This game is engaging and requires the children’s attentiveness to messages and fast response. The children must cooperate on quickly helping each other onboard the ship. Cooperation in small groups makes the game motivating.


  1. Define a play area – this is the ocean.
  2. A shark positions itself in the centre of the area.
  3. The other children start on one of the sides of the play area in groups of approx. three children. Each group has a hula hoop – this is the ship.
  4. When the adult shows “Go!”, the children run towards the other side of the play area whilst holding the hula hoop.
  5. When the adult shouts “Shipwreck!”, those holding the hula hoop drop it onto the ground and get into the hoop quickly. The child, who is the shark, tries to catch a child before he or she gets inside the hoop (after the adult has shouted “shipwreck”).
  6. If a child is caught, the shark and child switch roles (the shark becomes a passenger on the ship from which he caught a child). If many children are playing the game, there can be several sharks.
  7. The adult starts the game again by shouting, “Everyone out.” The children then step out of the hoop and continue over the ocean by walking/galloping whilst holding the hula hoop.
  8. The game continues until all the ships have crossed the ocean.
  9. When everyone has got across, the game can continue by, e.g. the ships making a return journey over the ocean or sailing to another location. Now, for example, you can alter which children are together on the different ships.


  • When the children are learning the game, you can start with the ‘ships’ sailing across the play area and gradually, as the game becomes more familiar, increase the pace by running.


  • You can vary how the ship sails across the ocean, e.g. by saying there are large waves and they must move the hula hoops up and down between themselves as they walk/run, or that the ship is zigzagging and they cannot therefore cross the ocean in a straight direction.


Hula hoops


0 - 2 years
3 - 5 years


Large space
Small space

Motor skills

Learning areas

Activity type