September is here and Alberta students are heading back to class, but students under the age of 12 are not yet eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. While masks, physical distancing and other public health policies are fairly straightforward to apply in many classes, Physical Education brings unique challenges: masks are not worn during moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, equipment is often minimal and shared, and many classic gym games and activities require close physical proximity or even contact.

Luckily there are some easy modifications and adaptations you can make to keep physical education fun, engaging and of course, safe. Here are some tried-and-true favourites from our downloadable resource, Games and Activities to Optimize Self-Regulation:



The goal of Tower of Hanoi is to move your stack of boxes between three lines from one end of the playing space to the other, one box at a time, relay-style. Larger boxes cannot go on top of smaller boxes.

The COVID challenge: High-touch surfaces


  • Use people instead of boxes! Number players 1-3 (up to 5 for more of a challenge) and ask them to stand in a line distanced from one another from highest to lowest. Larger numbers cannot come before smaller numbers. The group must return to the same order they started in at the other end of the playing area.
  • Use smaller teams and assign each player to one box for the duration of the game



The goal of Trailblazer is to crack a code by taking turns moving through hula hoops/markers in a specific pattern, without knowing what that pattern is. Players watch their teammates to build off of their guesses.

The COVID challenge: While this game is fairly COVID-friendly to begin with, physical distancing can be a challenge as well as high-touch surfaces.


  • Use tape instead of hula hoops to mark your spaces
  • Use less spaces and smaller teams
  • Print off single-use code sheets for the code maker, or use pre-created laminated code sheets and wipe them down between uses.
  • Provide each player with their own ‘marker’ object if using a breadcrumb strategy



Instead of playing the classic game of Tic Tac Toe on paper, make a grid on the ground and toss objects into it for X’s and O’s.

The COVID challenge: High-touch surfaces, physical distancing


  • Use players instead of tossing objects – assign one team as X’s and one as O’s and have them hold that shape with their arms.
  • Mark out spaces at least 2 metres apart with hula hoops or painters/masking tape; be sure to include lanes for students to travel to and from spaces!



In Mastermind, teams must work together to crack a code set by the Code Maker. The Code Maker will set up four pylons or other markers in different colours on one side of a barrier. The Code Breaker team will try to guess the order by moving an identical set of pylons on the other side.

The COVID challenge: High-touch surfaces


  • Use players instead of pylons! Assign each player a colour and have the Code Maker use a single-use sheet of paper or pre-determined patterns instead of pylons.


With a little creativity, many games can be made COVID-friendly. Move outside to ensure lots  of space for distancing, use players instead of equipment, and ask your students for their ideas!

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