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Christmas PE Games and Activities: 14 Fun and Festive Christmas Ideas for a Physical Education Class

It's that time of year again when the Christmas spirit fills the air. What better way to get in the holiday mood than by playing some fun and festive games in PE class? The weeks preceding Christmas in December are a great time to be creative with your PE classes. Christmas-themed movement activities in your physical education lessons help to engage your students and at the same time, celebrate the holiday season. Making fitness and movement experiences relevant to the winter holiday season is a great way to get your students moving and focused on their learning.


Christmas PE Games and Activities: 14 Fun and Festive Christmas Ideas for a Physical Education Class

In this blog post, I will discuss the reasons for including Christmas games and activities in your physical education lessons, and I will provide tips for setting up the games and activities for each class. I will also highlight fourteen awesome Christmas games and activities that you can use in your PE classes this year. Let's get at it!

 

What are the key reasons for including PE Christmas Games and Activities in your lessons?


There are many reasons for adding in Christmas and holiday-themed activities and games into your physical education lessons. Here are some of the key reasons:

  • It helps to engage younger students in their learning by making the experiences relevant to them.

  • Students truly enjoy the movement activities that are related to the Christmas season.

  • The games and activities provide opportunities for students to be creative and have fun while they are being physically active.

  • It is a great way to celebrate the holiday season with your students.

  • Quality holiday-themed games, stations, and Christmas activities not only make learning more fun for students, but also help them meet SHAPE America Standard 1 which states.: The physically literate individual demonstrates competency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns.*


SHAPE America Standard 1 Visual


Helpful tips for setting up Christmas PE games and activities


A few things to keep in mind when setting up Christmas games and activities for your physical education class, so the games run smoothly:

  • Creating hype and anticipation in the weeks before December will make for extra fun

  • Make a safe, kid-friendly Christmas playlist to play while students are moving

  • Get into the festive spirit by decorating your learning area with some holiday-themed icons

  • Before beginning the class, have a plan for exactly how the activities will be organized and played

  • Make sure that you have enough space for the number of students in your class

Helpful tips for setting up Christmas PE games and activities

Pictures by Kelly Brown Ed.S @LovePrimaryPE

  • Get your class game or activity ready by setting up the equipment you'll need before your students arrive

  • Be sure to explain and demonstrate the rules of the games clearly to the students before they start playing

  • After class, give a summary of what was learned and get excited for the next holiday event

  • Before the next class begins, have your current students reset the equipment so that you don't have to do it.

 

There are many Christmas-themed games and activities that can be easily worked into any physical education program. Use these 14 activities, games, relays and stations (in 6 sub-heading ideas) in your physical education lessons this holiday season. Perfect for getting into the Christmas spirit, these movement experiences are both fun and challenging!


14 Fun and Festive Christmas Games and Activities


Idea 1. Twelve Days of Fitness


Overview

Students perform several health and skill-related fitness exercises that compound on each other using the “Twelve Days of Christmas” song.


Equipment

  • 12 Days of Christmas Music Track (best to have it with no words- Karaoke Version)

  • Resource for how to do YOGA tree pose Google search usually works)

Set-Up

  • Create a sign or signs with the “12 Days of Fitness” exercises listed (or graphically depicted) and post for all of the students to see

  • Review and demonstrate the individual fitness exercises prior to going through the song

Christmas PE Games and Activities: Twelve Days of Fitness

Directions and Rules

  1. The students scatter in open space in the gym or stand beside their desks in the classroom.

  2. The teacher helps lead (use music if you have it) and the students sing in the style of the “12 Days of Christmas” but use the phrase “On the first day of Fitness, my teacher gave to me…”

  3. The students then perform each of the fitness exercises/movements as the song progresses

  4. The song may have to be “paused” to allow time for the exercise to be complete

  5. You can perform the “12 Days of Fitness” 2 ways: 1. Sing the song in the traditional manner, starting with the first day of fitness and building each day or 2. Sing the song from the 12th day- to the first day, for a “quicker” warm-up activity


Video by Coach Kristal Almond @AlmondCoach


12 Days of Fitness Exercises

DAY 1- a Student in a YOGA tree (hold pose for 10 seconds); Day 2- Two Circle Jogs (jog in a circle); Day 3- Three Half Turns (jump and turn 180º); Day 4- Four Power Jumps (squat jump up high); Day 5- Five Jumping Jacks; Day 6- Six Mountains Climbers (hands on ground, large running steps); Day 7- Seven Arms a Swimming (Front Crawl Swim Stroke); Day 8- Eight Legs a Kicking (legs kick out in front); Day 9- Nine Toes a Touching (straight legs); Day 10- Ten Kids a Leaping (1 foot to other leap in air); Day 11- Eleven Bodies Pushing (pushups); Day 12- Twelve Shoulders Shrugging (shrugs)


Ideas 2 - 6. Christmas Manipulative Skill Stations


Overview

Students rotate around the playing area and take part in a variety of manipulative skill stations (5) that incorporate a Christmas or Holiday theme.


Equipment

A. Cones, deck rings or hula hoops

B. Basketball/Playground balls/goals, bells

C. Spot markers, beanbags

D. Blown up balloons

E. Yarn balls or other soft balls


Set-Up

  • Five “Christmas Themed” Stations are spaced out evenly throughout your gym/playing area

  • Set the equipment for each station out before class begins

Christmas PE Games and Activities: Christmas Manipulative Skill Stations

Stations

  • A. Decorate the Tree- Use large cones and place green jerseys over top of them so that they resemble trees. Students take turns tossing deck rings or small hula hoops over top of the cones

  • B. Jingle Ball- There are 2 ways you can implement a “jingle bell” at this station. 1. Attach “bows with bells” up in a basketball goal in the gym and have students take turns shooting at it or 2. Tie string with bells around the basketball (attach with tape too if needed) and have the students bounce, catch and dribble the ball in their station area

  • C. Making Cookies- Have the students help the elves make cookies by tossing beanbags (candy/chocolate chips) on to paper plates or polyspot markers on the ground. They need a toss line and several cookies (spots) in which to toss to

  • D. Northern Lights- Use “blown up” balloons as bright stars and Northern Lights. Have the students “keep them up” in the sky within their station area. They can each have one or you can have multiple balloons going at the same time

  • E. Snowball Toss- Students work with partners or in trios to toss and catch a ball. Use a white yarn ball if possible (to resemble a snowball) but any soft type of ball will work


Idea 7. Santa Claus Village Skating Rink

Overview

Students skate and move around the gym/room using laminated paper plates as skates or sliders.

Equipment

  • 2 laminated paper plates per student

  • Christmas Music

  • Optional- secondary lighting (i.e. lamps, disco balls, strobe lights, etc.)

Set-Up

  • Place 4 cones around the perimeter of a playing area with room for students to skate around the outside

  • If possible, set the mood by turning out the gym lights and using low lighting or disco balls to add excitement and bring a real roller rink feel

Christmas PE Games and Activities:  Santa Claus Village Skating Rink

Directions

The students go around the perimeter of the gym, sliding on their paper plate skates and perform the following teacher-directed actions:

  1. Skate Forward

  2. Skate Backward

  3. Skate Sideways

  4. Snowboard Push (1 plate on ground, one in their hand)

  5. Cross country Ski Style- with or without ski poles (could use noodles as poles)

  6. On Hands- pushing with feet- they must look up however

  7. Partner or trio skate holding hands- Kindergarten and 1st grade


Play Christmas music and switch actions after or during each Christmas song. Stop in the middle of the lesson and do a class line/group dance such as the “Cha Cha Slide” or the “Chicken Dance” as they might do at a typical Roller Rink


Idea 8. Beat the Grinches (Fleeing, Dodging and Tagging Game)

Overview

Students flee and dodge in a tag-type game while attempting to gather Christmas decorations from a specified holding area (the Grinch’s Cave).

Equipment

  • 25 – 50 beanbags to represent Christmas decorations

  • 4 large cones to mark the playing area

  • 4 to 6 small cones for Grinch’s cave area

  • 4 to 6 Green Pinnies for Grinches

  • 4-6 hula hoops to mark houses in “Whoville”

  • Holiday Music


Set-Up

  • The game is played in large groups in a gym or in a set playing area on a field or in a large classroom

  • Mark the playing area with cones or use gym lines

  • Distribute several beanbags inside a large circle (marked with cones) in the middle of the playing area- this represents the Grinches Cave

  • Place 4 - 6 Hoops just outside the perimeter of the playing area to represent houses in “Whoville”

Christmas PE Games and Activities: Santa Claus Village Skating Rink

Directions and Rules

  1. Explain to the kids that the Grinch invited some of his Grinchy friends (3 to 6 Grinches) to go into Whoville and help him steal all the Christmas decorations. They have put them in their large CAVE in the middle of the playing area

  2. The Who's down in Whoville begin the game from their safe area- Around their Who houses (hula hoops- a few at each one). The Grinches start just outside their cave

  3. On a start signal, (preferably Holiday Music) the students begin the game

  4. The Who's from Whoville try to return as many Christmas decorations (beanbags/other tossable items) as possible in a 1-minute time span. They do this by running in to the Grinch’s cave and retrieve one a at a time and quickly bring them back to their house before they get tagged by a Grinch roaming Grinch

  5. If an Who is “TAGGED”, they must freeze with their hand in the air and wait for another Who to come by and “give them a High 5” and then return to their home


Ideas 9 - 13. Christmas Relays- Station or Full Class Format

Overview

Students rotate around the gym or playing area and take part in a variety of relay-type stations that incorporate a Christmas or Holiday theme. The relays could also be implemented as a whole class activity lesson or partial lesson.


Equipment

A. Christmas stockings, items to fill stockings

B. Paper/pencils, cones, writing surface

C. Wrapped boxes for presents, cones

D. Reindeer antlers/red balls for nose

E. Blocks/Legos/Other building-type items


Set-Up

  • Five “Christmas Themed” Relay Stations are spaced out evenly throughout your gym/playing area or choose 1 or 2 to perform with the entire class at the same time

  • Set the equipment for each relay and/or station out before the class begins

  • If you do a station format: The students rotate around the 5 Christmas stations every 3 to 7 minutes, depending upon the amount of time that is designated for your lesson

Christmas PE Games and Activities: Christmas Relays- Station or Full Class Format

Relays

  • A. Fill the Stocking- Use small, wrapped presents or items that represent presents. Have the students take turns racing down to a hula hoop holding a Christmas Stocking where they pick up 1 present and return. The next student then gets another present and this process continues through the entire group

  • B. Letter to Santa- Students take turns running to a writing station where the children sit and complete a letter to Santa one word at a time! It starts of course with DEAR SANTA!

  • C. Present Dash- Students take turns hopping, skipping, galloping, running or crab walking while carrying a big wrapped Christmas present around the North Pole and back

  • D. Run, Run Rudolph- Students take turns running around the North Pole and back wearing reindeer antlers and becoming a red nosed reindeer

  • E. Toymakers- Students take turns running up to build a toy or building-type structure using Legos, blocks or other materials. Use relay lines and each time a student goes to the toy making area, they add one more piece


Idea 14. PE Concentration- Christmas/Holiday Style


Overview

As they travel around the gym performing various locomotor movements, students attempt to match a variety of Christmas icons and items.


Equipment

  • Several index cards with a variety of Christmas and Holiday icons. To personalize your card, you can add written, drawn, or glued icons

  • There should be 6-12 cones arranged around the perimeter

  • A cone, poly spot, or Frisbee for every icon card. The cards could also be placed upside down without being hidden under an item


Set-Up

  • Make some small cards with Christmas/Holiday words and images.

  • Index cards or construction paper would work best for the pictures/words.

  • Examples of Christmas/Holiday icons could be Santa, elves, reindeer, bells, trees, mistletoe, etc.

  • To begin, put the cards face-down in the middle of the playing area. If you'd like, you can also place them under cones or Frisbees

  • Ensure that each card has an identical copy

Christmas PE Games and Activities: PE Concentration- Christmas/Holiday Style

Directions and Rules

  1. At the teacher's signal, the first student in line will run to a cone and grab a card. Once they have the card, they will bring it back to their group

  2. The group looks at one card and the next student in line searches for its twin. If they find a match, they bring it back to the rest of the group

  3. If the card does not match the cone, the student must explain to everyone what icon is on their card and return it to the pile

  4. The next person in line goes out to find a match for the Christmas card they were dealt.

  5. The process continues until a set time, and whoever has the most Christmas icon card matches wins

  6. The teacher can vary the locomotor movement and could add a fitness exercise for the students to perform before they pick up a card



 

Final thoughts


Christmas games and activities can be fun, engaging, and educational for physical education classes. With the right theme in mind and some creative thinking, PE teachers can plan an interesting lesson without having to do too much prep work. By adding some of these Christmas-themed activities into the mix, students will not only get a good workout but also learn more about the season. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

When it comes to adding holiday cheer to your physical education classes, Christmas games and activities are a great way to get students moving and active while still incorporating a festive theme. These fourteen ideas are just a few of the many possibilities for Holiday-themed PE movement experiences you can use in your classroom. There are countless opportunities to get your students moving during the holiday season all the way to Christmas Eve! With a little creativity, you can come up with even more festive and fun ideas to keep your students engaged and excited about physical activity in your very own Santa's workshop!

Check below for a FREE download with Christmas Instant Activities and head to my web page for additional holiday resources available for purchase. So go outside, cut down a Christmas tree, collect some candy canes and jingle bells, and have some festive fun with your PE students this Christmas. The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!!

What are some of your favorite Chritmas and holiday PE activities? Share them in the comments below! And don't forget to check out my other blog posts for even more great ideas for your physical education classes. Thanks for reading!


*SHAPE America. (2013). National Standards for K-12 Physical Education. Reston, VA: Author.

 

Need some FREE Reindeer Instant Activities to start your classes?


Looking for some fun, Christmastime activities to keep your students physically active and engaged as they enter your learning area? If so, Cap'n Pete has you covered!


 FREE PE Reindeer Instant Activities- 10 Movement Visual Set

Fill in the form below to download a FREE PE Reindeer Instant Activities- 10 Movement Visual Set to use in your PE program! This package contains 10 movements, exercises, or combos thereof that are simple and quick for students to do at the start of PE class. They're also Christmassy--making them more enjoyable for your students during the weeks leading up to the winter break! The packet is designed for a wide range of ages and for any red nose reindeer.


 

If you're looking for several PE Christmas or Holiday games and activities that are ideal for large, medium or small-sized groups, check out Cap'n Pete's PE Christmas Stations and Fitness- 7 Product Super Bundle!


PE Christmas Stations and Fitness- 7 Product Super Bundle!

This Super Bundle includes 7 ACTIVE and ENGAGING, large or small group Christmas game and fitness activities that you can use for your physical education classes, school classrooms, or camp situations. The PE Christmas Super Bundle is a combination of 7 of Cap’n Pete’s DYNAMIC, fitness, game and movement-based activity sets for teachers to utilize to get students moving in fun and interesting ways, incorporating a Christmas theme. Together these 7 products will give you several weeks’ worth of movement experiences that you can copy, laminate, and use in your December PE curriculum for years!


You can download them from either of the following platforms: Cap'n Pete's Power PE Website or Teachers Pay Teachers- Cap'n Pete's TPT Store


What Resources are in the PE Christmas, 7-Set Super Bundle?



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