Parachute games aren’t just for young kids! In this post, I’ll show you that they are highly effective for older students too.
In my many years of teaching, I have used parachute games with older students in three particular areas, namely:
- Teamwork and team building games
- Math games
- Literacy games
Although teamwork is just one of these three categories, I find the beauty of all parachute games is that kids develop all sorts of fantastic team-building skills. There has been research done into the positive benefits of parachute games on social skills. (Source)
So, let’s dive into the ultimate 22 parachute games for older students.
Team Building Games
This is a fun game of cooperation, that can also include some healthy competition!
Let’s do the non-competitive version first.
All the kids stand holding a parachute at waist height. Have a large sponge ball that you put in the middle of the parachute.
The kids crouched down and go, ‘1, 2, 3, Go!’
On the ‘go’, they all quickly jump up, and throw their arms up, ballooning the parachute into the air. This catapults the ball up into the sky.
You can see how high you can throw it. Or you can see how far it goes by trying to propel the ball in a certain direction.
Throwing the ball long is quite a bit trickier than high, and requires quite a bit of team strategy. You all have to propel the ball in the same direction somehow!
The competitive version basically just needs two teams (each with a parachute and a ball). They try to throw the highest or the furthest!
2. Catapult Target
Here’s a fun variation of the catapult game.
Have some kind of large target, for example, a large blanket on the floor about 10 yards from the parachute.
Aim at that target!
3. Team Tennis
For this, you need two teams each holding a parachute. They stand about three or four yards away from each other.
Have one sponge ball for this game. One team starts with this in their parachute.
That team works together to throw the ball into the air and land it in the other team’s parachute. And that team tries to throw it back!
See how many throws you can get in a successful rally.
This is a fun team builder that I like to use to finish off a parachute session.
The kids stand holding the parachute at waist height. All count to 3 and then lift the parachute high above you.
What you all do then is move forward, crunch down. And pull the parachutes down around you.
This is quite tricky! But if it works, then the parachute will be cocooned around you. You are all inside in the mushroom!
This is a great game for all ages.
Have some kind of simple obstacles dotted around the space. They must be wide enough apart that the full extended parachute can go between the obstacles.
All the kids go under the parachute on their hands and knees. The parachute is now the shell of the ‘turtle’.
Have one ‘leader’. They have a tricky job!
They are going to lead the turtle all the way around the obstacles without anyone touching one of them. They do this by saying, ‘Forward, left, keep going,’ and all that good stuff.
If you are really ambitious, you could potentially have a race of two turtles!
Watch out for crashing into walls!
6. Popcorn Chase
You’ve probably heard of the popcorn game, and this is a fantastic variation for older students.
You need lots of sponge balls for this (or another type of light ball that won’t cause an injury).
Have two teams. One team holds a parachute with all the balls lying on top of it. The other team surrounds them in the space.
Ready, steady, go!
The kids holding the parachute are going to do their best to throw as many balls as possible out of the parachute. The other team is going to be running around, collecting them, and throwing them back onto the chute.
have a time limit, such as one minute. When the time limit is up everyone freezes.
Are there more balls on the chute or out!?
More on the chute, then the collecting team wins.
More off, then the parachute team wins.
Whoever wins, swap positions, and try from the other perspective.
7. Bounce Count
For this game, you need one parachute and either a rubber ball, a beach ball, or a bean bag.
With older students, I use this game to practice multiplication tables.
For example, let’s say you’re working on sevens.
Work as a team to bounce a ball up and when it lands all say, ‘Seven!’ Bounce it again, and the next time it lands say, ‘Fourteen!’
Keep going until you get to 12 times 7!
you can go forwards, backward, or even start counting halfway through a multiplication table (for example start with the sevens at 35!)
8. Number Dive
For this game, you require some number flashcards which you place so that everyone can see them on the ground underneath the parachute.
It’s up to you what numbers you choose, and this will depend on what numbers you are working on at that particular time.
Let’s say we’ve got the numbers 3, 7, 11, and 14 all on the ground.
Pick a child to go first. Then give them a math calculation to solve.
It could be, ‘What is 18 subtract 7?’
Then everyone counts to 3 and lifts the parachute.
The player who has been chosen, dives under the lifted parachute, picks up what they think is the answer, and brings it back out.
Then someone else goes.
You can use this game to practice:
· Finding More/Less
· Word Problems, like ‘How many legs does 3 cows have?’
9. Roll The Number Cooperation
This is similar to number dive only you put the numbers in a different place.
Put a range of number flashcards on top of the parachute. You also need a large rubber or sponge ball for this game.
This time you give the challenge out to everyone.
You might say, ‘How many legs do four spiders have altogether.’
The kids would mentally calculate the answer (32), and then cooperate as a team to roll the ball around the parachute and make it touch the flashcard with a ‘32’ on it.
Repeat for other types of word and calculation problems.
10. Count To A Number Catapult!
This is another good game for rote counting and multiplication tables.
Pick a multiplication table. For example, 6.
Have a rubber or sponge ball which you are going to bounce on the chute.
Decide on a number in the multiplication sequence on which you are going to catapult the ball! For example, it could be ‘42’.
Bounce a ball up and when it learns say, ‘Six!’ Then another bounce, and say, ‘Twelve!’
when you get to 42, you are all going to launch it as far up or away as you can possibly throw it!
11. Fold A Shape!
This is a really good team builder, with a bit of math thrown in.
It’s good if you have several parachutes for this, and then the children can split into small teams.
Pick a 2D shape, for example, a square. The kids in each group try to create that shape.
You can try all sorts of different shapes such as:
- A hexagon
- A Pentagon
- A dodecahedron
- Whatever other shapes you might be working on!
12. How Many Folds?
This is another good team builder.
It’s a good game for helping to tidy away the parachutes at the end of the session.
Again it’s good for kids to work in small groups for this game.
The challenge is to fold the parachute into as many possible folds as you can.
Fold it over once and say ‘One!’
Then fold it again and say, ‘Two!’
The first few folds are easy, but then it starts to get very challenging!
Keep going until it becomes completely impossible!
13. Number Bond Bounce
As you can probably guess from the name, this game is excellent for practicing number bonds.
The kids hold the parachute at waist height. If you are practicing number bonds to twenty, then you need to put twenty small sponge balls on the parachute.
For about 3-5 seconds, you’re going to work together to bounce off quite a few of the balls. Then stop.
Count how many are still left on the chute? For example, there might be ‘6’. How many will be on the floor?
Try to calculate the number, and then one person goes off to retrieve them, counting them as they go.
14. Number Clock
Here’s another good one for multiplication tables.
Have some number cards. Place the parachute on the floor and put the numbers around it so they look a bit like a clock face. They don’t have to be in order! Just in the general shape of a clock face. The setup will look something like this:
Put some music on. The kids start walking around the outside of the clock face.
As soon as the music stops, they freeze next to the nearest number. They are going to multiply that number by a quantity of your choosing.
So it might be ‘3!’
Whatever number they are next to they multiply by three and shout their answer. So if you end up next to a six, you shout out ‘Eighteen!’
Keep on repeating with different numbers.
15. Quickfire Ball Spelling Shoot!
This is a fun way to practice spelling words.
You need some sticky notes for this with your target words written on them, one word per sticky note.
have a selection of large sponge balls, and stick one sticky note on each ball.
Everyone holds the parachute, apart from one player who is in charge of holding up the balls.
They hold up the first ball so that the other players can’t see the word on the sticky note, and read out the word.
Either everyone tries to spell the word, or pick one person to spell it. When you have managed to either spell it right or worked out how it should be spelled, then drop the ball into the parachute, then catapult it as far as you can to the other side of the space!
Repeat with the next balls.
16. Find The Word
This is good game for understanding the meaning of difficult new words that you are learning.
Have, for example, four difficult words, each on a separate flashcard.
Have four kids each holding one word, and everyone else holding the parachute. Have the flashcards surrounding the parachute, so you might have one kid north of the chute about ten yards, one south about ten, and so on.
The adult gives the description of one of the words.
For example, your four words might be:
Then say something like, ‘Peter was really disaster-prone. Terrible things were always happening to him. Which word describes him best?’
The kids holding the chute will (hopefully) cooperate and walk with the parachute over the kid with the most relevant word (in this case ‘calamitous’).
Then repeat for different words.
This is a similar game to the last, only you put the flashcards underneath the parachute this time.
Let’s go with the same four words:
Pick one student to go first.
Describe one of the words, for example, ‘Jo was really treacherous. She was always sneaky and out for vengeance.’
Then everyone counts to three and lifts up the chute.
The student runs under, grabs the relevant flashcard, and comes back out with it (in this example, it would be the word ‘insidious.’)
Then repeat with the next words.
18. Balls With Words On
This game is great for reading either words or even sounds.
Have a selection of sponge balls that you don’t mind writing on (or you could try taping small sticky notes onto them).
The balls will all have either a word or a sound on them. These are words or sounds that you are targeting at that particular time.
Have a load of these balls, and place them on the parachute.
Half the kids hold the chute, and the other half stand around it in the space.
The idea is that those holding the parachute now start bouncing the balls off it.
Those standing around it will try to catch or retrieve them, say the word on the ball, and throw it back onto the chute.
19. Storytelling Pictures
This is a beautiful verbal storytelling game.
What you need for this is a collection of story pictures. You need about ten, and they can have any of the following things on:
- Good or bad characters, such as a ghost, Princess, or witch
- Story locations, such as a haunted castle, the sea, or magic cottage
- Problems that might occur, such as there is a fire, a poisoned apple, or an earthquake
- Solutions such as a key, a letter, or a helicopter
Place some of these pictures (probably between 5 to 10) on the parachute.
You also need a rubber or sponge ball.
One student goes first.
Everyone cooperates to roll the ball onto one of the pictures, and the student selected starts a story.
You might start on the witch, so the student might say, ‘One day a wicked witch flew off on an adventure.’
Then roll the ball again, and see what it lands on. If it was the castle, the next person might say, ‘She arrived at a spooky castle.’
Keep going like this, building on the story, with one person at a time doing a sentence as you move around the circle.
It doesn’t have to make much sense! Or necessarily come to a natural conclusion!