How to plan Year 1 PE lessons with no equipment

published on 29th September, 2022

Ofsted publications have suggested that children best develop their fundamental movement skills between 3 and 8 years old.  So, Year 1 PE lessons play a crucial role in a child’s physical development journey.

Fundamental movement skills (including running, jumping, balancing, throwing and catching) should be the focus of Year 1 PE. They form the basis for both PE enjoyment and leading life-long healthy lifestyles. 

Year 1 PE lessons can look very different depending on the Unit of Work being delivered, the space being used, and the equipment being used.  

Gymnastics for example in the school hall, usually a calm, controlled environment, will look very different to an outdoor tag rugby. Therefore, the equipment used will vary massively.

But what happens if there is no equipment available for a particular PE lesson?

No PE Equipment available 

The ever-changing nature of school timetables means that we often find ourselves teaching PE when we weren’t expecting to. Or, the PE cupboard key has been lost and we’ve been left to deliver a PE lesson with no equipment. 

Don’t panic!  Your class is excited and we’ve got your back!

Below we list our Top 5 Year 1 PE Games that can be delivered with no equipment.  If you find yourself in Year 1 PE lessons with no equipment, try these activities. They’re perfect for both indoor and outdoor PE.

1. The Atom Game

This activity, found in our quick games is always a popular warm up activity.  Ask the children to move around an area – keep changing the way the children move – walking, jogging, skipping etc.  After about 30 seconds call out a number.  The children must get into groups of that number as quickly as possible.  Any children not in a group, or the last to form a group, must perform a fun forfeit such as star jumps. 

2. DVD player

Tell your Year 1 children that they are inside your giant TV, and you have the remote control.  The buttons you press for your TV determines what actions the children perform.  These button actions can be introduced one by one, depending on your class ability…

  • Play – children walk/jog inside the ‘TV’.
  • Pause – children must freeze, like a statue.
  • Rewind – children move backwards.
  • Fast Forward – children move quickly, taking little quick forward steps.
  • Stop – children lay down on the floor.
  • Mute – children must move around in silence.

3. Truck and Trailer

Children work in pairs, with one being the truck and the other being the trailer.  The truck leads the trailer around the area, and the trailer must follow, keeping as close as they can to the truck.  Encourage the leader to move in different directions, changing speed and type of movement. 

On the signal ‘change’ the children swap roles and the trailer now becomes the truck and leads their trailer around. 

4. Chain Tag

An exciting teamwork tag game, where one child starts as the tagger.  The children move around the area, and if the tagger tags someone, they must make a link (hold hands) and become taggers together.  Each time a child is tagged, they join the chain. 

For safety, after 6 pupils are in a chain, ask the next child tagged to start a new chain. 
The last un-tagged child is the winner and becomes the start tagger for the next round.

5. Grasshoppers

One of our favourite activities, which is also always popular in Year 1 PE!  ‘Grasshoppers’ uses lots of imagination and fundamental movement skills!

Ask children to pretend they are grasshoppers, as if they are moving (jumping) around in the grass.  Call out different commands and the children must complete the command with an action…

  • ‘Side to Side’ – jump side to side with feet together.
  • ‘Over the Stone’ – jump up high as if jumping over a stone.
  • ‘Lost Grasshoppers’ – hop once in all directions – forward, backward, left and right. 
  • ‘Slow Motion’ – hop as slow as possible.
  • ‘Snake’ – jump as fast as they can to get away from the snakes.
  • ‘Grasshoppers’ – continue jumping around the area.

We hope these games help as a ‘back-up’ for those times when you have no choice for delivering Year 1 PE lessons with no equipment available. 

As always, if we can help with Year 1 PE lesson planning, or ideas for PE lesson activities, just shout!