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Teach character education through physical activity

Social skills are an important part of all children’s education. Children, preteens, and teens all need guidance in handling tough social situations. As a physical educator or classroom teacher, you can use many different activities to incorporate character education into your curriculum. Human Kinetics offers a variety of resources that will help you incorporate these important life lessons into your teaching, while simultaneously providing physical activity time, teaching important motor skills, and more.

Below is a sample game from Character-Building Activities by Judy Demers. For more activities like this one, to see excerpts, or browse other activity books please visit the Physical Education section of the Human Kinetics Web site.

Knotty Dilemma

By Judy Demers


Middle school through high school


1 jump rope (made with rope, approximately 6 feet [1.5 meters] long) per team of 4 to 6 players


The purpose of this activity is to provide a cooperative problemsolving experience. Members of each team take turns to be the first team to untie a previously tied rope.


Team members sit in a small circle. One rope is given to each team. The teams must cooperatively tie a rope into multiple, loosely tied knots, making it difficult for another team to untie. The teacher or group leader decides the rotation order of the team members. On the signal to go, each team member is given 15 seconds to tie a knot, or multiple knots, in the rope.
Once everyone is given a chance to tie the rope, the ropes are redistributed to other teams. On the signal to go, each team member is given 15 seconds to untie the rope, until the rope is entirely untied. The first team to successfully untie the rope wins that round. In round 2, players tie the ropes as in the previous round. Without giving prior notice, have each team keep their own rope and untie it. In round 3, when it’s time to untie the ropes, announce that there are no special rules for how it must be untied.

Here are some suggestions for discussion questions:

  • Was this a frustrating experience? If so, why?
  • Did you think the second round, in which each team kept their own rope, was fair? Why or why not? (If you are a classroom teacher, this would be a good time to discuss student-student and student-teacher fairness.)
  • Did the group work cooperatively and fairly? Did everyone get a fair turn, particularly when there were no specific rules as to who should untie the rope or in what order? Can you think of a better way to do this activity?

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Character-Building Activities
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