30 Gym Activities to Engage Middle Schoolers – Teaching Expertise

Teaching Expertise
July 22, 2022
Middle School Students are tough! This mystifying age range is too cool to “play,” they judge everything, and keeping them focused in school can be a very tricky balancing act, even during PE. Traditional games just don’t seem to keep them focused long enough to get them the type of physical activity they actually need. This often leaves PE teachers wondering how to outsmart these tweens and get more creative with the activities they choose.
We’ve made that simple by compiling a list of 30 middle-school-friendly activities that not only meet the needs of common PE standards but are going to keep those hard-to-please kids entertained and asking for more.
This twist on the Rock, Paper, Scissors Battle encourages sportsmanship and focus as teams race to combat each other while also demonstrating sportsmanship. There are a few variations available for this simple game to create an epic battle.
Learn more: PhysEd Games
PE With Palos has come up with this innovative activity.  This variation of classic dodge ball helps middle school students who need guidance on both activity and nutrition.
Learn more: PE with Palos
Aerobic activity has never been more fun! With teamwork, speed, and concentration at their finest, students will enjoy racing the ball from one side of the gym to the other with nothing more than their feet!
Learn more: Pinterest
Honing the skills necessary for team sports can be tricky. This game helps teach the individual skills needed to successfully play kickball with a “last-man-standing” type of format.
Learn more: PhysEd Games
Keep away seems to be a favorite game among many middle school students. This version offers the person keeping away a little protection – a noodle! Kids will get a kick out of smacking their friends with noodles as they keep away the other noodle.
Learn more: Delmar Peet
PE With Palos offers another great skill-builder, but this time, with basketball. The simple spin of a color wheel has students working on a variety of dribbling skills to help practice and perfect their game.
Learn more: PE with Palos
A high-paced version of Tic-Tac-Toe, this active game allows students the opportunity for physical exercise and quick thinking. Middle school kids know the classic game, so adding this extra element of relay makes it an easier activity to implement.
Learn more: Brian Lewis
If your school doesn’t have scooter boards, you need to convince someone to invest in them. These dolly-like scooters can turn any exercise into a fun game that middle schoolers will be dying to participate in! This particular workout is a simple way to get started.
Learn more: Gilbert Bagaman
At first glance, this activity sounds like it may be a college drinking game. Rest assured it is totally appropriate for middle school. A cross between ultimate frisbee and basketball, students will be able to apply aerobic activity as they hone many of the skills required for a number of team sports.
Learn more: Phys Ed Games
SupportRealTeachers.org and SPARK come together to present this more complex, but incredibly engaging obstacle course. The Spartan Race is easily set up as an indoor game or an outdoor game and includes five exercises that mimic those found in cross-fit.
Learn more: Support Real Teachers
Throwers and Catchers vs. The Flash. Cooperative throwing and catching. Team works to throw and catch to the end and back to the beginning before the runner gets back. Thanks for the great idea @AndrewWymer10s #physed pic.twitter.com/5Vr3YOje7J
@CharterOakPE on Twitter brings us this innovative game that pits ball throwers against a sprinter to see who can get from one side of the court and back first. Chase games like this promote teamwork, hand-eye coordination, agility, and speed – not to mention a healthy dose of competition.
Learn more: Glenn Horowitz
While this activity takes a little planning, it is well worth the effort! This scavenger hunt isn’t your run-of-the-mill version; it’s all about cardio. What makes this activity a necessity is the fact that you can alter it to suit the needs of your group.
Learn more: Ostrowski
Rubber balls, bouncy balls, hula hoops, cones, rings, balance boards – you name it, you can use it! @IdrissaGandega shows physical education teachers how to get creative while kids practice tossing skills, accuracy, and patience.
Learn more: Idrissa Gandega
PE Central really did an amazing job combining a lesson plan on calories in and calories out with physical activity. This task brings to life the reality of snacking and gives students a tangible look at a more complex topic.
Learn more: PE Central
Any good PE coach knows the most important skills teams need to have is communication and trust. This activity, appropriately named Trust Me gives middle schoolers the opportunity to do just that. Blindfolds, obstacles, and teams of two challenge their abilities and help them grow.
Learn more: Teacher.org
Had to share, I had a pair of Ss create this today when we were doing some partner exercises for our instant activity this week. I give you The Walking High-5 Plank pic.twitter.com/tconZZ0Ohm
Used as a warm-up or as a part of a rotation in one of the activities listed on this page, The Walking High-Five Plank packs so much more then just a core strength challenge. Thanks to @MrDenkPEClass on Twitter, students can push each other to go further with this exercise.
Learn more: Twitter
Tennis is one of those sports that activates many essential skills for athletes and general physical fitness. Middle schoolers will find this take on the sport challenging and entertaining as they compete in groups of four rallying back and forth to keep the ball going.
Learn more: Shape America
The Monkey Challenge is an activity from Mr. Bassett’s PE Webpage that combines coding with physical activity, trust, and teamwork. Students are grouped together in three’s while they try to meet the challenge of finding an object.
Learn more: Bassett PE
“What in the world is croquet?!” is probably what your middle schoolers will ask first. Once you explain the objectives, they will be one hundred percent on board with the challenge and skill level that completing this activity requires. Striking and distance are necessary for many sports, making this ideal for many reasons.
Learn more: The Physical Educator
Who knew that a (clean) plunger could be the key to engaging students in PE class? Once they get past its unappealing exterior, your middle schoolers will love this challenge. A mash-up of capture the flag and elimination tag, students will have to risk it for the reward.
Learn more: Parkland School Division
Partners each toss a scarf straight up into the air. The goal for students is to rush to catch their partner’s scarf, but there’s a trick. With each successful catch, they must take a step backward creating more space between the two of them and in turn, the necessity for more speed to get to the scarf.
Learn more: Brian Lewis
This game of luck will appeal to middle schoolers everywhere as they compete to be the last one standing in the center of the room. Where physical education comes in is what happens when they are caught and called out where they are required to do pre-determined exercises or activities.
Learn more: Phys Ed Games
The odds will definitely be in your favor with this activity based on a popular movie. With some hula hoops, random soft objects to throw, and a bunch of middle school kids eager for something different, these hunger games check off several boxes for an unforgettable day of PE.
Learn more: School Videos
Students will stand in teams on opposite sides of the space, armed with smaller balls. The object is for students to aim their ball at one of the five larger balls in the middle and get it to cross their opponent’s side for points. A high-paced and action-packed activity perfect for practicing aim and throwing speed.
Learn more: Phys Ed Games
This hilarious and upbeat activity will have your middle schoolers harkening back to the old days of Indiana Jones when he’s in the Temple of Doom running from the giant stone, or in this case, a giant Omnikin ball.
Learn more: Parkland School District
Played some “Head, Shoulders, Knees, Toes and Cone” after our fitness testing. #together203 #PhysEd pic.twitter.com/zrJPiEnuP1
This game of focus comes from Mark Roucka. The activity requires students to listen to commands and touch the correct body part (head, shoulders, or knees). The twist comes when the coach shouts “Cone!” and the students must be the first of their opponent to snatch the cone.
Learn more: Mark Ruocka
Duck Hunt allows students to practice many mobility skills: running, ducking, throwing, and more. This activity keeps kids moving around from shield to shield as they try to evade the opponents who are out to tag them with a ball.
Learn more: Phys Ed Games
Students will love racing against each other relay-style to grab one of six colored cones to bring back to their team. Difficulty can be increased by requiring the kids to stack them in the opposite order of what they were picked up in.
Learn more: PE with Palos
Team Bowler-Rama is a strategic game of aim and sabotage as each team works to knock down their enemy’s pins without knocking down their own. The last team with one pin standing wins!
Learn more: Shape America
Keep the bowling pins out for this one! Pairs of middle school students will race against other teams to sprint to their respective bowling pin and then stand it up using their feet alone, never taking their hands off each other’s shoulders.
Learn more: Justin Cahill
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