12 Outdoor PE Activities for Kids

young girl laying on swing

Outdoor physical activities are beneficial for elementary school kids’ physical and mental health, giving them an opportunity to expend their energy and get some fresh air and sunshine. 

Physical education (PE) for kids is an important part of learning at home. While outdoor exercise happens more naturally during the summer, how can families ensure that a child has fun exercising throughout the year? 

Below are 12 ideas for PE exercises for kids that you may want to add to your list! 

PE Games for Kindergarten through Fifth Grade:

1. Timed firefly (aka lightning bug) hunt.

Encourage children to catch as many lightning bugs or other harmless insects in a jar as they can, and see who can capture the most before you call time. Make sure to set the bugs free again! Lessons can also be incorporated into this fun PE activity by having kids learn fun facts about the bugs!

2. Sponge race.

Each participant in this race needs a sponge and two buckets, one bucket filled with water and the other empty. Starting at the empty bucket, players run across the yard to the full bucket, filling the sponge and returning to the empty bucket to squeeze the water into it. The first person to fill the empty bucket to the designated line wins.

3. Timed scavenger hunt.

Set a time limit for kids to find all the objects on a list of items found in nature. Whoever has the most items when the clock runs out wins. Older children can even coordinate the scavenger hunt.

4. Balloon relay race.

To make this race safe from germs, an adult should inflate balloons using a pump instead of blowing them up by mouth. Set up a laundry basket full of balloons and a hard chair for each relay team. Participants run to the basket, pick up a balloon, then run to the chair, sit on the balloon to pop it, then run back.

5. Sack race.

For this old-fashioned but socially distant favorite, each child will need their own sack or pillowcase. Players stand in their sacks and jump their way to the finish line.

6. Outdoor yard sports and games.

Outdoor physical education activities like sports require equipment, but you can easily set up and play them in a yard or nearby park.

Fun PE games for kids like soccer, kickball, or basketball can be played with just a ball at a nearby park. Games like “H-O-R-S-E" or "around the world” can be played with just two or more players on a basketball court. Net sports like tennis, volleyball, and badminton are great PE games for kids. Many public parks have tennis courts you can use, but you can also set up outdoor volleyball or badminton in the grass. Volleyball is always fun at the beach, but you might also find sand volleyball courts at a public swimming pool in your area.

Once you have a net, you’ll just need racquets and birdies or a volleyball. Two to four people can play each sport.

7. Solitary exercise.

Other traditional gym activities for kids include jumping rope or hula-hooping, both of which are excellent forms of exercise. Either of these activities can be done indoors on rainy days, too.

8. Group games.

Try some variations on classic PE activities for elementary school students: flashlight tag, “Simon Says” with balls or other items, and water-bottle bowling in the yard.

9. Outdoor pool activities.

As long as they aren’t crowded, pools can still be a safe option for some outdoor exercise. Swimming or jogging laps is great for cardio exercise and muscle toning. Elementary school children who want to become better swimmers and stronger athletes can do laps regularly and track their progress.

10. Diving games.

Diving for objects like diving rings and diving gems at the bottom of the pool helps swimmers practice holding their breath longer. It’s also a lot of fun for kids to play diving games, such as racing to find as many coins as possible within a time limit or within one breath.

11. Water aerobics.

Instead of signing up for a water aerobics class, create your own exercise routine to do in the backyard or neighborhood public pool. Kids of all ages and their parents can get involved. Watch water aerobics videos online to learn some moves and consider using a pair of water weights.

12. Water wars.

There are plenty of ways for children to have fun with water fights. Challenge them to stay on their rafts while practicing their splashing techniques on each other or shooting water guns.

If thunderstorms keep you inside, you can always try this list of indoor PE activities for online elementary students. 

There are plenty of fun PE activities for kids to try that fit into their online school schedule. For more tips on keeping kids learning at home, visit Connections Academy’s resources page for families who are new to distance learning or online school.

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