Substitute Game: Fire & Ice Tag

One of the first things I like to teach each year in PE are Sub Games. These are simple games with minimal equipment that work (with adjustments) K-5 as much as possible. 

I want students to know these games and play them with me, so that way if a sub presents it, they are aware of the rules, the equipment, and are ready to play.

Many of my Sub Games are tag, relay, or whole-class challenges. These keep the kids moving the whole time and makes it easier on my sub.

The first game I introduced this year was Fire & Ice Tag.

Game Levels

Similar to video games, when I teach a new game to my students I will start at Level 1 and increase complexity each round.

This allows everyone to get familiar with the fundamentals and concepts, and prevents me from spending too much time talking about instructions.

Often, they will ask questions around what is allowed and my reply is usually "not yet" or "wait for the next level"-- this keeps them excited to keep playing and learning more.

This also makes the game easier to differentiate for K-5. 

In K, I will often just practice "Freeze Dance" until they are comfortable, then adding in the "tag" component later in the year. 

Likewise, for 5th graders, I am always looking for ways to "level up" the game to keep it challenging, engaging, and fun!

Fire & Ice Tag

Fire & Ice Tag is a basic tag game based on freezing and melting the players around the gym.

  • pool noodles (I prefer blue for "ice")
  • small dodgeballs (I prefer red for "fireballs")
  • the whole gym, using sidelines and baselines as the boundaries
Main Idea:
  • the person with the ice is the tagger
  • once frozen, students will need to freeze in an ice sculpture position of their choice (hands off the ground so they don't get stepped on!)
  • the person with the fireball can then come and free/"melt" them

Level 1:
One person is ice (blue pool noodle) and one is fire (red dodgeball). At the whistle, game play begins. 

Freezing in a fun pose is an important part, not just for laughs, but it's easier for the fireball to spot you if you are an ice sculpture.

Watch to make sure kids keep moving the whole time (no fake statues to avoid being tagged, etc.) and that taggers are doing so gently.

After a few minutes, gather the students to talk about the next level.

Level 2:
Begins as Level 1. 

I will look for students showing great effort and call them over quietly. If they want, they will become the second ice (with a second pool noodle). 

I alert the class that there is a second ice in the gym, but do not say who. 

After a while, I call another student over to be the second fireball. As with ice, I alert the students that there is a second fireball, but do not say who.

Level 2+ is asking the original ice and fireball to quietly pick a new ice and fireball. When I see the change has been made, I alert the class that there is one new fireball and ice, but do not say who. 

Level 3:
It is at this level that you can start to allow ice to tag the fireball. If that happens, the fireball is frozen until the second fireball can come and save them.

If both fireballs are frozen, the game is soon over.

Level 4:
In this level, fireballs can tag ice, melting them and requiring the other ice to come over and "refreeze" them again for tagging.

This level can get a little muddled with "who tagged whom" issues, so sometimes I will play this instead of Level 3 before combining both of them. 

This is also a better level for 4th and 5th graders, who can keep track of the tag game a bit better.

You can create the levels any way you would like, and experimenting with what works best with your students is key before you spring this on them with a substitute. The more they are used to playing this with you, the better. 

That being said, I don't play this endlessly. I want to keep this special for substitutes, so I like ending this with interest still high and kids still asking to play it later.

As the year progresses, I will throw this back into the mix to keep them on their toes, but keeping it especially for subs from year to year is a win-win-win for everyone!

Stay well,

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