When the “Physical Education” topic comes up, the first ideas in many homeschool minds (at least in mine this was true) is to have the kids join a local health club; have them play team sports; or look for a homeschool gym program.

These are wonderful ideas. However, a large part of physical education is developing a habit of participating in aerobic exercise even just 30 minutes/day—whether a gym is involved or not. Our digital-based society and an average tendency toward sedentary educational methods fights against our need to be active. And then we have the winter season which accentuates this even further.

We’ve compiled some easy, inexpensive physical activities you and your family can do in your own home as a component of your Physical Education program. We encourage you to join in with your kids. It’ll be good for your health, and—perhaps equally important—it’ll be great for your kids to see you meet goals, work hard, be creative and have fun.

  • Build a temporary obstacle course to move through by walking on tip-toe, crawling, moving as different animals, using stilts — or even manipulating a Scooter Board.
  • Play indoor hop-scotch or walk a “pretend” balance beam with on the floor removable tape like Mavalus Tape.
  • Set fitness goals for each member of the family to learn such physical activities as push-ups, chin-ups, sit ups, etc. How many can you do in a minute? What goal would you like to reach in a month? Online resources or references such as Home School Family Fitness will help you set appropriate guidelines for different ages.
  • Spend time developing hand-eye coordination with juggling or active games like Pop ‘n Catch.
  • Get your heartrate going by jogging up and down the stairs. Time yourself! Then try hopping up and hopping down—with supervision, of course.
  • Make an indoor treasure hunt to find special objects or dinosaur tracks you’ve cut out of paper. Try a timer or play some music to make it even faster.
  • Use an indoor trampoline or an eight foot jump rope to strengthen muscles and motor skills.
  • Get creative and physically act out famous symphonies such as Peter and the Wolf or Carnival of the Animals.
  • Learn different dance forms such as Square Dancing or Line Dancing or play dancing games.
  • Reinforce skills in subjects such as spelling and math with activity: books such as How to Get Your Children off the Refrigerator and on to Learning are great resources.
  • Gather some friends together to play indoor old fashioned games like a three-legged or a sack race.

Use any of the following modified games to teach the game rules for the “real” equivalent, to learn how to calculate score (and even percentages) and get your whole family moving and active.

  • Make indoor courts in a more open room to play volleyball or basketball with a balloon as your ball. Use removable tape to mark boundaries and goal lines. Play a mini version of volleyball while positioned on your knees.
  • Play indoor bowling using empty or weighted empty water bottles. Use a medium-sized ball or something fun like an Oball to bowl.
  • Use a Foam Soccer Ball to play indoor soccer or practice kicking goals into a fairly empty closet.

Don’t forget outdoor resources for aerobic activity!

  • Rake leaves, sled, ice skate, build snow forts, hike or learn archery.
  • Go on a winter scavenger to find the longest icicle or tallest snow bank or walk through a park on a bird-watching hunt.
  • Make use of snow to build forts, create obstacle courses or play snow kickball.