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Fun games for Social Emotional Learning!

A graphic of smiling children with the caption 3 Games for Social Emotional Learning by PowerUp Fitness

PowerUp Fitness offers a variety of unique fitness programs just for kids!  PowerUp programs are designed to provide children with the opportunity to become more active, physically and mentally fit, while building the framework for development into healthy adolescents and active adults. Learn more about us and our mission to PowerUp children's development with fitness and fun in our About Section!

Social interaction and dynamic is an integral part of growing up in any child's life. At PowerUp Fitness, we tailor our activities to children K-8 to provide fun enjoyable movement while encouraging positive social intelligence and integrating academic standards.

Each of our physical activities is separated into one of three of our Social Emotional Learning (SEL) categories and today, we will be showing one from each category! These exercises will help children navigate Teamwork, Relationships & Emotions/Behavior, and were adapted from our traditional PowerUp Fitness activities aligned with academic standards!

In this blog, we'll walk through 3 of our many games that encourage fun social emotional learning while staying active. For more examples of activities take a look at our PowerUp bundles or request PowerUp sample lesson plans to learn more!

One of my favorite aspects about our programs and activities is that neither our PowerUp Your School nor PowerUp Peanuts programs require any equipment! Our warmups and games are great for any space and any place!

No equipment = significantly reduced germ transmission and no clean up!


1. Alphabet Exercises

Here is a picture of 3 children making silly faces

This fun game falls under our Emotions & Behavior category to help identify emotions!

Like our regular game, Alphabet Stretch, participants use your body to form each letter of the alphabet and them call out the letter.

To meet our SEL objectives, we substitute the alphabet for emotions! Act and call out different emotions, like in this photo to the right, then ask what letter it starts with!

To make it more interactive for older groups, have the children tie a movement with an emotion like happiness = dancing. To further scale this up, have children come up with their own emotions and movements and identify the emotion students are acting out.

2. Human Bop-It

This game focuses on Navigating Social Relationships to distinguish between nonverbal and verbal cues and messages.

Like our usual Bop-It game, when an instruction is called out, the children perform the movement it is tied with like the ones below. As they play, have the instructor or student volunteer call out an action and gradually pick up the pace of the calls.


Kick it = kick your foot

Twist it = jump and twist 180 & back

Spin it = spin 360

Pull-it = reach up & pull down

Bop-it = jump up

To meet our SEL Objectives, try integrating different types of cues across multiple rounds!

Here is a picture of a young boy jumping in the air like in the game described.

Round 1 - explicitly use verbal cues (no demonstrations)

Round 2 - use nonverbal cues only, demonstrate the movement as the cue and they must be attentive to mimic the movements.

*The instructor can make it extra challenging by doing half movements only

Round 3 - Mix cues, verbal and nonverbal so they have to be extremely alert.