top of page

Game Changers: Cultivating Character Skills through Afterschool Physical Activity

Social-Emotional Learning Games for Extended Learning and afterschool physical activity

Imagine afterschool physical activities as the ultimate character-shaping playground! These activities aren't just about running around and having fun – they're supercharged life lessons disguised as games. Kids get to learn teamwork, discipline, and resilience while having a blast, setting them up for a future full of success and awesomeness!

Keep reading for three fun, physical activities that integrate social-emotional learning skills, or what we like to call Character Concepts including teamwork, communication, and goal-setting for ages 3-14!

Games that cultivate character skills with physical activity


PowerUp Fitness offers evidence based-physical activity programs for before & afterschool, PE, summer camps and more! PowerUp programs are designed to provide children with the opportunity to become more active, physically and mentally. Use our bundle finder to find the best PowerUp bundle for your organization.


Alright, let's dive into the world of character skills – those super cool traits that make us awesome human beings! You see, character skills are like the secret sauce for personal and academic success. We're talking about teamwork, where they'll learn to be a fantastic team player, leadership skills that make them the captain of their own ship, resilience for bouncing back from challenges, discipline to keep things on track, and empathy, which helps them understand others' feelings.

Now, why are these skills so darn important? Well, buckle up, because they're like the building blocks of becoming a rad grown-up. Teamwork? It's all about collaborating with others, making friends, and working towards common goals. Leadership? That's their ticket to taking charge, being confident, and inspiring others. Resilience? It's the superpower against life's curveballs – helping kids get back up when they stumble. Discipline? That keeps students focused, organized, and ready to tackle anything. And empathy? Oh, that's the heart of understanding and supporting the people around us.

So, picture these skills as their personal toolkit for life – they shape your participants into a fantastic, well-rounded individual and prepare students for whatever adventures come their way!

Let's talk about the magic of afterschool physical activities. Not only do they keep our participants full of energy, healthy, and active, but they also do wonders for their mental well-being. Picture this: less stress, more smiles! And here's the best part – these activities are like social hubs where kids learn to make friends, work together, and become awesome team players. It's a win-win for everyone!

At PowerUp, every single lesson plan features a Character Concept prompt. These prompts make it even easier to tie character-building skills to each and every PowerUp lesson. From concepts like teamwork and communication to goal setting and emotions - our quick prompts tie into the day’s PowerUp Play activity - keep reading as we’re sharing some of our favorite examples in this post!

Did you know that afterschool programs using PowerUp report happier participants?! That’s beaucase of our unique combination of movement, learning, and fun. Other fun findings? PowerUp participants were more confident, doing better academically, and even going to the nurse lesson often! Click here to read more about these findings.

Rainbow Riders - Ages 3 to 6y - Teamwork

Objective: Help children grasp the concept of teamwork through a simple and engaging physical activity. Explain that participants are going on a colorful adventure!

Round 1.

  • Divide participants into small groups and assign each group a color and a movement. (Blue group, skipping)

  • Explain that the goal is to reach the other side of the room as a color group.

  • Encourage them to hold hands and move together, making sure everyone from their group makes it across together.

  • Cheer them on and celebrate their success as they reach the other side of the room.

Round 2.

  • Ask group members split up and each find a partner from another color and movement group.

  • Explain that the goal is to reach the other side of the room as a pair. Each partner must do their movement from round 1.

  • Encourage them to hold hands and move together, making sure they make it across together, even with a different type of movement.

Ask participants if it was easier to move as a color group, all doing the same movement or if it was easier to move in pairs with a different color.

Character-Building Skill: Teamwork

This simplified game encourages teamwork by guiding children to work together in a fun and interactive way. By holding hands and staying with their group or partner, they learn cooperation and coordination while achieving a common goal.

Mirror, Mirror - Ages 7 to 10y - Communication

Objective: Enhance communication skills and foster understanding through non-verbal communication.


  • Participants pair up and designate one participant in each pair as the "Leader" and the other as the "Follower."

  • Without talking, the Leader starts making various simple exercise movements (e.g., jumping, squatting, or spinning).

  • The Follower's task is to mimic the Leader's movements exactly, as if they are looking into a mirror.

  • After a few minutes, switch roles, allowing the Follower to become the Leader and vice versa.

  • Encourage participants to discuss their experiences and challenges after the activity, emphasizing the importance of clear, non-verbal communication.

Character-Building Skill: Communication

This game promotes communication by encouraging children to understand and interpret non-verbal cues, teaching them the value of observation and active listening.

Goal-Getter Challenge - Ages 11 to 14 - Goal-Setting

Objective: Engage kids in a fun movement game while integrating the concept of goal setting and achievement.

Setting the Scene:

  • Create a designated playing area, such as a park or a gym, with clearly marked boundaries.

  • Divide the participants into teams, giving each team a unique color or name.

  • Place a "Goal Board" at one end of the playing area. The Goal Board can be a large piece of paper or a whiteboard where teams can write down their physical activity goals.

Goal-Setting Phase:

  • Each team gathers and sets a collective physical activity goal. This could be something like completing a certain number of laps, doing a specific number of jumping jacks, or running a set distance within a given time frame.

  • Encourage teams to discuss and agree upon a challenging, yet achievable, goal that requires teamwork and effort.


  • Start the game timer and allow teams to engage in various physical activities within the designated area.

  • Teams work together to achieve their set goals. For example, if their goal is to complete 100 jumping jacks, each team member's jumping jacks contribute to the team's overall count.

  • While engaging in physical activities, encourage positive communication and support within teams. Teammates can motivate each other to reach the goal faster.

Goal Achievement and Reflection:

  • When a team achieves their goal, they rush to the Goal Board and proudly write down their accomplishment, including the total number of activities completed.

  • After the game, gather everyone and discuss the experience. Encourage teams to reflect on how they set their goals, the strategies they used to achieve them, and the importance of teamwork and support in reaching objectives.

Character-Building Skill: Goal Setting and Achievement

This game not only promotes physical activity and teamwork but also instills the valuable skills of setting specific goals and working collaboratively to accomplish them. It encourages participants to plan, strategize, and support each other, fostering a sense of achievement and pride when goals are met.


Positive vibes work wonders! When we cheer on our participants and give them high-fives for their efforts, it's like planting seeds of confidence and awesome behavior. It's all about creating this cool, supportive vibe where they feel like rockstars, making them super eager to soak up all those great character traits we want them to have. It's like magic, but way more fun!

Looking ahead, the future of character skills development in afterschool activities is incredibly promising. With advancing technology, innovative teaching methods, and a growing emphasis on holistic education, afterschool programs are set to become even more dynamic, nurturing not only academic prowess but also essential life skills like empathy, leadership, and resilience. These activities are evolving into vibrant hubs where young minds not only learn but also thrive, shaping the compassionate, confident leaders of tomorrow.

In the colorful world of afterschool activities, character development isn't just a goal – it's an exciting adventure! By infusing positive vibes and celebrating every achievement, we're not just creating an environment of support; we're nurturing the very essence of our little stars. With each high-five and cheer, we're planting seeds of confidence and resilience that will help them conquer life's challenges. And guess what? The fun doesn't stop here! Dive into the world of PowerUp Your School bundles, where character concepts meet physical activities in the most engaging way possible. Let's keep this momentum going, empowering our kids to embrace teamwork, communication, and goal-setting skills. Together, we're shaping a future filled with confident, compassionate, and courageous leaders. Don't miss out – explore the PowerUp Your School bundles today and let the character-building active adventures begin!

If you love these activities, try several of our math-focused activities here. Want to mix in more English Language Arts - see some of our favorite literacy activities here. Looking for more? The PowerUp Your School program offers over 300 math and ELA-integrated physical activities, requiring no equipment and perfect for any space, any place!


Did you enjoy these activities? For 100’s of activities, games, and exercises aligned with state and national standards, shop our PowerUp programs!


Download the printable pdf version of PowerUp's Game Changers below.

Tips & Tricks - 2023 Nov Game Changers Character Skills with Physical Activity
Download PDF • 1.43MB

PE SEL Games, Afterschool SEL Activities
Brain Boosting Games

PowerUp Fitness is an Advocate Member of the National Afterschool Association and a proud partner of Active Schools.


Los comentarios se han desactivado.
bottom of page