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7 ways to teach P.E. class from home

Need to substitute as your kids’ P.E. teacher during this quarantine? Here are some ideas.

The UK Adjusts To Life Under The Coronavirus Pandemic Photo by Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images

If you have kids at home due to coronavirus quarantines and if their school is doing a good job providing resources to keep the kids on track with their education, there still might be a hole in the lesson plans: physical education. Especially at the elementary level, P.E. is all about infusing a love of movement in children and maybe working on overall fitness and developing fine motor skills.

(Tangent: do y’all have something called “motor lab” for young schoolchildren? This is relatively new to our area, and it’s fascinating. It’s high-intensity circuit training but with, like, balance beams and baleros and donkey kicks and mini-trampolines. Twenty 6-year-olds blasting through these is a riot and, yes, you should wear protective gear if you’re in the room with them.)

Need to substitute as your kids’ P.E. teacher during this quarantine? Here are some ideas from the Ziller house to make it happen without being near other people or using outdoor venues.

1. Animal Tossing

Put down the Switch controllers and pull out the smallest, lightest stuffed animals you have. Balled up socks also work. Sit around the living room and try to land as many stuffed animals and/or socks on the blades of the ceiling fan as possible.

Note: requires a ceiling fan and confidence that this game will not pull the ceiling fan down upon you and your children. Knock on wood, but we’ve been doing this for years in multiple houses to no ill effect except dusty stuffed animals.

The best part is when you’re out of stuffed animals or the ceiling fan looks fully loaded. Then a lucky winner gets to turn on the ceiling fan, sending the collection flying around the room, hopefully not knocking over any lamps or people.

2. Tiny Pong

We acquired a Tiny Pong last year and, folks, it’s good. You end up running about your house or yard trying to keep the streak going while the slightly addictive music speeds up: kids can definitely break a sweat doing this. And for younger kids who struggle getting more than a few hits in sequence, they end up running about all over the place and tuckering themselves out, which is the real point of this anyways, right?

3. Hacky Sack

Look, I was a teenager in the ‘90s in California. Of course I’m going to take this opportunity to make my kids try out hacky sack. This is pretty dangerous indoors so keep it to a yard or garage or a really open space or come to terms that sometimes the sack takes redecorating into its own beads. The same philosophy applies for little kids as it does for Tiny Pong: they are now the designated hacky sack chaser when someone boots it too far. Congratulations!

4. Idiot-arod

Want to help your kids build their trunk strength and grip? Lay out a blanket on one side of your home, sit on it and direct your child or children to drag you to the other end. This is most likely to be possible if you have multiple children, have uncarpeted floors or are on the lighter side. You can build confidence by helping out by scooting along when they aren’t looking.

Be sure to reciprocate by offering to drag the kids along the floor as they hold onto your ankles. Always a great workout. There’s actually a resistance band exercise simulating this!

5. Wrasslin’

If you don’t teach your kid how to lock in a Texas Coverleaf, safely bump on a Stone Cold Stunner or perform a Tombstone Pile Driver, who will? Appropriately sized stuffed animals are great for this purpose since kids usually can’t, you know, safely DDT other humans. In my day, My Pet Monster was the perfect toy for simulated wrasslin’ for a kid.

Leave Atomic Elbows off the arm of the couch into a pile of pillows until we get really desperate like, uh, next week.

6. GoNoodle

I am convinced that GoNoodle is one of our greatest modern achievements. For those who haven’t experienced its glory, it’s basically a video series with various dances and movements and extremely silly songs. Some schools have subscriptions you might be able to access now that everything is at home. Otherwise, there are a bunch of free GoNoodle videos on YouTube.

My recommendations: avoid the branded/licensed videos (Frozen II is wonderful but you don’t need a GoNoodle video for it) and go for pretty much anything done by Koo Koo Kanga Roo, Blazer Fresh and Moosetube.

For those parents intimately familiar with GoNoodle, I am sorry for getting “Banana Banana Meatball” in your head right … now.


My daughter is a musician, and her teacher assigned planks to build up her core so she has more breath power. (Note: this kind of plank. Not this.) My daughter hates doing planks. So we had to gamify it. So we invented PLANK WAR.

Here’s how it works:

  • Each person in the family has the ability to call one PLANK WAR per day any time all participants are in the house and available (AKA not sleeping, cooking, in the shower or on a Zoom).
  • There is no obligation for anyone to call a PLANK WAR on any given day.
  • When a PLANK WAR is called, all participants have 30 seconds to get to the person who called it, get some space and get into a plank-ready position.
  • When everyone is ready, the person calls PLANK WAR again and everyone starts plankin’.
  • Last person to drop wins this PLANK WAR and gets a point on the scoreboard.
  • And individual war ends when someone reaches 10 wins. Then you restart. This could take a few days or forever, depending on your family’s size, competitive balance and PLANK WAR frequency.

Note: my wife is currently 14-0 in PLANK WAR. Real Luke Walton-coaching-the-Warriors vibes. But the important thing is that my daughter now destroys me pretty much every time, so this has fulfilled its intended purpose! Also, my abs always hurt.