PE on the field or pavement: Group games for open spaces

Looking for fresh ideas for your PE class? Your school’s grass or gravel field is good for more than just soccer, baseball, or California kickball—and there’s a lot you can do in paved spaces too. Here are some creative ways your class can take advantage of these open spaces to get moving and build fundamental movement skills. 

Human foosball

This soccer variation is a fun way for students to practice fundamentals such as passing and shooting.

Students are divided into two teams. Set up cones or markers to indicate the areas where players must stand. If you’re playing on gravel, you can draw a line in the dirt to draw lines between the cones. On pavement, you can use chalk.

Just like the tabletop game, students can only slide back and forth in a straight line. They have to pass the ball to the other players on their team to try to get the ball into the other team’s goal.

If the ball stops in a place where nobody can touch it, the last team that handled the ball loses possession. You can make the game harder by removing or minimizing the goal’s size or adding more balls.

Photo: Badge of Awesome

On your mark. Get set. Go!

Racing is an easy way to get kids moving. 

Spread kids out and divide into teams and get ready to race! You can mark the lanes with whatever you have on hand, even some rocks or branches.

Races don’t have to be about running: give the students different challenges, such as hopping, jumping backwards, zig-zagging around cones, or even jumping over hurdles to win!

Hopscotch challenge

The typical hopscotch game is the inspiration here but armed with chalk, students can create their own variations to challenge others [JPG]

On a paved surface, students can create a path that may include cues such as wavy lines to follow, swirls to spin in, and cues to perform the various movements. For example, stars could indicate star jumps. 

Children can write instructions next to their cues (to practice their spelling), or in the classroom, teachers can provide a list of activities that must be included with an example of the corresponding drawing.


Related read: One piece of chalk, 8 active games


Simon Says

Simon says… get moving! Call out various commands, and if a student does the movement without hearing “Simon Says” before it, they’re out and they can help catch others who miss the cue.

The movements can be as simple or complex as you choose. Simon can call out various physical activities, such as these ones here. Or have students add some of their own ideas to keep it fresh!

Print out our activity dice for more ideas. 

Fun activity stations

Set up fun stations all around the field and set a timer for students to move around and try each activity. 

Some ideas include:

  • Throw your shoe into a hula hoop or circle drawn in chalk. You can even mark areas or draw circle targets worth more points. Ask students to keep track of their points to work on their numeracy skills.
  • Kick a soccer ball into a goal with coloured bean bags. Assign each colour a point.
  • Manoeuvre a ball with your feet around some cones and back.
  • Throw your shoe into a basketball hoop.

Related read: 8 no-touch group games kids can play together


Hide and Seek

There are some variations of this classic game that can be played outdoors and don’t involve close contact. Check out three spins on this classic game.

Further reading

Marta Orellana teaches upper intermediate grades in a North Vancouver elementary school, where PE is generally taught by classroom teachers rather than PE specialist teachers.

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