November 11th is veteran's day, a day to celebrate and honor the men and women who have served in the United States military. Not to be confused with Memorial Day, the day we pay tribute to fallen service members, Veterans Day is the perfect time to educate our students about the ongoing sacrifices made by military veterans and their family members. Physical education class is the ideal place to recognize Veterans Day by incorporating movement-based activities, while celebrating and honoring those who have served our country.
In this blog post, I am going to provide ten ideas for getting your students active and moving in honor of veteran's day. Many of these activities can be modified to be used with any grade level, making them perfect for schools, churches and community centers alike!
Why include Veteran's Day Activities in your PE lessons?
In addition to the obvious connection of veteran's day and physical activity, there are many other reasons to include veteran's day activities and stations in your PE classes. Here are just a few:
Veteran's Day is a great opportunity to teach kids about patriotism and what it means to serve one's country.
It's a chance to educate students about the different branches of the military and the unique role each plays in protecting our nation.
Veteran's Day activities can help foster a sense of community and camaraderie among your students, as they work together to complete challenges and tasks.
And finally, Veteran's Day PE activities and stations are just plain fun! They're a great way to get kids moving and engaged in active, patriotic play.
Incorporating quality PE Veteran's Day games and activities can also help you and your students meet SHAPE America Standard 5 which states: The physically literate individual recognizes the value of physical activity for health, enjoyment, challenge, self-expression and/or social interaction.*
10 Tips for setting up the Veterans Day physical education activities
For added excitement, build up for Veterans Day activities in the weeks preceding it
Encourage your students to wear red, white and blue clothing
Bring in some veterans or active service members to speak and participate with the kids
Briefly describe the 6 branches of the US military and integrate them into your activities
Use patriotic music while students are participating in the activities
Utilize a station design to ensure that students can access all of the activities
Before your students arrive, set up the necessary equipment for the game or activity
Demonstrate and explain each Veterans Day activity that the class will be performing
Provide a summary after the lesson and answer any questions your students may have
Reset the equipment before the next class begins. Have your current session do it for you so you don't have to
10 Fun and Engaging Veterans Day Cerebration Activities
The following 10 activities can help you celebrate Veterans Day and show your support for our veterans. There are a few strategies to have your students complete them prior to and during the week of November 11.
A. During the week, you can organize stations so that the students go from one to another during 1 or a couple class periods.
B. Choose just 1 or couple of the activities for your kids to do and concentrate on just that one activity for an entire lesson. Change to a different activity in the following year.
C. Incorporate a "Boot Camp" type unit and devote a few weeks prior to and during Veterans Day for your students to participate in the activities incorporating just 1 or 2 of the activities per lesson.
1- Bootcamp Fitness Circuit
Write out and display a list of 'basic training" fitness exercises students can perform on their own or with a partner. The exercises could include, push-ups, curl-ups, jumping jacks, burpees, tuck jumps, body squats, flexed arm hang- from a pull-up bar, planks, etc. Provide a timer and have students perform the movements for 20 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds in between. Partners can take turns being coaches (drill instructors). They can help encourage and motivate their partners to push themselves.
Note: Allow students to work at their own pace and skill levels. The exercises should be adjusted based on the age of the participants.
2- Military Obstacle Course
Create an obstacle course using a variety of materials, such as cones, hurdles, hula hoops, mats, jump ropes and agility ladders. Give students specific instructions on how to complete the course and have them work together to get through it as quickly as possible. Students then take turns running through the course. Check your PE closet for equipment and get inventive on what you add to your course. You can also include fitness exercises that they perform in between the obstacles. If you have a large class, you can create multiple courses and have students race against each other in teams.
Note: Don't get too competitive with your participants, but instead focus on the pleasure of them pushing their bodies as they complete a series of challenging tasks.
3- Short Line Relays
Doing relay races with a large group is an excellent way to get everyone moving while also having fun. Keep each line shorter by only having only three or four people in it. In this way, students won't have to wait long for their next turn. You may also add activities for those in line to perform while they wait their turn, including balancing, plank pose, or stretching. You can set up a variety of different relays, such as pool noodle and hula hoop movement tasks or go old school with some sack races, three-legged races, or even wheelchair races. Students can also work together as a team to complete a relay, making it a great way to build teamwork skills.
Note: Let your kids get creative and come up with their own relay race ideas to make things even more interesting.
This classic game is a great way to get kids moving during Veterans Day while also teaching them about working together as a team. Tug of war is a simple game that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. All you need is a rope and two teams of equal numbers. The objective of the game is to pull your opponents across the line in the center of the rope. To do this, each team must work together to create a strong pull. The team that succeeds in pulling their opponents across the line is the winner.
Note: Make sure that students are evenly matched in size and strength before playing this game. Also, be sure to supervise closely to avoid any injuries.
5- Army Crawl Course
This is a great activity for those who want to get down and dirty. Students take turns doing an “Army Crawl” under a set course made up with mats, cones, sheets, blankets, ropes or anything else that could be used for them to crawl under for a set distance. The objective of the game is to get through the course as quickly as possible. Students will need to crawl through the course, using their hands and feet. They can also use any materials they find along the way to help them get through any the obstacles. So FUN!!
Note: This activity can be quite challenging to set up and requires a lot of space, either indoors or outdoors. It's always best to have help when creating the course, but it is worth it because the students really love it!
6- Parachute Play
The size of parachute you have will affect how you implement this awesome Veterans Day activity. If you have a big parachute, you can use it as a large group activity involving 1 or 2 classes. Classes can work in unison to keep air in it by lifting it up and bringing to the ground. They can also shake it up and down with different sized balls inside it to make "popcorn" for the troops!
If you have smaller parachutes, you can set it up as stations for small groups. Students work in small groups to engage in some similar parachute play.
Note: There are all sorts of fun games that can be played with a parachute. Be sure to do a quick Google search or check PE Central for some great ideas.
7- Cross the River- Save Someone
As students travel through a set course on the gym floor, they will pretend to jump and balance on rocks or poly spot markers as if crossing a river or lake. They can carry things like rubber pigs and chickens as they hop, jump and balance. As a military individual, you'll be expected to risk your life in order to save others. This activity demonstrates this idea. So much FUN!
Note: The "rocks" should be thoughtfully spaced out on the floor, so they are not too easy nor unattainably challenging for their developmental level.
8- Quick Steps (Agility Ladder Rope Course or Hula Hoop Run)
Students take turns going though an agility ladder rope course or running through some hula hoops laid on the ground that are similar to a tire course. Agility ladders are ideal for developing your students footwork, speed, control and coordination, as well as providing them with an opportunity to practice movement patterns that may be utilized in a variety of different sports. Perfect for a military-type course during Veterans Day.
Note: The participants can go through a variety of patterns on the floor by running, hopping or jumping.
9- Build it Up
Students work in groups to create structures out of a variety of PE equipment such as blocks, cups, ropes, hoops, and so on. In a set length of time, one student at a time combines individual items with the rest of the group to construct a collective structure.
Note: This activity is great for developing teamwork, cooperation and communication skills. It can also be modified to focus on other goals such as problem solving or creative thinking.
10- Go for a Ride (Military Jeep or Ship)
Ride the Jeep: Students take turns riding a scooter board around a pre-designed route (curved or straight) marked with cones. The students propel themselves in this activity either forward or backward. You can add 2 scooter boards together to make the surface larger if needed.
Ship Shape: Students take turns pushing and riding on a mat placed over two or three scooter boards. They can be the ship's crew (sailors) or the engines/propellers from the back (pushing).
Note: This is a great activity for developing gross motor skills, coordination and balance. It can also be great for developing teamwork and communication skills.
All of the stations listed above can be used as veterans day activities for elementary students and easily adapted for middle and high. Additionally, you could set up a station or center where students design mementos from the Veteran's Day Stations to display in your gym. A creative writing center (with writing prompts) where students could express their gratitude towards Veterans through letters, poems, or artwork would be beneficial. You could also put together care packages for the troops and soldiers in the field.
Incorporating Veterans Day stations and activities is and awesome way to teach your students about the holiday, while also providing them with some great physical activity. If you have any veteran's in your community, be sure to invite them to come and participate in the fun! In this post, I've shared ten helpful ideas for incorporating this topic into your physical education lessons. Your students will definitely benefit if you try these ideas, and at the same time, you'll be able to have some fun while honoring those who have served our country!
What are some of your favorite Veterans Day-themed PE activities? Share in the comments below! And, as always, if you found this post helpful, please share it with your fellow PE teachers and followers on social media. Thanks for reading!
*SHAPE America. (2013). National Standards for K-12 Physical Education. Reston, VA: Author.
Do you need a practical way to share some movement experiences students can do at home? How about incorporating a boot camp theme into the mix? If so, Cap'n Pete's Power PE has you covered!
Fill out the form below to download a FREE boot camp fitness card set that you can use with your students during the weeks leading up to Veterans Day. The PE Boot Camp - Ten Fitness Circuit Card Set includes 10 Fitness Circuit visuals that can be used with your students in a school gym or can be easily modified and performed in a smaller space such as a classroom or empty cafeteria. Each fitness circuit card provides a health or skill-related component of fitness exercise or movement and is accompanied with a kid-friendly graphic and military-themed background and font.
This freebie set will be sure to enhance your PE curriculum for years!
If you're searching for a way to really spice up your PE program and "nail it" with your kids around the Veterans Day Celebration, Cap'n Pete's Veteran's Day PE Stations- 20 Military Movement Activity Cards is the perfect supplement. In the packet you will find 20 fun filled, “Military Movement” visual station signs that you can use in your PE classes or in the classroom.
Each movement visual provides a military-related activity which includes a brief instructional direction and some Veteran’s Day graphics that depict the activity. Full directions for implementing the activities are also included. Look for Marines, Army Cadets, Military Sergeants, Sailors, Navy Seals and more moving in all kinds of fun and healthy ways.