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My Top Ten Warm-Up Activities

Before every P.E lesson, you need to perform a warm-up with your class to prevent strained muscles. Choosing the right warm-up activity for your activity can be difficult. Some may think that any old game of tag will warm everyone up, but is this relevant to the sport your are about to teach? Does it actively warm the muscles that are going to be used throughout the lesson?

During Easter, I started coaching at a holiday camp for children, during which we teach techniques involved in different sports in a fun and progressive way. Every session requires a warm-up, and I need a never ending bank of fun activities that correspond with sport and skill I am teaching.

As the summer camp has come to an end and the October camp is fast approaching, I have been looking back and thinking about which warm-ups worked best and which were not only my favourites but also the ones the children kept asking for, so here are my Top Ten Warm-Up Activities. 


10. The Beaver Song

Okay, so I’m working on a camp and camps have songs that make you sing, dance and make you look a little bit silly… But who ever said these won’t work in a school? This song, if done with it’s dance, would be great to get then heart rate raised, and for any activity which has a main focus on arm movement – tennis, badminton, passing/shooting a ball…

When I first learned this song, I was doing it everywhere, I absolutely adored it, hopefully you will be the same.

This song is great for all ages, however if I were to pick a specific age, I would say Early Years due to the nature of counting and showing the right number of fingers as your say the number.

I could type all the lyrics in this post, but the link in the sub-heading is the perfect example and is the video often used in the background to keep coaches right. Once you feel confident with the lyrics, you might even decide to change it up to fit the theme in your class.


9. Giants, Wizards and Elves 

So, Giants, Wizards and Elves is basically a massive game of Rock, Paper, Scissors.

Giant = Rock – Action: Arms up high and rawr as loud as you can

Elf = Paper – Crouches right down to the ground and makes a tickling action whilst making a really annoying noise of your choice.

Wizard = Scissors – Action: one foot forward, one arm forward as though you are holding a wand, shout “expelliarmus”

This is a game of teamwork.

Split your class in to two teams, each team goes to the wall on their side of the hall. In their teams, they must plan their attack – choose which creature they would like to be. I often do a count down from 10 in which they need to decide their attack and when I reach 1 each team runs to the middle and performs their attack. The losing team then must run back to their wall with the winning team trying to tag them. If you are tagged, you get to join the winning team for the next round.


8. Sharks and Fishes 

This is a great tag game which starts with one tagger but progresses on until there are no fish left in the sea.

To begin, choose one person to be your shark, everyone else is a fish. The shark will shout “fishy fishy, come swim in my sea” to which the fish reply “sharky sharky, you can’t catch me” and all the fish will try and run to the other side of the hall without being tagged.

If someone has been tagged, they have been bitten and this turns them into seaweed. If you are seaweed, you have to have sticky feet, meaning you cannot move from your position, you can only pivot to face the direction of the fish, but you still have to try and tag them as they run past.

You can make this game quicker by adding a few more sharks in the sea, or changing it so that if you are tagged, you become a shark rather than seaweed meaning you can run around the space.


7. Don’t Let the Balloon Touch the Ground

Okay, this one sounds basic, but it is great. I use this one with the under 8s mainly, but really I would use it at any age.

This game is great for introducing techniques in volleyball and badminton.


I always start the game with music. The children will keep the balloon from touching their floor with their own technique while the music plays, when they music stops, they grab their balloon and come back to you. when they are back, introduce a new way to stop the balloon from touching the floor:

  • Give me a thumbs up, give it a hug, rest those thumbs – volleyball dig
  • Hold the racquet loose with your thumb pointing to the big end, try hit the balloon forward and move with it – badminton underarm

You can lower the amount you teach with this game or increase it depending on the children you have, but I find this a fantastic way to get the skill and movement required for different sports in while playing a fun and familiar game. I even get them to play balloon volleyball over the net and once I see great techniques, I swap their balloon for a ball.


6. On the Pirate Ship

Shiver me timbers – this game is all about remembering and following instructions.

Start with 4 easy commands

Port – Run to the left side of the hall

Startboard – Run to the right side of the hall

Main Deck – Back to the middle of the hall

Scrub the decks – Down on their knees and pretend to scrub the floor 

While giving the instructions, it can help to point in the direction the children should be going to begin with to help them remember.


As you progress through the game, you can start adding some new instructions:

Attention – Children stand up straight with one hand on their forehead in the attention stance 

Captain’s Quarters – Everyone must run to their captain (teacher/coach) 

Captain’s Coming – Everyone shouts “aye aye captain” 

Man Overboard – Children wave their arms like they’re drowning 

Captain’s Wife – Everyone shouts “Woot Woo” OR all the children can courtsey

Hit the Deck – Children lie down on their stomachs as fast as they can

And the list can go on further… You can even start adding in compass direction if that relates to other learning you have been doing in class.


5. Beat the Ball 

This game is great for working on paying attention and ball handling skills. It is fast paced and really enjoyable for children of any age.

Children all stand in a circle facing the middle, the person starting with the ball must pass it to someone standing next to them then run around the outside of the circle in the same direction. The aim for the person running is to run around the circle faster than the ball. The aim for the children in the circle is to pass the ball to the person standing next to them so that the ball returns to the starting point quicker than the person running.


4. Man on Mars 

This is another tag game that the children ask for all the time, they love it, plus it’s really simple.

You start with on person in the middle, everyone else is against a wall looking at your “man on Mars”

The children at the wall shout “Man on Mars, man on Mars, take me to the stars”

The person in the middle will then say a condition for people to run to the other side safely – Only if you are wearing blue socks 

 Once all the people who have met the condition have gone through, there is a countdown from 3, then everyone has to run and the person in the middle has to tag people. Anyone who has been tagged joins the people in the middle for the next round.

Older children can often run this game on their own and work as a team to decide the condition together and to catch as many people as possible. When I have a younger group, I help them out and ensure that as many children in the middle get to decide on the condition as possible and help them to shout it over.

You can restart the game at any point with a new tagger, otherwise the game ends when everyone has been tagged.


3. Traffic Lights 

This game is my go to for teaching skills in movement, it’s fantastic.

For older children, vocal instructions are often enough, but for younger children I use cones in the traffic

light colours to provide a visual aid. The different colours represent different speeds the children are moving in.

Green – Running 

Amber/Yellow/Orange – Walking 

Red – Stop / Return to teacher/coach


I have found this game increases confidence in movement with different sporting equipment and also allows the teacher/coach to see children progressing and provide any tips to children, e.g keeping your head up as you move so you don’t bump in to people.


2. Volcanoes and Craters 

All you need for this is a whole load of cones and a great bunch of children!

Place half your cones facing the normal way – thin end at the top (these will be your volcanoes)

Place the other half of your cones upside-down – thin end at the bottom (These will be your craters)

Make sure they are mixed up so that you don’t have loads facing one way at one side.

Split the children in to two teams, the volcano team and the crater team. On your count, they will have to try and make all the cones face the right way for their team. Do this with a set time in mind, e.g the length of a song. At the end, the team with the most cones facing their way wins.


1. Mr Man 

This game develops listening skills, paying attention, following instructions, reaction times and movement.

These are some suggestions of commands you can use, the children just need to react how they feel is appropriate for each character, but you may wish to designate specific actions to each character if you feel children may be silly without the Mr Silly character being called.

Mr Rush – Run

Mr Slow – Walk slowly 

Mr Noisy – Make loads of noise whilst doing previous action 

Mr Quiet – Be silent whilst doing previous action

Mr Jelly – Shake your whole body 

Mr Muddle – Walk backwards 

Mr Bounce – Jump around 

Mr Small – Crouch to walk or crawl

Mr Tickle – shaking your arms as you move 

Mr Happy – Move around with a big smile 

Mr Tall – Reach up as high as you can while walking 

Mr Strong – Flex your muscles as you walk

Mr Topsyturvy – Lie on your back with arms and legs in the air  

This game has a never ending list of actions and these are only a few off the top of my head. You could even ask the children to think of some of their own Mr Men and Little Miss characters and actions to go with them.


Warm-up games are a great way to introduce techniques, have some fun and warm up the areas of your body that you are about to be working. It is a crucial part of every session to prevent injuries and these have been just a few that I love to use. I would love to hear your favourite warm-up games and add them to my bank.



Just a Massive List of Circle Games

Over the summer break, students and teachers alike seem to get very bored, many finding themselves a summer job to get themselves through, and earn that extra cash. This summer I have been working with a great summer camp, teaching children sports and playing games, but there was a time I was asked to play circle games for quite a long session and the other coach said to me “I hope your circle game knowledge is on point”. Guess what I did… I drew a blank and played the basics… Not great.


I’ve never really known if being a super planner who likes to have everything planned out before potentially having to adapt is a great thing or a curse, but that one day made me come home and create a big massive list of circle games and how to play them for myself and all the other coaches to check out. Little did I know that I knew so many… Anyway, I thought I would share them on here for everyone else, so no one else draws a blank and so everyone else can jazz up their circle sessions, P.E. warm-ups or downtime.


Also, if anyone has any more, I would love to add them to my list, so pop them in the comments!




  • Everyone starts sitting down with 2 legs out straight
  • Going around the circle, children count saying either one or two numbers at a time
  • If you have to say the number 21, you lose a leg
  • If you lose a leg, you can only say one number from that point
  • If you lose both legs, you need to do a forfeit, then you can re-join the game with both lives

Beat the Ball

  • A soft ball starts on one individual
  • The child passes it to the person next to them and then has to run around the circle in the same direction
  • As the child runs, the ball has to be passes around the circle as quickly as possible
  • If the ball gets back to the start before the child, the child either:
    • Loses a life
    • Does a forfeit
    • Has to go in “the soup” until someone else doesn’t beat the ball
  • If the child gets back before the ball, the game continues with the next person in the circle

Duck duck goose

  • One person chosen to be “it”
  • This person goes around the circle tapping each child’s head
  • As they tap heads, they say either duck or goose
  • If child says “goose”, they both have to run around the circle, the person who was sitting has to try and catch “it”
  • If caught
    • Enter “the soup” until someone else is caught
    • Do a forfeit
  • Goose become “it” regardless of catching prior “it”

Shoe Shuffle (for big groups)

  • One person chosen to be in the middle and close their eyes
  • Everyone takes off one of their shoes and puts them somewhere in the middle of the circle and finds a new place to sit
  • Coach calls for person in the middle to open their eyes
  • Countdown from 20 (change the number depending on size of group)
  • Person in the middle has to return the shoes to their owners in the time frame
  • If they don’t manage, they need to do a forfeit (e.g. smell a shoe)

Giants Keys/Treasure

  • Requires something jingly
  • Someone in the middle of the circle – the giant – with the keys behind them
  • Giant “goes to sleep” – curls up with head facing the floor, eyes closed
  • Coach picks a child to be the thief
  • Thief has to pick up the keys and take them back to their space preventing the keys from giving away where they are sitting
  • Once thief has returned, all children need to sit with their hands behind their back
  • Everyone shouts “WAKEY WAKEY GIANT”
  • Giant has 3 guesses to guess who the thief is
  • Once either the giant has used their three guesses or has guessed correctly, the thief turns into the giant

Button Button

  • One child covers their eyes in the centre of the circle
  • Children in the circle have to pass the small object around the circle until the person in the middle shouts “button button, where is my button” or equivalent for the object being used
  • The person in the middle then uncovers their eyes and has three guesses to guess who has the object
  • Once all guesses have been used or the person is guessed, they then get to be in the centre of the circle

Buzz – Buzz Fizz

  • Maths game – Children need to have understanding of counting in 2s, 5s, 10s etc
  • Children go around the circle counting
  • If you have to say a number which is a factor of 5, you say “buzz”
  • To progress, you can use other factors, e.g. every 2 is fizz
    • So that would make 10 a buzz-fizz
  • Use other interesting words for more factors
  • If someone says a number or forgets one of the words, give them a forfeit

Wink Murder

  • Someone is chosen to be the detective, they stand against a wall until the coach has chosen a person to be the murderer
  • Once the murderer has been chosen, everyone calls “detective, dectective, there’s been a murder”
  • The detective re-joins the group and has to guess who the murderer is
  • While the dectective is working it out, the murderer must slyly wink at other children
  • If the murderer winks at you, you must perform a very dramatic death
  • The detective has 3 guesses to work out who the murderer is
  • Once guesses are used or they have guessed correctly, the murderer become the dectective

Gorilla’s snot

  • Can be used with a ball or hands – this example will use a ball
  • Ball is passed around the circle whilst singing
  • “Down in the jungle where nobody goes, there’s a great big gorilla picking his nose, he picks it, he flicks it, where does it go? Who’s gonna get that, who’s gonna get that, who’s gonna get that slimey snot”
  • Once the song is finished, whoever has the ball has to go into the middle of the circle while everyone shouts “monkey in the middle, monkey in the middle” and they do their best monkey impression
    • For new groups or shy groups, coaches can do monkey impressions with them, or have multiple balls going around the circle so more people are doing monkey impressions together
  • To play without a ball, start with everyone touching hands, as the snot is passed, clap the hand of the person next to you, they clap their hands together then clap the hand of the person next to them

ABC List

  • Coach chooses a subject
  • Go around the circle with each person choosing a word that fits the subject
  • Each word must fit alphabetically
  • g. Food
    • A – Apple
    • B- Burger
    • C – Carrot
  • If you can’t think of a word in time or your word doesn’t fit the alphabet/subject, do a forfeit (most likely on Q or X)

Hoop Chain

  • Everyone stands up in the circle and holds hands
  • The challenge is to pass the hoola-hoop all the way around the circle without breaking the chain (letting go of hands)
  • This can be made more difficult by sitting down, turning to face outside the circle, closing eyes etc

Time Bomb

  • Everyone starts with 3 lives
  • The ball is passes to anyone in the circle (like hot potato)
  • If someone drops the ball or doesn’t catch the ball, everyone starts counting down from 10
  • When counting down, everyone has to run away from the person with the ball
  • The person with the ball has 10 seconds to hit someone else with the ball
  • If you are hit during the ten seconds, you need to try hit someone
  • Whoever is the last to be hit in the 10 seconds loses a life
  • Try finish the game before anyone loses all their lives or find an alternative thing to be done if all lives are lost so that all children can participate at all times (e.g. if you lose all your lives, you have to do a chicken dance, then join in again)

In my suitcase I have…

  • Sitting in the circle, the first person would say something along the lines of “in my suitcase, I have a swimsuit”
  • The next person would then repeat what the first person said, then add their own item, e.g. In my suitcase I have a swimsuit and suncream”
  • This continues around the circle with each child repeating the list of items in the suitcase and adding their own
  • Keep going until someone slips up or misses one
  • This is good for everyone’s memory, including the coaches
  • If someone slips up, choose something silly for them to do, then let them start the next round


  • One person in the middle (can be coach)
  • Everyone stands with their hands pointing like a gun (I like to call it the slimeblaster or jelly shooter)
  • Person in the middle will point their “slimebalster” at someone and shout splat
  • Whoever they have splatted must crouch down as quickly as possible to avoid the slime and the people either side of that person must splat eachother
    • If person splatted doesn’t sit down, they have been splatted and must become a judge
  • The slowest person must sit down – they can become judges to consider who splats quickest
  • Keep doing this until 2 people are left
    • Get the two people back-to-back
    • Every time you say a word, they must take a step forward
    • If you say splat, they must try splat the other person the quickest
    • If you splat early, the other person wins
    • The quickest person to splat wins
  • When playing, the child must say the word splat as they splat as that is the only way the slime or jelly can be released

Song Tag

  • Someone starts in the middle and sings a song
  • Anyone else can go to the middle at any time to knock the person out, but they need to sing a song that is related to the song being sung
    • 1st song – Old MacDonald – animals
    • 2nd Song – Mary had a little lamb
    • 3rd song baa baa black sheep
  • Songs can be chart songs or nursery rhymes, whatever the children come up with
  • The aim is to have the songs relating on, however just let them have fun, it doesn’t matter if they don’t actually relate


  • Coach chooses a child to start
  • Coach tells the group the theme then whispers something relating to that theme in the child’s ear (e.g. sports theme, tennis)
  • Child acts out the thing whispered to them
  • The first person to guess right gets to have a turn acting out

Chinese Whispers

  • One person starts by whispering a sentence to the person next to them
  • The sentence is passed around the circle until it gets to the person before the person who started the whisper
    • Repeating what you said is not allowed
  • The last person has to say out loud what they think they heard
  • This becomes funny as children mishear or make up bits of the sentence when they don’t hear properly

Elephant ball

  • Everyone stands in the circle with their feet touching but their legs open minimum of two ball sizes apart
  • A ball is put into the circle and children pass the ball to eachother by rolling it with their trunks (hands)
  • If the ball goes through your legs, you have to go get it, bring it back to the circle and you have to put one arm behind your back, leaving only one arm to hit the ball
  • If the ball goes through your legs again, you need to turn around and use both arms again but through your legs
  • If the ball goes through again, lose an arm
  • Again and you are “out” – but no one is ever out, so find an alternative, something silly or a lap of the circle etc




Almond Valley Heritage Centre


When attending University to become a Primary teacher, you don’t expect to have a placement that is not in a school, but when you attend the University of Dundee, this is the case for second year.

My placement is in Almond Valley Heritage Centre, and I have been designing an entire topic plan around the Shale Oil industry in Scotland.


When I first started, I have no clue what Shale Oil was… I feel that this is the case for many, yet it is actually a fairly major part of Scottish history – especially the local history in West Lothian.

A chemist called James Young found that you can extract paraffin oil from shale rocks and this led to what is called the Shale Boom. Young opened refineries across West Lothian with the main refinery being in Bathgate. West Lothian was a prime location as there are a number of areas where Shale can be mined.

Young’s Bathgate Chemical Works were arguably the first in the world to refine mineral oil on a commercial scale.

I have found it very interesting so far learning about the history of my local area, but it has also been fantastic to have the opportunity to plan on a long scale basis for an entire topic which can be handed straight to teachers without them having to think too much about it.

Although I am only half way through my placement, I have completed my first full draft of the topic and I am excited to share it with other museums to gain some feedback and new ideas that can be added.

I am particularly excited to visit the Open Museum today to see their loan boxes in the hope that I can create some of my own at AVHC which can be used to aid the teaching during a visit to the museum.

Active Learning & Cooperative Working

“[Curriculum for Excellence] is designed to provide the breadth and depth of education to develop flexible and adaptable young people with the knowledge and skills they will need to thrive now and in the future. It aims to support young people in achieving and attaining the best they possibly can.” (Education Scotland, No Date)

The new curriculum in Scotland is based entirely around active learning, focusing on how children learn, not just what they learn. This is key to get the best from every child, and the definition of active learning. The question is, how do we go about this?

Well, to begin with, you can’t just shower someone with information. Imagine sitting in your lecture and just having to listen for 2 hours, no discussions, no take a moment to think, not even a chance to reflect. You just have to sit, listen and somehow retain…  

What you teach should be relevant and meaningful. I know for myself, when I understand why I need to know something, it is easier for me to understand what I have to do. I also find it easier to learn in a hands on way, where I can actually learn how to do something whilst doing it. This allows me to see the benefits of what I am doing and also get to put two steps together rather than just learning and remembering then later on doing.

Maria Montessori (1870-1952) believed the same in many ways. She believed in an education which can emphasise individuality and independence in learning.  Children are known to be curious creatures, ready to explore and learn from what they find. This is why active learning is so important, as it works coherently with each child’s own development in a holistic way.

Active learning is not only about the content that each child is learning, but also about the process. It teaches children to become lifelong learners as they have control over their own learning. This gives everyone a better chance after school as they go through life, learning on their own.

Most importantly of all, active learning is fun. It draws each child’s attention to their learning rather than their phones. There isn’t room for boredom when you’re making a bottle greenhouse or a model volcano.

With active learning, another thing to look into is cooperative working. This is something everyone needs to know, whether you be a child or adult. As a teacher it is about how you work with your class, however as a student it is how they work and learn together. Cooperative learning aids class discussions, benefits the class to come together and share ideas and helps to develop original thoughts allowing the class to have a stronger knowledge of a subject.

If a class can work together effectively, it means they can work as a team, this can become useful in building the relationships of the students in the classroom. Teamwork also has  individual benefits, not only helping for their future but also developing their communication skills, collective effort and even the difficult skill of compromising.


Looking through all of this, we can now go on and hopefully have a full class excited and ready to learn in the classroom!





Chinese Schools, How Different Can They Really Be?


In sixth year, I was lucky enough to go on an exchange trip to China… Okay yes, we did all the touristy things first, visiting The Great Wall and the Olympic Stadium, but my favourite bit was going to visit the schools. We got to experience classes, morning routines and the lengthy hours of education.

In the UK we often start school around 8.30am and finish around 3.30pm, gatherinI’m sure we all complained at some point about how long some of these days felt. Well, when you visit China you soon learn not to complain. Students in China often start school at 7am where they need to attend the morning assembly. There is an assembly every morning where the students sing their school song and do morning exercises; kind of like some of the primary schools in Scotland doing their Daily Mile. This is also where any announcements are made and where we were welcomed to the school.

Chinese Morning Exercises in UK School

Lessons would commence at 8am and finish at 4pm; still just a little bit longer than ours, however the students had to stay in school until 6-11pm every day in order to do homework, see tutors and take part in their school’s different sports clubs.

One of my favourite things about the Chinese schools were the fact that they got to wear wall
tracksuits every day; this allowed the students to be comfortable throughout the day as well as avoiding having to get changed for P.E. There were some days during which the students had to wear a proper shirt and trousers with their tie, but this was more for when they were representing the school or when pictures were being taken. The school we visited kindly gifted each one of us with one of their tracksuit tops.

All exercise took place outdoors, this allowed the students to get enough fresh air throughout the day to ensure their brain was ready for their next lesson. Chinese schools ensure that everyone gets at least 1 hour of P.E a day, excluding their compulsory exercises throughout the day. In Scotland, we only look to provide 2 hours of compulsory P.E per week, is this because we have so much to teach in so little time?

science-wallsPrimary schools in China also allow for learning in the corridors.  With full length murals filled with facts and interactive questions where you can open the flap to find out the answer. These change regularly to keep up to date with the topics within the school. Each display also had the writing in both Mandarin and English allowing the pupils to see the translation, but also allowing us to understand what had been written on these walls, I wish my future classroom could look like that.


In China, education isn’t compulsory until the age of 6, whereas in Scotland you start age 5. They also only do 6 years of primary education, similar to schools in England.  There are different types of secondary schools in China, this means they can choose the career they wish to pursue and go to the school that is best for them, however they do need to get specific grades to get into specific schools.

colligraphyThe curriculum is also very different to ours. When we do handwriting, they do calligraphy. Their English lessons would be where we would do the likes of French or any other modern language, however rather than just learning the language, they will read novels and analyse them the same way we do in our own English lessons. The school I visited also have a special bell which rings telling the teachers that it is time to do eye exercises. The eye exercises are used in order to prevent too much of a strain on the eyes and to prevent students from getting sore heads. It also allows for a short interval where the students can take a breather.

student-artThe student’s work is also taken very seriously in China. Where we would put our students work on a wall display or find a shelf to display  creations, the Chinese school I visited had a room filled with school awards and pupils art work. Their work was fascinating and so creative, we all believed a teacher had created them.

Documentaries have been created on whether the Chinese Education System would work in the UK, these are extremely insightful, however they all start at an older age, so whether they would work or not may eventually depend on the age at which we start the new system.  One head teacher used it in his school as a social experiment to see which group of children would get better results in a test. This was a BBC documentary called “Are Our Kids Tough Enough”.

I definitely recommend watching the documentary to really see how vast the comparison is.