Resource 3: Using games and physical exercise

Background information / subject knowledge for teacher

Physical exercise serves many functions. As we know, it helps children build up their strength and fitness. But it can also help pupils to develop social, creative and leadership skills. It can help pupils make friends and learn new things, and it contributes to their emotional well-being.

Think about the range of different physical games and exercises there are:

  • sports e.g. football, wrestling;
  • play e.g. skipping, dancing, running games;
  • word and number games e.g. singing, rhymes.

Children will automatically invent and play games with each other and you can exploit this as part of your teaching.

The use of physical games and exercises as part of your teaching can encourage pupils to enjoy learning, and so develop a greater interest in coming to school.

By using physical games as part of your teaching, you will also encourage pupils to learn new skills and behaviour patterns.

These can include:

  • collaborative learning;
  • thinking skills;
  • sharing resources and taking turns;
  • motivation and involvement in learning.

All of these are attributes you should encourage in the classroom, as they will contribute to more effective learning.

Below you will find some examples of Kenyan games that use physical exercise.


Play instruments:

A piece of broken pottery, a ten-cent coin or a shapely stone. A pattern drawn on the ground.

Age group:

5 to 6 years and above


One to four

How to play:

The first player throws a piece of pottery, or coin, or stone, into the first segment of the pattern. She jumps on one leg over this compartment into the second compartment as she plays. She then jumps into the other compartments until the last one. At the 4th and 5th compartments, she stands astride with one foot in the 4th compartment and the other in the 5th. The same is repeated at compartments 8 and 9 before she proceeds.

At compartment 10, she turns back the same way she came until she reaches the compartments before the piece of pottery. She bends, picks it up, and jumps over this compartment to the outside with the piece. She then throws the piece into the second compartment and continues the game, jumping over the compartment with the piece to the last compartment, and turns back the same way she came, to the outside. This is repeated with the piece being thrown into each successive compartment until the last one has been covered.

At this juncture she steps into compartment 10, with both feet still facing the front, and throws the piece over her head without looking back. If the piece falls well into one of the compartments, it becomes her territory. If at any point the player aims at a compartment and misses, she loses, and another player takes over the game.


Play instruments:

No equipment required

Age group:

3 upwards


Five or more

How to play:

One player assumes the position of a lion (Italanyi). He moves/goes ahead of the other players as the others question him:

Players: King Lion, what time is it?

Lion: Seven o’clock.

Players: King Lion, what time is it?

Lion: It is noon.

Players: King Lion, what time is it?

Lion: It is the hour to feed on (eat) sheep! (Here the other players run away as the lion chases after them. The player the lion catches is the next to be the lion.


Play instruments:

Stones, sticks and a piece of cloth

Age group:

4 to 6 years


Usually eight children or more

How to play:

Players stand in pairs facing each other, forming two lines. The pairs are given numbers. An object is placed in the middle of the two lines.

The leader calls out the numbers of two players, and the player from each team who has that number has to run and try to pick up the object first. The player who picks up the object earns a point for that player’s group.

Adapted from: (Accessed 2008)

Resource 2: Planning ways to introduce the four principles of physical development

Resource 4: How Mr Oyugi taught his lesson