Not every day is sunshine and rainbows. When it's too cold outside, or the rain is pouring down, having a list of fun indoor games can help the kids stay entertained, even when you need to fill an entire hour of physical education class.
This article includes 20 of the best indoor PE games for all ages. From 9 Square to throwing a dance party, this list of the best indoor games will keep every student looking forward to indoor gym class.
1. 9 Square
9 Square is the perfect indoor gym game because it encourages healthy competition, yet without the bite of a one-on-one battle. Nine people can play in a single 9 Square court simultaneously, ensuring that plenty of people participate. As the game goes on, players are always coming in and out of the game.
The game is simple. Players stand in a three by three grid, and the middle square is the King or Queen square. The rest of the positions spiral out until the bottom corner is square nine, the starter square. If a player misses the ball, they have to move down to the last square, and all other players move up.
The game's goal is to get to the King or Queen square and then stay in that position. All players have the same chance to move up, meaning that everyone is on an even playing field. If someone hits the ball out, they're out. If they drop the ball, they're out.
9 Square is the perfect game for a tournament, as those who maintain their place as King or Queen move up and others move down. Because 9 Square is always changing, it will keep kids (even high schoolers) entertained for a full PE class. It's one of the best rainy day games.
2. Zombie Tag
Zombie Tag is one of the most entertaining games for kids in PE. It's fun, exciting, suspenseful, and terrifying—every child will love it.
To play Zombie Tag, you will need no extra equipment or items. All you need is a start line and a finish line. In most situations, you can have the start line be one wall of the gym, and the finish line be the other wall. This also means that the kids will be running back and forth across the gym, getting the most exercise possible.
Start by selecting one person to be the zombie. The zombie will start in the middle of the gym and can't walk any closer until the gym teacher starts the game. Line up all the other kids on the starting wall. When the whistle blows, the kids will race towards the opposite wall, avoiding the zombie. If the zombie tags one of the players, that person stops running and is a zombie in the next round.
When everyone has made it to the other wall (not including the new zombies), the game starts over. The new zombies line up on the middle line and try to tag the survivors. The game goes back and forth until there are only one or two players left. At that point, the survivors have lived through the zombie apocalypse and are the winners of the game.
Zombie Tag is the perfect game for an active gym class. Kids will love the excitement of the game and the thrill of surviving the "zombie apocalypse."
3. Yoga and Pilates
For kids of any age, yoga and pilates are great indoor activities. Yoga and pilates use body weight to tone and stretch muscles. To hold a yoga or pilates class, you will need a yoga mat for each student.
Once each student has a yoga mat, begin a simple yoga class. Yoga focuses on slow, meaningful movements and aims to lengthen and strengthen the body. Some benefits of yoga include:
- Improved strength and flexibility
- Eases chronic pains
- Helps to manage stress
- Encourages relaxation
- Benefits heart health
- Improves moods
By introducing your students to yoga, you're teaching them to a new way to look at exercise and showing them an easy way to manage stress. Yoga is an easy way to introduce overweight kids to exercise. It's undaunting and relaxing—providing the perfect introduction to exercise without forcing the kids to run laps around a track. Best of all, yoga focuses on self-love and teaches you to love yourself no matter what you look like.
Yoga, pilates, and meditation benefit students by providing them with an outlet for stress and an easy way to exercise. After hosting a yoga class, you'll find that many students continue their practice outside of school and will adopt yoga as a way to feel good and release pent up stress and frustration.
4. Gaga Ball
Gaga Ball works great as both an indoor and outdoor game. It's a game that is similar to dodgeball where you get out if the ball hits you below the knee or if you hit the ball out of the pit. If you're the last person standing then you've won the game.
5. Captain, Yes Captain
Captain, Yes Captain is an active form of Simon Says. One person starts as the Captain and gives commands to the other players. Rather than telling the player word for word what to do, the Captain yells coded commands. At the beginning of the game, the Captain tells the other players what the codes mean. If someone can't figure out what the code means, they're out of the game and must "walk the plank."
Some ideas for Captain commands include:
- "Bow:" run to the front of the gym
- "Stern:" run to the back of the gym
- "Row:" drop to the ground and begin rowing your arms
- "Salute:" stand straight and salute the Captain
- "Starboard:" run to the side of the gym
- "Captain's Quarters:" run to the Captain
- "Shark!:" run to designated bases
When the Captain yells, "Shark!" everyone has to run to a specific base to stay safe from the shark. The last person to arrive gets eaten by the shark and is out of the game. The Captain continues to call out orders until they eliminate nearly everyone from the game. The last person alive becomes the new Captain.
6. Musical Chairs
Musical Chairs is an easy game to play with students of all ages. The game is fun to watch and fun to play, making it a great game even if you're the first person eliminated. To play, all you need is a group of chairs. You will need a chair for every participant. Before you start, take away one of the chairs so that there's one person without a chair.
When the music starts, encourage everyone to dance as they walk in the circle around the chairs. The moment the music stops, everyone has to find a chair. The person who doesn't get a chair is out of the game.
Before starting the second round, make sure to take away another chair. The game continues until there's one person left sitting.
Speedball is a great indoor activity to help kids learn each other's names. It's perfect for the first day of gym class. To play, you will need several red bouncy balls.
Gather all the students in a circle and pass the ball to another player. As the ball leaves your hands, call out the name of the person you're passing the ball to. The person has to be paying attention to catch the ball. When they catch the ball, they pass it to another player.
If someone drops the ball, they're out of the game. The game narrows until there are only a few players left. As the game continues, add more balls. This means that the players must keep their eyes on several balls flying at the same time. If two balls collide, the two students who threw the balls are out of the game.
The game is fast-paced since no one can hold a ball for longer than a few seconds. If the teacher yells out, "Red Handed!" the person holding one of the red balls is out. In this way, the game is similar to Hot Potato.
Speedball is an easy game for all ages. It encourages the students to learn names and form new bonds with other students in the class.
8. Paper Airplanes
No matter how old your students are, they will always love playing with paper airplanes. It's the perfect indoor activity for both kids in elementary school and kids in high school. Flying paper airplanes reminds older kids of simpler times—when homework was easy to complete, and their social lives were easy. In a way, flying paper airplanes can help older kids relax and relieve stress. Young kids will always enjoy the simplicity of creating a paper airplane and trying to make it fly.
For your indoor gym class, give your students a break from the constant barrage of activities and let them throw paper airplanes. Host a paper airplane contest and see what the kids bring to the table. If it's going to rain for two days in a row, plan a tournament.
On the first day, bring paper for the kids and show them a few designs that work. Have a mock competition. When the kids go home, task them with designing the ultimate paper airplane. When they return the next day, hold a tournament and have the kids compete with their airplanes.
Start by grouping the kids into groups of ten. The top five from each group move onto the next round. The tournament continues until there are only two paper airplanes left competing. If you want to go the extra mile, bring a small golden paper airplane trophy for the tournament winner.
This activity encourages kids to put their all into the activity and have fun in their gym class.
9. Hula Hoop Tic Tac Toe
Hula Hoop Tic Tac Toe is an easy indoor game that encourages kids to master motor skills. To play, you will need nine hula hoops and several bean bags or stuffed animals to throw. Set up the hula hoops in a three by three grid, mimicking the grid of a tic tac toe game.
Separate the students into teams of four (you can also have several games going simultaneously so that everyone can participate). The starting team throws one bean bag into the hula hoops. If the toy lands in a hula hoop, the team claims that position. If the bean bag lands outside of the hoops or lands in a previously taken hoop, the turn skips.
Other than throwing the bean bags or stuffed animals into the hula hoops, the game is played just like tic tac toe. To make the games last longer, set up this game as a tournament so that one team walks away as the Hula Hoop Tic Tac Toe champion.
10. Free Play Stations
Gym class doesn't always have to be structured. Sometimes, the best gym activity for your group of students is free play. Free play means that you set up several stations, and the kids can choose which game they want to play.
Free play doesn't mean that the kids can choose to sit out of gym class. Instead, it means that they have an opportunity to choose between several activities that you introduced earlier in the school year.
Easy free play activities include:
- Jump rope
- Hula hoop
The purpose of free play is to let the kids decide which activities interest them most. Hopefully, the students will stay engaged in the activities. Before hosting the free play, make sure to ask your class which activities are their favorite and then try to incorporate those activities in the free play.
11. Fitness Bingo
Fitness Bingo is a great way to get the kids moving without forcing them to run lap after lap. Instead, make exercising a game. Fitness Bingo doubles as both an indoor game and an outdoor activity, making it a versatile option for any time of the year.
To play Fitness Bingo, print out a bingo card for every kid. The bingo card should have different activities listed in the boxes. Throughout the gym, set up fitness stations. For example, in one corner of the gym, set up a balance beam. On the opposite corner, put up a sign that says, "Push-ups."
The kids will have options on the bingo card and choose which option they want to participate in first. There's no rush or prize to win by finishing your card before the rest, which encourages a non-competitive atmosphere in the room. The students can also choose to work as a team to complete their cards or exercise alone.
Fitness Bingo is a circuit of activities that allows students to exercise at their own pace. Some kids might complete their bingo cards within the first ten minutes, while others might take the entire class. The bingo card's purpose is to let the kids take the exercises at a speed that makes them feel comfortable.
12. Roll the Dice
For this game, you will need two large homemade paper dice. On every side of the dice, write a physical activity. One by one, the students will come up to the front of the room and roll the dice. The whole class has to do the two chosen activities.
This game is easy to participate in, and it includes the entire class. Rather than just doing exercises, it adds intrigue because the students never know what the dice are going to roll. Here are 12 ideas for your dice.
- 20 arm circles
- 10 burpees
- 10 push-ups
- 20 squats
- 20 calf raises
- 30-second plank
- 20 crunches
- 10 jumping jacks
- 30-second run in place
- 10 star jumps
- 5 triceps push-ups
- 20 punches
This game is fun because the kids get a great workout while exercising as a group. The group might collectively groan when someone rolls a combo of "10 burpees" and "10 push-ups." Or the group might cheer when someone rolls "20 arm circles" and "10 jumping jacks." No matter what the kids roll, this is sure to tire out all the participants.
Badminton is a great game for kids of all ages. It's simple to set up with easy-to-follow rules. For an indoor activity during a rainstorm or too-cold weather, set up the indoor badminton courts inside the gym. Create a tournament ranking where the best teams move one way, and the losing teams move the other direction.
Badminton is a great indoor game for young kids and teenagers. No matter the age of your class, everyone will love this indoor activity.
Twister both stretches and strengthens your entire body. In a way, Twister is like a yoga class, but with added competition. To play Twister with your entire gym class, you will need a large Twister mat. Separate the group into teams so that each mat has the right amount of players. Then, start the game.
Although the class will be divided into teams, they are not competing solely within their groups. Every student must try to be the last one standing (or crouching).
This game will keep the class entertained while they're stuck inside. It's an easy game to set up and has few rules, making it ideal for classes of all ages.
One of the best indoor games that maximize physical exercise is Dodgeball. Dodgeball encourages teamwork and helps kids work on their aim and coordination. To play, split the class into two teams. Line up a row of rubber balls along the centerline, the midpoint between the two teams. On a count of three, the two teams will race towards the centerline and try to grab the rubber balls. As soon as they get to the balls, the team will begin throwing them at the opposite team.
If someone hits a member of the opposite team, that person is out. However, they can get back into the game. There are two different versions you can play. The first version has team members line up just outside the game. If someone from their team catches a ball from the opposite team before it hits the ground, the thrower is out, and someone from the catcher's team comes back into play.
The second way to play is much more dynamic and ensures that you're still in the game even when you're out. Instead of lining up in order, players stand on the opposite players' side. When someone throws the ball out, the players run to get it and throw it at the opposite team. This means that teams must constantly be looking over their shoulders to watch out for the "backstabbers."
If a backstabber gets a player out on the opposite team, they join their team again. This version is best for older kids since it requires everyone to be constantly on their guard.
No matter what version of Dodgeball you choose to play, the students will love it. It's a great game for building teams and is the perfect indoor recess or indoor gym class activity.
One of the best indoor recess games is Spikeball. It's a great indoor game because you don't need a lot of space to play. The one drawback to Spikeball as a PE game is that only four people can play at a time. You will need multiple Spikeball games to allow more than four people a turn at the game. Because only a limited number can play, this game is best for free play or indoor recess.
Spikeball comes with a small trampoline and a single ball. Players hit the ball on the trampoline, with alternating teams hitting the ball. If a team can't hit the ball back, the opposite team wins a point. The game is highly popular and is a great option for free play during gym class.
Volleybound is a variation of volleyball. The slight variation in the game makes the game more entertaining for the players. To play, each player will need a rubber ball. The players hold their ball pressed between their two hands. When the volleyball is hit over the net, they hit the ball using the ball in their hands.
You can also purchase a Volleybound set (since playing with a red bouncy ball could send the balls flying halfway across the gym). Volleybound balls come with handholds to make it easier to keep a grip as the students hit the volleyball back and forth.
18. Keep the Ball Up
This simple game focuses on leg work. By the end of the gym hour, the students will be exhausted, even though they'll be lying down for the entire game.
To play, you will need a large beach ball. You may also want to lay mats down on the floor so that the kids aren't lying directly on the floor. Have the kids lay down side by side on the mats and then tell them to put their feet in the air.
Throw the ball into the group of kids and tell them to keep the ball from touching the ground. They will have to kick and punch the ball into the air to keep it up. They will have fun laughing and screaming as they do their best to keep the ball from touching the ground.
19. Obstacle Course
To keep the young kids entertained during indoor gym class, create an obstacle course. Although this takes a lot of preparation, it's the perfect way to make sure that the students are having fun while exercising.
An obstacle course requires the kids to finish tasks as they get from one side of the gym to the other. Tasks could include walking over a balance beam, jumping across a bean bag river, throwing a stuffed animal into a laundry basket, climbing over a training wall, and more.
The genius of an obstacle course is that it lets the kids' imaginations shine. Throughout the obstacle course, the kids will create a narrative. For example, when crossing the balance beam, the kids will imagine crossing a river on a rickety old log. If they fall, they will tumble into a fast current that will carry them away—even when they're just crossing a wooden balance beam.
Obstacle courses let the kids run wild with their imaginations. The various tasks of balancing, jumping, climbing, and crawling are great exercises for kids!
20. Snowball Fight
Indoor snowball fight? How is that possible? Buy several packs of clean socks and roll the socks into tight balls to create fun indoor snowballs. For this game, you can combine aspects of your obstacle course with a fun snowball fight.
Set out a variety of supplies on the gym floor, including cardboard boxes, gymnastics training blocks, sheets, and other buildable materials. Separate the class into two teams and instruct the teams to build several fortresses on their half of the gym.
Once the fortresses are ready, pass out the sock snowballs. Each team will try to knock out as many players as possible, reusing the snowballs as they fly from one side to the other. Essentially, this is a fun version of Dodgeball that helps the kids imagine that they're outside having a snowball fight. It's the perfect game for young kids and can be played at any time of the year since it's an indoor gym game.
21. Dance Party
One of the best PE activities to lift spirits on a rainy day is a dance party. Throwing a dance party is easy since all you need is music. The kids will get plenty of exercise as they dance and have fun in the gymnasium.
If your class is more reserved or shy, teach them a choreographed song. At the end of the day, some of the kids might discover a love of dancing or even find that they have a new skill. This activity teaches new skills and encourages the kids to try new things.