Developing Sport & Game Skills in an Elementary Program

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

In this lesson, we discuss ways to develop both game and sports skills in an elementary school program, including advice on equipment and safety practices.

Why Play Sports and Games

Do you remember playing games and sports back in elementary school, and how much fun it was? Today many teachers and schools shy away from these activities, since so much class time is supposed to be spent focusing on standards of learning. Physical education classes used to be required in all schools, but today some schools do not even have them.

However, many studies suggest that students that exercise regularly are better behaved in the classroom, since they burn off some of that excess energy, and some studies even point to improve test scores among students that play games and sports.

Furthermore, developing sport and game skills can lead to many positive outcomes including:

  • Battling the nationwide obesity epidemic (about one in five school-aged children are obese)
  • Encouraging children to exercise with family at home
  • Encouraging children to work with mentors
  • Showing children that the world isn't just about them, and they can be part of a team
  • Teaching the three qualities of:
    • Patience
    • Persistence
    • Practice

Elementary school playgrounds offer fun and are much safer than ones in the past.


Moreover, what if your class played games that combined fun and movement activities with actual learning skills? Then it wouldn't be so bad if the school principal walked in on the class. This is a chance for you to be creative and invent your own games and sports, or you could have your students invent some. The students could even hold a vote to decide which game invented by the students is their favorite.

For example, put a list of trivia questions on slips of paper in a hat. Then have students pick a slip of paper. If the student answers correctly she gets to take one giant step toward the front of the class. As soon as a student answers enough correct questions to reach the teacher she gets to take a break and use crayons and a coloring book.

Another idea would be to use golf and bowling props for supplementing questions and answers (use plastic ones for safety reasons.) The students have to raise their hands and see who can answer questions first. After five minutes the winner gets to putt a ball into a hole or knock over a bowling pin to receive a small prize, or go to recess first.

A third idea would be to divide up the class into two teams and have a trivia competition. The teams could even elect team captains and meet together in small groups to strategize.

Finally, the students could combine math and sports by jumping rope while at the same time reciting their times tables. This would require not only mental concentration but also coordination.

Other Popular Activities

Do you remember all those fun outdoor activities in elementary school such as Simon says? Dozens of these games and sports have been played for over one-hundred years in elementary schools all over the country, including:

  • Red Rover
  • Red Light, Green Light
  • Freeze Tag
  • Duck, Duck Goose
  • Mother May I

Jumping Rope

Perhaps one of the best combinations of fun, fitness, and low-cost activities is jumping rope. This activity requires athleticism, concentration, and timing.

Skipping rope requires practice, patience, and precision.

Which Sport to Choose

Some elementary schools used to avoid intensely competitive sports, such as baseball, basketball, football, and hockey, opting instead for games and sports that focus on cooperation and allow all the students to get involved. However, many elementary schools now offer the more competitive sports programs. Schools also emphasize safety and injury reduction, since children often grow so much during the elementary years.

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