A well planned Field Day doesn't have to be a headache to create. Here's a guide to help make it amazing for you, your students, co-teachers, and all volunteers. You'll find great activities as well as organization and planning ideas.
Field Day Games
These are my go-to activities. This is a quick summary of the games. If you want to see a larger animation or more rules to the game, click the Full Gameplay and Rules button. The Full Gameplay and Rules page is designed to be used as a resource to get more info on the game but also to be a landing spot for whoever is leading your activities.
Imagine not needing to re-write all the rules and description of an activity, when you can show them how to play with an animated gif and full description. Each page comes with a downloadable QR code that you can give to activity leaders. They scan it and it takes them right to the activity page.
- 1 large trash can/bucket for each pair of teams (if you have 4 teams, use 2 buckets). For better results, use a bucket for each team (it's tough to keep this many buckets full of water)
- Water (hose)
- A basketball for each team
- A cone for each team
Super Sized Sponge Relay
- 2 large trash cans
- 2 five-gallon buckets
- Water (hose)
- 2 super sized sponges (mattress foam)The sponges are what makes it great. Of course you could use regular sponges. But you gotta go big or go home. With huge sponges, they get so heavy, they have to haul the sponge on their shoulder. I found a local mattress guy that sold me some foam on the cheap and it's lasted me years. The trick is to have a place to dry it out because it takes days.
I use smaller cuts for younger classes and bigger cuts for older classes.
Soaking Wet Sweatpants Relay
- A large trash can/bucket for each pair of teams (if you have 4 teams, use 2 buckets)
- A pair of adult-sized sweatpants for each team
- Water (hose)
- A cone for each team
- A baseball bat for each team
- A cone for each team
Gym Rat Relay
- An adult-sized tee-shirt for each team
- A pair of adult-sized athletic shorts for each team
- A cone for each team
Bags (aka Cornhole)
- A pair of cornhole boards for every 4 players
- 6 bean bags at each set of boards
Disco Dots (aka Hot Shot)
- About 10 dots for every team and 10 yellow dots
- A Disc Goal*
- A Frisbee for each team
- A Cone for each team
*Hanging a hula hoop works great as a disc goal
Pass the Hoop
- At least 2 hula hoops
- More if you want to do a hula hoop contest
- Scooters (one for every player). If you don't have colored scooters, put a large color sticker on the scooters
- TV or Projector (optional)
Play with a TV or Projector
Playing with a single ingredient being "it" is fun for a while, but then you'll inevitably run into the issue of kids who want to be "It" trying to get tagged or people who are "It" just being exhausted. Since I teach in a smaller space, I found that too many kids were not challenged so I spiced it up using the screen in my gym. I made a video (available here) that shows which three teams are "It" and which players they're supposed to tag. In the image below, you'll see that Mustards are chasing the Ketchups, Pickles are chasing the Buns, and Onions are after the Bleu Cheeses. Every 30-60 seconds, the video dings and the matchups change.
- Memory cards (download below)
- A cone for each team to stand by (or tape an area on the floor for them to stay in)
- A ball for the player who is searching
Other ideas for cards:
- Print shapes onto cardstock paper. Originally, this was how I played the game. I had 15 squares, circles, triangles, and stars.
- A deck from the board game "Memory." Just spread all the cards out and each player gets to flip two cards. If they find the pair, they take it back to their team.
- Similarly, two decks of playing cards would work. Just find the match. This might be tougher for younger students.
A Moon Walk or Bouncy House is a must for any Field Day. While a normal one is great, I've found that inflatable obstacle courses are the best. There's less waiting time.
Planning the Day
Decide what type of Field Day you want. I've seen several ways of running a Field Day.
- Stations - Classes rotate from one activity to the next. This is what I've always done and what I'll focus on here.
- Festival - Set up like a festival where kids can roam to whatever activities they want. This is perfect if you're extra creative, have a lot of space and trust your students to be in charge of their choices.
- Olympic Passbook - A ton of olympic style events are scattered about the area. Students are given a Passbook with all the stations listed. They get stamps for competing in the events and try to get all the stations stamped.
It's helpful to know what is expected by the building staff. At my last school, Field Day lasted all day with a Staff vs 6th Grade Kickball game at the end of the day. The last couple hours were always miserable but it was expected to last all day. At my current school, Field Day is always on the last day of school so our Field Day only lasts until lunchtime. This allows for a special treat at lunchtime (usually donated ice cream) and time for end of the year cleanup and other activities in the classroom. I also like it this way because even half a day is exhausting for kids and I see fewer behavior issues when we aren't pushing kids past their limits. Not to mention the bonus perk of having all afternoon to clean up
Creating the Schedule
The most overwhelming part of planning a field day is getting the schedule right. I start with the most important part, picking activities then putting them into my spreadsheet. In the image below, I use the Ideas tab to keep track of all my favorite ideas. Throughout the year, if I stumble across ideas I love, I come here and add them. On another tab, I select the stations I want to use for that year (adding a new tab every year so I can always see what I've done in the past).
Field Day Stations. Having check boxes for readiness is awesome when I'm staging all my equipment in the days before. I put as much equipment close to the station's location as possible so setup is speedy.
My Field Day is spread out across our school building, parking lot, and a park a couple blocks away, so it's imperative to color code the activities. Different areas get different colors and these are reflected in the map (below).
Pro tip: Make sure to include some low intensity activities. Like a great playlist, you want some hype tracks and some slow jams. Also, if necessary, make sure to include restroom breaks.
Anybody can make a map like this by taking a Google Maps screenshot and adding shapes with a tool like PowerPoint or Apple's Keynote
When I first started this Field Day, I had each class rotate through all the stations in order. But because our event is so spread out, I had some classes start and end at the park, meaning they spent a good portion of the day traveling to and from the park. My solution was to group four stations together. In the image above, the two yellow and green stations are grouped. These are the water games on our parking lot. Kindergarten and First Grade did all four of those stations before moving on to the four stations at the park. Instead of wasting all our time transitioning from one activity to the next, they got to spend more time doing the fun stuff.
Before the event, I'll make sure to send out a guide for teachers that includes the schedule, map, and activity descriptions (as seen above). And I'll also give them a quick run-down of what the day looks like and tips for handling sportsmanship, including my favorite rule of all: If You're Sweating, You're Winning. Here's what that looks like.
Get (and Keep) Volunteers
I don't know a single PE teacher that could pull off a great Field Day without some solid volunteers. Over the years, I've learned that if the volunteers feel appreciated and have fun, they're more likely to come back. And if they're having fun, you know the kids are.
Give them choice. It's tempting to be in charge and assign everybody a place to go; but some don't want to be baking in the sun, some don't want to get wet, and some feel like it's a wasted Field Day if they're stuck inside all day.
I set up a volunteer table with activity cards laid out on the table. I group them by Water Games, Indoor Activities, and Games at the Park. I have 11 stations that require volunteers. So if I know I'll have 30 volunteers, I'll set out 3 cards for every activity. Those who show up early get more choices of what they want to do. I also give my secretary extra stacks of cards in case we get more volunteers than we planned on.
☝️ Sample volunteer card. The QR code will take them to the full activity descriptions. Point your mobile phone's camera at the QR code and check it out! Can't scan it right now, here's where it takes you.
Why make the cards when they're already ready for you! Get the pre-made cards above. It includes all the activities above as well as a couple blank cards you can make for yourself. You can also download the QR code at the bottom of each activity's page. Put it on your own cards for volunteers!
I also worked out a deal with a nearby cafe. They catered in some pastries and coffee that also go on the volunteer table. I made sure I got enough for teachers too since the day can be pretty exhausting for them (welcome to life as a PE teacher, ).
I've had stations where the volunteer needed to leave early and that's why having a guide is important. Teachers were easily able to run the station with their students.
If you don't have what you need, consider writing a Donor's Choose project or, even easier, connect with local businesses for donations. My first year at this school, I needed quite a bit of equipment and my remaining budget was tiny; so I reached out to Home Depot and Lowe's to see if they could help out. I called the managers at several locations and wrote a letter requesting exactly what we could really use. Turns out, Home Depot has a budget for community outreach/donations and I got in touch with them early enough that they were able to help and got some huge buckets and a ton of 5 gallon buckets, which allowed us to have water games at our school's first ever Field Day.
Here's an example of my letter:
Other Pro Tips
Get Water Cannons
Teachers have to deal with their classes all year. Get them some big water cannons so they can drench their students.
Play Great Music
If you're looking for some DoPE music to play for your Field Day, look no further than some of my playlists.
Make your own playlist and make sure it's school-appropriate with a tool I created called Spicy Lyrics. You've got to see it to believe it.
Got great Field Day activities or tips? Share them in the comments. I want to keep this updated with the best information available. Have fun and be well played.