Sports days can bring about so many different positive outcomes for children and the wider school community. As well as being a celebration of sporting achievements and talent within a school, these events are a brilliant opportunity for children to connect, socialise, have fun together and celebrate the benefits of being active.
The day can give pupils who may struggle in other areas of school life the chance to show off their talents, or inspire a child to be more active by having a positive experience of personal challenge. Children can also develop and show leadership, teamwork and communication skills.
As there are so many potential outcomes, a first step would be to decide on the objectives for your sports day, then design your event to deliver those outcomes. For example, if you want to deliver a celebration of physical activity and personal achievement, what events could you include? How would you include personal challenge? How would you celebrate individual success? If your outcome is to unite your school community, how would you involve different people and groups from your community? How could they interact within the current restrictions?
Here are 12 ideas that you could use depending on the aims and objective of your sports day:
- Involve children in planning the day. Can they choose the theme? I’m sure they will have some great ideas about what they would like to do, how they can include everyone and what activities to include.
- Split classes into teams or houses and give them the goal of collecting points for their team.
- In the build-up to the day, have each team create a song, dance or cheer that they perform during the days before sports day and on the day itself.
- Have team captains, perhaps in each class, record video good luck messages that can be shown in other classes before the day.
- Link the activities to the 5 ways to well-being – Twinkl has some free resources that you could use
- Take inspiration from the forthcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games and link your activities to the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics and their values. Take a look at Get Set, the British Olympic Association and British Paralympic Association youth engagement programme, for ideas
- Have one class/bubble spectate whilst another class takes part in the activities, they can provide encouragement from the sidelines, perhaps singing their team’s song.
- Involve parents by setting a challenge such as number of steps for that day or week. These achievements can contribute to house/team scores. Or ask parents to send in recorded video messages of support to use at the start or in the build-up to the day. Make sure you make parents aware of your theme/intended outcome so their messages can fit with this.
- Hold a virtual opening ceremony – you could ask a sportsperson to record an opening message and share this across all classes.
- Why stop at a day? Make it a ‘sports week’ or build-up to the day over a period of weeks. Give children the opportunity to practice the activities that will be taking place. Active lessons and linking the curriculum to the theme for the week will provide more opportunities for children to shine.
- Set a challenge for teachers too. This could be something they complete before the event or a challenge for the day itself.
- Celebrate successes in different ways – winner of the event? Achieving a personal best? Best leader? Biggest smile? WOW moment? Best team chant? etc. Have a positive scoring system and ensure all your helpers practice positive coaching.
We hope you find these ideas helpful and wish you the best of luck with your sports day. These events can live long in the minds of children, incorporating some of these ideas will help to ensure this is a positive memory for as many pupils as possible.
Here are some additional resources that may also help:
Youth Sport Trust – Youth Voice Toolkit
England Athletics’ Funetics Sports Day programme
School Games Positive Experiences of Competition Toolkit
Youth Sport Trust National School Sport Week – don’t forget to enter the prize draw when you register!