Tossing the Ball (Cree Volleyball Game)

Activity Overview

Participants learn about and practise within a group to send and receive a ball while covering a designated area. This activity is based on a First Nation game played by the Cree that is similar to volleyball.

  • Junior (Ages 10-12)


  • Gymnasium
  • Outdoors

Materials and Equipment

  • 1 ball (e.g., beach ball, soft-skinned ball, volleyball) per group
  • 1 role of tape per group


Inspect the activity area and eliminate potential hazards. Check that the activity surface provides safe traction. Set boundaries for the activity a safe distance from walls and obstacles. Provide a safe distance between activities.

Activity Information

Activity Set-up

  • Divide participants into groups of four.
  • Have participants tape a four quadrant circle to the floor, similar to a Medicine Wheel. In Aboriginal culture, the Medicine Wheel is an important icon that symbolizes the interconnection of all life, the various cycles of nature, and how life represents a circular journey.
  • Have each participant set up in a quadrant of the circle.

Activity Instructions

  • While staying in their quadrants, participants hit the ball back and forth to their group members.
  • The goal as a group is for participants to hit the ball as many times as they can in a row without the ball dropping to the ground or going out of bounds.
  • When the ball is dropped or goes out of bounds, group participants rotate zones and start again. Participants move in a “sun-wise” clockwise direction to represent the aligning with the forces of Nature.
  • The leader asks open-ended questions to help participants refine their movement strategies and tactical solutions during the activity. Examples include: Describe how you could hit the ball so your group member has more of a chance to receive the pass successfully? How can you communicate with other members in your group to be more successful at passing in each section of the medicine wheel? Describe how you can position your body to be ready to receive the ball.
Tossing the Ball (Cree Volleyball Game)


To maximize the challenge and the fun, participants could identify their own ways to increase or decrease the challenge.

To decrease the challenge, participants could:

  • Use throwing and catching.
  • Allow the ball to bounce once before sending it to another group member.
  • Decrease the size of the circle so that each participant has less area to cover.

To increase the challenge, participants could:

  • Use bumping and volleying to hit the ball.
  • Have participants kick the ball to each other.
  • Increase the size of each quadrant so that each participant has more area to cover.
  • Run around the outside of the circle after sending the ball.
  • Add additional challenges to complete when the ball is dropped or goes out of bounds.

Pause for Learning

Throughout the activity, consider highlighting the following skills, concepts, and strategies for effectively sending and receiving a ball while a group covers a designated area. Note that this list is not exhaustive, and further learning opportunities may arise during the task.

Movement Skills and Concepts

  • Manipulation skills and effort awareness: applying a controlled force to send an object to another participant within a designated area (e.g., being able to control the force used when sending a ball to another participant so that they are successful at receiving it)
  • Relationship and spatial awareness: knowing how to move to be successful at sending and receiving an object while playing with other participants (e.g., moving the appropriate body parts to send the ball to another participant within close proximity)

Movement Strategies

  • Tactical awareness: developing an understanding of the principles of play (e.g., knowing where and how to send the ball into another participant’s quadrant so the other participant is successful at receiving it)

First Nations Inspiration

This activity is based on a First Nation game played by the Cree that is similar to volleyball. Traditionally, participants hit a ball around a circle and are eliminated when they miss the ball. This version has been adapted to avoid elimination so that all players have the opportunity to practise and play.