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Active Minds, Active Bodies: Games that Teach & Move

Get moving with Math and sweating while Spelling with these two fun afterschool and PE games

Hey there, champions of the after-school hustle and giants of the gymnasium! Whether you're molding minds outside of the classroom or coaching the next generation of athletes at the YMCA, we all share a common goal: to nurture well-rounded, happy kids. But what if I told you there's a magic formula that can blend the brainy rigor of academics with the exhilarating rush of physical activity? Enter the innovative approach of integrating math, reading, and spelling skills into fun fitness games.

Before we dive into the heart-pumping action, let's talk about why this mash-up is more than just a good time. Studies have shown that physical activity can significantly boost cognitive function, improve attention, and even enhance mood. For you amazing after-school teachers and YMCA program staff, this means happier, more engaged students. And for the physical educators out there, this approach ensures that when kids head back to the classroom, they're not only physically primed but also mentally prepared to tackle academic challenges.

So, how can we make this happen? The PowerUp curriculum is here to revolutionize the way we think about after-school and physical education programming. To get you started, let's check out two sample games that promise to turn your next session into an unforgettable learning adventure.

Ways to Add Math to Physical Education Games


PowerUp Fitness offers evidence based-physical activity programs for before & afterschool, PE, summer camps and more! PowerUp programs are designed to provide children with the opportunity to become more active, physically and mentally. Use our bundle finder to find the best PowerUp bundle for your organization.


Here are two fun games that add math & Spelling to pe and aferschool activities!

Math Tag

Objective: Sharpen those addition and subtraction skills while getting the heart racing.

Age Group: 8 to 12 years old

Picture this – a playground alive with the laughter and energy of kids dashing around, with "Taggers" challenging "Runners" to freeze and solve math problems to rejoin the race. It's a thrilling way to make numbers fun and physical.


  • Choose a large, open space suitable for running, such as a playground or gymnasium.

  • Divide the children into two teams: Runners and Taggers.

How to Play:

  • The game begins with the Runners scattered throughout the play area and the Taggers at a designated starting point.

  • When the game starts, the Taggers try to tag the Runners.

  • When a Runner is tagged, they must freeze and perform a math challenge given by the Tagger. For example, the Tagger might say, "12 minus 5" or "7 plus 3."

  • The Runner must quickly give the correct answer to the math problem to "unfreeze" and rejoin the game. If they struggle, the Tagger can give them hints.

  • The game continues until all Runners have been tagged and have solved a math problem, or for a predetermined time limit.

  • After the round, switch roles so that the Taggers become Runners and vice versa.

Note: The difficulty of the math problems can be adjusted based on the age and skill level of the children.

Spelling Relay

Objective: Boost spelling skills and teamwork in a dynamic race against the clock.

Age Group: 8 to 12 years old

Imagine the buzz as teams of kids line up, eager to spell out loud while hopping, skipping, or even walking backward. Each correctly spelled word is a victory lap for their brains and bodies.


  • Use a field or gymnasium with enough space for kids to run.

  • Divide the children into small teams of equal numbers.

How to Play:

  • Each team lines up at a starting point.

  • The teacher calls out a word to the first child in each team line.

  • The child must spell the word out loud while hopping on one foot.

  • Once the word is spelled correctly, the child runs back to their team and tags the next person in line.

  • The process repeats with a new word for each team member.

  • The first team to have all members complete their words wins the round.

To add variety, you can introduce different movements like skipping, jumping, or walking backwards while spelling.

Note: Choose words that are age-appropriate and vary in difficulty. You can also adapt the game for more advanced spellers by using longer or more complex words.

These games are just a taste of how we can transform after-school and PE time into a powerhouse of learning and fitness. And here's the best part – they're incredibly flexible. Whether you're working in a spacious gym or a small outdoor area, these activities can be tailored to fit your space and your students' needs.

Now, I can almost hear the gears turning in your heads, thinking about the endless possibilities these games open up. From increasing academic engagement to fostering a love for physical activity, the benefits are as clear as day. And let's not forget the smiles, the laughter, and the sheer joy of learning that comes from playing these games.

So, are you ready to take the plunge and give these games a whirl? We're betting that once you see the positive impact on your students, you'll be eager to explore the full PowerUp curriculum. Let's make learning leap off the page and into action. Together, we can create an after-school environment where academics and physical activity not only coexist but thrive.

If you love these activities, try several of our math-focused activities here. Want to mix in more English Language Arts - see some of our favorite literacy activities here. Looking for more? The PowerUp Your School program offers over 300 math and ELA-integrated physical activities, requiring no equipment and perfect for any space, any place!


Did you enjoy these activities? For 100’s of activities, games, and exercises aligned with state and national standards, shop our PowerUp programs!


Download the printable pdf version of PowerUp's Tips & Tricks below.

Tips & Tricks - 2024 Feb - Active Minds, Active Bodies
Download PDF • 905KB

Add Math to Physical Education and Extended Learning

PowerUp Fitness is an Advocate Member of the National Afterschool Association and a proud partner of Active Schools.


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