Remember the good ol’ days of gym class?
How could you not? Fun time with the friends, a reprieve from the backbreaking pressure of schoolwork and all those added benefits.
Seriously. There were benefits to all that gym time. A study by Cornell University found that time spent in gym class could knock down a kid’s likelihood of being obese. And being more fit overall can improve grades and educational success, too.
But some gym games are known less for their physical requirements and more for their lighthearted nature. This is a look at those gym games.
Here are 13 elementary school physical activities that we wish we could play all over again:
Who could forget this old faithful of elementary school games? Four square pits friend against friend, brother against brother, and love interest against love interest, in a square that is as small as it is unforgiving. Not only does the game hold a number of different nicknames — like handball, squareball and king’s corner — but it also has a national organization that hosts the Four Square World Championships.
Part baseball, part soccer, kickball was a go-to for many gym classmates. Kicking a ball and running to first base was as simple as it got back then. Reputation and popularity were always on the line, too, when it came to playing this top-tier game. Better not to be known as the kid who couldn't kick it with the cool kids, right? (OK, maybe not).
Dodgeball is the kingpin of schoolyard and gym-class activities. There were multiple variations of the game — like the traditional variation, where you line up against the wall and someone throws a ball at you, or the battlefield variation, where everyone scatters, hacking dodgeballs every which way. The game has grown significantly in the United States, and it has even inspired a hit movie starring Ben Stiller.
Capture the flag
This is the game where gym-class heroes were made. You had to run across the field, grab a flag and return it to your side without getting caught. In some variations, getting tagged got you in jail. This game was all about the fast kids who were daring enough to dash through the fields and save the game for their team.
You remember the day. You walked into P.E. and in the middle of the gymnasium was a rainbow parachute. That’s when you knew things were about to get serious. From "Popcorn" to "Making Waves" to "All Change," the parachute inspired so many different activities that your hour of class time went by in a snap.
Much like the parachute, tag was more than just a one-trick pony. There was freeze tag, TV tag, traditional tag, and zombie tag. Some adults still play this game, as a matter of fact. It’s called man-hunt.
Whether you were wearing a potato sack or hopping on one leg, the relay race was the Super Bowl of gym-class games. There was tug-of-war, egg tossing and a slew of other activities. Everyone had a role, everyone had a task, and it was the ultimate showcase of teamwork and passion, which has been proven to be good for kids.
Kids scattered everywhere. Some play the lighthouse role, others are rocks and the last few are the ships. Players had to navigate through the sea with their eyes closed, looking to avoid the dangerous rocks with the fear that they would become one of them.
On the wrong end of things and want to join up with your friends? Better be quick and use momentum. Red Rover asks players to run across and break the linked-hands of opposing players. Better not be the last runner on one team, though. If you’re not strong enough and can’t break the chain, your team could lose!
Mother may I?
This game is as old as time. Not only did we all play it when we were looking for that sinful sugary snack, but it’s also a fun outdoor game. By asking how many steps each person can take, players try to progress to the other side of the floor and reach the mother/father player on that end.
Remember these bad boys? These were as much a cause of havoc as they were of happy times. The scooter board allowed us all to beam ourselves from one end of the gym to the other. Sometimes we crashed into our friends just to make it to the other side, or rolled over our own hands on accident. Pain for potential reward. Worth it.
Marco PoloComment on this story
He was a historical figure, and he’s the inspiration for one heck of a swim game. One person, their eyes shut and in search of another, calls out for Marco, while another player devilishly escapes their grasp while responding with "Polo." A go-to for any pool party or swimming gym class.
This was the game of champions. Schoolyard kids were masters of this lite version of baseball. Inside the heart of every national professional wiffle ball player, there’s a boy who got his start in gym class.