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Exercise in Disguise: Fun PE Games and Activities

Picture of Carolyn Temertzoglou

“5 laps around the gym – Go!”

Is this a familiar command you recall when you entered the gymnasium for your Physical Education class in elementary school? Did it make you excited to take part in PE? Or, did it raise anxiety and/or boredom as you dreaded the same old routine to start the PE lesson? If you answered the later, a common response, it may have led to a negative attitude towards physical activity, perhaps even a disengagement in PE because it wasn’t fun , enjoyable, and varied in its approach.

Everyone should be able to associate physical activity as a fun, enjoyable experience and a necessary component of everyday life.

With only 9% of Canadians kids aged 5 to 17 achieving 60 minutes of heart pumping exercise daily, and similar statistics in the United States, we need to change the way we get kids moving in PE and throughout the school day through fun games and activities. ( ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth, 2015 )

Have you ever thought about “ gamifying” your approach to teaching fundamental movement skills , personal fitness, and interpersonal skills? Developing more movement vocabulary and physical literacy opens up a gateway to active participation for life.

To “ gamify ” something means to turn an activity or task, such as physical activity, into a game or something resembling a game; usually making the activity more interesting. Here is an example gamifying a common paper and pencil game such as Tic Tac Toe into a dynamic warm up for a PE lesson.

Tic Tac Toe Relay

This game combines components of fitness such as speed, agility, cardiovascular fitness and problem solving skills. See video example!

Tic Tac Toe Relay Fun PE Game

Games in Physical Education

Games permeate every aspect of school PE and can be used as warm-ups or modified instructional tools, as well as taught as complex activities. They enable students of all ages and abilities to achieve a range of core competencies of a quality Health and Physical Education program. Through games students can:

  • Actively participate in sustained moderate to vigorous physical activity according their abilities and readiness level.
  • Demonstrate responsibility for their own safety and the safety of others.
  • Develop a range of movement skills (e.g., stability, locomotion and manipulative), concepts (e.g., body and spatial awareness) and strategies (e.g., rules and boundaries, conventions of fair play) to acquire movement competence and increased physical literacy
  • Develop personal, interpersonal skills and use critical thinking and problem solving skills.

If games are taught well, students can improve their fitness, learn new skills, cooperate with teammates and challenge their intellect by solving problems of strategy and tactics. If games are taught poorly, students may learn that winning is everything and cheating is a viable strategy.

No doubt, the use of games can increase fun and student enjoyment in PE. Consider planning instruction of games with intent . Create guiding question(s) to frame the learning in a game/activity.

  • “Why do games have rules?” Ask yourself this if you want to emphasize conventions of fair play, structures of games.
  • “What makes a good team player?” Ask yourself this if you want to emphasize interpersonal skills and teambuilding skills.
  • “What skills from this activity can I transfer to another game or sport environment? ” Ask yourself this if you want to emphasize the development of movement competence and personal fitness.

Rubber chickens for fun PE games

Useful Tip: Use novelty type equipment such as a rubber critters or throton, both are non-sport specific throwing objects. This can create a more inclusive learning environment and engage students of all readiness levels and skills to begin with, before progressing into more complex activities.

Here are some fun PE games to get you started:

Everybody is it.

At the start of the game everyone is it and every player tries to tag another player while trying not to be tagged. If tagged, players have to perform a task (e.g., choice of 5 stride jumps, 5 push-ups, 5 sit-ups, 5 tuck jumps) and then return to the game. If players tag each other at the same time both perform a task. Continue for several minutes of fun and movement!

Triangle Tag

Improves agility and coordination.

Triangle tag fun PE games

Builders and Boulders with Gopher’s ACTION! Topple Tubes

Scatter 20-30 topple tubes (or cones) around the playing area in no particular order or color pattern. Divide the class into 2 teams. On the signal, players race to flip their team’s color to the top. If playing with cones players either race to flip the cones to standing upright (builders) or flip cones on their side (bulldozers). Players must only use their hands to flip the tubes or cones, not their feet. Play the game for a period of time and declare the winning team with the most standing tubes in its color “up” or the cones in the assigned position.

Check out Gopher’s full selection of ACTION! Team Games! These games are designed to be action-packed, class oriented, teacher friendly, inclusive, and incorporate national standards!

  • Flying Chicken Baseball – develops interpersonal skills and game sense for striking and fielding games.
  • Code Breaker – a team circuit game by Thompson Educational Publishing.
  • Minute to Win It – a fun circuit that appeals to students who love competition by Thompson Educational Publishing.
  • Rock, Paper, Scissors Games – a fun baseball favorite and more from CIRA Ontario.

What fun games and activities are in your “PE tool kit” and why?

Be sure to check out my next blog in June featuring a fun filled game called Kin-Ball . It’s a game that emphasizes teamwork and develops movement vocabulary such as hand eye coordination, manipulative skills and spatial awareness, all in one!


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problem solving pe games

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Featured Resources

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The PE Specialist

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Awesome Resources for Physical Education Teachers

PE Games: Pass the Frog

PE Games: Pass the Frog

Pass the Frog

This is a great teambuilding activity or icebreaker that you can play with your Physical Education classes.  I’ve used it with Kindergarten through 5th grade and even with adults.

It’s easy to setup because of the low equipment and there are tons of variations and ways to play to make it appropriate for different age groups.

Check out the video below for an example of one way to play the game:

Don’t have time for the video?  Let’s review the basics below: 

To work together with your team to get the frog around the circle as quickly as possible using the designated body part.

  • You may only use the designated body part to pass the frog
  • If the frog ever touches the ground you must start over
  • If someone uses a body part other than the designated body part you must start over
  • If you make it around successfully your team will advance to the next level
  • LEVEL 1 – Use only your hands
  • LEVEL 2 – Use only your elbows
  • Note: This isn’t shown in the video, but I add this level in for my 3rd – 5th graders
  • LEVEL 4 – Use only your feet ( Here’s an example )


  • Level 3 – first go around with hands, then with elbows then with knees (three times around the circle total).  If it drops start over.

And that’s it! Simple, easy and low setup.  You can make up your own levels if you want – get creative and have fun!

Download the game sheet below if you’d like

Have fun and teach on.

problem solving pe games

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Reader Interactions

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August 25, 2023 at 10:51 pm

Looks like fun! Getting your icebreakers from tpt!

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August 28, 2023 at 3:42 pm

Thanks Julie!

Glad you’re enjoying the resources!

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March 4, 2021 at 10:09 am

Ke’ Mira Ta Vaha

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June 21, 2020 at 6:04 am

June 26, 2020 at 8:51 am

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March 9, 2020 at 12:58 pm

Thanks for your ideas!

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March 9, 2020 at 7:44 pm

Sure thing – glad they’re helpful!

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January 8, 2020 at 9:23 am

I really enjoy teaching the games you post and my students do as well. What is the cost for joining….we are a Canadian school and would like to be members of this great community.

January 13, 2020 at 5:06 pm

Awesome, glad to hear your enjoying it! You can get more info on our membership program on our info page below:

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October 31, 2018 at 4:50 pm

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January 4, 2018 at 11:49 am

Used this activity with my Adapted PE students at the high school level and they loved it!! I added some upward extensions and some other challenges but it was a hit. Thanks Ben! You rock!

January 8, 2018 at 6:05 pm

Love it! SO pumped it worked for you

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June 14, 2017 at 4:24 pm

What teambuilding skill would categorize this skill as?

June 21, 2017 at 10:55 am

I think you could take your pick of what you want to focus on Communication, Cooperation, Empathy, Group Focus, Giving and Receiving Feedback…

Whatever you think the most relevant thing to your kids would be – it also depends on how the activity goes, you might see some things you want to highlight that are different for each group of students

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April 24, 2017 at 3:13 am

Really nice idea! Thanks for sharing

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August 30, 2016 at 5:23 pm

We played the Hula Hut Relay with my students this year and they created level 6. One class said that only one person should go thru the double hula hut while another class said the whole team should go thru the hula hut to complete the level. I am sure you have come up with this idea already but had to share with you the excitement that my students had in creating level 6!

Thanks for sharing ideas!

August 30, 2016 at 8:11 pm

That’s awesome! My 5th did the same thing last week, great minds think alike.

I also mashed 4 teams into 2 and let them do triple hula huts racing against each other.

Thanks for sharing

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August 30, 2016 at 10:42 am

Hey there. I enjoy your site and your ideas. Can you share what app you use to blur kiddos faces in video?? I have one that does pictures only. Thanks.

August 30, 2016 at 3:49 pm

Sure, I edit video with Final Cut Pro X, it has a blur effect feature

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Early Impact Learning

28 Best PE Games With Absolutely No Equipment

P.E. lessons can be a bit daunting at times. All that equipment to organize and worry about. Yuck!

Then there are the safety aspects to consider. Eek!

The good news is, there are plenty of simple P.E. games that you can use with no equipment!

The Ultimate List of PE Games With No Equipment

Whether you need ideas for Kindergarten PE games, or PE games for preschool this list will spark the creativity you need for gym class or at home!

I’ve been teaching in early education for the best part of 20 years now, and in that time I’ve come up with a full armory of the very best PE games WITH NO EQUIPMENT! Woop!

Table of Contents

That’s right! Just a group of children are enough to create many games and have plenty of fun.

All you need are a good space and plenty of energy, so let’s go!

PE class with no equipment

1. Stop And Go Bubbles

Practice drawing a great big pretend bubble with your finger in the air.

Reach up as high as you can and reach down as low as you can. Really reach all the way around you.

If you can reach and touch anyone else with our moving your feet you are too close to move away and make sure you are in your own space.

Stretch out in your bubble to make sure you can’t touch anyone else’s just in case you should burst their bubble.

Ask the children to move like a bubble and float around the space. How freeing and mindful this bit is!

When you tell them to stop, make sure their bubble is in a good space so that no one can burst it.

2.Extra Sensory Perception (ESP)

This is a brilliant pairs game, that is good as a warm-up or as a fun game on it’s own!.

What you do is invent three movements and demonstrate them to the group.

Once you’ve played it a couple of times, the kids can come up with their own ideas.

Three examples of moves could be:

  • Doing star jumps
  • Doing Jazz hands
  • Jumping a 360 spin on the spot

Then everyone gets a partner.

The true challenge now is to activate your ESP, which (as pretty much all kids seem to know), is your Extra-Sensory Perception. Simply put, this is the ability to read your partner’s mind (which is very exciting).

Everyone displays one of the three moves at the same time. You want to do the move that you think your partner will do.

Do the same move? Woo woo! You activated your ESP.

Different move? Just try again.

Keep going for a few goes, before changing partners to see if your ESP works better or worse on other people.

As well as being a great PE activity, I often use this as a circle time game in class. This is one of the favorite games from my book 101 Circle Time Games…That Actually Work!

problem solving pe games

This book contains all the very best mindfulness circle games, active circle games, math games, literacy circle games, and so much more! You can check out the book here.

3. Foxes And Hares

Once the children have got a good understanding of space, and they can stop and start on your command, there are lots of fun PE games you can introduce.

Foxes and hares is a classic chase game .

Aim of the game: To catch all the hares of course!

About a fifth of the children should be foxes. So if you are playing with 10 children, 2 children can be foxes. 

The hares move around the space by hopping. To hop, they should move both feet together and then put two hands together on the floor, just like a rabbit or a hare moves in bunny hops.

The foxes also move on four legs (hands and feet) but they should be quicker as they are less restricted.

To catch a hare, simply touch them (gently, please! No fox attacks).

When all the Hares are caught by the foxes, the game is over and you start a new game with a new group of foxes.

4. Trains and Tunnels

This is a similar version to the game above. There are always loads of train enthusiasts among pretty much any age of children, so this game is always a winner.

Choose a few children to be the trains. 

Explain that the rest of the children are tunnels. They should make a tunnel by putting both their hands and feet on the floor and arching their back as high as they can to make a high tunnel with their body. 

The trains should run around the space until you shout Whoo Whoo.

At the sound of the train whistle, they should crawl through as many of the tunnels as they can. 

When a train has been through a tunnel, the tunnel is released and becomes a train. 

Keep playing until all the tunnels are trains. 

This is a fun game for pairs.

One child is the leader, the other is their shadow.

Explain how your shadow does exactly what you do. It follows you everywhere, and your movements are identical.

As the leaders move around the space, the shadow follows and copies exactly what they do.

Encourage the children to use different levels of movement.

  • Roll on the floor
  • Move on your hands and knees
  • Move on one or two feet

Encourage them to use different speeds of movement

  • Move slowly and gracefully
  • Move quickly and craftily

Encourage them to use different balances

  • Balance on one foot
  • Balance on all fours
  • Balance on two feet and one hand

Remember to swap over so that both children have a chance to be the leader. 

6. Good Toes Naughty Toes

This is another simple listening game requiring no equipment and it can be played as an indoor and outdoor game.

There are two instructions that the children are going to listen out for. Those are:

Good toes – They should stand completely still with their feet together

Naughty toes – They should dance around wildly using the space and not bumping into anyone else. (Music can be used if you want to)

This game is all about freedom and expression!

Good toes naughty toes game

7. Noisy Running!

This is possibly my all-time favorite mindful PE game.

This is best done outside in a large space.

The idea is that the children are going to move and make noises at the same time. The volume of the sound they make will be directly linked to how fast they move.

Start by all humming very faintly, and walking really slowly.

Then try a fast walk, and raise the volume of the sound coming out of everyone’s mouth.

Then try light jogging, with a medium noise – aaaaahh – coming from everyone’s mouth, about the volume of talking.

Keep getting faster and increasing the volume! When you are running at full pelt, you will also be yelling as loud as possible – AHHHHH!

I like to do this activity in a structured way to introduce it and mix up the speeds/volumes for a while.

But then, for a couple of minutes, let the children ‘freestyle’. They choose their speeds and volumes and race around.

This activity is all about mindfulness , and experiencing a sense of freedom and liberation from inhibitions!

8. Floating!

Another mindful PE activity here.

Get the children to stand in a space and close their eyes. Then you are going to help them to visualize that they are transforming into something that floats or flies!

It could be:

Let’s imagine we start with the balloon.

Tell the children to visualize they are slowly changing into a balloon. Their skin is becoming colored rubber. And now someone is blowing them up, and they are getting lighter and lighter, and larger and larger.

Then, tell them they are fully inflated.

The children open their eyes, and now they are going to imagine they are floating like balloons around the space!

Off they go – billowing and wafting in the breeze.

After a couple of minutes, you can try transforming into feathers or eagles.

9.  Be The Teacher

This is a good way for children to start to think about the quality of their movements in PE class.

Work in pairs again. One child should be the teacher. 

Explain that as the teacher, they have to help their pupil make the best quality moves and shapes that they possibly can.

It depends on what kind of moves you are working on, but I like to do this with gym moves.

Try moves like:

  • Forward roll
  • 360 jump rotation

Ask one child to demonstrate the move, and the other child should help them to make it perfect.

Encourage the children to be kind and helpful. For example, they might say things like:

Tuck your head in a bit more.

Can you straighten your legs even more?

Can you reach up taller?

Ask them to use lots of praise if they spot some good quality movements and make sure they tell their partner what they are doing well.

Don’t forget to swap so that everyone has a go at being the teacher.

10. Make A Shape

Put the children in groups of 4 or 5 and give them the challenge of working as a team to make a shape.

Explain that they can work on the floor, lying down or standing up, as long as the shape is clear.

Begin with the basic shapes of:

circle, triangle, square rectangle

Build up to more difficult shapes like:

stars, hexagons, ovals, rhombus, or octagon

11. Body Letters And Numbers

You can extend this from shapes to letters of the alphabet or numbers.

Simply ask the children to make a letter by working together to get into the shape. This is a good activity for team building as they will have to work together and everybody is needed. 

12. Dance Like No-One’s Watching

Dancing is good for you for so many reasons. It’s a workout for the whole body, it encourages you to keep a beat and keep in time with music, and most of all, it’s fun.

It’s good for the soul, so put some happy upbeat music on and encourage some free dancing.

Clap your hands, wiggle your hips, wave your arms. Have fun!!

13.  Heart Monitors

It’s important for children to know that exercising makes changes to our bodies so that they aren’t frightened by the changes and they understand what is happening to them. 

This is a nice activity to explain those changes so that the children understand that it is perfectly normal.

Count down one minute of any kind of high-intensity exercise, for example:

  • Fast running on the spot with high knees 
  • Tuck jumps with both feet together
  • Pretending to skip on the spot as fast as you can
  • Burpees (lay down then jump up)

Really encourage the children to put lots of effort in here.

When the minute is up, encourage the children to put their hands on their hearts and feel it beating.

If they’ve put enough effort in, it should be pounding. Ask them to feel their forehead – it should be at least warm, if not hot and sweaty. 

Notice how fast their breathing is when they stop. They should be out of puff.

With older children, you could ask them to take their own pulse before and after exercising and see how much their pulse rate has increased. 

14. Eight Dance!

This is a great dancing game for kids of all ages.

Put some pumping music on to get everyone going!

Then pick some kind of action or dance move, and everyone does it eight times to the music while also counting at the same time – ‘1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8!’

So, you might do eight star-jumps while counting. Or eight big marches on the spot.

Then shout out a new action, and start that, keeping the counting going throughout.

Some other good dances/actions could be:

  • Arms up arms down
  • Punch the air with one arm, then the other
  • Arms wide, arms across your body
  • Walking in place

For the older ones, the emphasis is on the movement. But for younger kids, this is also a great rote counting activity.

15. Animal Copy Cat

One child will be the leader in this game. This is the ‘cat’ that the others will try to copy.

The leader is going to pretend to move like an animal. Everyone else will copy!

For example, they might move like a monkey. They will stoop low, and swing their arms like a monkey. Everyone copies!

After a while, the leader will change the animal. They might pretend to be an elephant!

The trick is for everyone to watch for the transition and try to copy.

The leader can mix things up as quickly or slowly as they like.

16. Animal Freeze!

This is a variation of the animal copycat game above with a bit of music added.

Once again, have a leader that is going to pretend to be different animals that the others copy.

Put on some music, and the kids move around like the animal that the leader is demonstrating.

The adult will pause the music at any given moment. The children must then freeze in their best animal pose! It’s a bit like musical statues at this point. Anyone that moves could be out! (Or you can just play the non-competitive version where everyone gets to carry on each time).

17. Transformers

Wow – transformers are one of the most exciting things on the planet for many kids.

And this game really taps into this enthusiasm.

The kids are all now shape-shifting transformers. They can transform in the blink of an eye into many different types of vehicles, and move around the space like them.

Some good vehicles to try include:

  • Train – with ‘chugging’ arms and lots of tooting!
  • Helicopter – arms as rotas spinning over your head
  • Racing cars – running around as fast as possible!
  • Plane – Lots of swooping and soaring
  • Monster trucks – Be as big and wide as you can

18. Mr Men/Little Miss Game

The idea of this is that the kids pretend to be some of the characters out of the Mr. Men and Little Miss books.

Some good ones to try include:

Mr. Grumpy – stamp around the room with your angriest face

Mr. Tall – Stretch up and walk as tall as you can

Mr. Bump – Go round bumping into walls and imaginary objects (though not other people)

Little Miss Tiny – Curl up like a tiny weeny ball

Lots of modeling of movements work well for this game – both from the adult and skillful children.

19. Child-Friendly Yoga

I find yoga is most effective with children when they can readily understand that the pose they are doing is mimicking something.

Some great poses that mimic things that children know are:

Household Yoga

In this, the kids mimic everyday actions in the house. It could be sweeping the floor, or washing the pots.

Lie on your front, with your hands flat on the floor next to your face.

Push upwards until your arms are straight, your chest is off the floor, and your back is arched.

This stretches the back and abdomen.

A young girl doing a seal yoga pose

Giraffe Pose

Stand with one foot in front of the other.

Reach up high with both hands (this being the giraffe’s neck.) Then slowly bend down, and touch your leading foot with both hands.

Then slowly return to the original position.

Young girl doing a giraffe yoga pose

Turtle Pose

Lie on your back. Pull your knees into your chest so that you form a ball shape. Slowly rock backward and forwards.

Your curved back forms the turtle’s ‘shell’.

20. Bean Game

This is one of those all-time classics that I thought I should include on this list.

The children pretend to be types of beans, each of which has its own separate movement.

Model two or three bean movements to start off with, have a practice, and then all play the game. Add more bean movements when the children get more confident.

The adult simply calls out a bean name, and the children move in that way.

The beans and associate movements are:

Sprouting bean  – Walk around on your tip-toes, with your arms stretched as high above you as possible

Baked bean  – Sit down on the floor

Broad bean  – Try to be as wide as possible! Walk around like this

Beans on toast  – Lie down on the floor

Chilli bean  – Shiver! This is a ‘pun’ on the word ‘chilli/chilly’ (obviously!)

Jelly bean  – Wibble and wobble!

Runner bean  – Run around like crazy

French bean  – Say, ‘Bonjour!

When you’ve played a few times, a child could potentially become the leader of this game.

21. Action Stories

This is a really good way of combining storytelling, listening, and action!

The adult makes up a story, and the children act it out.

After you’ve done it a few times, a confident child might well be able to lead this.

You want to have lots of active characters in the story, such as stamping giants, witches on broomsticks, unicorns galloping, and all that kind of thing.

As well as that, it’s good to have lots of action, such as terrible storms blowing, landslides, sinking sand, and all the rest of it.

The kids act all of these things out.

A sample start of a story might go:

‘One day the giant went stamping off through the forest. A terrible wind began to blow. The trees were swaying from side to side. Suddenly a unicorn came galloping into the forest to save the giant…’

I’m sure you get the picture!

22. Traffic Lights

Here’s another absolute classic of the repertoire!

In this, the children will pretend to be cars, and the adult gives different verbal instructions that the cars respond to.

The easiest way to play the game is to have three simple instructions that correspond to the colors of a traffic light:

Green  – Go! Jog around the space

Red  – Stop still

Yellow  – Walk on the spot, ready to go

Start easy, but you can always add more elements to the game when they are ready. Some other verbal cues include:

Honk the horn  – A noisy one, this! Go round tooting!

Roundabout  – Jog around in a narrow circle

Parking Lot (or car-park)  – Lie down on the floor

Freeway  – Run as fast as you can

23. Fox and Chickens

This is a variation of a basic tag game .

The idea is to mix up the game by incorporating a theme that the children are interested in.

So, you could have a fox catching chicken by tagging them. Or one of the following:

  • A shark catching fishes
  • A bird catching worms
  • Or a witch catching children

Anything you think the children will respond to is fine.

24. HIIT Session

Here is a simple idea, that is great for fitness for all ages.

You have a structured sequence of activities that you perform together. Spend about thirty seconds on each movement, with a fifteen-second break.

Some simple moves include:

  • Reach up, reach down
  • Jumping like a frog
  • Jumping in place
  • Reach to one side, reach to other

For older or more skillful children, you can try some of these:

You can do one round of the activities or even two or three reps!

25. Simon Says Active Version

Of course, you all know the basic idea of Simon Says .

But it works really well in PE sessions if you make the moves super-active!

So, rather than ‘Simon says touch your nose’ kind of instructions, you want to think more along the lines of ‘Simon says crawl like snakes across the floor!’

Some other good examples might be:

‘Simon says wade through the muddy swamp.’

‘Simon says climb the rope ladder.’

‘Simon says run like a cheetah on all fours!’

26. Captain’s Coming

This is another game that is donkey’s old, but children love it generation after generation.

All the kids pretend to be on a boat. The adult gives orders to the ‘crew’.

These include:

Scrub the deck  – Get on hands and knees and start scrubbing the floor!

Swim to shore  – Use a powerful front crawl to move around the space

Into the hammock  – Lie down on the floor

Lift the cannonballs  – Lift up those super heavy cannonballs, and load them into the cannon!

Row the boat  – Row!

Captain’s coming  – Salute!

27.Melting Moments

This is a visualization and mindfulness game that is great as a warm-down.

The children are going to be imagining that they are something that melts. For example, they could be:

-A chocolate bar

-An ice-cube

Let’s imagine we go for ‘snowman’. Tell the children to stand in a space and then close their eyes.

Tell them to imagine that they are transforming into a snowman. They can feel their freezing cold body, their carrot nose, and coal for their eyes.

But now the hot sun has come out. You can feel the warmth on your face!

Feel how the snow is melting your body. Water is starting to drip down the snowman.

Imagine you are shrinking! You are getting lower to the ground! And finally, you are a steaming puddle lying on the floor.

(Ask the children to lie down and imagine this!)

28. Figures Of Eight

This is a good game to use as a warm-down.

The basic idea is that the kids stand in a space, and they are going to form a large figure 8 in the air with different parts of their bodies.

Start with their finger, but then move on to using their:

Warming Up And Cooling Down

To warm-up before PE Class or a fun activity at home, I like to play some music with a good steady beat and perform some repetitive actions for the children to copy. I make sure I warm up my arms, shoulders, feet, legs, hips, and neck. 

To cool down after PE games, try some nice long stretches for all the different body parts. I always like to finish a cool-down with some big deep breaths. Scoop up some air, stretch up and hold it above your head and then blow it away as you release your arms back down to your sides. 

Not Just Good For Physical Learning

One of the biggest benefits of daily physical activity is that children’s behavior improves as well as their overall confidence and independence. Check out this study on tracking of physical activity into into adulhood for more information on the benefits of PE Games .

Now that’s something worth trying for.

Good luck if you try out any of these fun PE games!

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Taken part in a range of PE games and activities. Followed simple instructions and applied rules. Worked collaboratively as a pair and in a small group. Used and applied simple diagrams with pictures and symbols.

Work with others to solve problems. Describe their work and use different strategies to solve problems. Lead others and be led. Differentiate between when a task is competitive and when it is collaborative.

  • to use clear communication, strength and flexibility to complete a task.
  • to work with others to complete map-reading tasks.
  • to draw and create a clear route on a map for others to follow.
  • to work with others and identify what went well and what we could do to improve.
  • to use the outside of the foot to control the ball and dribble.
  • to safely take part in trust-based activities.
  • What does trust mean?
  • How did you work together to decide on the layout of your station?
  • Do the symbols give us any clues as to what real-life object/area they might represent?

Variety of ropes, hoops, bean bags, a range of sports equipment, teaching resource cards, soft balls, bibs/bands.

Maps, diagrams, scale, symbols, orienteering, controls, challenges, problem-solving, lead, follow, plan, trust.

To problem solve, you need to think through possible problems before arriving at a solution. Children should take on the point of view of every team member.

Head – Use acquired skills to create maps and directions.

Hand – Perform with strength, stamina and endurance in more physical tasks.

Heart – Can work with others to solve problems.

Lesson Overview

  • Show working as part of a team
  • Communicate to solve problems
  • To use strength and flexibility to complete a task

We are learning: to use clear communication, strength and flexibility to complete a task

Activity:  Assessment for learning task.

  • To identify basic symbols on a map
  • To complete tasks using symbols and maps
  • To work with others to complete simple map reading tasks

We are learning: to work with others to complete map-reading tasks

Activity:  Colour cards and symbol challenge

  • Confidently read and follow a basic map
  • Create a route on a map for others to use
  • Work independently and as part of a team

We are learning: to draw and create a clear route on a map for others to follow

Activity:  Follow a map and design a route on a map

  • Respond to problems in a group situation
  • Identify what worked well and what they need to improve when working as a group
  • Play competitively and fairly

We are learning: to work with others and identify what went well and what we could do to improve

Activity: Tag ball, shark-infested water and all aboard

  • Identify what they need to do to complete a challenge
  • Participate safely, considering others
  • Confidently work closely with others

We are learning: to identify and explain what is required to complete a variety of challenges

Activity:  Alphabet and bridge game, circle hoop and hands challenge

  • Lead and be led by others
  • Take part in trust-based activities
  • Know what they must do to participate safely

We are learning: to safely take part in trust-based activities

Activity:  Pairs blindfold games, sheep herding game

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9 Activity Ideas for STEM in Physical Education

  • Lauren Chiangpradit
  • November 16, 2023
  • Reviewed by Sean Barton
  • Reviewed by Haley MacLean

Table of Contents

The Synergy of Movement and Learning

Physical education stem activities for elementary school, stem activities for middle school pe students, advanced stem challenges for high school learners, tech, tools, and resources for stem in physical education.

Integrating STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) into Physical Education (PE) classes offers an innovative approach to education. In an era where sports statistics, science, and technology increasingly influence athletics, PE classes are uniquely positioned to blend physical activity with STEM learning and 21st century skills. This article explores how PE educators and facilitators can use STEM learning in their coursework. It also provides a range of curriculum activity ideas to get students at different education and skill levels engaged.

Research indicates that physical activity can significantly bolster cognitive abilities. When students participate in movement-based learning, they benefit physically and experience enhanced concentration, memory, and creativity. This cognitive boost is crucial for comprehending and applying STEM concepts, which often demand high levels of problem-solving and critical thinking. Active learning, where students engage in physical activities while learning STEM concepts, results in more profound understanding and retention of information. Integrating physical and mental challenges not only makes learning more enjoyable, but is more effective, as students apply theoretical concepts in practical settings, leading to better comprehension and recall.

Integrating STEM into elementary physical education presents a fantastic opportunity to lay the foundation for lifelong learning and curiosity in young students. Through these innovative activities, elementary school children can explore and understand key STEM concepts while engaging in fun and physical play. Each activity is designed to be not only educational but highly interactive and suitable for their developmental stage. Here are some engaging activities that blend physical education with STEM learning for elementary students:

  • Jump and Measure: Students perform a variety of jumps – like the long jump and high jump – and measure their distances or heights. This activity introduces basic concepts of measurement and physics, encouraging students to understand how force and motion play a role in their physical activities.
  • Geometry with Body Movements: In this activity, children use their bodies to create geometric shapes, either individually or in groups. It’s an engaging way for students to learn about basic geometry, spatial awareness, and symmetry. Teachers can challenge students to form complex shapes, enhancing their understanding and teamwork skills.
  • STEM Soccer : In a lesson devoted to measuring throw-ins, students collect data in centimeters and convert their data to meters dividing by 100. Students then evaluate measurement systems to decide the best measurement size. This disguised learning,  interactive lesson is a great way for physical education teachers to add STEM into their PE classes.
  • Weather and Exercise: Students observe and record weather patterns over a week and discuss how different weather conditions affect physical activities. This integrates meteorology into PE, allowing students to see the real-world application of science in their everyday activities.
  • Heart Rate Exploration: After engaging in various exercises, students measure their heart rates to learn about the cardiovascular system and the science behind exercise. This activity not only educates them about their bodies, but about the importance of physical fitness in maintaining health.
  • Playground Physics: Utilizing playground equipment, this activity allows students to explore concepts like gravity, force, and motion. They can experience firsthand how these physical laws impact their play and movements, turning the playground into a living laboratory.

As students enter middle school, their capacity for more complex and abstract thinking grows significantly. This developmental stage is an ideal time to introduce more intricate STEM concepts through physical education, enhancing their learning experience with practical applications. The following STEM activities are tailored for middle school students, offering a blend of intellectual challenge and physical engagement. These activities are designed to pique students’ curiosity in STEM fields through the familiar and enjoyable medium of sports and physical exercises. By participating in these activities, students not only deepen their understanding of STEM concepts, but learn valuable lessons in teamwork, problem-solving, and the practical application of classroom knowledge to real-world scenarios. Here’s a look at some stimulating and educational STEM activities for middle school PE:

  • Sports Statistics Analysis: Students gather and analyze sports statistics from games or physical activities. This teaches them about data collection, interpretation, and the importance of statistics in understanding and improving athletic performance.
  • STEM Football: During a lesson in STEM Football, students collect and graph data of a controlled experiment by using a line graph. Students then explain the relationship between kinetic energy and mass by writing a claim evidence supported by evidence-based reasoning from class data. This lesson highlights the strong classroom connection between physical education and STEM learning, and how it can help create tangible examples for students.
  • Energy and Movement: This activity focuses on the concept of kinetic and potential energy in the context of sports. Students explore how energy is transferred and transformed during different physical activities, such as running, jumping, or throwing a ball.
  • Biomechanics of Sports: Here, students delve into the study of human movement and mechanics in various sports. They learn about the science behind athletic performance, injury prevention , and how athletes optimize their movements for maximum efficiency and safety.
  • Mathletics Relay: A relay race where each leg involves solving a math problem before passing the baton. This combines physical fitness with mathematical skills, emphasizing quick thinking and teamwork.
  • Technology in Sports Training: Students explore how technology is increasingly used in sports training and performance analysis. They might look at wearable tech, video analysis software, or other tools that help athletes improve their skills and coaches to make informed decisions.

High school students, with their advanced cognitive skills and heightened interests, are well-positioned to tackle complex STEM challenges through physical education. This section of the curriculum is designed to offer high school learners in-depth, hands-on experiences that combine higher-level STEM concepts with physical activities and sports. These advanced activities are not just about physical exertion; they require students to engage in critical thinking, problem-solving, and creative innovation. They provide an opportunity for students to see the real-world applications of the STEM knowledge they acquire in their classrooms, bridging the gap between theoretical learning and practical implementation. By participating in these activities, high school students can gain a deeper understanding of various STEM fields, such as physics, engineering, biotechnology, and environmental science, observing how these disciplines intersect with sports and physical fitness. Here are some challenging and intellectually stimulating STEM activities designed for high school learners:

  • Physics of Sports Equipment Design: Students research and discuss the physics principles involved in the design of sports equipment. This can include topics like material science, aerodynamics, and ergonomics, providing insights into how equipment is optimized for performance and safety.
  • Engineering a Miniature Golf Course: Students design and construct a miniature golf course, applying concepts of geometry, physics, and design. This project not only involves creativity, but a practical application of STEM principles by creating functional and enjoyable mini-golf holes.
  • Sports Analytics Project: Students undertake a project to analyze a sports game using statistical methods and tools. This activity introduces them to data science in sports, teaching them how to interpret and use data to understand game strategies and player performance.
  • Biotechnology in Athletics: This topic explores how biotechnology is used in sports, from equipment design to performance enhancement techniques. Students might study material innovations, genetic research in athletics, or the ethical implications of biotechnology in sports.
  • Environmental Science in Outdoor Sports: Students analyze how environmental factors impact outdoor sports activities. They can study topics like climate change, pollution, and natural terrain, understanding the interplay between sports and the environment.
  • Virtual Reality Sports Training: Students explore how VR technology is being used for skill development, strategy training, and injury rehabilitation in various sports by discussing the emerging role of virtual reality in sports.

Bringing STEM into PE classes effectively requires the right resources, including technology tools, educational kits, and comprehensive guides. Resources like the STEM Sports® kits provide ready-to-use activities that seamlessly blend physical education with STEM learning. These kits offer an invaluable resource for teachers looking to enrich their curriculum and engage K-8 students through a cross-curricular learning approach. For additional resources, tools, and innovative ideas, please visit STEM Sports® .

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Team-building & problem-solving activities, build better teams.

Group problem-solving activities, or team-building initiatives, provide an opportunity for group members to effectively communicate, cooperate and interact with each other to solve a problem that often has more than one ‘answer.’

These activities often stimulate significant growth for a group, especially if their  experience is processed upon completion. Group problem-solving exercises typically feature the following characteristics:

  • Ample opportunities for group members to interact, play, trust and learn
  • High levels of challenge, arousal and excitement
  • Opportunities for trust, leadership, communication and group cooperation to evolve
  • Often focused more on the process , not just completion of the task.

5 Fun Problem-Solving Activities

playmeo features dozens of wonderful group problem-solving activities which not only develop critical team skills but are contagiously fun to be a part of, including:

  • Mute Line Up
  • Leaning Tower of Feetza
  • Great Egg Drop
  • Stepping Stones
  • Flip Over Ten

What To Do Now

Experiential trainer and author  Mark Collard , and many of playmeo’s partners , offer outstanding professional development and team-building workshops all over Australia, the United States and south-east Asia. Contact us for more information.

Or, continue to browse our growing library of group initiatives, games and activities .

When you’re ready, sign-up for one of our popular membership plans to unlock all of our premium content including step-by-step instructions, video tutorials, variations and program templates.

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Problem Solving Games, Activities & Exercises for Adults

By: Angela Robinson | Updated: February 13, 2024

Here is our list of the best problem solving games, activities and exercises for adults.

Problem solving games are activities that require players to use critical thinking skills to solve puzzles. Example activities include escape rooms, Sudoku, and murder mysteries. The purpose of these exercises is to sharpen reasoning and decision-making skills in group settings and to do team building with employees.

These activities are a subset of remote team games , found in problem solving books , and are similar to team puzzles , team building brain teasers and team riddles .


This article contains:

  • team building problem solving activities for employees
  • free problem solving games for adults
  • virtual problem solving activities for students
  • group problem solving activities
  • problem solving team builders

Here we go!

List of problem solving games & activities

From word and number puzzles to role-playing games, here is a list of inexpensive and free problem solving team builders that help groups practice the art of critical thinking and compromise.

1. Espionage! (Team Favorite)

espionage banner

For an exciting game of social deduction, check out Espionage! This thrilling experience will put your team’s wits and instincts to the test.

Espionage! offers the following:

  • a 90-minute session led by an experienced host
  • undercover teams of agents and spies
  • challenging puzzles, tasks, and maneuvers
  • team conversations to help uncover secret identities

The best part is we will bring all the necessary game materials to your preferred location. If you are interested in boosting communication and critical-thinking skills within your team, then consider Espionage!

Learn more about Espionage!

2. Art Heist: The Vanishing of Van Gogh (Hosted)

problem solving pe games

You can turn your team into skilled detectives with Art Heist: The Vanishing of Van Gogh! In this captivating mystery, participants will locate the stolen artwork, The Bedroom .

Key features of this experience include:

  • a 90-minute adventure led by a world-class host
  • detailed puzzles, clues, and mysteries to unravel
  • trails of evidence and hidden secrets
  • group discussions to find the art

Additionally, you can include a cocktail kit to spice up your event. Through Art Heist, you will enhance your team’s ingenuity and problem-solving skills!

Learn more about Art Heist: The Vanishing of Van Gogh .

Get our free team building toolbox

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3. War of the Wizards (Popular)

war of the wizards banner

With War of the Wizards, teams roleplay as minions of powerful wizards to vanquish forces of evil. Participants will play thrilling games and go on a quest to restore harmony to the realm!

War of the Wizards offers the following:

  • a 90-minute journey guided by a distinguished host
  • immersive storytelling that transports players into a magical realm
  • engaging activities like world-building, role-playing games, and storytelling
  • opportunities for forming alliances, facing challenges, and going on quests

Through the power of imagination and teamwork, your team can overcome tasks and participate in an epic fantasy battle. To improve communication and bonds, include War of the Wizards in your agenda!

Learn more about War of the Wizards .

Sudoku is one of the most popular free problem solving games for adults. The objective of this game is to fill each box of a 9×9 grid so that every row, column, and letter contains each number from one to nine. The puzzle makes a great team challenge. To play Sudoku on Zoom, screen share the game board. Then, turn on the annotation features. Using the add text functions, participants can fill in the numbers on the grid.

We made a starter puzzle you can use in your next meeting or virtual team bonding session:

Sudoku game-board

Here are more online Sudoku puzzles .

5. Crossword puzzles

Crossword puzzles are word games that ask players to fill in words based on clues. Words interconnect, and players must think critically about the surrounding words to select the right phrase for the space.

You can use an online crossword puzzle maker to create a custom puzzle. Here are a few themes you may want to consider:

  • teammates’ tastes and interests
  • company knowledge and history
  • industry terms and trends

Or, create a miscellaneous puzzle just for fun.

We made a sample puzzle you can use for your game:

free crossword template

To complete puzzles during online meetings, you can use the share screen function and add text through annotations.

Or, subscribers can play the New York Times’ daily crossword puzzle virtually . also offers a free daily online crossword puzzle .

Check out more vocabulary games .

6. Online Escape Rooms

Escape rooms are timed games that get groups working together to solve puzzles. Traditionally, players enter a locked room and must complete all puzzles in an hour or two to unlock the door. However, groups can also play escape rooms online.

Digital escape rooms typically come in one of two forms: in a Zoom room and led by a host, or in a choose-your-own adventure format via Google Forms or websites. To play escape rooms virtually, enter a video meeting and follow the prompts, or screen share the Google Form and work out the puzzles together.

Check out our full list of online escape rooms .

7. Murder Mysteries

Murder Mysteries are story-based games that ask players to take on the roles of suspects or detectives while trying to identify a killer. These games often involve reading lines from a script, searching for clues, and occasionally solving puzzles to get hints.

These games make participants pay attention to conversations, analyze other characters’ behavior, and search for hidden meaning in the script. Players must use their powers of observation and logic to unravel the mystery.

Check out our list of Zoom murder mystery games .

8. Treasure Hunts

Treasure hunts are scavenger hunts with intention. While virtual scavenger hunts often ask players to collect random items, treasure hunts require participants to locate clues that lead to other prompts and hints. The game typically ends with players finding a treasure or solving a mystery, sometimes both.

The treasure hunt can have a specific theme such as secret agent missions or a hunt for pirate treasure, or you can run a more general hunt. Teammates can either compete simultaneously via Zoom call, or can play the hunt on an app individually and compete to beat each other’s scores.

Check out our list of treasure hunt apps .

9. Poem or story challenge

Most team building problem solving activities for employees revolve around science, math, and logic. Poem/story challenges rely on writing skills and are sure to appeal to the language lovers on your team.

Each player receives a limited word bank to use to create a story or poem. Then, players have a few minutes to craft their pieces. Afterward, everyone reads out or screen shares their creations.

Here are a few word challenge activities you can do remotely:

  • Found poems or stories : Participants make poems or stories out of words they find by visiting websites, searching emails, glancing out the window, or taking a walk or drive around the neighborhood.
  • Random word generators : Teammates use a random word generator to populate a word bank, and must use each word in the poem or story.
  • Poetry magnets : Group members make poems using poetry magnets. You can send poetry magnet sets to employees and assemble the verses on a cookie pan during a Zoom call. Or, teammates can play with poetry magnets online .
  • Page poems: Participants receive one page of a book or magazine, and must make a poem or story by blocking out other words so only the chosen text remains visible. This activity is part storytelling, part art, since story crafters can illustrate the pages as part of the design.
  • Ransom note stories or poems : Players cut out letters from magazines and must form new words to make poems and stories. Or, players can receive a mix of random letters, form words, and run the text through a ransom note generator .

These activities are suitable for teams and individual players.

10. Moral challenge

Some problems are ethical rather than factual. Moral judgment plays just as important a role in the decision-making process as technical prowess. Players can flex their moral problem-solving skills by tackling ethical dilemmas or social puzzles.

Here are some social problem solving games online:

  • Moral machine
  • Scruples – the game of moral dilemmas
  • Morality play

To play these games, either download the apps, or pull up the website and then screen share the prompts. These games are best played when discussed as a group, because the more belief systems and opinions, the harder an issue is to resolve. These exercises provide practice for real-life conflict resolution.

You can find similar challenges on our list of online personality tests .

11. Frostbite

Frostbite is a group game that hones team leaders’ communication skills while sharpening teammates’ listening and cooperation skills. The premise behind the game is that a group of explorers gets caught in a snowstorm and must build a shelter. Frostbite has paralyzed the leaders’ hands and snow-blinded the rest of the team. The leader must give the team instructions to build a tent that can resist arctic winds.

To play Frostbite, each teammate wears a blindfold. Then, the leader gives directions. Once the structures are complete, players turn on a fan to test whether tents can withstand the wind.

Frostbite is usually an in-person game, however you can also play virtually. In the remote version of the game, teammates construct tents out of cards and tape, while the leader surveys the scene on screen.

This exercise demonstrates the challenges of leading remotely, as teams need to operate with minimal oversight or supervisor observation. Therefore, instructions need to be clear and direct to be effective.

Check out more team building games .

12. Virtual Hackathons

Hackathons are events where participants have a set amount of time to design and pitch a new product or solution. This type of event originated in the programming world and is often used to create new apps, however you can apply the game to any industry or school subject.

Virtual hackathons are online versions of the event. Teams enter the competition, then work with each other via virtual meeting software or remote work communication platforms to design the solution. At the end of the competition, teams pitch ideas to a panel of judges and a winner is decided.

To run a virtual hackathon, first announce the theme of the event and collect sign-ups. So that no teams work ahead, hint at the general idea of the issue, and only explain the precise problem when the event begins. Then, give teams anywhere from a few hours to a few days to complete the project.

Discover more virtual hackathon ideas .

13. Improv games

Improv games are excellent problem solving activities. These exercises force participants to think and respond quickly to keep scenes moving in a logical and entertaining way.

Here are some good problem solving improv games:

Banned words : Performers cannot say certain words. Scene partners will conceive of situations that encourage the actors to use those words, and the actors must find alternatives, such as using synonyms or taking the scene in a new direction.

Scenes from a chat : Audience gives a suggestion for a scene, and players act the scene out. Though it’s a fictional and often ridiculous scenario, actors must react to the situation and solve the problem in order for the scene to end.

Miracle cure : Miracle cure is a quick-moving exercise that follows a simple format. One player declares, “I have a problem.” Another player responds, “I have a….[random object.]” The first player then replies, “great! I can use the [random object] to….” and describes how they will solve the problem.

Check out more problem-solving improv games .

14. Spaghetti Tower

The spaghetti tower is a classic team building game. Participants gather uncooked spaghetti and marshmallows, and must construct the tallest freestanding tower.

During the in-person version, players must construct one tall freestanding tower. However, for the virtual version of the game, players construct individual towers. You can send groups to breakout rooms for the build, then reconvene in the main room for judging. Teams are judged on three main factors: number of towers, height, and uniformity.

This version of the game not only tests the structural integrity of the tower, but also consistency and quality control. This exercise teaches teams to align and collaborate remotely, and produce a consistent product even when far apart.

15. What Would You Do?

What Would You Do? is a simple situational game that challenges participants to react to different circumstances. To play this game, read prompts one by one, and then ask participants to respond with gameplans. You can use the polling or raise hand feature to vote for the best option.

Here are some problem solving scenarios for adults or kids to use in the game:

  • Zombies attack and you have to find a place to hide.
  • You are at the zoo and the animals escape. Which one do you try to corral back into the pen first?
  • After waiting in line for hours, someone cuts in front of you last minute. The person appears to be visually and hearing impaired, and doesn’t notice your protests. An official announces that due to diminishing supply, this individual will be the last in line to be served.
  • You are eating a meal with important clients and/or your partner’s parents, and you want to impress. The individuals make you a dish that does not fit within your dietary restrictions, but you do not speak the same language and cannot explain why you do not want to eat.
  • An imposter has infiltrated the organization, who looks, speaks, and behaves exactly like you. How do you convince your peers that you are the original?

For similar dilemmas, check out this list of Would You Rather? questions.

16. Desert Island Survival

Desert Island Survival is a game that challenges players to prioritize. The premise is that players have been stranded on an island, and must decide what order to perform survival steps.

Here are the possible actions:

  • Set up shelter
  • Explore the island
  • Try to signal for help
  • Make weapons for self-defense
  • Build a raft to escape the island
  • Start a fire
  • Choose a group leader
  • Search for other survivors

All group members must agree on the order of the steps. Players should explain the reasoning for the order of each step while ranking the actions.

Another version of the game involves players receiving a list of 15 to 20 items, and selecting five or so to bring to the island. You can also vary the location of the game, substituting remote islands for destinations like outer space or the distant past.

17. Choose Your Own Adventure

Choose Your Own Adventure stories enable readers to determine the outcome of the story by making decisions. Each action has a consequence that takes the tale in a different direction. Participants can try to guess how the story may unfold by talking through the different choices. When completing the activity in a group setting, the majority of the team must agree on an action before moving forward in the story.

There are a few ways to facilitate these activities online:

  • Play an online role playing video game
  • Watch an interactive movie like Black Mirror: Bandersnatch
  • Read from a Choose Your Own Adventure book on Zoom
  • Click through a Choose Your Own Adventure platform
  • Create your own story using a Google Form

Whichever way you choose to do the exercise, you can use the screen share feature in your virtual meeting software so that listeners can more easily follow along.

18. MacGyver

MacGyver is a show where the hero escapes sticky situations by improvising tools out of unlikely materials. For example, in one episode the hero makes a telescope out of a newspaper, magnifying lens, and a watch crystal.

To play MacGyver, you can either list three to five objects participants can use, or challenge players to use items that are within arms reach.

Simply state a desired end result, such as “a way to open a locked door,” or “a getaway vehicle,” and then ask teams to explain what they will build and how they will build it. To make the activity more collaborative, you can give teams five or ten minutes in breakout rooms to strategize and design a prototype.

19. Dungeons & Dragons

Dungeons & Dragons is a roleplaying game where players pretend to be magical figures and creatures. One player serves as the dungeon master, who guides the game, while the other players pick characters and make decisions to move the story forward. Upon choosing a course of action, players roll a twenty-sided die to determine whether or not the plan succeeds. The game is story-based, the possibilities are nearly limitless, and truly creative problem solving options arise. Also, since gameplay is mostly verbal, Dungeons & Dragons is an easy activity to do over Zoom.

Here are the basic rules for Dungeons & Dragons .

20. Pandemic

Pandemic is a game that pits players against the forces of nature in a race to contain and control disease outbreaks. At the beginning of the game, each player receives a role such as containment specialist or operations expert. Participants must carry out the duties of their roles by choosing appropriate actions. Pandemic is a great game for groups because each team member has a clear part to play, and players must collaborate and work together instead of competing against each other.

To play the game online, you can use a Pandemic game app , or talk through the exercise while one attendee moves and displays pieces on the board.

Note: The subject of this game might hit too close to home for some players, considering recent history. You can find games with similar mechanics that deal with different subject matter, such as Forbidden Island.

Check out more team building board games .

21. Model UN

Model UN is one of the best virtual problem solving activities for students. This exercise casts participants in the role of international diplomats who must negotiate to solve realistic problems. Each player assumes the role of a country ambassador and must form alliances and propose solutions to solve crises.

Here are some sample Model UN scenarios:

  • Human rights violation by powerful country
  • Food shortage
  • Disease epidemic
  • Technology privacy violations
  • Civil war branching into surrounding countries
  • Natural disasters

Depending on the size of the group, participants either take on the part of an entire government of a country, or play a certain role within the government. To carry out the activity on Zoom, players can take turns giving speeches, message other countries privately via the chat, meet in breakout rooms to form alliances or have more intimate discussions, and use the polling feature to vote on propositions.

If politics does not resonate with your group, then you can alter the exercise by applying the same activity structure to a different theme, such as the Justice League, movie characters, business board members, or reality TV stars.

The main purpose of the exercise is to research, talk through problems, and compromise. As long as these elements are present, then the specifics of the setup do not matter.

There are many types of problem solving activities for adults. You can do online problem solving games, which require a different skill set than in-person problem solving. For instance, communication must be much clearer and more abundant when group members are far apart and unable to demonstrate or pick up physical cues.

Though many problem solving games include props and in-person elements, there are many games you can play together online. These exercises work well as educational tools as well as team bonding accelerators. Upon completion, participants are likely to feel a sense of accomplishment and increased confidence. These games are also great practice for real life conflict resolution, creative thinking and team building.

Next check out this list of connection games , this collection of crime-solving games , and this post with conflict resolution games .

We also have a list of the best decision making books and a list of team building problems for work .

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FAQ: Problem solving activities

Here are common answers to questions about group problem solving activities.

What are problem solving games?

Problem solving games are challenges that ask players to think critically and use logic to overcome issues or answer riddles. Examples include sudoku, murder mysteries, and spaghetti towers. These games are also known as “problem solving exercises”, “problem and solution games” and “group problem solving activities.”

What are the best problem solving games for groups?

The best problem solving games for groups include online escape rooms, moral challenges, and improv games.

What are some good problem solving team building activities for students?

Some good problem solving activities for students include crossword puzzles, choose your own adventure stories, and model UN.

How do you play problem solving games online?

The best way to play problem solving games online is to join a video call meeting to talk through the issue. Using the screen sharing and digital whiteboard features helps participants visualize the problem more clearly. Breakout rooms give teams the chance to discuss the issue more intimately.

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Top 15 Problem-Solving Activities for Your Team to Master

May 27, 2022 - 10 min read

Brianna Hansen

Some people see problems as roadblocks, others see them as opportunities! Problem-solving activities are a great way to get to know how members of your team work, both individually and together. It’s important to teach your team strategies to help them quickly overcome obstacles in the way of achieving project goals.

In this article, you’ll explore 15 problem-solving activities designed to enhance collaboration and creativity. Additionally, if you want to discuss the insights and outcomes with your team after the activities, you can use Wrike’s actionable meeting notes template. This template allows you to record meeting discussions, assign action items, and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

The importance of problem-solving skills in today’s workplace

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According to a 2019  report by McKinsey , soft skills are increasingly important in today's world — and problem-solving is the top area in which skills are lacking. A company or team’s success weighs heavily on the willingness of managers to help employees improve their problem-solving abilities. Team building activities targeting focus areas like communication and collaboration, adaptability, or strengthening decision-making techniques help.

All problem-solving processes start with identifying the problem. Next, the team must assess potential courses of action and choose the best way to tackle the problem. This requires a deep understanding of your team and its core strengths. A problem-solving exercise or game helps identify those strengths and builds problem-solving skills and strategies while having fun with your team.

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Problem-solving games aren't for just any team. Participants must have an open mind and accept all ideas and solutions . They must also have an Agile mindset and embrace different structures, planning, and processes. Problems usually arise when we least expect them, so there's no better way to prepare than to encourage agility and flexibility.

Another aspect to keep in mind when engaging in problem-solving games and activities: There are no winners or losers. Sure, some games might end with a single winner, but the true goal of these exercises is to learn how to work together as a team to develop an Agile mindset. The winning team of each game should share their strategies and thought processes at the end of the exercise to help everyone learn.

Here’s a list of fun problem-solving activity examples to try with your team. From blindfolds to raw eggs, these problem-solving, team-building activities will have your team solving problems faster than Scooby and the gang.

Classic team-building, problem-solving activities

1. a shrinking vessel.

Helps with: Adaptability

Why adaptability is important for problem-solving: Adaptability is highly associated with cognitive diversity, which helps teams solve problems faster , according to the Harvard Business Review. Innovation and disruption are happening faster than ever before . People, teams, and organizations that can adapt will come out on top.

What you’ll need:

  • A rope or string


1. Using the rope, make a shape on the floor everyone can fit into.

2. Slowly shrink the space over 10-15 minutes.

3. Work together to figure out how to keep everyone within the shrinking boundaries.

2. Marshmallow Spaghetti Tower

Helps with: Collaboration

Why collaboration is important for problem-solving: “Collectively, we can be more insightful, more intelligent than we can possibly be individually,” writes Peter Senge in The Fifth Discipline . We can solve problems better as a team than we can alone, which means developing your team’s collaboration skills will lead to better problem-solving outcomes.

What you’ll need (per team):

  • 20 sticks of uncooked spaghetti
  • 1 roll of masking tape
  • 1 yard of string
  • 1 marshmallow

1. The goal of this exercise is to see which team can use the materials provided to build the tallest tower within an allotted time period. The tower must be able to stand on its own.

2. To make this exercise more challenging, try adding a marshmallow to the top of the tower. This team problem-solving exercise helps people think on their toes while building camaraderie and leadership.

3. Egg Drop

Helps with: Collaboration, decision-making

Why decision-making is important for problem-solving: Making decisions isn’t easy , but indecision leads to team paralysis, stagnant thinking, and unsolved problems. Decision-making activities help your team practice making quick, effective choices. Train your team’s decision-making muscles and they will become more adept at problem-solving.

  • A carton of eggs
  • Basic construction materials such as newspapers, straws, tape, plastic wrap, balloons, rubber bands, popsicle sticks, etc., tarp, or drop cloth
  • A parking lot, or some other place you don’t mind getting messy!

1. Each team gets an egg and must select from the construction materials.

2. Give everyone 20-30 minutes to construct a carrier for the egg and protect it from breaking.

3. Drop each egg carrier off a ledge (i.e. over a balcony) and see whose carrier protects the egg from breaking.

4. If multiple eggs survive, keep increasing the height until only one egg is left.

4. Stranded

Helps with: Communication, decision-making

Why communication is important for problem-solving: More employees work remotely than ever before. Good communication skills are vital to solving problems across  virtual teams . Working on communication skills while your team is together will help them solve problems more effectively when they’re apart.

Here's the setting: Your team has been stranded in the office. The doors are locked, and knocking down the doors or breaking the windows is not an option. Give your team 30 minutes to decide on ten items in the office they need for survival and rank them in order of importance. The goal of the game is to have everyone agree on the ten items and their rankings in 30 minutes.

Creative problem-solving activities

Helps with: Communication

What you'll need:

1. Divide everyone into small teams of two or more.

2. Select an overseer who isn't on a team to build a random structure using Lego building blocks within ten minutes.

3. The other teams must replicate the structure exactly (including size and color) within 15 minutes. However, only one member from each group may look at the original structure. They must figure out how to communicate the size, color, and shape of the original structure to their team.

4. If this is too easy, add a rule that the member who can see the original structure can't touch the new structure.

  • A lockable room
  • 5-10 puzzles or clues (depending on how much time you want to spend on the game)

1. The goal of this exercise is to solve the clues, find the key, and escape a locked room within the time allotted.

2. Hide the key and a list of clues around the room.

3. Gather the team into the empty room and "lock" the door.

4. Give them 30 minutes to an hour to find the key using the clues hidden around the room.

7. Frostbite

Helps with: Decision-making, adaptability

  • A blindfold
  • 1 packet of construction materials (such as card stock, toothpicks, rubber bands, and sticky notes) for each team
  • An electric fan

Instructions:  Your employees are Arctic explorers adventuring across an icy tundra! Separate them into teams of four or five and have them select a leader to guide their exploration. Each team must build a shelter from the materials provided before the storm hits in 30 minutes. However, both the team leader’s hands have frostbite, so they can’t physically help construct the shelter, and the rest of the team has snow blindness and is unable to see. When the 30 minutes is up, turn on the fan and see which shelter can withstand the high winds of the storm.

8. Minefield

  • An empty room or hallway
  • A collection of common office items

1. Place the items (boxes, chairs, water bottles, bags, etc.) around the room so there's no clear path from one end of the room to the other.

2. Divide your team into pairs and blindfold one person on the team.

3. The other must verbally guide that person from one end of the room to the other, avoiding the "mines."

4. The partner who is not blindfolded can't touch the other.

5. If you want to make the activity more challenging, have all the pairs go simultaneously so teams must find ways to strategically communicate with each other.

9. Blind Formations

1. Have the group put on blindfolds and form a large circle.

2. Tie two ends of a rope together and lay it in a circle in the middle of the group, close enough so each person can reach down and touch it.

3. Instruct the group to communicate to create a shape with the rope — a square, triangle, rectangle, etc.

4. If you have a very large group, divide them into teams and provide a rope for each team. Let them compete to see who forms a particular shape quickest.

Quick and easy problem-solving activities

10. line up blind.

1. Blindfold everyone and whisper a number to each person, beginning with one.

2. Tell them to line up in numerical order without talking.

3. Instead of giving them a number, you could also have them line up numerically by height, age, birthday, etc.

11. Reverse Pyramid

Helps with: Adaptability, collaboration

1. Have everyone stand in a pyramid shape, horizontally.

2. Ask them to flip the base and the apex of the pyramid moving only three people.

3. This quick exercise works best when smaller groups compete to see who can reverse the pyramid the fastest.

12. Move It!

  • Chalk, rope, tape, or paper (something to mark a space)

1. Divide your group into two teams and line them up front to back, facing each other.

2. Using the chalk, tape, rope, or paper (depending on the playing surface), mark a square space for each person to stand on. Leave one extra empty space between the two facing rows.

3. The goal is for the two facing lines of players to switch places.

4. Place these restrictions on movement:

  • Only one person may move at a time.
  • A person may not move around anyone facing the same direction.
  • No one may not move backward.
  • A person may not move around more than one person on the other team at a time.

13. Human Knot

1. Have everyone stand in a circle, and ask each person to hold hands with two people who aren’t directly next to them.

2. When everyone is tangled together, ask them to untangle the knot and form a perfect circle — without letting go of anyone's hand.

Our last two problem-solving activities work best when dealing with an actual problem:

14. Dumbest Idea First

Helps with: Instant problem-solving

1. "Dumb" ideas are sometimes the best ideas. Ask everyone to think of the absolute dumbest possible solution to the problem at hand.

2. After you have a long list, look through it and see which ones might not be as dumb as you think.

3. Brainstorm your solutions in Wrike. It's free and everyone can start collaborating instantly!

15. What Would X Do

1. Have everyone pretend they're someone famous.

2. Each person must approach the problem as if they were their chosen famous person. What options would they consider? How would they handle it?

3. This allows everyone to consider solutions they might not have thought of originally.

Looking for more team-building and virtual meeting games? Check out these virtual icebreaker games or our  Ultimate Guide to Team Building Activities that Don't Suck.

Additional resources on problem-solving activities

  • Problem-Solving Model : Looking for a model to provide a problem-solving structure? This detailed guide gives you the tools to quickly solve any problem.
  • The Simplex Process:  Popularized by Min Basadur's book, The Power of Innovation , the Simplex Process provides training and techniques for each problem-solving stage. It helps frame problem-solving as a continuous cycle, rather than a “one and done” process.
  • Fun Problem-Solving Activities and Games : Looking for more ideas? Check out this list of interesting and creative problem-solving activities for adults and kids!
  • The Secret to Better Problem-Solving:  This article provides tips, use cases, and fresh examples to help you become a whiz at solving the toughest problems.

How to organize problem-solving activities with Wrike

If you want to make problem-solving activities more effective, consider using team collaboration software such as Wrike. 

Wrike’s pre-built actionable meeting notes template helps you keep track of meeting discussions, assign action items, and keep everyone in the loop. It’s an effective tool to streamline your problem-solving sessions and turn insights into real projects.

Brianna Hansen

Brianna Hansen

Brianna is a former Content Marketing Manager of Wrike. When she’s not writing about collaboration and team building games, you’ll find her in the kitchen testing out the latest recipes, sharing her favorite wine with friends, or playing with her two cats.

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7 Teamwork Terrors and How to Conquer Them

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Since the dawn of man, teamwork and cooperation has been the preferred method of getting things done. From the pyramids of Giza to the Golden Gate Bridge, we rely heavily on teams of engineers and architects to create such majestic masterpieces. However, where there is teamwork, there is work required to be a team. Too many voices and conflicting opinions can lead to a giant headache and bring productivity to a grinding halt. Throw in egos, politics, and laziness and you've got a recipe for disaster. Here are 7 barriers that harm the harmony of your team: 1. Anchoring Have you ever been part of a group brainstorming session where, once two or three ideas have been shared, new ideas stop flowing and the group sort of shuts down? That’s anchoring. Teams get mentally stuck on the first few ideas and stop thinking of new solutions. Avoid the anchoring trap with these 7 brainstorming tricks, including brain writing. Be sure to keep all types of workers in mind with team building exercises for remote workers, so everyone feels included in the creative conversation. 2. Groupthink This teamwork barrier occurs when a majority of the group conforms to one idea despite their own concerns and insights, perhaps due to laziness, fear of judgement, time limitations, or being subjected to peer pressure from other members of the group. Because this is another common brainstorming risk, techniques like Stepladder and Round Robin brainstorming encourage everyone in the group to share their thoughts before settling on a course of action. 3. Social Loafing "If I don't get around to it, then someone on my team will just do it for me." If you've said this to yourself, then you're guilty of social loafing. Don't pat your lazy self on the back quite yet, you might have just cost your team some valuable productivity! Social loafing is the act of putting in less effort for a team project than you would for a solo task. This forces other team members to pick up the slack and possibility grow to resent you. One way to avoid this is by breaking a project into individual tasks and holding each team member accountable for certain steps. See how Wrike can help you assign tasks and delegate big projects. 4. Unresolvable Conflict Even the most successful teams sometimes experience conflict due to differences in opinion, perspectives, and experiences. However, if there is no way to resolve the conflict, then conflict harms your project's outcome. Unresolvable conflict can be caused by unclear goals and expectations for the project at hand, so avoid it by clearly communicating goals with the team and helping everyone understand their role. 5. Confirmation Bias Confirmation bias is the tendency to only accept information or evidence that confirms your own preconceptions. This bias can quickly become a roadblock when trying to iron out team conflict or justify a decision, and it can potentially lead to the Halo/Horn Effect (see below) and compromise good decision-making. To ward off this bias, challenge your beliefs and play devil's advocate. The Six Thinking Hats technique can also help you see a different perspective on the issue. 6. Halo/Horn Effect The way you perceive an individual strongly affects how you interact with them. If they made a poor first impression, or an offhand comment rubbed you the wrong way, you may have a subconscious bias against them. When that individual voices an opinion, you might automatically be more critical than you normally would. This can work to the opposite effect too. When someone you like shares their opinion, you might have a tendency to agree. When making big team decisions, try to be aware of this bias and focus on the best outcome for the team. 7. Overconfidence Effect Your perceptions and experiences inevitably shape who you are — but they can also lead to subtle mental biases that result in flawed decision making. The Overconfidence Effect happens when you accept or reject an idea based purely off a hunch with no evidence to back you up. (In fact, studies show that entrepreneurs are more likely to fall for this mental fallacy, rejecting others' ideas because of the false belief that they know what's best.) Don't fall for this mental trap! Always research new information and seek objective evidence to combat confirmation bias (and hopefully learn something new as well). What other teamwork barriers have you experienced? We'd love to hear how you resolved your teamwork troubles in the comments!

13 Awesome Team-Building Games (Infographic)

13 Awesome Team-Building Games (Infographic)

Whether you want to do new hire orientation icebreakers or just bond your team closer together, check out our list of awesome team building games that you and your team will want to play over and over again.

6 Different Team Effectiveness Models to Understand Your Team Better

6 Different Team Effectiveness Models to Understand Your Team Better

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Our ideas were created in the classroom (gymnasium) and have been tested on real children! The PE activities and games which we have included are aimed at children in Elementary (Primary) and Lower Secondary School. The majority of activities can be adapted for all ages. We have also created Active Reading Comprehensions allowing you to take English Literacy and Reading lessons to PE.

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  1. PDF The PE Cooperative Games and Problem Solving Activities

    activities that combine the eye-hand coordination skills with cooperation and problem solving. Fortunately, most activities in PE require cooperation. At least, if the group is going to be successful at any activities, they need to use the same skills in every activity that was used in the group initiative/cooperative/problem solving activities.

  2. PE Games: Cross The River

    The classroom teachers enjoy watching the kids use teamwork and attempt to be the first group to "cross the river". If you want specifics and a more detailed list of ideas, strategies and variations - you can download my lesson plan for free below: Free - Cross the River Lesson Plan. It's so fun watching kids complete a challenge for ...

  3. Teaching Cooperative Learning and Problem Solving in PE

    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.

  4. PE Games: 5 Fun Games to Disguise Exercise!

    Everybody Is It. At the start of the game everyone is it and every player tries to tag another player while trying not to be tagged. If tagged, players have to perform a task (e.g., choice of 5 stride jumps, 5 push-ups, 5 sit-ups, 5 tuck jumps) and then return to the game. If players tag each other at the same time both perform a task.

  5. The PE Shed

    The PE Game Ideas section provides you with Physical Education resources which will help you to plan PE Warm Up Games, PE Tag Games, PE Thinking Games, and PE Coordination Games. Within each section you will find a whole range of different games which will excite and challenge your students. Each PE Game outlines what equipment is required, how ...

  6. Team Building and Cooperative Games

    In these 11 challenges we will look at some fun and interesting team building and cooperative games to do with your students.For these challenges you will ne...

  7. The PE Shed

    The PE Thinking Games section provides you with Physical Education resources which will help you to plan PE Thinking Strategy Games. Each PE Game outlines what equipment is required, how to set the game up, how to play the game and how to differentiate the game.

  8. Physical Education: PE Central's Cooperative Physical Education Activities

    PE Central exists to assist teachers and other adults in helping children become physically active and healthy for a lifetime. Many physical educators are incorporating activities into their programs that engage students in problem solving activities. Below are ideas that PE Central has published along with other resources that may be helpful. ...

  9. PE Games: Pass the Frog

    PE Games: Pass the Frog. This is a great teambuilding activity or icebreaker that you can play with your Physical Education classes. I've used it with Kindergarten through 5th grade and even with adults. It's easy to setup because of the low equipment and there are tons of variations and ways to play to make it appropriate for different age ...

  10. PE Games

    Free Lesson Plan Download at: VVV MORE LINKS BELOW VVV More Teambuilding Games:Hula Hut Relays: http://www.t...

  11. 28 Best PE Games With Absolutely No Equipment

    3. Foxes And Hares. Once the children have got a good understanding of space, and they can stop and start on your command, there are lots of fun PE games you can introduce. Foxes and hares is a classic chase game. Aim of the game: To catch all the hares of course! About a fifth of the children should be foxes.

  12. The PE Shed

    Crab Football Clearout is a PE Game focused on coordination and strength. To find out how to play this PE Game and for further activity differentiation download now. This PE page includes a variety of PE Physical Education games. These are warm up PE Games perfect for the start of Physical Education lessons.

  13. OAA

    Taken part in a range of PE games and activities. Followed simple instructions and applied rules. Worked collaboratively as a pair and in a small group. Used and applied simple diagrams with pictures and symbols. Work with others to solve problems. Describe their work and use different strategies to solve problems. Lead others and be led.

  14. 9 Activity Ideas for STEM in Physical Education

    By participating in these activities, students not only deepen their understanding of STEM concepts, but learn valuable lessons in teamwork, problem-solving, and the practical application of classroom knowledge to real-world scenarios. Here's a look at some stimulating and educational STEM activities for middle school PE:

  15. Problem-Solving Activities & Team-Building Activities

    Build Better Teams . Group problem-solving activities, or team-building initiatives, provide an opportunity for group members to effectively communicate, cooperate and interact with each other to solve a problem that often has more than one 'answer.'. These activities often stimulate significant growth for a group, especially if their experience is processed upon completion.

  16. PE Year 3 Lesson 3: Problem Solving PE Games Lesson Pack

    This problem-solving PE games pack contains a range of resources that could be helpful for planning a PE lesson to challenge your students. This pack contains a wide range of resources, including aims posters, non-participation activity sheets, skills posters, warm-up and cool-down cards, and an area plan. Everything you need to plan a PE lesson involving problem-solving is included in this ...

  17. 17 Fun Problem Solving Activities & Games [for Kids ...

    For this problem solving activity for older kids or teens, you will need four 2×6 boards. Divide your group into two teams with an equal number of children on each team. Place two of the four boards end to end on the ground or floor. Set the other two parallel to the first two about two or three feet apart.

  18. Problem Solving Games, Activities & Exercises for Adults

    Learn more about War of the Wizards. 4. Sudoku. Sudoku is one of the most popular free problem solving games for adults. The objective of this game is to fill each box of a 9×9 grid so that every row, column, and letter contains each number from one to nine. The puzzle makes a great team challenge.

  19. Twinkl Move PE

    This problem-solving PE games pack contains a range of resources that could be helpful for planning a PE lesson to challenge your students. This pack contains a wide range of resources, including aims posters, non-participation activity sheets, skills posters, warm-up and cool-down cards, and an area plan. Everything you need to plan a PE lesson involving problem-solving is included in this ...

  20. Team building and OAA challenges

    docx, 11.9 KB. Over 30 team building and outdoor adventurous activities for that can be used within the PE curriculum and for both student and staff team building workshops. I have been creating and adding to these over the last 7 years to provide a wide range of fun and creative tasks that have a strong emphasis on problem solving and teamwork.

  21. Top 15 Problem-Solving Activities for Your Team to Master

    3. Egg Drop. Helps with: Collaboration, decision-making. Why decision-making is important for problem-solving: Making decisions isn't easy, but indecision leads to team paralysis, stagnant thinking, and unsolved problems. Decision-making activities help your team practice making quick, effective choices.

  22. PE Games Physical Education Resources

    Our Story. The PE Shed was born on October 2016 to provide Physical Education resources to people all around the world. It's mission is simple: To make Physical Education teaching simple, fun and engaging. Our ideas were created in the classroom (gymnasium) and have been tested on real children!

  23. 15 Best Game Websites for School to Play Games

    MentalUP is a safe and effective platform for kids of all ages! 😇🙌. There are no ads or inappropriate content on MentalUP. It offers a variety of games to enhance problem solving skills and cognitive functions, making it a valuable addition to the repertoire of game websites for school use. 🤩. Download MentalUP now to discover an app that kids don't need any parental controls to ...

  24. Team Building & Problem Solving

    Team Building & Problem Solving. Needs a few simple bits of equipment, but very effective to use as a lesson for starting OAA, concentrating on cooperation, communication & trust If you like these, please give some comments! If you don't, please give some feedback! to let us know if it violates our terms and conditions.

  25. Enhance PE Problem-Solving with Creative Thinking

    Here's how you can enhance your problem-solving skills in Private Equity by thinking outside the box. Powered by AI and the LinkedIn community. 1. Embrace Curiosity. Be the first to add your ...

  26. Monty Hall problem

    Monty Hall problem. In search of a new car, the player chooses a door, say 1. The game host then opens one of the other doors, say 3, to reveal a goat and offers to let the player switch from door 1 to door 2. The Monty Hall problem is a brain teaser, in the form of a probability puzzle, based nominally on the American television game show Let ...