Guide to Planning a Field Day
What is a field day? A field day is a fun-filled, springtime event held in many schools across the country. A field day gives kids the chance to celebrate the school year coming to an end, show some class pride and spend a day being active.
Since the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that kids get at least an hour of moderate-to-vigorous exercise a day, it’s important that schools make physical activity a priority for students. What better way to get kids active than through fun field day games and activities?
If you’re planning a field day for your school, you’ve probably got a lot of questions on how to keep the event fun and safe for everyone involved. Here’s what you need to know about how to plan and organize a field day.
Designating an Appropriate Area
Depending on the size of your school, you might need to get creative with where you hold your field day. Look for a wide-open spot that’s clearly separated from playground areas and playground equipment to best ensure safety.
If your school or the local high school has sports fields, or your community has open park fields, these are locations to consider.
Once you have the location picked, on the day of the event, put up signage to let kids know what areas are set up for them to enjoy during the field day as well as some signs that remind them of school safety rules.
Planning a School Field Day: Fun Field Day Games
Which activities are right for your field day? First, decide whether you want competitive or collaborative games and activities. Will teachers be tracking and adding up points? Will the class or grade with the most points at the end of the day win a prize? Or will you opt for a collaborative style, with all classes working together to accumulate points for a big reward?
Whatever style of activities and games you choose, there are many fun field day events for middle schools and elementary schools to choose from.
Here are some of our top school field day ideas as well as the equipment and other necessities you’ll want to have on hand.
Here are some outdoor field day games to encourage teamwork:
1. Sponge and Bucket Relay
Equipment: Buckets filled with water, empty buckets and large sponges
This activity is great for cooling off on a hot day. Start by dividing the class into two lines. A bucket of water and a big sponge will sit at one end of each line. At the other end of each line will be an empty bucket. The first student soaks the sponge in the bucket of water, then passes the sponge down the line. The fun part is they have to pass the wet sponge over their heads.
Once the sponge reaches the end of the line, the kid at the end will squeeze the sponge out into the empty bucket. Whichever team fills up their bucket first wins.
2. Spin the Bat
Equipment: Baseball bats
This fun field day activity can include two or more teams. Each team lines up, and the first kid in line moves to a baseball bat at the other end of the field or space. While keeping one end of the bat on the ground, they press the other end to their forehead and spin around the bat in a circle five times –– or more or less depending on what you’ve decided.
After they finish spinning, they return to their line so the team member can take their turn. The trip back is especially challenging after they’ve gotten dizzy from all that spinning. Whichever team finishes first is the winner.
3. Egg and Spoon Race
Equipment: Spoons, eggs and cones
For this activity, kids split into teams, line up and everyone gets a spoon. To start off, the first person in each line carries an egg in their spoon to the cone at the end of the field or area. They round the cone, return to their team and pass the egg to the next person in line –– without using their hands. Eggs must be passed and picked up with spoons.
Each team member has to carry the egg around the cone and back, and whichever team finishes first wins.
4. Tug of War
This classic competition is a staple for many school field days. Kids split into two teams, and everyone takes hold of part of the rope, both teams facing each other. A barrier is placed between the groups, such as a puddle of water or a bright rope or ribbon. The first team to touch the barrier loses.
5. Obstacle Course
Kids split into two teams. Each person makes their way through a variety of objects like chairs, garbage cans, ropes, hula-hoops and ladders. Whichever team hops, crawls and spins their way through the series of obstacles fastest wins.
6. Balloon Pop Race
Equipment: Balloons and chairs
The objective of this game is for kids to take an inflated balloon, hurry to a chair, place the balloon on the chair and sit on the balloon until it pops. This can be a competition between teams to see who can pop the most balloons before time is up.
For smaller groups, try these partner games.
1. Beach Ball Race
Equipment: Beach ball
For this activity, two children work together to carry a beach ball across a finish line without using their hands. They have to strategize the best way to get the ball to the finish line as quickly as possible without dropping it. Kids may choose to use their heads to keep the ball up, or they may use their backs or stomachs and shuffle sideways. This game will cause a lot of laughs and test their coordination.
2. Water Balloon Throw
Equipment: Water balloons
Here’s another game to help kids stay cool. Kids partner up, and each pair receives a water balloon. The goal is to toss the balloon back and forth without dropping or breaking it. With each successful catch, the pair must take a step back. This continues until they’re too far apart, someone misses, and the balloon pops –– likely getting at least one of them wet in the process.
3. Three-Legged Race
Equipment: Velcro straps
With Velcro straps or a similar binding item, kids pair up and bind their legs together, each leaving one leg free. Every pair hurries to the finish line to see who gets there first. Ensure the area selected for this event is even and soft enough to cushion falls.
To encourage friendly competition between students, organize these individual games.
1. Beanbag Toss
Equipment: Hula-hoops and beanbags
Kids will line up parallel to a row of hula-hoops on the ground or floor, standing a few feet back from their hoop. They’ll toss a beanbag into their hoop, and like with the water balloon throw, they’ll step back after each successful toss. Whoever gets the most beanbags inside their hoop wins.
2. Hula Hooping
For a competition-free activity, set up a hula hooping station. Kids can enjoy spinning hula-hoops around their waists, arms and legs without the structure of a game or the pressure of competition.
Use any of these school field day activities and games to make your field day one everyone will enjoy.
Roles: Teachers, Students and Volunteers
Each group involved in field day will have a different role to fill. Know what you can expect from teachers and volunteers, how to manage students and how to keep everything running smoothly.
Teachers should spend the day supervising activities, guiding students from one activity to the next and ensuring safety. Part of this job is making sure kids stay in the designated field day area and don’t run off to the playground, for example.
Teachers should monitor kids for signs of dehydration or sunburn. If permitted, teachers should carry sunscreen for kids to reapply throughout the day. They should have first aid kits on hand as well, in case of any accidents.
Kids should be mindful of the rules that have been discussed with them and maintain good sportsmanship. Be sure they also know what to bring to field day, such as money for any snacks or water they may want. Older kids can also bring their own sunscreen.
Recruiting parents, faculty and community members as volunteers can help your field day run much more smoothly. High school students can also be excellent volunteers for an elementary or middle school field day, so be sure to check with your high school’s guidance counselor for any responsible older students who may be interested in volunteering. Send out a newsletter asking for volunteers and send a letter home with kids to ask their parents to sign up.
Volunteers can run stations, get involved with the games and help ensure students abide by safety rules.
The more fun everyone has, the more likely they’ll return to volunteer for the next field day.
Keeping Your Field Day on Track
Organization is the key component to keeping any big event running smoothly. Complete all of your planning well ahead of time so you can work out any kinks or issues that may arise or that someone else points out. Schedule every part of the day, including breaks. Kids need at least a couple of water and snack breaks to rehydrate and refuel.
When planning a school field day, take even the most seemingly minute details into consideration.
Prepping for the Field Day and Set Up
Choosing your field day activities and games is just the first step to preparing for your field day. Once you’ve chosen your activities, you’ll need to cover the other bases of prep work before the big day.
1. Choose Your Format
Most field days fall under the umbrella of one of three formats:
- Station Activities: For this format, you’ll set up activities and games at stations around the school. Using a timed schedule, class groups will rotate through the different activities.
- Festival: A festival format is reminiscent of a carnival or similar event. You can set up concession stands, obstacle courses and bounce houses. You can also include games and activities that can be found at carnivals or fairs, like a dunk tank or a ring toss.
- Track and Field Style: In this format, kids are split up by grade and gender to compete in track and field events. Events can include relays, hurdles, long jump and more.
Your field day could also include a combination of these formats. Regardless, there isn’t only one right way to run a field day. What matters is what works best for your school. You can always solicit feedback from administrators and teachers if you’re unsure which format is best for your students.
Along with the activities your field day will include, you should choose your field day format months before the big day.
2. Choose a Date
Another item on the checklist you’ll want to complete several months before field day is setting the date. The date you choose for your field day will depend a lot on your school’s calendar and schedule and on the weather in your area. For some, the day before spring break in late Match may be the perfect field day. For others, the weather might not start warming up until May.
On the other hand, May or June may be too hot for some regions, and present a risk for heatstroke for kids and volunteers. Plus, who wants to spend their entire field day melting under the hot sun in 100-degree weather?
If you live in an area where the weather doesn’t improve until later in the school year, be mindful of planning field day around other school activities that take place in May and June, such as tests and graduations.
Deciding your perfect date may take some consideration and deliberation, but it’s also one of the first decisions you’ll want to make.
3. Prepare Students
A couple of weeks before field day, Physical Education teachers can instruct their students on what kinds of activities they can expect on field day. Practice activities and games they may not be familiar with or experienced in.
All teachers can also review with kids important rules and guidelines for field day, such as maintaining good sportsmanship, what they might need to bring and what they should expect. Be sure to remind them the day before and the day of about everything you’ve been discussing with them over the days leading up to field day.
4. Coordinate With Concession Stand Vendors
If you’re planning to incorporate school field day snacks into your day, you’ll need to coordinate with the vendors a couple of weeks ahead of time. They’ll need to understand the layout and plan for the day. You’ll also want to announce the snack menu to students early so they can anticipate what they might want on field day.
5. Collect Prizes
If you’re planning on offering prizes for your field day, here are a few prize ideas to get you started:
- Rubber bracelets
- Homework coupons
- Pizza party
- Ice cream party
Pick plenty of winners and give out lots of prizes. Everyone should get a token to remember their field day.
6. Run Through Your Final Checklist
Finally, on the day before field day, you’ll run through your checklist to ensure everything is in order. Here are a few tasks you might want to tackle the day before field day:
- Assign all volunteers to their stations
- Print out descriptions of each station to give to volunteers so they’ll understand how they should run their station’s activity
- Print out maps for volunteers so they’ll know how to navigate the school
- Place the appropriate equipment for each station by the door so it will be easily accessible when you’re ready to take it outside to the stations
- Set up all inside stations that you may have
- If you’ll be using ice, fill up extra buckets to have on hand
- If you’ll be playing music, test out the technology you’ll be using to make sure it’s working properly
All of this preparation time is sure to pay off. You’ll deal with fewer hiccups come field day, and you’ll be able to enjoy the day along with everyone else.
The Day of Field Day
You’ve made it to the big day. The second you walk into your school in the morning, you will feel the excitement of all the students ready for their day of fun.
Now that field day is finally here, you’ll need to take these final few steps:
1. Set Up
Transport all the equipment outside –– hopefully with the help of a few other teachers or some students –– and set up your stations. You’ll probably want to get to the school early to make sure you can organize everything in time.
Be sure to set up your stations in a way that makes transitioning a quick and easy process. If students have a particularly limited amount of time at each station, you don’t want them to waste their time figuring out how the station works. Use colors and numbers for labeling to ensure ease in activity rotation.
2. Welcome Volunteers
When your volunteers begin showing up, make sure they understand the ins-and-outs of your field day and what they can expect. Give them the maps and station descriptions that you’ve already printed out, introduce yourself and other teachers, share your field day safety rules and general school rules to abide by, and express your gratitude for their volunteered time.
After the initial welcome, you can then go over how the day will be structured, how stations are set up and how they can be adjusted if necessary, where bathrooms and concession stands are located and tips to help them get through the day as smoothly as possible.
3. Have Fun
Once field day is underway, it’s time to enjoy it! Soak up the sun, cheer, take pictures and lend a helping hand to other teachers, students and volunteers. Do what you can to keep the day running smoothly and make sure kids are having a blast.
After the event, write down your thoughts on how everything went. What activities and games were successful? Did any stations cause confusion or take too long to transition into? Were more breaks needed? Was it too hot for a field day in June? Make a note of everything that comes to mind, and ask for feedback from other teachers and volunteers as well. Use these notes to make next year’s field day even better.
Again — thank the staff and volunteers for dedicating their time to making your field day successful.
Once you have your plan for field day solidly in place, you’ll need to formulate a Plan B. What will you do if rain decides to damper your fun-filled day?
Odds are, you won’t want to reschedule. You’ve already put so much time and planning into this day, so the last thing you’ll want to do is undo all of that work and start over. Not to mention all of the volunteers who will be frustrated with the schedule change and may not be able to reschedule to volunteer on another day.
You need a backup plan to ensure you won’t have to repeat all of your hard work. Fortunately, an indoor field day can be just as fun.
1. Choose Rooms
If you need to move your field day indoors, pick predetermined rooms that can accommodate large groups of students at a time and give them plenty of space to move around in. Gyms, auditoriums and cafeterias are excellent, spacious options.
2. Determine the Field Day Rotation Schedule
Once you know where you’ll be able to set up your indoor field day, establish a rotation schedule. When will each grade go to a different room? Depending on the format you’ve chosen for your field day, you’ll need to determine a schedule for classes rotating through games and activities.
Ideally, field days will take place outside, where there is plenty of room for all students to move around, get some vitamin D and have fun. But even if you run into less-than-ideal weather, it doesn’t have to unravel your plans and ruin everyone’s day. After all the prep work you’ve done, your field day will be a blast, inside or outside.
Make Every Day Like Field Day
With school playground equipment from Miracle Recreation, you can make every day feel like a field day for students. Find your nearest Miracle Recreation rep and request a quote on playground equipment today.