Twenty great field day activities that emphasize fun over skill.
select the activities they want to participate in.
use a variety of physical and mental skills as they participate.
Physical education, field day, Frisbee, throw, balance, basketball, bowl, bowling, croquet, golf, Hula Hoop, jump, jump rope
Each activity requires special materials. Materials required to set up all the activities include:
lime, chalk, or paint for marking playing areas
balls (a variety of types, sizes)
cones to mark courses
other props that might include 2-liter soda bottles, a balance beam, balls of yarn, beanbags, colorful plastic eggs, a croquet set, fishing poles, Frisbees, golf clubs and balls, Hula Hoops, marbles, ping pong balls, a rubber chicken, sand, straws, Styrofoam packing peanuts, tires, and/or a wading pool.
This lesson provides 25 ideas for activities to liven up your field day with fun. The emphasis in a few of the activities is on skill; but the emphasis in all the activities is on achieving success and having fun!
The activities listed below all can be completed by individual students. For additional activities, see this week's lessons that offer ideas for small-group/team relays or whole-class/large group games.
Each activity makes a special note of how "winners" might be recognized at an award ceremony. Winners should be recognized by grade level. To avoid placing the emphasis too strongly on "winning" -- and to avoid confusion - you might simply ask winners to stand in place among the other students in their class instead of coming to the front of the award gathering. Winners might be awarded special ribbons, or all participants might receive an award as they complete each activity. (Return to the article's main page for ideas.)
Note: A handful of the activities below are adapted from ideas published by other sources. Links are provided to those sources. We encourage you to refer to those sources for additional fun ideas.
Balance Beam/BeanBag Walk. Students place a beanbag on their heads. How many times can a student walk the length of the balance beam without letting the beanbag fall? Each student who can walk the beam five times (up, back, up, back, and up again) is recognized during the award ceremony. Younger students might need to walk the beam fewer times.
Basketball Free Throws. Set a different line for students in each grade level. A student stands at the line and has five chances to get a ball in a hoop. Count the number of baskets each student makes. Students who score the most baskets are recognized at the award ceremony.
Bowling Bash. Set up 20 to 30 bowling pins. (Two-liter plastic soda bottles filled with an inch of sand make perfect bowling pins.) How many pins can students knock down in three rolls of the ball? Students in different grades might use different types of balls; for example, students in the primary grades might use a volleyball while older students use a softball. Mark with lime the location of the pins so they are reset in the same places each time. You might set up several games in a single location, each with a different monitor, so multiple students can bowl at the same time. Extra monitors might be on hand for pin set up. A net set up behind the pins makes the job of chasing down "bowling balls" a bit easier. Students with the highest number of pins knocked down are recognized at the awards ceremony.
Croquet Golf. Set up a series of croquet wickets. Make sure wickets are set at natural angles to make the course flow smoothly. You might use lime to mark the direction of the course. Provide each student with a croquet mallet and a ball of a matching color. How long does it take each student to hit the ball through the course? If you have a group of parents to supervise this station, multiple students can play at one time. Establish rules appropriate for the age of students. Following are some suggestions:
Time each student. No reshooting allowed. If a student misses a wicket, he or she keeps going, but receives a 15-second penalty.
Award a point for each wicket the ball goes through on the first try.
Add up the number of strokes it takes a student to make it through all the wickets. To keep the game going smoothly, do not replay missed wickets; instead, missed wickets earn a 2-stroke penalty.
Diving for Eggs. Drop into a plastic wading pool a large number of different colored eggs; the eggs should be glued shut so they don't come apart during the activity. There should be the same number of eggs (6-10) of each color. Cover the eggs with Styrofoam packing peanuts, popcorn, or sand. Arrange students around the pool. Assign each student a different color. Then give students a time limit (maybe 2 minutes) to uncover as many eggs as they can of their assigned color. If a student uncovers an egg of a different color, he or she should rebury the egg so the student who is looking for that color will not be able to grab it from the surface of the pool. At the end of the time limit, count the number of eggs each student uncovered. At an award assembly, recognize students who found the most eggs.
Alternative Activity: Bury marbles and let students hunt for marbles of any color. How many marbles does each student uncover within the time limit?
Egg Toss. Provide each student with five plastic eggs (the type that are filled with candy at Easter time). Glue the eggs shut so they don't come apart during the activity. Set up a soft target; the target might be a large basket filled with Styrofoam packing peanuts or a pile of hay. How many eggs can each student toss directly onto the target? (You might provide five chances, or you might have students toss until they miss.) Multiple students can take part in this activity; just give each student eggs of a different color or set up multiple targets. Students who hit the target with the most eggs are recognized at the award ceremony.
Frisbee Pancake Flip. Provide each student with a Frisbee and a beanbag. The beanbag should be different colors on each side; or mark the sides with the letters X and O. Students place the beanbag on the Frisbee. Then they have one minute to flip the beanbag into the air and catch it in the Frisbee as many times as possible. (You might give students a few practice flips, so they get the hang of the activity.) Students earn a point each time the beanbag lands inside the Frisbee on the opposite side from the side it was on before the toss. Tally the number of points each student earns. Recognize students with the most points at the award ceremony. (See additional activities at Beanbag Activities [archived copy] from Ayden Elementary School in Pitt County, North Carolina.)
Froggy Finds a Pad. Give each student five beanbags; each beanbag represents a frog. Spread over the game area a dozen lily pads. (Upside down Frisbees might represent the lily pads.) How many frogs can each student toss onto a lily pad? Award 2 points for each bulls eye (a frog that rests entirely on a Frisbee) and 1 point for each frog that has less-than-total contact with a Frisbee. At the award ceremony, recognize students who earn the most points.
Hula Hoop Frisbee Throw. Spread on the ground -- or hang from a tree or clothesline -- a number of Hula Hoops. Give each student five chances to toss a Frisbee into (or through) one of the hoops. You might vary the game for older students by assigning each hoop a different point value. Students add up the points they earn for their five Frisbee tosses. Students who get the most Frisbees into hoops or the most points are recognized during the award ceremony.
Hula Hoop Marathon. How long can students keep a Hula Hoop spinning around their bodies? Record the time each student keeps the hoop spinning; stop the clock the first time the hoop contacts the ground. Students with the longest spinning times are recognized during the award ceremony.
Marble Toes. Mark with lime or paint an area on the grass a foot or two in diameter. Cover the area with marbles. (You could set up several areas so groups of students can do the activity at the same time.) Students take off their shoes and socks and attempt to pick up marbles using only their toes. How many marbles can each student pick up in 60 seconds? At the award ceremony, recognize students who pick up the most marbles.
Miniature Golf. Provide each student with a golf club and a specific number of golf balls (for example, six or ten). Use lime to mark circles on the grass; each circle should include a number that indicates the number of points students earn when they putt a golf ball into that circle. Students add up the number of points they earn. Note: To have several students golf at the same time, simply spray paint golf balls in different colors; each student uses balls of a different color, so monitors easily can track students' points.
Ping Pong Ball Blow. Set up a track using boards; or mark a track on pavement using chalk, or on grass using lime. The width of the track should be no wider than a foot. Provide each student with a ping-pong ball and a plastic straw. Students blow through the straw to move the ping-pong ball from one end of the track to the other without moving it outside the borders of the track. At the primary grades, recognize at the award ceremony all students who complete the track. For older students, recognize the fastest times.
Rope Jumping Race. Provide each student with a jump rope. Students count aloud as they jump. Record the number of jumps each student completes before missing. You might provide a time limit (for example, two minutes) and record the number of jumps made during that time; that way, students who jump faster -- at more risk of missing -- have a better chance of completing more jumps. The three students who jump the most times within the time limit are recognized at the awards ceremony.
Round and Round the Tire Goes. Set up a looped course. Provide each student with a tire. (You might provide gloves too, so students do not get their hands dirty.) Time students as they roll the tire around the outside of the loop. How long does it take to roll the tire one lap? Students with the fastest times are recognized at the award ceremony.
Rubber Chicken Throw. How far can students throw a rubber chicken? Give each student a toss or two and record the farthest distances thrown by boys and girls for each grade. Recognize the farthest throws at the award ceremony. (See additional activities at Intermediate Field Day Activities on the Northside Elementary School (Midway, Kentucky) Physical Education Page.)
Shoe Kick. Have students loosen one shoe so their toes still are in it. From a marked starting line, students kick that shoe into the air. Record the distance the shoe travels. Students might take a running start, or not; they are disqualified if they take a running start and kick from the wrong side of the starting line. Students in each grade who kick the longest distance are recognized at the award ceremony.
Snow Cone Carry. Set up a simple looped course marked with lime. Students take a cone, flip it upside down, and place a beach ball or volleyball in the opening. Then they walk/run the course holding onto to the "snow cone." How many students can walk the loop five times without the beach ball falling from the cone? Students who complete the task are recognized at the award ceremony.
Something Fishy. Provide a plastic pool. Fill the pool with paper fish; each fish has a paper clip attached to it. Arrange a group of students around the pool. Give each a fishing pole with a circle magnet attached to the end of the line; students have two minutes to catch as many fish as they can. At the award ceremony, recognize students who "catch" the most fish.
Yarn ball Toss. Provide students with a ball of yarn. Each student must hold onto the end of the strand of yarn and throw the ball. How far does the yarn ball go? Measure the yarn from the student's hand to the spot where the yarn ball lands. At the award ceremony, recognize the longest throws by boys and girls at each grade level.
NOTE: A handful of the activity ideas above were adapted from other sources. Be sure to see our special Field Day Resources page to find additional activity ideas from some of those sources.
At a special award ceremony, recognize students who won in each category. To keep this a fun day -- and take the emphasis off winning -- you might opt not to award special badges, ribbons, or trophies to winning students. Instead, winners simply might be recognized by standing in place as their names are called. For additional ideas of ways to mark student participation, see the endbar of this week's Lesson Planning article, Fantastic Field Days.
Lesson Plan Source
MATHEMATICS: Number and Operations
GRADES Pre-K - 2
NM-NUM.PK-2.3 Compute Fluently and Make Reasonable Estimates
GRADES 3 - 5
NM-NUM.3-5.3 Compute Fluently and Make Reasonable Estimates
GRADES 6 - 8
NM-NUM.6-8.3 Compute Fluently and Make Reasonable Estimates
GRADES Pre-K - 2
NM-MEA.PK-2.2 Apply Appropriate Techniques, Tools, and Formulas to Determine Measurements
GRADES 3 - 5
NM-MEA.3-5.2 Apply Appropriate Techniques, Tools, and Formulas to Determine Measurements
GRADES 6 - 8
NM-MEA.6-8.2 Apply Appropriate Techniques, Tools, and Formulas to Determine Measurements
GRADES Pre-K - 12
NM-CONN.PK-12.3 Recognize and Apply Mathematics in Contexts Outside of Mathematics
PHYSICAL EDUCATION AND HEALTH: Physical Education
GRADES K - 12
NPH.K-12.3 Physical Activity
NPH.K-12.4 Physical Fitness
NPH.K-12.6 Respect for Others
PHYSICAL EDUCATION AND HEALTH: Health
GRADES K - 4
NPH-H.K-4.4 Health Influences
GRADES 5 - 8
NPH-H.5-8.4 Health Influences
Find more great ideas for phys ed fun in Education World's Physical Fitness Archive.
Click to return to this week's Lesson Planning article, Fantastic Field Days.
Originally published 05/30/2003
Last updated 06/02/2011