Beyond the




Let the Games Begin! How to Engage School Spirit with a Field Day

Spring field day

Every spring, my school held a field day for each grade level. After the long winter months, it was a great way to enjoy the warm weather. The kids showed their school spirit while participating in carnival games and obstacle course stunts during the last two hours of the school day. This was an event we all looked forward to—the administration, teachers, and most of all the students. As a kindergarten teacher, here is what my colleagues and I did to make this spring fling a memorable event.

Setting Up the Festivities

Each class had to plan activities to share with the other kindergarten classes. Every aspect of the planning phase, as well as participating in the activities themselves, involved some form of learning. In my class, we discussed a variety of games we'd played before and talked about what body parts and skills were involved in each activity. I let the kids vote and pick their three favorites to share with the other classes. The teachers put all their contributions on a list, and it was each teacher's responsibility to make sure directions and supplies for their chosen games were available on field day. If you're planning a learning-focused field day, try games that require large and small motor skills, spatial concepts, thinking, and problem-solving. For this age group, this means running, jumping, throwing, the use of simple props, and simple relay races.

Further Reading: 5 End-of-the-School-Year Activities to Finish Strong

Planning activities isn't the only way to involve your students. Making signs, prizes, and tickets for carnival booth games will utilize another group of skills. How about making pennants and/or banners to represent your class? You could pick colors and a mascot, and engage the entire class in cooperative art projects to help your group stand out; we did! My class also decorated special lunch-size brown bags to hold the carnival tickets and prizes they'd acquire during field day activities.

As a class, you can also design a special T-shirt to show your school spirit. Create a simple logo, such as a flag with the chosen colors, a drawing of your mascot, or a simple circle with the teacher's name inside. Create an outline as a class (you might have to draw this yourself) and put this on white cotton T-shirts (have students bring in one from home). Then students can fill in the outline in class. You'll need several boxes of fabric crayons, white copy paper, and an iron (for adult use only).

Executing on the Big Day

There are so many games that can be conducted outdoors on a field day. Students always love completing a simple obstacle course in the playground area. Ask your administration, parents, or family members to help obtain tires and a ladder. Along with a homemade balance beam, a plastic toddler pool, and any other appropriate objects from the classroom, devise a pattern with these items where the children can run around, through, or over each obstacle. You can even use natural objects such as trees or sand to extend the challenge.

Hula-hoops make great props for games. Set a few rings out on the lawn or hard court. Have the children hop in and out of the hoops. How many times can they do this task in a minute? Use the rings for a beanbag toss. As they become skilled at this game, move the kiddos farther away from the hoops. See how far a child can stand and still make the toss inside the ring.

For carnival games, we chose these for our field day event:

  • Archaeology Dig: Hide inexpensive plastic dinosaurs inside a sandbox (or you can use several plastic utility bins filled with sand). One carnival ticket allows a child to dig into the box until they discover a prize dinosaur.
  • Magnetic Fishing: Create fish shapes from colored poster board and mark each color with a specific prize. Prizes can be new pencils, plastic rings, small figurines, etc. Adhere a paper clip to the mouth of each fish. Stock a plastic kiddie pool with the fish and let the children go fishing using a long pole with a magnet tied to the end. Once a child captures a fish, it's time to give the pole to the next student.
  • Edible Jewelry Booth: This is more of a craft station than a game, but the kindergarten kids loved it. We offered each child a shoestring of licorice and bowls of colored O-shaped cereal to string. They made themselves edible bracelets or necklaces with these tasty treats.

End your day with an awards ceremony. Awards should reinforce that all children who participate in the games are winners. Our teachers made blue ribbons for each student, who were called up by name and given their award.

Further Reading: Do You Know How to Prepare for a Field Trip?

A spring field day is the perfect way to engage school spirit with students and thank them for all the hard work they put forth during the year. It allows everyone involved to let loose, take in some needed sunshine, and just have fun!