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Instant Activities for Elementary PE: 5 Energetic PE Instant Activities to Get Your Students Moving Right Away

As a PE teacher, you are always looking for new ideas and innovative ways to start your class. The first 5 to 10 minutes of your lesson may be the most crucial period in your class. It can make or break the entire lesson. It's a great idea to start with some engaging warm-ups, to pique their interest. This can serve as a hook that catches their attention and helps to keep them focused for the day's lesson.

Instant Activities for Physical Education: 6 Energetic and Fun Ways to Start a PE Class

PE Instant activities- Great for lesson starters

One way to start your lesson with a bang is to use instant activities for PE. These are quick and fun activities that you can implement that require light preparation and require very little teacher involvement during the physical activity. Before a physical education class lesson, instant activities can be an effective approach for getting your children active right away to take advantage of the time you have allotted. It may make a significant difference in their "buy-in" and engagement for the entire school year.

Instant activities for physical education can be perfect when you have multiple PE classes coming into your gym or learning area at the same time. It keeps the students active in one class while they wait on all the other students from another class. Instant activities can legitimately "energize" your kids at the beginning of a lesson and set them up for success for the entire PE class.

Utilizing immediate movement when kids transition to a PE class is a strategic way for a teacher to help students meet SHAPE America Standard 1 which states: The physically literate individual demonstrates competency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns.*

Utilizing immediate movement when kids transition to a PE class is a strategic way for a teacher to help students meet SHAPE America Standard 1 which states: The physically literate individual demonstrates competency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns.*

With that in mind, here are 6 of my favorite instant activities for PE:

Instant Activity #1: Crazy 8's


The students enter and proceed straight away in figure 8 patterns around the cones in a play area, using a teacher-specified locomotor movement.


  • As kids walk in, they immediately begin following in a figure-8 pattern around 4 cones

  • Diagonally, all the students move to the other corner and around the cone before going across that end line and round the other corner cone

  • They then run diagonally to the opposite corner, around the cone, across that end line, and around the other corner marker

  • Students continue and repeat the pattern, while the teacher alters the locomotor movement from time to time

  • If the line of students is long enough that the leader meets up with the line in the middle of the playing area, the participants should yield to each other as they meet

PE Instant Activity #1: Crazy 8's

Instant Activity #2: Touch the 4 walls


Students take turns transporting an item while circling a playing area, touching all four walls along the way.


  • As the kids enter the playing area, they immediately spread out somewhere in open space

  • The physical education teacher tosses a few gator skin balls and beanbags out to some students sitting inside the gym lines

  • While the music plays on a sound system or after a teacher-directed signal is given, the student then takes the ball or beanbag and begins jogging around the cones; touching all 4 walls as they pass

  • After touching all four walls, the runner hands the ball to someone in the middle. They are either sitting or performing a fitness exercise while they wait.

  • The new runner begins the running- 4 wall circuit, and the other student sits or exercises in the middle. This continues until the music stops

PE Instant Activity #2: Touch the 4 walls

Instant Activity #3: Meet ya later


Students work in pairs and alternate power walking and jogging patterns on the inside and outside of a gym beltway.


  • Pairs both begin at a poly spot that serves as their meeting area

  • One student on the inside starts to power walk clockwise on the inner belt line

  • The other student on the outside jogs around the outer belt line in a counterclockwise direction

  • When the partners get back to the meeting area, they give each other a high-five and switch places

  • After one or two minutes, the teacher can change the locomotor movements performed on each beltline

PE Instant Activity #3:  Meet ya later

Instant Activity #4: Four Corner Fitness


Students enter and move from corner to corner using a specified locomotor movement while stopping to perform an exercise or movement.


  • As students enter, they immediately begin the first locomotor movement to the first corner

  • At the corners, the students read from a list of 2 or 3 exercises and perform the exercise for 5 – 20 reps (or for 30 seconds)

  • After performing the exercise or movement, the students then read the locomotor sign and perform it to the next corner

  • Example Exercises: push-ups, curl-ups, wall sits, squats, lunges, pull-ups, flexed-arm hang, wall push-ups, power jumps, plank holds, medicine ball lifts or tosses, V sit, crab push-ups, & crunches

Instant Activity #5: Sports Mania


This one requires more PE equipment but it is a lot of fun! Students retrieve a piece of sports equipment from a corner and travel with it from one corner to the next where they pick up another piece of equipment.


  • As students enter the gym, they immediately go to the closest corner and choose a piece of equipment to take to the next corner

  • Different locomotor movements can be designated by the PE teacher

  • Each piece of equipment must be moved to the next corner in the following ways:

Dribble basketballs, dribble soccer balls, balance beanbags on the head, stick handle a ball using a hockey stick, tap up and down a tennis ball with a paddleball racket, juggle 2 scarves, volley beach balls or balloons, carry footballs.

  • Students continue for a set amount of time

PE Instant Activity #4:  Sports Mania

Instant Activity #6: Three Ring Circuit


Students perform at one of three stations: 1- locomotor movements around the perimeter of the gym, 2- scooting on scooter boards inside the perimeter, and 3- performing manipulative skills using a jump rope or twirling a hoop in the middle area.


  • The teacher splits the kids into 3 equal groups as they walk in the door and sends them to 1 of the 3 circuit stations

  • Students move on a cue (preferably music) performing the following actions:

1. Counterclockwise motion around the outside perimeter using a teacher-directed locomotor movement (i.e. skipping), 2. Clockwise motion for scooter boards just inside the perimeter, 3. Jump rope or twirl a hula hoop in the middle of the gym.

  • The teacher rotates the kids from the outside to the inside every 2 to 3 minutes


In summary

Physical education teachers understand that students love to be active as soon as they walk into their physical education class. The six instant activities highlighted above were designed to get students up and moving around in a fun and exciting way. Each activity can be modified to fit the needs of your specific class, whether you have a large or small group of students. Be sure to try out at least one new activity each week to keep your students engaged and excited about their PE class!

Do you have any favorite instant activities that you use in your class during the school year? We’d love to hear about them in the comments section below! And don’t forget to subscribe to my blog for more great PE ideas and tips. Thanks for reading!

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


Need resources?

Speaking of instant activities, do you need a fun, fitness activity BLAST to get your students moving immediately when they walk through the door? Cap'n Pete's Power PE has you covered!

Fill in the form to download a FREE PE Fitness BLAST: 10-Workout Set, with 10 distinct workout visuals from a few of Cap’n Pete’s fitness blast resource packs. This set is a PDF digital download that you can download, print, laminate, and use for years!

If you're looking for some GREAT fitness "Quick Movers" as a way to incorporate some fun PE games and physical activity at the beginning, middle, or end of your class, check out Cap'n Pete's PE Quick Mover Super Bundle- Fitness, Instant Activities, Relays, & Tag Games.

Cap'n Pete's PE Quick Mover Super Bundle- Fitness, Instant Activities, Relays, & Tag Games.

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

This super bundle includes 100 "Quick Movers" that are energizing physical education lessons. They are great for any grade level and include 25 different fitness activities in each set, all from my following products: 1. PE Fitness Fun, 2. PE Instant Activities, 3. PE Radical Relays and 4. PE Tag Games. Students will get their heart rates up and not even know they are getting a great workout because they will be having so much fun!

Cap'n Pete's signature send-off pic



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