Regular physical activity benefits people of all ages, particularly middle school-age children who are forming habits that set the tone for their future. Almost half of America's youth do not engage in consistent physical activity, according to a report by the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. This finding brings into focus the importance of physical education, which helps encourage interest in fitness, especially through fun games that keep children active and teach lessons such as cooperation and teamwork.
Using jump ropes as the lines of the tic-tac-toe grid and hula hoops to represent the nine spaces of the game board, players divide into two teams, each of which receives different colored Frisbees to substitute for the X and O. With the teams alternating turns, players practice throwing a Frisbee from a designated line, attempting to be the first team to get three in a row either horizontally, vertically or diagonally. In the event a Frisbee misses the mark, players wait until both teams take their turn and then retrieve it for reuse.
Preparing a game of Monster Walk requires just a few wrestling mats connected to each other to create a padded floor spanning roughly thirty feet. Separating teams in groups of six or seven, players must work together and stay connected at all times as they cross the mats together intact. Initially, players have permission to walk using one body part per team member (for example, each person walking normally counts as two body parts, while crawling counts for four), so the first step involves everyone hopping on one foot to get the action started. From there, the number of body parts allowed on the mat diminishes gradually, forcing the team to think creatively and cooperate together as they continue walking while staying connected and never exceeding the allowed number of body parts on the mat.
Four Corners provides middle school children with interactive entertainment without any equipment needed; a gym or open space are the only requirements. One player sits in the middle of the room, either blindfolded or with his eyes closed, loudly counting to ten while the rest of the players pick one of the room's four corners to hide in. When the player reaches 10, any player not in a corner is automatically out. The blindfolded player then picks one of the four corners at random, and all the players hiding in that specific location are out. This process continues until only one player is left. That player is the winner, and takes over as the one calling out the corners for the next game.
Starting with a piece of 4 by 8-foot plywood, cut 10 randomly shaped puzzle pieces and separate players into groups of 10, giving each player one piece. When all players hold their assigned piece, the game begins, and the players must communicate with each other to determine which piece goes where to complete the puzzle. Although talking is permitted in this game, no one may place a puzzle piece except for the person originally given that piece.
Spencer Hendricks has written for various well-regarded blogs. His work has appeared in the "Kickapoo Prairie News" and online at sprayahen.com and Spencer Vs. The Food Industry. He is currently in the process of obtaining a degree in Web development.