12 Best Indoor PE Games For Kids

Indoor activities for those rainy days.

All our fitness and training resources are rigorously vetted by our expert team and adhere to our Exercise Advice Guidelines.

One of the more challenging tasks for any physical education teacher or youth sports coach is creating creative, engaging, and fun indoor PE games for kids for those rainy days that still increase cardiovascular fitness and strength.

Due to space restrictions, many PE teachers turn to skills-based indoor PE games over fitness-based ones.

Physical education activities like shooting hoops, hitting a ball with a racquet, throwing and catching, using hula hoops, and dribbling a basketball lend themselves more easily to small spaces than running around, playing tag games, volleyball, or doing laps.

However, some indoor PE activities strike a balance and can increase fitness while not requiring a ton of real estate. 

In this guide, we’ve compiled 12 of the best indoor PE games for kids1Duda, J. L. (1996). Maximizing Motivation in Sport and Physical Education Among Children and Adolescents: The Case for Greater Task Involvement. Quest48(3), 290–302. https://doi.org/10.1080/00336297.1996.10484198 that require minimal equipment, yet are fun games that help develop various aspects of fitness, social skills, and coordination.2Vandorpe, B., Vandendriessche, J., Vaeyens, R., Pion, J., Matthys, S., Lefevre, J., Philippaerts, R., & Lenoir, M. (2012). Relationship between sports participation and the level of motor coordination in childhood: A longitudinal approach. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport15(3), 220–225. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsams.2011.09.006 Add them to your next PE lesson plans!

Kids in PE class.

Indoor PE Games For Kids

#1: Relay Races

Kids typically love relay races, which help develop teamwork and leadership skills.

The simplest indoor relay race involves having the kids run laps of the gym or indoor PE space.

Split the kids into teams of 2-4 students and then have them take off running the perimeter of the room—no cutting the corners or you’re out!

Have each runner take one lap and tag or pass a baton, beanbag, or whatever you have on hand to a teammate. The race can involve several rounds through each team, depending on the age of the students. 

You can also get more creative with the relay races. For example, instead of straight running, you can have the kids run one side of the gym, do walking lunges along the next side, then transition to skipping or bounding for the third side and doing lateral shuffling for the last side.

A great team-building exercise!

Kids playing indoor PE games.

#2: Fitness Stations

For this PE class game, you can set up a circuit or “gym” with different fitness stations spread around the gymnasium.

Divide the kids into small groups based on the number of stations you have. Set up a timer for 1-2 minutes and have the kids cycle through the entire circuit of stations 2-3 times. 

Examples of kids’ activity3Families Magazine. (n.d.). Families Magazine. https://www.familiesmagazine.com.au/ stations could include jumping rope, push-ups, sit-ups, planks, squats, burpees, jumping jacks, chair dips, resistance band side steps, high knees sprinting in place, side leg raises, or leg lifts, reverse crunches, and forward and reverse lunges.

#3: Red Light, Green Light

This classic indoor PE game is fun for young kids and helps build listening skills and body control. Making the students “freeze” is also a great way to help classroom management for a rambunctious group.

In case you are unfamiliar with this elementary PE gym game, here are the instructions:

  1. Begin with everyone along the starting line on the far end of the gym.
  2. When the teacher says, “green light,” all of the students will move toward the finish line on the other far end of the gym.
  3. When the teacher says “red light,” everyone must stop moving immediately. If players are still moving when “red light” is called, they must return to the starting line.

You can start a new round when all of the students get across the finish line.

Kids in PE class sitting on a bench.

#4: Sharks and Minnows

Although this game was originally designed to be played in the water, it can be a great indoor PE running game for younger kids. 

Players, or “minnows,” are lined up along one wall of the gym, facing the other side. One or two “sharks” stand in the “ocean” in the middle of the gym.

When the sharks yell, “Fishy, fishy, cross my ocean!” the minnows try to run to the opposite wall without getting tagged by a shark. 

If a tagger gets them, they become seaweed stuck in place, wiggling and waving their arms.

They can then tag other minnows when they run by, making it harder for them to get to safety without getting tagged.

#5: Captain’s Orders

Captain’s Orders is like Simon Says, except the instructor or one student is the captain. The captain gives orders like “The captain says, ‘Do 15 jumping jacks.’”

If the captain gives a command without saying “The captain says…” beforehand, any players who do the activity are eliminated.

The activities should include various calisthenics and other exercises, such as running, push-ups, jumping jacks, and walking lunges, to give a full-body workout. They should also include ship-based activities like “scrub the deck,” “run to port,” and “walk the plank.”  

You can also create commands like “run to base,” where the kids have to run to a designated mat on one side of the gym.

Three kids on a bench in gym class.

#6: Fitness Bingo  

Fitness Bingo is a great way to “gamify” exercise and make it more engaging without feeling forced. 

To play this indoor PE fitness game, type up and print out a bingo card for every kid in your class with different exercises or physical activities in each box in random and varied orders.

Then, lead the class through the exercises in whatever order you call out. The first student to get Bingo, wins!

You can make a set of each exercise for a certain length of time (such as 30 seconds) or a specific number of reps (such as 10-20), depending on the kids’ age and skill level.

Examples of exercises for Bingo squares include push-ups, plank, crunches, squats, burpees, jumping jacks, side-to-side jumps over a line, high knees sprinting in place, side leg raises or leg lifts, mountain climbers, jump squats, bird dog, Superman, single-leg Romanian deadlifts, lateral lunges, V-ups, tuck jumps, reverse crunches, and forward and reverse lunges.

Kids in PE class sitting on a bench holding sports balls.

#7: Sock Snowball Fight

With older children or high school kids, you can play dodgeball with soft indoor sports balls if you have them available.

However, for younger kids or if you don’t have access to appropriate sports balls for dodgeball, you can create an indoor “snowball fight” using a similar game concept but with balled-up gym socks as the dodgeballs or “snow balls.”

Divide the kids into two teams and separate them on either side of the gym with their backs against opposite walls facing one another. Along the centerline of the gym, place a series of 10-30 gym socks, each tucked up into a neat ball. 

On the command “Go!”, have the kids sprint to the center line and try to grab a snowball sock, then retreat to their side of the gym and try to aim and hit a player on the other team from the shoulders down.

Players who are hit are either eliminated or must complete a penalty (such as doing 25 jumping jacks or holding a 30-second plank) before getting back in the game. You can decide the rules.

If a player hits someone in the head or neck, they are eliminated or must perform the penalty.

Players only get three lives, and then they are out.

Snowballs are always in play, so you can run and grab one if one hits your teammate or an opponent misses someone altogether.

The first team to eliminate all the opponents wins.

A PE teacher with a clipboard speaking to a group of students.

#8: Zumba-Inspired Dance Party

Throw a dance party with fitness-inspired dance like Zumba or play upbeat music and encourage everyone to move to the beat. If you have access to a projector, you can even play a free Zumba workout video for kids to help with the choreography.

#9: Bear Crawl Races

The bear crawl is a surprisingly challenging fitness move. Instruct students to keep their core tight, glutes engaged, and back flat.

This is one of the indoor physical education games that will build strength in the core, shoulders, glutes, and legs while increasing cardiovascular endurance.

You can have bear crawl races. Line up the students on one side of the gym and have them bear crawl to the other side. The last one there is eliminated.

Keep going back and forth, eliminating the student who comes in last each time until the winner is crowned.

If your gym is small and you have a lot of kids, you can pair them up and have one member of each pair go to the opposite side and back, taking turns. The same elimination process remains.

Kids playing indoor PE games.

#10: Crab Walk Races

Crab walking is another really challenging but beneficial exercise for kids and adults, so you can also do crab walk races using the same idea as the bear crawl races.

#11: Cheetahs, Frogs, and Kangaroos

Foxes and Hares is another one of our fun indoor PE games for younger kids. It helps develop listening skills, reflexes, and body control while also increasing muscular strength and aerobic fitness.

This game has three different movements. When you’re a cheetah, you sprint as fast as you can. 

When you’re a frog, you get down on all fours and frogleap as swiftly and powerfully as possible. 

Lastly, when you’re a kangaroo, you do two-foot bunny hops, jumping as high and fast as possible, resembling a bounding kangaroo. 

Line up the kids with their backs against one side of the gym facing the other side. Yell “Cheetah!”, “Frog!” or Kangaroo!” and the kids must respond by doing the indicated movement until you yell another animal command.

You can switch up commands as frequently as you want and at random intervals. 

Kids are eliminated if they perform the wrong motion or fail to switch in time before you spot them. 

Have the kids go back and forth in straight lines (in their own “lane”) to prevent crashing into one another. When they get to the opposite wall, they simply turn around and come back, resuming the motion they were doing until you yell a different command.

They’ll love it!

Kids throwing balls to one another.

#12: Don’t Come In Last

This indoor PE game will get kids sprinting, yet it’s ultimately a game of endurance.

Have the students line up along one side of the gym with their backs to the wall, facing the opposite wall. Call out, “Ready, set, go!“ and then have the students sprint to the other side of the gym. The last student to reach the line is eliminated.

Then, have the students line up on that line and face the original starting line. Call out the same commands and have the kids sprint back, again eliminating the last runner to cross the line.

If possible, line the walls with mats against them or instruct the kids to put their hands up to avoid crashing into the wall.

Continue instructing the kids to run back and forth between the two lines, eliminating the final finisher each round until only one runner remains.

By keeping the rounds going one after the next with very little rest, this physed game is a fantastic way to build stamina while also requiring speed, acceleration, and power. 

How do you challenge kids with indoor physical education lessons and games?

For instructions on how to perform some of the bodyweight exercises mentioned, see our guide, 6 Essential Bodyweight Exercises For Runners.

A group od students with their teacher.

References

  • 1
    Duda, J. L. (1996). Maximizing Motivation in Sport and Physical Education Among Children and Adolescents: The Case for Greater Task Involvement. Quest48(3), 290–302. https://doi.org/10.1080/00336297.1996.10484198
  • 2
    Vandorpe, B., Vandendriessche, J., Vaeyens, R., Pion, J., Matthys, S., Lefevre, J., Philippaerts, R., & Lenoir, M. (2012). Relationship between sports participation and the level of motor coordination in childhood: A longitudinal approach. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport15(3), 220–225. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsams.2011.09.006
  • 3
    Families Magazine. (n.d.). Families Magazine. https://www.familiesmagazine.com.au/
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.