30 Pep Rally Games
A spirited pep rally not only builds excitement for upcoming events, but it helps create a culture of community as students work together for a common goal. Here are 30 unique pep rally games to encourage some friendly competition and school spirit.
- Stuff the Outfits - Buy the biggest sweatpants and sweatshirts you can find at a discount store. You can either pit classes against each other or have the football team split into three teams. Give them a bag of small balloons and have one volunteer put on the sweatsuit. The challenge is for each team to blow up and fill the sweatsuit as big as possible with balloons in a given amount of time.
- Human Piñata - Create one XL t-shirt for each of the grades with an equal number of hot-glued snacks attached (small candy bars, bags of chips, etc.) Select a student from another grade to chase the piñata and grab as many snacks as possible until time’s up. For added fun, set up tables of snacks with packing tape attached that the piñata person can grab and try to add snacks back. When time’s up, count the snacks and determine a winner (you can either have the winner be who got the most snacks off their piñata or the piñata with the most snacks left).
- Ice It! - Ahead of the assembly, get several XXL school t-shirts and spritz them with water, but not too soaked or they will not thaw quickly enough. Fold them into a medium-sized square and put them in the freezer. On assembly day, transport them to school in a cooler (letting them thaw a little will help it go faster, also giving teams a filled water gun can aid in the thawing as well) and play the song “As Cold as Ice” by Foreigner during the game. Advise teams (the larger the teams, the more there are to help) not to throw them on the floor as this can dent the wood surface of the court, but the first team to get theirs thawed enough to put on one of the team members is the winner. Also consider freezing socks, an apron, a hat and other items for added fun.
- (Your Mascots) Are on Fire - Borrow firefighter equipment such as hats, boots and jackets from your local fire department. In teams of three, have students race to a point, dress up, race back, undress and hand the equipment to the next team member. Include extra accessories such as a heavy fire hose or bucket of water. Throw out some fireball candy to the crowd for added fun.
- Bobble Head Competitions - A fun way to play any game is to order administrators’ pictures onto super-sized enlarged photos, cut them out (attach to form core board to keep them upright), and use a bandana to attach and tie around volunteers’ heads. Use these for races or during musical chairs — or have a dance competition between bobble-headed competitors.
- Can You Build A Snowman - Good for winter pep rallies, each team has four members: one member uses toilet paper to wrap up the “snowperson” and must empty the whole roll. The other two members tape on a construction paper nose, three coal paper buttons and put on a winter hat and gloves (be sure hands are still showing, teams!).
- Sticky Pick Up - Spread competitors around the outside of a room and throw a pack of playing cards all over the floor (or two if needed). Wrap competitors with duct tape — with the sticky side out, of course — and arms taped down. When the horn sounds, participants get on the ground and roll around, trying to pick up as many cards as possible in a given amount of time. If you are worried about damaging the floor, put down a thick fabric tarp first. When time ends, the most cards indicates the winner!
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Relay and Obstacle Races
- Feet First Relay - Select 10-15 players from each grade and give out one football per team (you can also do this with a volleyball or soccer ball). The players lay down on the floor head to toe in a line. When the buzzer sounds, they must pass the ball from one end of the line to the other using only their feet. Up the challenge by switching the type of ball and having them pass it back. Make sure to recruit some helpers to restore balls that get knocked out of play.
- Tennis Ball Transfer - Have two teams of six to eight people. The first player kneels on the ground and picks up a tennis ball between their knees, then must jump to their feet and hop (with the tennis ball still between their knees) down the length of the course to a hula hoop where they deposit the tennis ball (no hands). If they drop the tennis ball, they must start over.
- Dog House - This is a fun relay with several teams of about five people each. Each team must send one person crawling on hands and knees with a clothespin in their mouth and retrieve a doggy biscuit from a dog dish at the other side, picking it up with the clothespin. They crawl back to their team and tag the next person in line. The first team to empty their bowl wins!
- Puppy Races - Another idea along the dog house theme, if you can pull it off: kids love to see critters during the school day, so if you can get it approved by administration, host a puppy race with one animal representing each of the classes.
- Tricycle Races - Who doesn’t like to watch administrators, teachers or large football players try to ride a tiny trike? Set up an obstacle course including cones and using painter’s tape to map out a crazy course for a (literally) little race to the finish. Each class can nominate a rider, and you can provide a few supplies for them to decorate their trike beforehand for some extra competitive spirit!
- Concession Relay - For more food fun, in several boxes on step ladders (high enough students can’t see inside, but can reach in), place bags of allergy-conscious snacks (including some spicy and sour options) and create two to four teams of five or six people (each with a corresponding box). When the horn sounds, the first person runs down and must blindly pick a snack and eat it. They must chew and swallow whatever they pick, then run back and tag the next person in their group; whoever empties their box first is the winner!
Push and Pull
- Scooter Hungry Hippos - For this game, you will need four gym scooters, four small laundry baskets and 16 or so medium-sized activity balls. Each team should have one scooter rider and one to three helpers. Put all balls in the center of a large circle and the four teams stand at four corners. The scooter rider lays stomach down on the scooter holding the laundry basket upside down and their helper holds their legs. When the game begins, the helper holds the scooter rider by the ankles and pushes them into the circle to catch a ball in their basket (like the game Hungry Hippos) and then pulls them back out. The helpers get the ball out of the basket and then the scooter rider and helper go back in to get another ball. The team that snatches up the most is declared the winner.
- Let’s Carry Our Team to Victory - Have four teams with three players each. You will need a sleeping bag for each team, and the two “pullers” tug the “rider” around the gym for several laps on a sleeping bag, with the fastest team (who doesn’t lose their rider on corners!) declared the winner. Genius Tip: Provide bicycle helmets to help the riders protect their noggins.
- Four Team Tug-of-War - Tie two long ropes together in the middle and challenge different sports teams, clubs or teacher groups to a four-way tug-of-war. Make a circle in the middle of your space with painters’ tape to mark off the line that needs to be crossed to defeat the other team.
- Plunger Races - You can present this challenge a number of ways, but hilarity will be the end result! You can either have competitors lay on their stomach and pull themselves along the racecourse with the toilet plungers or have them sit on gym scooters and use the plungers or even lie flat on scooters and plunge along! Add in some sports-related obstacles or traffic cones for an added challenge.
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Variations on Musical Chairs
- Don’t Sit Version - This time when the music stops, each person should remain standing and freeze in place. If anyone wasn't listening and sits down, they are eliminated from this round. Remove same number of chairs as people eliminated. If everyone was listening and no one was eliminated, continue on with another round and another twist (music stops, put your hand on your head). We are so conditioned to sit down when the music stops, it’s harder to remember than you think!
- Musical Clothing - You will need two garbage bags full of equal amounts of old clothes and make two large circles of chairs in the space. Everyone sits with their team and when the music starts, the students pass the garbage bag and when the music stops, whoever is holding the bag puts on as much as they can before the music starts (if they have whatever it is halfway on, then they just stop and pass the bag). The winner is whichever team can empty their bag first. You could also fill it with sports uniforms or crazy accessories and be ready to take team photos at the end!
- Musical Tournament - Instead of a big group game, pick 18-20 teams of two and each have one chair. Start the music and have them go around the chair for several minutes to try to earn the chair. The winners from that group then face off the other winners (when there are odd numbers, throw in a coach or administrator for added fun) until a final musical chairs champ is declared!
- Homecoming Makeover - Gather three or four teams consisting of one girl and one boy pair. Seat one teammate while the other is standing blindfolded. The blindfolded student must then apply makeup to their seated partner to help them get ready for the big game! Audience cheer votes determine the winner. Give out school-themed temporary tattoos or face paint sticks as a prize.
- Crazy Tennis - Hot glue a paint stick to the inside of a car washing sponge. In this simple competition, partners hit balloons back and forth with their makeshift racquets down the length of the course and hit it into a trash can (or to increase difficulty, use a large wad of paper). You can do this as a relay with a team of six taking turns or have one team of two complete the course several times.
- Read My Lips - For this game, you will need noise-cancelling headphones that you can play music on to block out noise. Each team has a whisperer and a guesser (this person wears the headphones). Hasbro has a version of this called “Hearing Things” that includes headphones if you want to go that route. The whisperer mouths a phrase and the guesser, out loud for everyone to hear (microphones are handy for this), tries to guess the phrase. You can make these phrases school-related or sports-related for some pep rally fun!
- Noodles - Place a shortened length of pool noodle between the heads of two partner students (right above the ear). The goal is to keep it there without touching it while completing some assigned tasks like completing an obstacle course (jumping over larger pool noodles, folding a towel together) while still holding the pool noodle in place. It might be fun to have the girls and boys swim teams compete if your school has them!
- All School Plane Competition - Provide plane-making paper to students as they enter the gym for the pep rally. Ask each student to write his or her name on the paper airplane and hold onto it until they are challenged to fly their airplane into large cafeteria trash cans placed along the bleachers. You can have a bigger prize(s) if someone makes it in the can or makes concentric circles around the cans. Mark around the trash cans with painter’s tape so that those that make it close also win a small prize!
- Say it Sweetly - Choose four teams with four participants and give them each a bowl of unwrapped small colorful round candy. The team must spell out a cheer like “Beat the Mustangs” or “Stop the Bobcats,” but the trick is they have to spill out their candy on a large sheet of newsprint and spell it using only their noses to move the candy!
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Silly Team Tournaments
- Crazy Coin Toss - Make a giant-sized novelty coin to flip so it’s easier to see the result. You can either play this as one large team challenge or have two teams going at once. To keep the energy up, you could also do this with several teams as a speed game to see who gets down to one player first. Have everyone stand in a circle around the coin-tosser and put their hands on their heads or their “tail.” Have a coach or administrator toss the coin and if it lands on heads, those with hands on their heads are out and sit down (or vice versa with tails). Everyone remaining again chooses heads or tails again before the coin is tossed and this continues until one winner is left!
- Seated Basketball - Select two teams for this game and set down a chair for each player. You can play this game in several rounds and allow teams to resituate chairs (give them only 30-45 seconds to do this) more strategically after each round. Once placed, they are not allowed to move their chair and must stay seated while passing the ball to their teammates (you might use vests to identify different teams) down the court and try to shoot it into a laundry basket on a table at the end of your playing space. You will need helpers to grab any balls that get dropped and put them back into play.
- Walk the Plank - Use three large appliance boxes to create ships and challenge teams to throw cannonballs (foam balls or ball pit balls) into the ships of their opponents. Create flags with your schools’ teams on them and pit different sports or administrators against each other. You can also do a “swab the deck” competition where teams have to transfer the water from one bucket into another bucket by running back and forth with a large sponge, tiny spoon, or another funny form of transporting water (put down tarps for easy clean-up).
- Let’s Flip the Competition - Place two teams on two large tarps. When the horn sounds, teams are challenged to flip the tarp over without anyone stepping off onto the floor. Add to the challenge by asking teams not to use their hands, feet only! Or even harder, have teams flip their tarp over and then fold it in half, still keeping everyone on the tarp and without using hands.
Pep rallies are a great way to get your school fired up and inspire team spirit in your entire student body. Keep the fun music pumping, the energy high, and use some of these hilarious games to ensure that your next pep rally is a memory-maker for everyone!
Julie David is married to a worship pastor and after 20 years in ministry together with three daughters, she is still developing the tender balance of thick skin and gracious heart. She currently leads a small group of high school junior girls.