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Sports and Team Building Games in the Primary Years

6 Ways To Encourage Sports and Team Building Games

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic children in the UK have spent a large amount of time indoors, accessing their work through screens and speaking to their friends and classmates via Zoom calls.

Now that children are back in schools and interacting with peers, sports and team games are a great way to stay fit and healthy and re-build relationships.

11 children wearing navy blue school jumpers are playing on a huge climbing frame with a climbing wall. The climbing frame has been installed onto artificial grass in a forest area.

Maintaining healthy lives

Public Health England reports that childhood obesity and excess weight are significant health issues for children and their families.

There can be serious implications for a child’s physical and mental health, which can continue into adulthood.

The number of children with an unhealthy and potentially dangerous weight is a national public health concern.

Children wearing navy school uniform are running on a daily mile track which has been created out of artificial grass and installed onto the school field which is in front of the school building.

Physical activity can help children and young people to achieve and maintain a healthier weight.

Our NHS recommends that children and young people aged 5 to 18 should aim for an average of at least 60 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a day across the week.

Our modern lifestyles are possibly quite different to those of our parents and grandparents who may have had more freedom to play outside independently.

Reliance on technology can cause children to become less active which could lead to inactive adults.

A class of children wearing white polo tops are running around a daily mile track which has been made out of artificial grass and installed onto the school field. Some children are smiling and doing thumbs up to the camera.

Improving children’s mental wellbeing

Physical activity can help to maintain children’s mental wellbeing.

Endorphins are released by the brain during exercise and help to improve mood, energy levels and even sleep.

Exercise can benefit children who experience anxiety by breaking the cycle of worry and focussing on the demands of the activity.

Increased movement helps children to build stronger muscles and bones, they become more flexible and posture can improve by developing core and spine strength.

5 children wearing purple jumpers are playing on a small climbing frame which has been installed onto wetpour surfacing whilst other children run around the playground and one child is riding a red trike.

Sports and games help to progress motor skills which allow children to master skills needed in every day life such as tying shoelaces and writing.

Involvement in sports and team games can also help with brain development.

During exercise, nerve cells in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex of the brain are triggered to multiply and form new connections.

This results in improved concentration and better memory.

4 children are ready to start a running race on the race tracks which have been created using white lines on the artificial grass whilst one teacher stands to supervise.

Playing as part of a team

Participating in team sports from an early age helps children to develop and control the emotional, behavioural and social skills that are needed to become a valued team player.

Over time children gain confidence and improved self-esteem.

It is important for children to learn that satisfaction is not only gained from a winning result but from acknowledging effort and playing well whether they win or lose.

Teaching children to develop a growth mindset has become important in primary education over recent years.

9 children are playing on a huge climbing frame with a climbing wall, the climbing frame has been installed onto the school playground in front of the white school building.

The idea of a growth mindset is based upon research of achievement and success by psychologist Carol Dweck.  

A growth mindset means your ability to learn isn’t fixed, but rather the harder you try the more likely you are to learn a specific concept or skill. 

Physical education in schools can show children that failure is fine and that great learning can come from failing to succeed.

Encouragement from teaching staff can improve children’s persistence and determination.

6 children, all girls wearing white polo tops and blue cardigans are running around the daily mile track which has been made using artificial grass and goes around the school field.

I feel it is important to tell pupils that everyone learns at their own pace and that the process of learning a particular skill is just as important as mastering it.

The Games strand of the P.E. curriculum enhances the development of skills and provides opportunities for social interaction.

A balanced programme of games ensures that children experience a wide variety of activities that provide enjoyment, challenge and foster a lifelong interest.

Games are a valuable and interesting way of helping children to work together and to raise the level of co-operation and respect within the class.

13 children are running around playing football on a huge muga with artificial grass, there are trees behind the muga and blue sky.

Playing as part of a team allows children to interact and socialise.

Children can develop leadership qualities which enables them to be good decision makers.

Some children may take on sports leader roles and become positive ambassadors throughout the school.

They could enjoy organising competitions and checking school equipment.

A class of children wearing blue tops and yellow summer dresses are playing on a muga which has artificial grass inside of it and 2 football goals at either end of the muga.

As a teacher based in Liverpool, watching the children gather for a game of ‘footie’ was an everyday occurrence.

We were lucky to have a large football pitch with markings and goals which was actually timetabled as so many children and classes wanted to use it.

Football develops many basic skills such as running, jumping, throwing, catching, kicking and even balance, co-ordination and agility.

Children learn how to communicate, make quick decisions and begin to problem solve.

An aerial view of a multi-use games area which has been installed onto a school field with 2 large trees next to it. The muga is also next to the school building.

I have also noted that football can teach children ownership, respect and the ability to resolve conflicts.

Having a Multi Use Games Area would provide a fantastic space for children to participate in sporting activities in all weathers.

Team sports are a popular option in primary schools as they help to build a sense of togetherness and community that can often be overlooked.

When we teach children the value of teamwork, they learn how to play fairly, build new friendships and have fun.

2 boys wearing blue school jumpers are playing football in a muga with a white football whilst one boy wearing a white polo top cheers at the side of the pitch.

Some schools are holding short activity sessions throughout the school day. Ten-minute break activities could involve a game, dance or some yoga.

Quite often short, active breaks at regular intervals can help to accelerate children’s academic progress.

Sports Days are always a highly anticipated event in Primary school. This year they may not look the same as in previous years but I’m sure the children are still excited to compete and cheer on their friends.

Here are some simple game ideas that encourage unity, team play and healthy competition that children will really enjoy.

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1

Relay Races

 

A relay race is one of the oldest and simplest sports day games. It can be adjusted and changed to suit different age groups, levels and sports.

Children can be split into teams. Each team has to take it in turns to bounce a basketball to and from a point as fast as possible.

One boy wearing a white polo top is jumper over timber posts as part of an obstacle course. The timber posts have been installed into the grass.

The first team to have all their players complete the task and sit down at the start line, wins! There are many variations on this classic race.

You could run, skip, hop, jump or use egg and spoons and sacks.

One girl wearing red shorts and a white top is climbing over a timber frame as part of an obstacle course which has been installed onto the school field.

2

Hot Potato

 

For this game you need to split your class into two groups.

Each group must stand in a circle (an arms width apart from each other) and throw, kick or pass the ball to one another.

Two girls, one wearing a summer dress and one wearing a grey skirt and white top are playing on a trim trail that has been installed onto wetpour surfacing in front of a row of trees.

Every time a pass is successfully caught by someone everyone in the group has to take one step backwards – making the circle bigger and the game more challenging.

The biggest circle after an allotted amount of time wins the game.

This game is great for developing reflexes, reaction times and hand- eye co-ordination of children.

Two girls wearing red school jumpers are climbing over a rope climbing frame that has been installed onto artificial grass whilst more children play on a climbing frame in the background.

3

Agility Course

 

Encourage some healthy competition with an agility course game.

Pentagon’s Get Set, Go Blocks are perfect for allowing children to create their own challenge.

Split your group in to two teams and have them line up next to each other. Just like the relay race, each team’s player goes one at a time and hops, skips, runs and jumps their way to the finish line.

6 eyfs children are playing on get, set go! blocks that have been placed onto artificial grass in the middle of a roadway. There is a climb through tunnel behind the blocks.

This type of course is fun for all ages and can even be played with teachers against pupils!

Another way to complete an agility course is group the children into trios and blindfold one pupil who will be guided round the course by the others in the group. This type of activity builds trust and teamwork.

3 girls wearing blue summer dresses are playing on get set go! blocks that have been placed onto artificial grass in between two school building walls.

4

Frogs and Lily Pads

 

Children are split into groups of three and given three spots or hoops.

In each group there must be one ‘frog’ and two ‘tadpoles.’

4 children are sat on artificial grass topped seats whilst one child sits on a storytelling chair that have been installed onto artificial grass in front of 2 outdoor whiteboards.

The objective of the race is to get the frog from one side of the pitch to the other, however the frog can only step on the spots/hoops which can only be moved by the tadpoles.

Teachers can act as the ‘pond police’ making sure only frogs step off the lily pads.

an eyfs playground with 3 children playing at a water table, 2 children riding trikes on the roadway and more children walking through the playground.

5

Suspension Bridge

 

This is a stretching exercise where the children are divided into groups of about six.

A huge playground development including a messy play area, artificial grass, a climbing frame, a giant playhouse and a wigwam. There are lots of children playing on the playground in the sunshine.

The first person in the group must be touching a wall on the edge of the court and that person stretches their body as long as possible.

The other group members lengthen the stretch by joining on, the objective being to see how far across the pitch the group can stretch.

One boy with blonde hair is jumping off a get, set go! block that has been placed onto artificial grass whilst one girl stands on another block holding hands with a teacher.

6

Parachute Games

 

These can be useful in a large space both inside and outside the classroom.

They can be an ideal stretching and strengthening exercise and children are always very enthusiastic as soon as the word ‘parachute’ is mentioned.

Co-operative stretching activities using a parachute can develop strong muscles.

A class of children playing on an adventure climbing frame that has been installed onto artificial grass with playground markings around the climbing frame.

Biceps Curl

  • Hold the parachute by taking an underhand grip, with knuckles pointing towards the ground.
  • Hold the parachute at hip level.
  • Ensure the elbows are fixed and feel the strain of the parachute.
  • On the count of one, two, three, very slowly pull the parachute towards the body.
  • On the repeat count of one, two, three, very slowly, move the parachute away from the body.
  • Repeat this activity facing away from the parachute.

Triceps Extension

  • Place the parachute on the ground.
  • Ask the group to lie on the ground on their backs, knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
  • Extend the arms over behind the head and catch the parachute, ensuring that the parachute does not touch the head.
  • Take the strain of the parachute.
  • On the count of one, two, three, pull the parachute over the head.
  • On the count of one, two, three bring the parachute back to its original position.

Three children, one wearing a yellow top, one wearing a red top, one wearing a blue top are playing on playground markings that have been put on the playground in front of the school building.

From babies to adults, exploring our world and physically expressing ourselves is something we all do. Taking part in sport allows many people to excel.

By giving children the opportunity to try out many different activities schools have the potential to ignite a passion.

2 pupils are using the outdoor gym equipment that has been installed onto the school playground whilst one girl wearing a blue coat sits on another piece of gym equipment in the background.

During these challenging times, it has become clearer to me than ever the importance of keeping active and how it benefits not just our physical health but also our ability to pay attention to our mood and our mental health too.”

“Every family will have had a different experience of the pandemic, and I know that many children will have missed time spent outdoors with their friends – that’s why it’s so important for schools to prepare their PE and sports activities

- Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education

 15 children are playing on get set, go! blocks that have been placed onto artificial grass next to bright blue safeturf surfacing.

Many settings will be looking to raise the profile of physical education across the whole school.

Having a designated pitch or zone with a safe Playground Surface ensures that a wide range of sports and activities can be offered to all pupils throughout their time in primary school.