Teaching Cooperative Learning and Problem Solving in PE

This year, I changed up how I teach cooperative learning. I started by looking at the main skills I wanted my students to gain.

  1. Listening to others’ ideas
  2. Collaboratively solving problems
  3. Valuing everyone’s voice

I decided the best way to have my students learn and practice these skills wasn’t through the traditional cooperative learning activities. Instead, I began by teaching them a variety of simple games.

  • A four-team Capture the Flag type game
  • A six-team invasion type game
  • A six-team tagging game
  • A four-team knock down the targets game

Throughout these activities, I emphasized the characteristics of a good teammate. This includes reinforcing the skills, listening to others’ ideas, solving problems, and valuing everyone. Learning about the characteristics of a great teammate led us into the Invention Adventure!

Invention Adventure

SturTell Ball Holder

Choice of equipment:

  • SturTee Ball Holders                                           
  • Giant Balls
  • Foam Balls
  • Hoops
  • Pool Noodles
  • Cones
  • GoRings Set

(This is what I used, but you can use whatever you have available.)


  • Work with your partner to create a game to teach to the class.
  • Take turns sharing your ideas and building off each other’s ideas (listen, collaborate, and problem solve).
  • When you have a game you believe is ready, go explain it to the teacher.

Students Teach the Game


When the first pair of students worked out the details of their game, they got up in front of the class and explained it. I helped them with starters, “the set up of this game is…”, “the object of this game is…” Their classmates can ask clarifying questions, “what happens when someone gets tagged?” Then the class played the game for about 4-5 minutes. During this short playtime, a game flaw usually became apparent. For example, it was too hard to hit the target, it was too easy to defend an opponent, etc.

Revising the Game

We then re-grouped and students made suggestions to the game creators. I helped the first few groups frame the discussion with, “First think about what part of the game wasn’t working. For example, it was too hard, it was too easy… Then your comment needs to be a suggestion for solving.”

  • Game creators led this discussion, they called on students for suggestions, and just took them all in. They didn’t try to come to a decision during the discussion.
  • Students could ask clarifying questions. If the Game Creators didn’t know the answer, they said “we will let you know.”
  • Game Creators were given 1-2 minutes to determine how they could revise the game. During this short break, the rest of the class met with their creating parter and discussed their own game inventions.
  • Game Creators instructed the class on the revised game and we played the revised game.

Lesson Objective: Students work cooperatively with others.

  • Listening to others’ ideas
  • Collaboratively solving problems
  • Valuing everyone’s voice

Not only did students get lots of practice on the lesson objective, it was super fun to see how incredibly creative they were! They loved sharing their ideas with the class and seeing their fun games get even better with the suggestions of their classmates. It has taken a little longer than I usually give to cooperative learning activities, but I think it has been worth it. I plan on using their game creations as warm-up activities throughout the year.

How do you teach cooperative learning skills? We’d love to hear about your experiences facilitating student created games. Please share them with us!

One Response

  1. Hello Lynn,
    I hope you are well
    Do you have the lesson plan for a six-team invasion type game or
    a six-team tagging game?

    Thank you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Featured Resources


5 Ways Small Sided Games Make a BIG Impact

Author: Jessica Shawley

The Role of Pedometers in Physical Education

4 Activities to Celebrate Native Heritage Month

Author: Mike Chamberlain

16 Parachute Team Building Activities

Author: Tim Mueller

Motivating Unmotivated Students​

Author: Dr. Robert Pangrazi, Jessica Shawley, and Tim Mueller

Promoting Activity and Success Through Adapted PE

Author: Dr. Robert Pangrazi, Marci Pope and Maria Corte

Bin Ball

Author: Randy Spring



Sign up to receive the latest physical education resources, activities, and more from educational professionals like you straight to your inbox!