Introducing kids to the fun of running is a good way to instill healthy habits for life. Introducing running in a way that appeals to students can be a challenge, however. After completing the fun warm-up running activity, play the following running games. The following lesson and handouts provide an exciting way to channel your students' energy and help them set personal goals in fitness.
Lesson Overall Objectives
Students will learn:
- Fun warm-up routine and cool-down routines
- New running activities/games
- Ways to chart progress
Students will demonstrate:
- Their ability to follow directions promptly
- Large motor skill progress
- Progress on their individual fitness charts
- Completion of worksheets
Preparation and Materials
This PE lesson plan requires a little preparation. Each student will need a folder with the handout you have chosen in order to participate in these running games for children. There are three handouts available for this running lesson plan: Treasure Chest Fitness, Run Across the Country and Running is Fun.
Treasure Chest Fitness is a personal mileage chart so students can compete against themselves to complete a goal of ten miles.
Younger elementary students can use the Running Is Fun worksheet. This chart does not rely on distance run, only if they run on one particular day.
If you are interested in starting a running club, the Run Across the Country chart can be used year long with a group. It could be completed as a class, as a grade or as a school. Students complete runs on their own time, using a mileage-marked course. They turn in the mileage to be counted toward an ambitious 3,000 across the country goal.
Aside from the worksheet chosen, you will need bean bags, one for each child, and papers with exercises written on them for the circuit running activity.
It is helpful if you are going to use the mileage program, to mark off 100 m, 200 m, and so on before class. If this can also be marked off outside in the schools recess area, all the better. Allowing the kids running time on these marked courses during recess or at the start or end of gym class is a good way to incorporate more exercise while they work toward their goals.
Warm-Up Activity: Bust a Move
This silly warm-up running activity will get their hearts pumping and teach a valuable lesson in listening. To begin, show the class what parade rest looks like. Have them stand up straight and tall with their feet slightly apart and their hands clasped behind their back. This is the way they ought to begin and end each Bust a Move.
- Divide the class into two teams. Simply split down the center, no need to take the time to choose particular teams.
- Explain that this warm-up is a challenge. They are competing against the other team and will need to follow directions carefully if they want to win.
- On your call, the teams will all move about the room. Tell them to dance, lunge, hop, skip, wiggle or twist for a few minutes.
- Blow your whistle and count down from ten. The teams should hustle back silently and be standing in parade rest before you get to the number one. The team that gets their first, "wins".
- Repeat this exercise several times to really warm-up their large muscles and get the class listening closely to your instructions.
The count down can get progressively shorter to make this running activity a real challenge. Start by counting down from ten, but for the next warm-up session, blow the whistle and start at 8, etc.
On Your Mark
Before playing the running games for children described below with your class, first introduce them to the worksheets/charts while they are standing in parade rest formation. Briefly go over the general idea as stated on the top of the chart chosen.
As a general rule, children ages 8 and up can run 1/2 mile to a mile according to the Presidential Challenge Chart. Six- and seven-year olds can run one quarter of a mile at minimum. When mapping this out it looks like this;
1/4 mile = 400 meters, or 1 lap of a standard track
1/2 mile = 800 meters or 2 laps of a standard track
1 mile = 1600 meters or 4 laps of a standard track
5K = 3.1 miles
1 meter = 3.28 feet
1 yard = 300 feet
Be sure the students are all wearing proper shoes and do not have any clothing on that might hinder their progress or hurt another student while participating in running games or activities. Long chains on a belt or extra long pants can cause them to trip.
Start the class on a circuit run around the room. Split the two teams into four teams. Show the class what to do at each corner of the room. Tape a page to the wall giving the instructions; 20 jumping jacks, 20 pushups, 20 situps, 20 squats, etc.
The teams will run from the starting point to the first corner and do the exercise shown, then on to the next corner, and so on. Continue until all the students have completed each exercise.
Show where the mileage is marked off on the wall or floor all around the room, and then pair the students with classmates of similar abilities. Have each team jog up to you for a bean bag, one per pair.
As soon as they receive their bean bag, the students can start gently passing it back and forth while jogging around the room. If they drop the bean bag they have to return to start. Staggering the class in this way allows for those kids who are not well conditioned to participate without being singled out as slow.
Have the pairs keep track of their mileage during the game and let them mark how many spaces they have run on their chart. The bean bag tossing keeps the pace even and lets the students focus on something other than just running.
Cool Down – Tortoise Race
This running game also involves closely following directions while they are cooling down.
- Go back into four teams. The object is to be the last team to cross the finish line without any tortoise stopping.
- One player from each team has to slowly cross the finish line before the next person from their team can go.
- Watch to be sure none of the tortoises are stopping completely, if they do stop, they are turned into a hare and have to run across the finish line, hindering the rest of their teammates from being the slowest team.
How Did You Do? Charting Progress
Charting progress in this PE lesson can be an ongoing procedure. Encourage the students to bring back their charts and to work toward their goals at recess or after school. Setting a running goal for the week is a good way to introduce the concept of tracking workouts.
This PE lesson plan can be extended into a year-round running club for interested students. It could be managed simply by the worksheets/charts, or involve weekly or monthly meetings.
Offering incentives for completed charts is a great motivator but can become pricey. What I have done in my running clubs is to offer shoelace prizes. These are simply made from large beads or flat sequins with large holes found at a craft store for a few dollars (100 or more come in a package).
A class dance party is also a good motivator and fun extension activity. Once the class has traveled "across the country," or have all turned in their treasure chest charts, they can have a dance party. You could also let them bring music to play while the class is jumping rope or running as another extension activity.
This post is part of the series: A Physical Education Unit Plan on Fitness
- Fitness Fun: An Introduction to a Fun Physical Education Unit
- Learning the Ropes: Jump Rope Fitness Lesson for Elementary Students
- Run For Fun! A PE Lesson Plan Highlighting Running Games