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Thanksgiving PE Games and Activities: 7 Seasonal Ideas for Physical Education Lessons

The Thanksgiving holiday is a time for family, friends, and food. But it's also a great time to get in some physical activity! The weeks leading up to Thanksgiving offer a great opportunity to get creative in your PE classes. To engage your students and tie in the Thanksgiving holiday, try adding games, activities and stations focused on Thanksgiving into your physical education lessons. By making fitness and movement activities relevant to the season, you'll not only be timely, but also get students moving and focused on learning.




What are the benefits of incorporating Thanksgiving PE Games and Activities in your lessons?


There are many benefits of adding in Thanksgiving themed activities and games into your physical education lessons. Not only will using current events make your lessons timely and relevant, but students will also be more engaged in the activities. When children are engaged in their learning, they are more likely to retain the information and skills that they are practicing.


In addition, by adding in a festive element to your lessons, you'll create a positive and fun learning environment for your students. As a physical education teacher, you can easily disguise fitness and motor-skill development into your elementary PE learning experiences by using a fun game or activity that relates to Thanksgiving.

By incorporating quality PE Thanksgiving games, stations, and activities into your lesson plans, you can easily help students 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

 

How to prepare your Thanksgiving PE activities?


When incorporating any game, activity, or station into your lesson, it is important to take the time to properly prepare. This will ensure that your students have a positive experience and that the activities run smoothly. Below are some tips to help you prepare for incorporating Thanksgiving PE games and activities into your lessons:

  • Choose activities that are developmentally appropriate for your children. Keep in mind the age and ability level of your students when choosing activities.

  • Make sure you have all of the necessary materials for each game or activity. This includes any props, equipment, or materials that are needed.

  • Take time to set up the games and activities before class begins. This will help the lesson run more smoothly.

  • Choose games and activities that are aligned with your learning objectives and standards. This will help ensure that students are meeting the goals of the lesson.


Video by Jon-Michael Shea @JonMichaelShea1

  • Make sure to provide clear instructions for each game or activity. Demonstrate or have students demonstrate the activities. This will help students understand what is expected of them and prevent any confusion.

  • Be prepared to answer any questions that students may have about the games or activities.

  • Have a plan for how you will transition between games and activities so that there is minimal down time and disruption in your lesson.

  • So that the next class can start on time, reset the equipment. Assign this task to your current class so you don't have to do it yourself.

 

There are several Thanksgiving-themed games and activities that can be easily integrated into any physical education program. Here are seven (with details) that you can use in your physical education lessons this Thanksgiving. These activities are fun, challenging, and festive - perfect for the holiday season!


7 Thanksgiving themed activities, games and stations for a physical education teacher to use in their classes


1. Pen the Turkeys


Overview

Students take turns pushing and guiding turkeys (blown up balloons) using paddles, rackets, or hockey sticks.


Set-Up

  • Blow up some balloons to use in your classes

  • Lightly draw turkey faces on the balloons

  • Set up several relay lines using poly spot makers and cones. Keep the lines short (3 or 4 students per line)

  • Place several balloons in a hula hoop at the start of each line (same number for each small group of participants)

  • Put a long handled implement at the start of each line in front of the poly spot

Thanksgiving PE Games- Pen the Turkeys

Directions and Rules

  1. The students form small group lines of 3 or 4 students and line up for the relay

  2. The first student grabs a balloon and begins (on a signal) pushing/guiding the turkey to the other side of the playing area

  3. They guide the turkey into a pen at the other side (could be another hula hoop, coned off area, basket or large box)

  4. The first student returns and hands off the implement to the next group member and they repeat the procedure

  5. This process continues until all the turkeys have been penned!

  6. Groups can race other teams or time themselves to see if they can beat their scores

Thanksgiving PE Games- Stations

Picture by Alyssa Wheeler @AWheelerPE

2. Mash the Potatoes


Overview

Students jump across a maze of poly spot markers, bases or taped marks on the ground that represent the mash potatoes.


Set-Up

  • Set up a course or a few courses where students can take turns jumping from one object to another

  • The objects can be poly spots, hula hoops, plastic rocks, etc. The objects placed on the ground represent potatoes

  • Put a starting cone and ending cone at the beginning of each mashed potato course

  • Have an object students can carry as they go through the course (rubber chicken, rubber pig, beanbag, etc.)

Thanksgiving PE Games- Mash the Potatoes

Directions and Rules

  1. The students form small group lines at one end of each mash potato course

  2. The first student grabs an object to carry and they jump and land on the potatoes as they cross the course

  3. When they get to the end, they turn back and go through the course back to the starting area

  4. If they fall off a potato, they must walk back and give the object to the next person in line

  5. This process continues for a set time...works great as a Thanksgiving station

  6. Groups can race other teams if more than one course has been set up

  7. Groups can time individual participants or time their entire group to add in an extra challenge


3. Turkey Bowl

Overview

Using pins and an indoor bowling ball or playground ball, students take turns bowling a ball to try and knock down the Turkeys.

Set-Up

  • Download and copy some turkey pics

  • Laminate the turkey pictures

  • Tape the turkeys on bowling pins

  • Set up some bowling areas (5 to 10 pins) around your playing area or use as a station

  • Mark a rolling line and place a ball (playground or gator skin) at the line

Thanksgiving PE Games- Turkey Bowl

Directions and Rules

  1. The students form small group lines at each bowling area

  2. The first student rolls the ball in an attempt to knock down the turkeys

  3. Another student clears the downed turkeys and returns the ball

  4. Each participant gets 2 rolls to knock down all the turkey pins

  5. Groups work together to help them get the most number of rolls in a set time

  6. Groups can keep individual or total team scores of knocked down pins in a set time


4. Turkey Trot to the Pumpkin Patch

Overview

Using medicine balls or basket balls, students take turns traveling a pumpkin across to a hula hoop to alternately drop it off or pick it up.

Set-Up

  • Set up several relay lines using poly spot makers and hula hoops (pumpkin patch). Keep the lines short (3 or 4 students per line)

  • Place a large ball at the start of each line

  • Put a hula hoop across the playing area that each group will travel to

Thanksgiving PE Games- Turkey Trot

Directions and Rules

  1. The students form small group lines of 3 or 4 students and line up for the relay

  2. The first student grabs the ball and runs it across to the hula hoop pumpkin patch on the other side and places it inside

  3. The ball must stay in the hoop or the student must return to make sure it is secured in the hoop

  4. The first student runs back and tags the hand of the next team member in line.

  5. The second student then runs across to pick up the pumpkin from the hula hoop

  6. They run it back to the next person in line

  7. This process continues until all the members of the team have completed the task or it can run for a set amount of time

  8. Groups can race other teams or time themselves to see if they can beat their scores


5. Paper Plate Activate- Thanksgiving Version


Overview

Students move from laminated plate to plate every 30 seconds to perform Thanksgiving-themed fitness-skill movements. This is a GREAT warm-up fitness activity.


Set-Up

  • Laminate several plates with exercises (i.e. jumping jacks, push-ups, curl-ups, burpees, etc.) with some Thanksgiving icons represented on there (i.e. turkeys, pumpkins, pilgrims, Mayflower, etc.)

  • Scatter the plates around the playing area face up

  • Evenly distribute the students at the laminated Halloween plates

Thanksgiving PE Games- Paper Plate Activate

Picture by Stacy Godwin PE @DoveCreekPE


Directions and Rules

  1. Provide your students with instructions for the activity

  2. Turn on some upbeat music

  3. Set a timer for 30 seconds and play your favorite music to get in the zone.

  4. The students will do the exercise or movement for 30 seconds.

  5. After the music stops, have the kids rotate and choose any other plate. They can only go to a plate they have not been to before.

  6. Continue this pattern for 4 to 6 minutes



6. Corn Hole


Overview

Students use corn hole boards and play modified games of Corn Hole


Set-Up

  • Create or borrow some corn hole boards and place them in an area in your gym or outside

  • Place a board opposite of another board or have the students use only 1 board per group depending on how many you have

  • Makes a great station along with other Thanksgiving activities

Thanksgiving PE Games- Corn Hole

Directions and Rules

  1. Discuss the basic rules for Cornhole.

  2. Mix Cornhole in with other activities around the gym so that students watch and rotate to it as a station

  3. Participants throw a bean bag (underhand) at an opposite board. They should alternate throws with a player next to them

  4. 1 POINT for each bag that lands on top of the board

  5. 3 POINTS for each bag that is tossed through or knocked into the hole

  6. Tally points after all (8) bags have been thrown per inning by using the cancellation method.

  7. TOTAL = YOUR POINTS - OPPONENT'S POINTS

  8. The game is over when a Player or Team reaches (or exceeds) 21 POINTS

  9. Modify as necessary for the age group and number of students you have per class


7. Mayflower Ocean Cross


Overview

Students take turns scooting with scooter boards through a maze of cones.

  • Set up a course or a few courses where students can take turns crossing the "ocean"

  • Set up cones and poly spots to represent a body of water

  • Put a scooter board or combined scooter boards at the starting line of each course

  • Have an ending area that participants turn around to go back to the starting line

Thanksgiving PE Games- Mayflower Ocean Cross

Directions and Rules

  1. The students form small group lines at each ocean course

  2. The first student rides a scooter board or combined scooter boards through the course, around the end cone and back to the start

  3. Use poles or paddles as oars if it is possible

  4. This process continues for a set time...works great as a Thanksgiving station

  5. Groups can race other teams if more than one course has been set up

  6. Groups can time individual participants or time their entire group to add in an extra challenge

  7. If you feel safe, have students push each other as they go through the course


Thanksgiving PE Activities- Concentration

Picture by lisa cutting @lisajean9

 

Final thoughts


Adding Thanksgiving related games and activities to physical education classes is a great way to incorporate a holiday theme while still getting students moving and active. This not only gets them excited for the upcoming holiday, but also helps them learn some skills and stay fit.


In this blog post, I outlined seven different Thanksgiving-themed games and activities that you can use in your physical education classes. These activities are fun, engaging, and challenging for students of all ages. With a little creativity, you can come up with even more games, activities, and stations to make your Thanksgiving physical education lessons fun, challenging, and festive! So why not add them to your PE lesson plans this year?


Please share some of your favorite Thanksgiving PE activities, stations and games in the comments below! And if you're looking for more great ideas for physical education classes, be sure to check out all my other blog posts. Thanks for reading!


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

 

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Fill in the form below to download this FREE Thanksgiving Edition, PE Fitness BLAST: 6-Workout Set, with 6 distinct workout visuals from Cap’n Pete’s Thanksgiving Fitness Blast Resource Pack. Just download, print, laminate, and use for years! Inside this package are 6 fun and exciting PE BLASTS for students in PE classes or for classroom teachers to use during transitional times of the day. The packet is designed for a wide range of ages.



 

If you're looking for several PE Thanksgiving Games and Activities that are ideal for large, medium or small-sized groups, check out Cap'n Pete's PE Thanksgiving Stations and Fitness-

6 Product Super Bundle!



This Super Bundle includes 6 ACTIVE and ENGAGING, large or small group Thanksgiving movement and fitness activities that you can use for your physical education classes, school classrooms, or camp situations. The Thanksgiving PE Super Bundle is a combination of 6 of Cap’n Pete’s DYNAMIC, fitness and movement-based activity and game sets for teachers to utilize to get students moving in fun and interesting ways, incorporating a Thanksgiving theme. Together these 6 products will give you several weeks’ worth of movement activities that you can copy, laminate, and use in your November 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 Thanksgiving, 6-Set Super Bundle? 1- Thanksgiving PE Movement Stations- 20 "Gobbling Good" Activity Cards


Pete Charrette- Cap'n Pete

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