Space Invaders

Focus Skills: Underhand Throwing

Space Invaders is one of my students favourite games and one of the most effective activities I use to help students master the critical elements of underhand throwing. Check out the game video to see how I bake instruction and assessment into the activity. Also, be sure to check out the FMS Manipulative Skill Posters that I use in this game!

quickrulesicon Quick Rules

Two teams face off against each other. Each team has their own Spaceship area. An Outer Space area (in which there are meteors) separates the two Spaceship areas.

On the teacher’s signal, team attempt to send meteors crashing into the opposing team’s Spaceship. Teams achieve this by making the meteors roll by hitting them with a underhand thrown Space Ball.

The Spaceship that got hit with the fewest meteors wins the round.

buildicon Builds

Build One: Space Towers

Class is divided into 6 teams. Each team has a Space Base (all bases are on one half of the gym and each team is given an Energy Ball (gator ball).

The teacher sets up several Space Towers (hoop, ring, thin pin) on the other half of the gym. The teacher then assigns a Skill Key Card to five of the teams and then sets up at the sixth space base. Teams take a minute to look over and discuss their Skill Key Card.

On the teacher’s signal, the first player of each team moves to a space near the centre line of the gym and, using an underhand throw, attempts to knock over a Space Tower. If they knock a pin over, they get to bring the pin back to their Space Base (along with their Energy Ball). If they don’t they simply retrieve their ball.

Right after their throw, the throwing player looks to their team who acting as Mini-Coaches. If the Mini-Coaches saw the critical element from their space base being demonstrated, they give a thumbs up. If they didn’t they give a thumbs down. Once the throwing player has received feedback, they go retrieve their ball and – if the throw connected – the pin they knocked over. At the Space Base where the teacher is set up, the teacher works with each individual thrower by giving them specific feedback on their performance and helping them set goals for their throw.

Play goes on until all of the Space Tower have been knocked over. Once they have, teams go set them all back up and then rotate to a new Space Base. The build continues until each team has worked at each base and the teacher has been able to provide individual feedback to each student.

Build Two: Power Stations

In this build, the teacher will replace all of the pins with balls of different weights and sizes, which will serve as Power Stations.

Play resumes just as it did before, except that now players are attempting to clear the meteors out of the Power Station pad. Having the having meteors of different weights and sizes provides challenge to the students as they are required to use different amounts of force than they did when attempting to knock over the pins.

Teams attempt to clear as many Power Stations as possible before the end of the round (which is determined by a time limit set by the teacher). At the end of the round, the class comes together to discuss what they have learned so far in regards to throwing a ball underhand with power and accuracy.

Build Three: Space Invaders

In this build, the teacher will assign three teams to one half of the gym and three teams to the other half.  Each team will be given a base area which will be known as their Spaceship. Each Spaceship will be given an equal amount of Energy Balls. The area in between both Spaceships will be Outer Space. The teacher will line up meteors (basketballs placed on rubber rings) along the centre line in Outer Space.

Each team will then assign one Space Walker who is allowed to be in Outer Space. The Space Walkers’ job is to send Energy Balls that are floating in outer space back to their Spaceship. Space Walkers cannot in any way touch the meteors or affect their trajectory.

On the teacher’s signal, each team attempts to hit meteors into the opposing team’s spaceship by sending them flying via an overhand throw. If a meteor hits a teams Space Ship, the teacher collects the meteor and sets it aside (depending on the size of your class, you may want a few helpers to help you with this task). Once the last meteor has hit a Spaceship, the round is over.

tacticalicon Grade Level Outcomes

Throws underhand to a partner or target with reasonable accuracy. (S1.E13.3)

Throws (underhand and overarm) using a mature pattern in non-dynamic environments, with different sizes and types of objects. (S1.E13.5a)

Throws (both underhand and overarm) to a large target with accuracy. (S1.E13.5b)

questionsicon Discussion Questions

What are the important keys of underhand throwing?

Which of the important keys of underhand throwing help you throw the ball with more accuracy?

Which of the important keys of underhand throwing help you throw the ball with more power?

How did you improve your underhand throwing today? How did your teammates improve?

safetyicon Safety Information

Students should wait until the coast is clear before throwing their ball (e.g. no running players or Space Walkers in front of them).

Students throws should always be aimed downwards to avoid accidentally hitting opposing players.

Players should never throw pins.

equipmenticon Equipment Requirements

Underhand Throwing Poster & Skill Key Cards from the FMS Manipulative Skill Posters (Series One) set


Rubber Rings

Thin Pins

Foam Balls



Variety of Balls (soccer ball, basketball, light medicine balls, etc.)