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Fun physical education activities for developing social skills

Tem Building activities for developing social skills

Most people are aware of the effects physical activity can have on children’s health. However what most of us don’t understand is how physical education (PE) improves other areas of well-being. Although these areas don’t get as much press they are just as important in developing social skills.

Social and Emotional Well-being

As discussed in Schoolwide Physical Activity, play is an important part of human behaviour. We published an article back in 2014 called Play boosts children’s all round development. It referenced a study suggesting play can help build skills such as problem-solving, risk management and independent learning. While the forms of play change throughout a person’s life, the need for physical activity does not.

There’s evidence to suggest that motor skills used in play and learning early in a child’s life can enhance their ability to participate in activities later (Malina, 1996). Play is a critical component to developing social skills. Therefore PE plays an important role in child social development. Giving children the opportunity to be physical activity gives them chance to develop the social skills they’ll need as adults. Although it’s worth noting, some children, for example those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may find these social aspects difficult as detailed in our recent post, Teaching PE to students with autism, a comprehensive approach.

Studies have also shown that regular physical activity throughout childhood and adolescence can reduce stress and improve self-esteem. PE and sport offer a wonderful platform for creatively integrating these skills in a way that promotes healthy living – physically, socially and emotionally.

Character Building

Throughout Building Character, Community and a Growth Mindset in Physical Education there are several activities which aim to develop character traits in children. These traits can help children become supportive teammates and respectful competitors both on and off the pitch. By developing positive character traits such as self-control, perseverance, patience and compassion children learn to win with dignity and lose with pride. These are also essential for helping children in developing social skills.

The activities featured in the book reinforce the meaning that character traits should be deliberately taught. A student’s understanding is strengthened by repetition of seeing, hearing and feeling the meanings of the traits in fun games and exercises. It’s important to be proactive and encourage students to identify problems that may occur in the activities. By prompting students to think about possible conflicts they are well positioned to deal with such issues in later life.

Below, you’ll find some sample games and activities to try out with your students:

Team Building

As detailed in Essentials of Team Building, team building is seen as one of the best ways to facilitate the skills needed to achieve goals. It’s determined as a way to teach children how to become effective teammates. As students and teams master challenges successfully their self-confidence grows. All students involved in team building have the opportunity to develop their leadership skills. From the start, children may start offering suggestions on how to solve challenges. As well as leadership skills and self-confidence, team building can be a useful tool for building a child’s self-esteem.

Team building to develop children's social skills

Children involved in team building activities

One reason for this is that children are not handed success, but have to earn it. As students progress the challenges become increasingly more difficult. Children should be encouraged to reorganise, try new solutions and support one another to solve the challenges. Struggle and failure make the eventual victories much better. Sometimes students need to fail in order to learn.

Activities Team Building Race and Lean On Me can be used to help develop team building skills with your students.

Featured Titles

Key text for developing social skills

Building Character, Community and a Growth Mindset in Physical Education

Lesson plans and activities for developing social skills

Schoolwide Physical Activity

Team Building activities to develop social skills

Essentials of Teaming Building







You can find more physical education lesson and activities ideas at

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Hi, I’m Hannah, marketing assistant and one of the bloggers here at Human Kinetics Europe. I wasn’t blessed with the coordination to play most sports, but that’s not stopped me becoming a great watcher of them. Particularly when it comes to football! So I’m here to bring you all you need to know about exciting new product releases and the latest in sport, fitness and PE.

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