Engaging Students with a School-Wide Social-Emotional Learning Event in PE

Are you looking for ideas to help your school with Social-Emotional Learning? Team Challenges might be just what you are looking for! I created Team Challenges as a 3rd-5th grade school-wide event.  The goal of Team Challenges is to promote Social-Emotional Learning through teamwork, and fun, friendly challenges. I organized the event early in the school year to help create a school culture of students that problem solve, think critically, and work with each other to achieve the same goals. The event was set-up like a small field day. I included 12 team building activity stations where classes rotated every 10 minutes. 

Team Challenge Activities:

Using Twitter and other resources, I organized 12 simple tasks for the teams to complete. Before the day of the challenges, the classes practiced each activity in Physical Education class. The role of being a responsible teammate was reviewed using the Colorado State Standards: P.E. S5.3.5.2.a.b.c.d. Exhibit responsible personal and social behavior that respects self and others in physical activity settings. The students identified qualities of a good teammate and how their actions can help or hurt the team.     

The Teacher Responsibilities:

I asked each teacher to assign their students into small groups of 4 of 5 students. The teachers were then asked to stay at one station to be in charge of running and scoring. They were to review the activity before the event and score all teams equally. I might suggest using volunteers, parents, former students, other staff members or university students for this task. If you use volunteers, the teachers can stay with their class to help manage any behaviors.

The Students: 

Once the students were in their teams, they got to create a team name. They were in charge of keeping track of their point book, collecting it and handing it to each teacher at the beginning and end of every station. Their job was to demonstrate their best teamwork qualities and make the day as fun as possible for everyone! 


The scorebook might look a little complicated. To make it easy, the teachers were to assume that the teams earned a 5 unless they saw struggles: The teams were scored on having everyone engaged the whole time, completing the task by the rules (no horseplay), communicating without arguing, cheering, high fives, encouraging others and total times the task was completed (if possible). To help the teachers or volunteers with the scoring process, I suggest creating the scorebooks in different colors and have the teams wear the coordinating color or have stickers that match that color. That way if a team encounters a struggle, it is easy for the teacher or volunteer in charge to document the score in the correct scorebook.

Winning Teams: 

The team with the most points from each class was the winner of the team challenge. These winning teams were awarded two extra P.E. classes. The first class was a time for all of the winners to come play and celebrate. The second extra P.E. class gave the winning team members a chance to be a mentor in a younger grade. They led the primary students in some of the team building activities, making the event a learning experience for the whole school. The younger students really enjoyed having the student leaders in class and they learned a lot from them about how to work together as a team!

Utilizing Resources: 

Another exciting part of the day was the assembly organized in order to give the 3rd-5th grade teachers their plan time. All of the 3-5th grade students were taken to the gym and supervised by me and other non-class room teachers. I utilized a local resource to lead the assembly. Jason Romero, an ultra-runner that is blind, presented to the students about being different and the power of grit. The students connected deeply to Jason’s message: what makes you different is really a super power.


I received great feedback from the teachers and students at my school! I believe this event helped set the tone for a positive social-emotional learning environment school-wide. It was a great advocacy event for the power of Physical Education and how it supports the instruction and development of the whole child. Now it is your turn to challenge yourself. You can run your own Team Challenge Event or a Team Challenge Themed Field Day! Enjoy the challenge!

Related Blogs:
health. moves. minds. field day packet by SHAPE America
5 DIY Field Day Games! by Shannon Jarvis Irwin
5 DIY Projects for the Best Field Day Ever! (Part Two) by Shannon Jarvis Irwin
Promoting Social Justice Through Team Building by Leigh Anderson

Team Building Equipment:

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