Premier Education

8 Ways to Shake Up Your Winter PE Lessons

Fun winter PE activities to improve engagement

We all know it can be harder to motivate a class of children to participate in physical education when it’s wet or cold outdoors. 

Thankfully, there are ways to make Winter PE lessons a better experience for your pupils, including holding PE lessons indoors (if you have the space) so that children don’t need to get out in the cold on those chilly days.

With that in mind, our experts have put together a range of fun tips and engaging winter PE activities which are scalable to suit different ages and class sizes.

The aim? To shake up winter PE lessons and embrace the fun, creativity and imagination required to transform physical activity for students over the winter months.

Our top 6 tips for making Winter PE fun!

1. All in the preparation

Will your lesson be affected by the weather? After checking the forecast assess whether the lesson plan needs adapting.

Ensure there’s enough equipment for everyone in the class and that balls are well inflated, bibs are in a neat pile and apparatus is safe, clean and intact.

Even better, have a bank of winter PE Plan B options just in case.

2. Lead by example

A coach who seems apathetic and unmotivated will struggle to excite a class of students.

Yes, it may be cold and yes, you may prefer to stay indoors on a drizzly day, but the job of a PE teacher is to make lessons FUN!

Make demonstrations lively and engaging by bringing practices to life. Be positive in your language and show encouragement in your delivery.

So move off the sidelines, put down the whistle and show the class not to be fazed by inclement weather. It’s the coach’s responsibility to set a positive example.

3. Turbo-charge the warm up

In winter, you need to increase the amount of time you spend on warm-up exercises. This is due to reduced temperatures and the fact that the muscles are tighter in the winter, so injuries are more common.

Waste no time in getting straight into a dynamic warm-up. Incorporate games which include jogging, jumping, side shuffling and directional changes, such as:

  • Donkey tails – classmates pair up. Partners take turns hanging the bib from their waistbands like a tail while their partner tries to catch it. When the tail is removed, swap over so the other partner becomes the donkey.
  • Traffic lights – children move around a space by jogging, skipping, side-stepping or jumping. When the teacher shouts ‘Green’ the children should speed up, ‘Yellow’ means slow down and ‘Red’ means stop.
  • Dance party – lead an exhilarating and fun dance warm-up to music. Guaranteed to bring a smile to everyone’s face!

It’ll get the blood pumping, muscles warm and the mindset ready to tackle a fun and action-packed PE session.

4. Let winter sport be your guide

Whether it’s the Winter Olympics, Six Nations, Australian Open or the Superbowl, a look to the professional sporting world will give plenty of inspiration of exhilarating PE activities.

Not only will students get to learn about new sports or different countries that compete in large sporting occasions, they are inspired to watch some of the world’s leading athletes competing in winter sports while exhibiting good sportsmanship.

Create your own in-school version of the winter Olympics where you get to teach children different movement-based practices based on traditional winter sports like curling, speed skating or hockey.

Set up Winter PE stations with a different activity at each one. Focus on skills development, to match sports with fundamental movements – for example ice hockey with a passing or shooting activity, or a gymnastics activity to develop balance, agility and coordination.

We can’t always guarantee snow and ice, but with a little creativity and imagination, teachers could also transform the environment into a winter wonderland – with themed props or video clips of professional athletes in action.

5. Bring sports indoors

Don’t confine sports such as basketball and cricket to spring and summer. They’re popular and widely enjoyed by children so retaining them on the winter lesson plan is well worth considering if space allows.

Make sure you have all the equipment to play the games safely indoors. In cricket, this will include modified stumps and a softer ball for indoor use. Played in a smaller space with fewer players on the pitch, games become fast-paced and demand quick thinking and even quicker reflexes. Players have to be alert and constantly on their toes which is excellent for health and fitness.

It’s a fun and accessible way of playing when outdoor sports are not an option.

6. Fun, fitness challenges

The New Year is an excellent time to set new goals.

In PE, a class might make a collective pledge to be more active. Work with the class to decide on targets and collaboratively brainstorm ways to keep more active in PE lessons, at home and at school.

Devise a simple activity challenge which students can undertake at the start of the year, the outcomes of which can be recorded each week – with stats revisited at the end of term. Can the children record progress or improve on their results from the New Year?

For homework, ask the children to write a short blog about how the challenge is going and whether they’ve managed to keep active.

Celebrate participation and effort – with additional praise for children who have been dedicated to the challenge!

8 Ways to Shake Up Your Winter PE Lessons 1

Fun winter games to get kids enthusiastic about PE

It’s an exciting and festive time of year, with an abundance of winter features to inspire physical education lessons.

At Premier Education, we focus on making PE lessons fun. Whilst skills development and confidence building are essential, physical activity doesn’t have to be chained to one particular sport. Look at incorporating a range of fun-filled games, which focus on skills development over scoring goals or mastering a sport-specific technique.

One of the keys to improving opportunity is to remove the narrow focus on one particular sport altogether, and instead look at the game and skills required to play. Some sports come with preconceptions or stereotypes attached and children come to the lesson with their own ideas about how much they will enjoy it. Shake it up and focus on fun games instead. Winter PE is far from boring – it’s packed with opportunity!

Laurence York
Head of Partnerships at Premier Education

Transform the school hall into the north pole and try some of our favourite winter games and activities:

Red nose relay

Like a normal relay race but antlers are worn instead of a baton carried. Hilarious, fun and challenging!

Teams race to build a snowman out of PE equipment

How long does it take to complete the snowman? Race against the clock. Celebrate the different creations!

Reindeer tag

Prance, leap and dance your way around the playing field…but you’ll have to be nimble to avoid getting caught!

Explosive fireworks HIIT

Think lunges, squats, star jumps and planks! Great for releasing tension! Or turn the hall into Santa’s gym for added fun!

Warm and toasty tennis

Keep limbs warm and minds sharp with a workout that helps children to develop their coordination and throwing/catching.

PASS THE Christmas pudding

Mark out a court. Divide students into two teams, name one team the north pole elves and the other the south pole elves. Challenge each team to pass the Christmas pudding from one side of the court to the other without being intercepted. Players will have to dodge, move, sprint and create space, using the middle and ends of the court. Can the elves score a pudding point for each goal scored in a net?

Winter wonderland obstacle course

The beauty of an obstacle course is that it can be tailored to suit any environment, equipment or age group.

As well as presenting a full-body workout, it’s excellent for cognitive development helping with problem-solving and memory. Obstacle courses are also an opportunity to improve fine and gross motor skill development and complex bilateral coordination; skills which help with overall health and fitness in years to come.

Plus, they champion variety and give children a chance to work in groups. Team up pupils of differing abilities and highlight the importance of encouragement and teamwork.

Ensure you have all the equipment and resources to create several identical courses so the whole class can participate at once – that way pupils won’t stand around for long.

You could even decorate the area with snowflakes and fake snow to enhance the winter wonderland theme!

Activities could include:

  • Skating rink with cones – practise gliding around the cones
  • Shoot the snowballs (soft balls) into the net
  • Crawl through the polar bear’s den
  • Show shovelling – scoop up the beanbags
  • Walk the winter tightrope – balance beam
  • Snowman bowling – knock the pins over with a ball

This is a great idea that children can even replicate at home with family over the winter break.

8 Ways to Shake Up Your Winter PE Lessons

Embrace the fun and freedom of winter PE activities!

Winter is the perfect time to shake up PE lessons. Children are excited and inspired by the time of year and teachers have to be more creative about their use of environment, equipment and resources.

There’s an abundance of winter sports or seasonal themes which work really well for physical education lessons and present an opportunity for variety.

For schools that would like help engaging pupils in PE, Premier Education is on hand. Our network of over 1,000 activity professionals are fully qualified at delivering exciting and engaging physical activity sessions which will turbocharge energy levels even if the temperatures outside are plummeting!