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Ice Breaker Activity for Physical Education

Ice breaker activities for physical education classes combine team building with physical challenges.
basketball image by Victor B from Fotolia.com

Physical education ice breaker activities prepare students young and old to work in teams to complete physical challenges. Ice breakers for physical education classes combine endurance, strength and agility challenges with opportunities for building communication and cooperation skills. Physical ice breakers also allow physical education instructors to assess the students' level of athletic ability for guiding further instruction.

Function

Students in physical education classes are particularly sensitive to their inhibitions; students may be embarrassed by their physical capabilities or intimidated by the physical abilities of their peers. Ice breaker activities decrease inhibitions so that students feel comfortable participating in physically challenging games and activities. Ice breakers also ask students to participate in team building challenges that support communication and teamwork. Ice breakers for physical education courses include physical elements that warm up students for more intense exercise and allow physical education instructors to assess student ability; the assessment then informs further instruction.

Types

Different types of ice breaker activities serve different purposes. Some ice breakers promote problem solving between team members. Problem solving ice breakers ask teams of students to complete a challenging activity using limited materials or within a limited time frame. Other ice breakers encourage students to get to know each other by asking students to reveal information about themselves that classmates may not know. Physically challenging ice breakers like races prepare students for more demanding physical activities.

Benefits

Ice breaker activities support team skills such as communication and cooperation. Teamwork skills translate to most physical education activities. Ice breakers build confidence in students who are self conscious about their physical abilities. Ice breakers are also warm-up activities that stretch muscles, increase heart rates and promote blood circulation.

Suggestions

Physical education ice breakers should combine physical challenges with cooperation skills. Open a physical education class with a round of amoeba tag. One student serves as the tagger. Once the student has tag another student, the two students must link arms or hold hands and run together to tag a third player. Once the taggers have six people, they can vote to separate into two groups of three. The game ends when all students have been tagged.

Another option is Did You Know toss. Students stand in a circle and one student is selected to serve as the thrower. The thrower holds a soft rubber ball and reveals something about himself that most people don't know. He then throws the ball to another player. The new thrower repeat the first thrower's name and fact before revealing her own name and fact. The ball then goes to a third player who must repeat the first two throwers' names and facts before revealing her own. The game continues until all players have caught the ball.

Considerations

Ice breaker activities should be tailored to students' ages and ability levels. Some ice breaker activities need a large outdoor space which may not be available in all schools or during all seasons. Physical education instructors should be sensitive to students' varying levels of comfort with physical challenges.

About the Author

Hannah Wahlig began writing and editing professionally in 2001. Her experience includes copy for newspapers, journals and magazines, as well as book editing. She is also a certified lactation counselor. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Mount Holyoke College, and Master's degrees in education and community psychology from the University of Massachusetts.