Core Lesson

It's in the Bag ​ ​


Lesson Overview:

Physical activity is not limited to playing an organized sport or completing an exercise routine — there are numerous ways to engage in healthy physical activity. This lesson features many “mini” tasks that promote physical activity in a fun way for students. Each pair or groups of students will come up with a physical activity, along with some type of mental challenge. This activity allows students to work together to complete different exercises simultaneously.

Content Standards Addressed:

Common Core State Standards

National Standards 


Set Up:

Make the classroom, cafeteria, gym or any other area into a big game board for fitness activities. Set up four cones or other objects at the corners of the playing area and then put different colored poly spots (or another type of floor marker) between the cones to help designate and separate spaces on the game board. Set it up in such a way that students will be able to easily rotate and move from one space to another. Count the number of spaces on the game board to help you decide how to divide up your class for Step 3.

In addition, write "Free Space" on two index cards and place them on two separate spaces on the game board. These game cards will challenge students to decide on their own fun physical activity to complete when they land at that space.

If you do not have fuzzy dice, construct something that will tell students the number of spaces to move along the game board.

Suggested Lesson Steps:

1. With little explanation or context, ask students to rate (1-10) how fun they think exercise is. They can write down the number somewhere, or simply remember it for later. (For this to work best, students should use their own definition of "physical activity.")

2. Pass out the Exercise: Important Terms worksheet and briefly describe the different forms of exercise listed on it. Give students a few minutes to read through it and add their own examples. 

3. Divide the class into pairs or small groups, so there are two fewer groups than there are spaces on the game board (e.g., if there are 10 spaces on the game board, there should be only eight groups). Hand out two blank index cards and a pencil or marker to each group.​ ​ ​

4. Instruct students to come up with a physical activity to write down on the first cards. Explain that their physical activity idea should be something that can be completed on the game board or easily off to the side without interfering with other groups. If you have equipment available - such as soccer balls, hula hoops or jump ropes - point it out, so students can incorporate the equipment into their activity ideas. Provide examples to spur the flow of creative ideas or have them refer to their worksheets. Physical activities could include:

- Jumping rope forward and backward.

- Curl ups or sit ups.

- Stride jumps.

- Soccer ball toe touches.

5. Instruct ​students to come up with a mental challenge to write down on the second index card. Again, provide examples. The mental challenges could include:

- Counting backwards.

- Naming state capitals. 

- Reciting multiplication tables.

- Telling a story.

Collect the mental challenge cards and place them in a bag or hat. ​

6. Have each group place their physical activity card at an open space on the game board; they will stay at this space to perform the first activity. If the activity requires any equipment, they should collect it at this time, and then demonstrate for the rest of the class how to complete their activity.
7. To begin the game, ask one student to choose a mental challenge card from the bag or hat and read it aloud. Then, on your signal, students should begin performing the physical activity listed on their card, while simultaneously completing the mental challenge. (If the area is limited, students can take turns performing the physical activity.) They continue until they hear the stop signal. (Music can also be played during the activity sequence; when the music stops, activity stops.)
8. For the next round, have a volunteer roll the die or dice. Students should move that number of spaces on the game board in the direction you've determined (e.g., clockwise or counterclockwise). Explain that if they land on a space designated "Free Space," they need to come up with a new activity to complete during that round. Students repeat the steps in Step 7. Play the game until students have been able to do all or most of the activities.
9. For closure, ask students to write a paragraph on how they rate physical activity based on how fun it is. Did this change from their rating in Step 1? Encourage them to reflect on their game board activities and describe them as part of the paragraph they write. 
Related Links:
A kid-friendly explanation of the different types exercise can be found here.
Academic Extensions
  • Have groups perform their activities while setting specific time limits. Try the activity as a group challenge: Can your group do X amount of the activity in a given amount of time?
  • After performing two activities, ask students to thank the partners in their group and then go to a designated area to find new partners. New partners repeat the process with two new tasks, until all tasks are completed.
  • Monitor heart rates and have the students add up their 10-second pulse rate to determine which group is exercising most intensely.
  • Add some "fun" activities such as "Get a drink of water," "Do the Twist," "Shake hands with four people not in your group," etc.
  • Involve parents! Ask students to take their worksheets home to brainstorm activity ideas with their parents. Parents can visit this website for ideas of how to get their kids involved in activities within their own communities.


Assessment Criteria:

  1. Class participation.
  2. Provide a worksheet where students can list their activities with a space to write in scores. Partners create the worksheet at each spot or chair by listing the activity. The partners perform the task together and then sign off on the scores on each other's worksheet.
  3. Ask students to write down one activity they performed that focused on each type of exercise listed on the Exercise: Important Terms worksheet (e.g., "What is one activity you performed that helped improve your aerobic capacity?")
  4. Students can be assigned to make up their own game boards with six to eight pie shapes, covering the different areas of fitness, for use in future classes.