Unique Ways to Use Parachutes in PE

Ask adults to relive the highlights of their Physical Education class and I’m sure using a parachute will be mentioned. There’s something about bringing out a giant, colorful parachute into the classroom that instantly energizes most kids. Parachutes are a widely universal piece of equipment used in Physical Education programs today, and they are often used with a younger audience.

Classic parachute activities are among the most memorable Physical Education experiences we give our students. Popcorn, Ball Roll, and Making Waves are activities you’ve likely done if you have a parachute in your PE program.

The use of parachutes in Physical Education has evolved over the years. Sizes have changed. Designs have changed. And best of all, the use of parachutes has changed.

Mix Up Activities with Different Sized Parachutes:

Different Sized Parachutes

I recently discovered there are actually “Mini Parachutes” for the classroom. These measure 6’ dia and can be used for engaging small group cooperative activities that are perfect for an older audience. These parachutes are designed for 2-4 students to work together in team-building activities like Parachute Volleyball and Basketball.

Interested in getting these for your PE program? Check out GOPHER’s Rainbow ElevAir Parachutes Set. To compliment these mini parachutes, I highly recommend GOPHER’s Mini Rainbow OMNIKIN SIX Balls set. There’s an array of activities student can do when combining these two pieces of equipment.

Activities with parachutes promote team building. They also encourage students to problem solve and work together to complete given tasks. School districts are placing an increased focus on Social Emotional Learning today. Parachute activities will help support that effort.

Different Styles = New Opportunities

Parachutes are available in multiple colors and designs. Check out GOPHER’s UltraChute Parachutes and GOPHER’s Bull’s-Eye Parachutes.

The UltraChute features the classic Rainbow colors in a vertical column design which is great for linking nutrition to activities, specifically the Food Guide Pyramid.

The Bull’s-Eye parachutes are excellent for outdoor skill-performance activities like, Frisbee Bocce, throwing for accuracy, punting, and my favorite skill to practice, golf. Having taught golf at the elementary level, these parachutes would be great for scattering in the driving range for students to take aim at.

“Available in 3 sizes, GOPHER’s Bull’s-Eye Parachutes are perfect for Outdoor Target Games”

It’s different, it’s versatile, and it will bring new learning opportunities to your students.

Getting Creative

Parachutes can be incorporated into many teaching units. Let your imagination flow with this equipment. One creative use I have seen with parachutes came from Mark Lewis, an elementary Physical Education teacher I support in my district. Mark incorporated his giant parachute within his dance unit creating the perfect dance floor for his students. He suspended the parachute up to the gymnasium ceiling with a strobe light at its center which illuminated a colorful, covered dance floor beneath for his students.

It’s attractive to students. Being creative with your equipment can increase student engagement and participation rates within your classroom.

“Giant parachutes bring giant fun in the classroom” – Hazel Valley Elementary – Burien, WA

My Challenge for You

Students love parachutes, regardless of grade level. So, give them the opportunity to have fun with these throughout the school year. I encourage you to explore parachutes with a different lens in your classroom.

I am always looking for ways to add variety to the ways I use parachutes in Physical Education. If you have a unique way you use parachutes that you feel would benefit other educators, share that knowledge with your colleagues in our Physical Education community.

Derek is a Washington State-based NBCT Physical Educator looking to leave a lasting impression in the Physical Education community through meaningful collaboration, advocacy, and teamwork. He taught elementary PE for more than a decade and now currently serves all 32 schools in the Highline School District as the PreK-12 Health and Physical Education Coordinator. A Seattle native, Derek’s credentials include a bachelors and masters in Physical Education from Western Washington University and Central Washington University, respectively. He serves alongside other physical educators on his state’s Health and PE cadre. Derek shows his growing passion for teaching leadership and advocacy in Physical Education as a workshop presenter for SHAPE Washington and SHAPE America. He also shares his PE philosophy with educators across the globe as a monthly blogger through the Puget Sound Educational Service District and Ready Washington. Outside of PE, Derek enjoys spending time with his family of 3, running outdoors, and swinging the golf clubs searching for that illusive hole-in-one. See what Derek is doing on Twitter: @PhysEdDerek

Derek is a Washington State-based NBCT Physical Educator looking to leave a lasting impression in the Physical Education community through meaningful collaboration, advocacy, and teamwork. He taught elementary PE for more than a decade and now currently serves all 32 schools in the Highline School District as the PreK-12 Health and Physical Education Coordinator. A Seattle native, Derek’s credentials include a bachelors and masters in Physical Education from Western Washington University and Central Washington University, respectively. He serves alongside other physical educators on his state’s Health and PE cadre. Derek shows his growing passion for teaching leadership and advocacy in Physical Education as a workshop presenter for SHAPE Washington and SHAPE America. He also shares his PE philosophy with educators across the globe as a monthly blogger through the Puget Sound Educational Service District and Ready Washington. Outside of PE, Derek enjoys spending time with his family of 3, running outdoors, and swinging the golf clubs searching for that illusive hole-in-one. See what Derek is doing on Twitter: @PhysEdDerek

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