Our Alternative Field Day

It’s possible this makes me a terrible teacher but I don’t like field day. I feel about field day similarly to how I feel about field trips. I think they are valuable experiences that I want students to have but I’d prefer to not have to participate myself.

This past year, if I remember correctly, we had planned to do field day in the fall. This is definitely my preference. It allows field day to be a community experience that helps kids bond as a class. It also avoids having field day in the spring, after testing is finished, when there are so many things happening as we wind up the year. Unfortunately, weather interfered so we postponed to the spring.

Testing and retakes (don’t get me started) meant that field day was scheduled for the final week of school. Again, weather ruined it. I will admit I was not disappointed. Not having field day meant my students would go to specials (P.E. and music) for an hour and I’d have that time to continue packing up stuff in my cabinets and closets. It felt like a gift of time.

I did realize that the kids would not feel as I did. So I searched for activities we could do in our classroom that would be field-day-like.

My parameters included:

  • we had to be able to do these activities in our classroom so space was somewhat limited
  • activities could only require materials I already had on hand or could easily obtain at school
  • activities had to be collaborative rather than competitive (I feel strongly about this as competition is, in my opinion, far too prevalent in our schools and society)

I came up with three things.

  1. In a circle, kids held hands and moved a hula hoop around the group. This was the easiest of the three activities and we did it with two hoops to add a little bit of a challenge. I worried it was too easy, but they seemed to enjoy it. 
  2. In a circle, holding hands, kids keep a balloon up in the air. This was more challenging than the hoop activity but I was still worried it wouldn’t hold their attention. The smiles seemed to prove me wrong.
  3. In a group, each kid had a string that was tied to the same rubber band. Using only their strings, kids stacked plastic cups in a pyramid. This was exceedingly challenging. I gave most groups the hint that the rubber band didn’t have to stay on the cup on which it started. That helped. There was still some near frustration with this activity but all the groups did achieve the goal and their pride and joy in that moment was totally worth it. 


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