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Foot Fire

Students learn to run on the ball of the foot as they lift and lower feet quickly while standing on a "hot stove"

Tags: elementary school, legs & feet

Objectives Students imagine they are standing on a hot stove, and they must move their feet as quickly as possible. This game teaches body control and promotes running on the balls of the feet with quick turnover.
Standards National Standards for Physical Education (NASPE)
Standard 1
New York State Education Department (NYSED)
Standard 1
Prerequisite Conduct Springy Feet before teaching this lesson to help students get the feel of landing on their midfoot instead of their heel or toe.
Time Required 15 minutes
Materials None required


Prepare for the Activity

Watch the Foot Fire video below to see how the activity is conducted.


Events Play
FootFire_MS-ES ()

Promotes body control, running on the balls of the feet, and quick turnover

Click here to access on Teacher Tube

Introduce the Activity

  • Tell your students the name of the game and its purpose: to see how fast they can get their feet moving. This will help them stay on the balls of their feet and take quicker steps as they run.
  • Explain that they will be running in place, pretending that they are on a hot stove. They’ll have to lift and lower their feet quickly to keep from being burned.
  • You will control the temperature of the stove—and the turnover of your runners’ feet—by calling out “hotter” or “colder” The hotter it gets, the faster their turnover needs to be.
  • When you call out “foot fire” the students need to move their feet as fast as possible, staying at top speed until you turn the temperature down and eventually put out the fire.
  • Demonstrate how you want students to move. Call out “cold” and show students a slow turnover, and then call out “hot” and “hotter” and demonstrate more rapid foot movement.

Conduct the Activity

  1. Have students face you. Then call out a temperature (“cold,” “warm,” “hot,” hotter,” and “foot fire”) to get them in motion.
  2. Switch temperatures every 5-10 seconds and call “foot fire” 2-3 times in a round, which should last about 1-2 minutes. Give them 1-2 minutes of rest between rounds, and do 2-3 rounds.

Assess the Students

What to watch for:

  • Quick feet
  • Feet visibly coming off the ground, but not lifting too high.
  • Feet lifting straight up and down, not kicking backward.
  • Students landing on the balls of their feet. The landing should be soft and quiet, not heavy.
  • Good upright body posture, with heads up. Make sure they're not squatting or leaning forward.
  • Arms swinging in sync with the opposite leg, just as if they were running. If that is too challenging they can let their arms hang at their sides for balance—whichever they're more comfortable with.

Direction cues to share with students:

  • “Quick feet! They are on fire!”
  • “Lift your feet straight up and down, not backwards!”
  • “Land on the balls of your feet, that’s where your springs are!”
  • “Light touches, nice and quiet.”
  • “Head up!”

Note: Only give a student one direction at a time.



When you've completed Foot Fire, talk to your students about their experience with the activity. Here are some sample questions to get you started:

  • Was it harder to control your body and keep good form when the fire was hotter? If so, why?
  • Did your body get tense when you went faster? (Always remember to stay relaxed, even when running fast)
  • Why do you think it's easier to run on the balls of your feet? (Because running on your heels is like putting on the brakes)
  • Will a quicker turnover—that is, when your feet touch the ground more rapidly—affect your speed? If so, how will it affect it? (Quicker turnover generally means faster speed)


  • Split the students into groups of about six. Each group forms its own circle. Designate a person in each group to start the activity for that group; that person will call out a temperature. About 10 seconds later, the student to that person’s right will call out a different temperature. This will continue until everyone has had two chances to call out a temperature.
  • Have the group form a wide circle. Tell the students they should slowly move in toward the middle as the temperature gets hotter. Start the activity by calling out “cold” then “hot” and “hotter,” progressively leading up to “foot fire.” As the students’ foot action gets more and more intense, they move closer toward each other and collapse the circle. When you call out “foot fire” everyone should be in a tight huddle.
  • For younger students, rather than calling out temperatures, say cold, colder, coldest, warm, warmer, warmest, hot, hotter and hottest.

Inclusion Strategies

Classrooms are filled with learners who demonstrate a variety of needs and abilities, including ESL students, those with disabilities, and gifted/talented students. Consider these adaptations as you work to modify the lesson for student success.

  • Encourage partners to listen to each other when doing this activity.
  • Identify a set number of times you want your feet to move quickly (e.g., “Okay this time I want to see 40 quick steps—count for your partner”).
  • Provide adequate instruction on breathing to avoid short and shallow breaths.
  • Demonstrate using specific cues for students with intellectual disabilities. For example, you may have to break down the skill and use arms only, then add legs/feet in a sequence to promote or maintain the proper running form.

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