August 21, 2019

Physical Education: 7 Pieces of Equipment for a Frugal Program

With tight budgets and position cuts the norm in many school districts, physical education often ends up being on the classroom teacher’s list of responsibilities. How do you implement a sustainable physical education program without diverting valuable classroom budget dollars on supplies? Here are seven simple suggestions to get you started.

Hula hoops.

Great for using with traditional hula hoop activities, for exercise stations outside and more, these things are easily found at dollar stores and other affordable retailers. Pick up a set of four to six to have on hand. For more information on hula hoops and other items in the classroom, check out this article on classroom hacks.

A parachute.

This might be something you want to purchase per grade level, but for teachers of very young primary students, brightly colored classroom parachutes offer a springboard for numerous quality strength building and direction following exercises. If you’re going to splurge on one piece of equipment for early primary, parachutes are an excellent choice.

A selection of various fitness balls.

Playground balls, basketballs and soccer balls can all be used for things like 4-square, kickball, soccer, basketball and fitness station drills. A collection of three to four makes a nice affordable start to your personal classroom collection of physical education equipment.

Popsicle sticks and reinforcement charts.

In a previous article on how to use craft sticks in the classroom, I covered a very affordable PE program that could be ongoing in your classroom for very little money or space. Having students run around a course or track of a quarter mile and receiving an additional stick each time they go and recording the distance per student on a classroom reinforcement chart is efficient, cheap, well received by students and requires virtually no advance planning after the initial chart is up on the wall.

A whistle.

Cheap, simple and easy to overlook as a piece of valuable classroom equipment, a whistle provides as much support for your physical education lessons as it does for recess lineup.


You’ll need a play source as well as a good collection of music to use for cool downs, rock outs, and high stepping musical chairs on rainy days. Seriously, don’t forget the tunes.


Bandanas have numerous uses in the classroom, but when it comes to PE they are fantastic as a cheap solution to identify teams. Instead of paying big bucks for vest-style pull on tops to use for the traditional “skins and shirts” team identification, have half of the class wear their class bandanas around their necks in the voted upon color.

Most of these items not only work to support your physical education program, but also ensure you have a quality selection of playground equipment as well. Have you written about frugal physical education ideas before? Share your link in the comment section. You know we love to hear from you.

Photo Credit: Striatic

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