies and tactics related to movement and performance.


Game Overview

BattleShip - PE Games

Battleship is an engaging and fun game, that emphasizes students' development of

throwing, rolling, and blocking skills within a teamwork and strategy-focused context. Set in a naval-themed arena, this game challenges students to collaborate and think strategically as they aim to "sink" opposing teams' ships by knocking over their pins, simulating the battle on the high seas.

Equipment Needed

  • 8 – 12 mats (representing battleships)

  • 6 pins per battleship

  • Velcro tape or other markers for pin placement

  • 8-12 flags or flagpoles (one for each battleship)

  • Matching scrimmage vests for scuba divers

  • 20-30 gatorskin balls

  • 20-30 yarn balls

Game Setup

Transform your gym into a vast naval battlefield with battleships stationed around the perimeter. Each battleship is represented by a mat, with six pins set around it to act as targets. A flag at the front signifies the ship's presence. Distribute various balls around the gym class floor as ammunition. Assign 4 – 8 students to each battleship, with one person from each team wearing a vest matching their flag color as the scuba diver. Designate one student from each team as a "scuba diver," identified by a vest matching their team's flag, who will operate off the mat to gather balls - the ammunition.

BattleShip - PE Games

Rules and Gameplay

  1. The objective is for teams to sink opposing battleships by knocking over their pins using balls.

  2. When all a team's pins are down, that battleship is considered sunk, and they must lower their flag.

  3. Even after being sunk, teams can continue to play and aim to sink the remaining battleships.

  4. Players must manage their positions on their mat, covering their battleship effectively.

  5. Each team has a scuba diver who collects balls from the gym floor to distribute to their respective teams but they cannot block shots. Each ball is like a hot potato and must be rolled quickly to a teammate.

  6. Scuba divers can gather multiple balls at a time but must avoid interfering with the gameplay.

  7. Players on the battleships must not step off the mat, doing so may result in a penalty such as knocking down one of their own pins.

  8. The game concludes when only one battleship remains or the one with the most pins standing after a predetermined time. Reset the pins after the conclusion and the game continues

Teaching Tips

Differentiation/Modification: Consider using taped-off areas or cones to define battleships for easier setup. Adjust the type and size of balls to modify the game's difficulty and Change the number of pins required to sink a battleship based on skill levels. You can also vary the number of scuba divers based on team size and skill.

Safety: Encourage players to maintain positions on their mats to prevent falls. Scuba divers should be cautious of their surroundings to avoid collisions with players or obstacles.

Assessment: Assess students on their ability to apply proper throwing, rolling, and blocking techniques. Observe students' teamwork and strategic planning, ensuring they adhere to game rules and demonstrate fair play.


Storm the Castle

Game Overview

Storm the Castle - PE Games

Storm the Castle focuses on the dynamic skills of dodging, fleeing, chasing, and tagging within a large group setting. This medieval-themed, multi-faceted tag game encourages students to strategize and work as a team to protect their castle and its treasures while attempting to invade the opposing team's fortress. Play music to start and stop the game and for transitional purposes.

Equipment Needed

  • 8-, 18-, or 24-inch cones for treasures.

  • Small saucer cones for dungeons.

  • 16 Poly Spot Markers.

  • 2 sets of different colored vests for teams.

  • Boundary lines to define the playing area.

Game Setup

To set up the game, begin by dividing the class into two teams, each team taking up residence on one side of the play area, symbolizing their respective castles. At the rear of each castle, place four cones, each serving as a treasure, positioned strategically on four of the eight spot markers. The play area is then divided into two distinct sections, each representing a castle. Each castle is equipped with two gates positioned at opposite ends and two dungeons situated on opposite sides, adding layers of strategic depth to the game setup.

Storm the Castle - PE Games

Rules and Gameplay

  1. Knights (students) start in their castle and the game starts on the teacher's signal.

  2. The objective is for knights to cross into the other team’s castle, avoid being tagged, and retrieve treasures to bring back to their side. The first team to secure all 8 treasures wins.

  3. Knights prevent opponents from stealing their treasures by tagging them before they can grab a cone. No diving, sliding or blob tag allowed.

  4. Tagged knights are sent to the dungeon and can be freed by a teammate who reaches the dungeon without being tagged.

  5. Freed knights must link with the rescuer and students walk safely return to their castle.

  6. Knights carrying a stolen treasure must walk with it above their head to show it was legally taken and are immune to being tagged while doing so.

  7. Up to 4 guards per team can protect the treasures.

  8. Referees or rock/paper/scissors can resolve disputes or close calls.

Teaching Tips

Differentiation/Modification: To accommodate various play spaces, the length of the court or field may be adjusted. Playing outdoors offers a refreshing alternative to indoor spaces. The number of cones representing treasures can be varied to modify the game's difficulty, and adjusting the number of guards per team allows for strategic flexibility.

Safety: Safety is paramount in Storm the Castle. Diving or sliding to retrieve cones is strictly prohibited to minimize the risk of injury. Students are reminded to maintain control over their movements at all times, keeping an eye out for open spaces to navigate safely. It's also crucial to ensure a safe distance from walls and other obstacles, protecting students from potential harm during the excitement of play.

Assessment: Observation focuses on students' techniques in chasing, dodging, tagging, and fleeing, ensuring they apply these skills effectively within the game context. Additionally, students' adherence to the rules, their ability to work as a team, and employ strategies for cooperation are key aspects of the assessment.


King/Queen Pin

Game Overview

King/Queen Pin - PE Games

King/Queen Pin, created by an accomplished physical educator from North Carolina, Gabe Erbin - @ErvinGabe, engages students in refining their throwing, rolling, and defensive abilities within the imaginative context of a royal court. Participants adopt roles as either noble guardians (kings and queens), endeavoring to protect their kingdom's valued treasures (pins), or as rebellious contenders (peasants), aiming to overthrow the monarchs by knocking down their treasures. This activity promotes strategic planning, collaborative effort, and physical dexterity, all wrapped in an entertaining medieval narrative.

Equipment Needed

  • 10 – 15 bowling pins

  • Several Nerf, Gator skin, or yarn balls

  • 16 Poly Spot Markers

  • Boundary lines

Game Setup

To set up the game, envision the playing area as the court of a king or queen, with the monarchs positioned centrally to defend their treasures, represented by several large bowling pins placed at the heart of the play zone. Some students take on the role of a king or queen, assigned the task of guarding their pin. Meanwhile, the remaining students, cast as peasants, position themselves behind the court's sideline, ready to engage. The field is dotted with a variety of soft, Nerf, Gator, or yarn balls, serving as ammunition for the impending challenge.

King/Queen Pin - PE Games

 Instructions for Play

  1. Divide students into two groups: King/Queen Pins (defenders) and Peasant throwers/rollers (attackers).

  2. The goal for attackers is to knock down the King/Queen Pin’s pin by throwing or rolling balls.

  3. Throws or rolls must be executed with at least one foot on the Peasant line.

  4. Balls can be retrieved from anywhere but must be launched from the Peasant line.

  5. Successfully knocking down a pin allows a Peasant to dethrone the King/Queen Pin and take their place.

  6. King/Queen Pins defend by blocking balls with any part of their body, without directly supporting the pin to prevent it from falling.

  7. The aim for King/Queen Pins is to maintain their status by effectively defending against the attackers.

Teaching Tips

Differentiation/Modification: Try substituting balls with indoor Foam Frisbees for an added challenge. Additionally, the number of pins used in the game can be modified to accommodate the size of the group or to alter the level of difficulty, ensuring that the game remains challenging yet accessible for all players.

Safety: Prioritize the use of soft balls to ensure safety. All throws should be made from behind the designated sideline to maintain order and fairness in the game. Players should stay aware of their surroundings to prevent collisions and avoid diving or sliding for balls. All throws should be aimed at the pins, ensuring a safe and controlled play environment.

Assessment: Focus on observing students' technique in throwing, rolling, catching, and blocking. Evaluate students' rule adherence, teamwork, and strategic execution to assess their engagement and understanding of the game's objectives.


Sky Bowling

Game Overview

Sky Bowling - PE Games

Sky Bowling introduces students to a unique blend of throwing, catching, blocking, and gathering skills within a game that prioritizes teamwork and strategy. Set in an indoor environment transformed into a competitive sky, the game challenges students to knock over the opposing team's hidden pins while protecting their own.

Equipment Needed

  • 8-10 mats placed upright to form a "Sky Cloud" barrier

  • 15-20 nerf, gator skin, or fleece balls for throwing

  • 24-30 hula hoops scattered across each side

  • 24-30 bowling pins or cones with whiffle balls on top, positioned within the hula hoops

  • A scoreboard or alternative scoring device

Game Setup

The gym is split into two halves, separated by upright mats linked together to form a "Wall Cloud." Around 8-10 mats are positioned upright in the center, dividing the playing area. On each side, 12-20 hula hoops are placed, each containing a bowling pin or a cone topped with a whiffle ball. Players distribute themselves across their half, ready to throw balls and defend their pins, with basketball goals set up on the wall for an additional challenge.

Sky Bowling - PE Games

Instructions for Play

  1. Players are divided into two teams, taking positions at their end line within their designated "Sky Bowling" court.

  2. Upon the start signal, players rush to collect balls from their side and throw them over the "Wall Cloud" towards the opposing team’s pins.

  3. Each player can only throw one ball at a time and must release it within three seconds of picking it up.

  4. Throws must be made from the spot where the ball was picked up or stopped, with only a single step allowed for momentum.

  5. Catching a ball cleanly allows the player a chance to score a basket; successfully doing so permits them to reset one of their knocked-down pins.

  6. The game progresses with players catching and attempting baskets, with pins only being reset by those who score.

  7. The match concludes after a predetermined time, with the team having the least number of pins knocked down declared the winner.

Teaching Tips

Differentiation/Modification: To modify "Sky Bowling," you could lower the mats or use a volleyball net for better visibility. Introducing different types of balls, like beach balls, offers varied gameplay. Adjusting the playing court's size or using lines instead of mats as dividers provides flexibility in setting the game's difficulty.

Safety: Players should use soft gator skin or fleece balls to minimize injury risks. Awareness of the surroundings is crucial to avoid accidental collisions. Gathering and distributing balls should be done cautiously, and contact with the dividing mats ("Wall Cloud") is discouraged to prevent them from toppling over.

Assessment: Observation focuses on the students' proficiency in throwing, catching, and accurately shooting balls. Additionally, adherence to the game's rules, the demonstration of fair play, and the ability to collaborate effectively within teams are key aspects of the assessment, reflecting each student's understanding and application of the game's strategies.


Stars and Strikes

Game Overview