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Leaping for Literacy - Fun Fitness Games that Encourage Reading

Try this fun, fitness game to activate a love for literacy!

Literacy connections are all around us - from award-winning movies based on best-selling novels to socializing in book clubs. For young children, a love for reading ignites their imagination, encourages problem-solving, and helps build self-confidence. Margaret Fuller’s quote, “Today a reader, tomorrow a leader” inspires educators everywhere and emphasizes the value of strong literacy skills.

PowerUp literacy skills with this creative fitness game connection!

Use these creative connections to support student learning through physical activity and reading skills! Here's a fun way to align literacy skills and ELA academic standards to movement, physical activity, and physical education.

Teach Literacy Skills with Fitness Fun
Teach Literacy Skills with Fitness Fun


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.


Literacy Skills

  • Character development

  • Scene setting

  • Key Details

  • Narrative Techniques

  • Vocabulary

Set the Scene

Set the scene! Arr! All aboard as we set sail across the seven seas!

In this “story,” participants pretend they are on a pirate ship in the middle of the ocean. The instructor will call out different pirate ship related commands requiring different actions! The last few participants to perform each action are “overboard” (or

out of the game for 1 call). The game can be played with participants re-entering after sitting out for 1 action or sitting out a full round until a single player is standing (and becomes the next captain!).

Ready to Play

In the play space, designate one area as the front of the boat and directly opposite, the back of the boat. Then sides of the boat, to either side of the play space. Review the following commands/actions. Once the children understand the thematic commands and the different areas of the room, the game can begin.

Instructor will call out a mix of thematic commands and areas of the boat to keep participants moving and playing the game.

Thematic Commands

Swab the Deck - Squat position

Walk the Plank - Hold plank position

Man Overboard - Pretend to swim

Dead bug - Lie on back with arms and legs sticking straight up in the air

Life Raft - find a partner and pretend to row a boat

After playing ask questions like:

  • Who can describe the setting of our game?

  • Who were the main characters of our game?

  • How did we interpret the roles of different characters?

  • Who can give an example of how we acted out a figurative meaning?

  • (walking the plank - instead of walking a plank on a ship, we did the plank exercise)

For Small Spaces

Have children skip or hop to “slow” the game down for safety.

Switch the Story

Ask participants to recall a recent reading. As a group identify the setting and main characters, then assign related movements/actions. Play again based on the new story connection!


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 Leaping for Literacy Activities below.

Tips & Tricks - 2023 May Leaping for Literacy
Download PDF • 1.15MB

Fun Fitness Game to Encourage Reading
Teach Literacy Skills with Fitness Fun

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


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