PADDLE PICK’EM UP! – a partner/whole class teamwork challenge


It is imperative to sprinkle in team-building challenges throughout the year. Any unit can benefit from activities that promote communication, cooperation, sharing ideas, making compromises, and opportunities for failure and success. During my recent paddle striking and manipulation unit, I added one such activity.


I used paddles for this activity. You can also use other pieces of equipment or body parts resulting in equal fun and success. We’ve used rhythm sticks, shortened pool noodles, student elbows, and the backs of students’ hands.

Paddle Pick’em Up is set up as a partner challenge, however, the overall goal is more of a whole-class challenge.


  • Place one hula hoop around the perimeter of the room for each set of partners.
  • Add two paddles, one for each student, inside each hoop.
  • Scatter a bunch of balls and/or stuffed animals throughout the middle area.


  • As a class,  pick up all the balls in the shortest time possible.

How to play

  • Send the students to a hula hoop with a partner chosen by YOU.
  • On the signal to begin, partners move to a ball and attempt to pick it up using only their paddles. This is also the time I start my stopwatch.
  • Holding the ball between their paddles, partners attempt to deliver it to their hoop.
  • Partners can NOT touch the ball with their hands.
  • This continues until every ball is cleared.
  • At this time, I stop my stopwatch and report to the group how long it took to “pick’em up.”
  • We discuss what worked well and so of the challenges encountered.
  • Set up for a second round and try to pick’em up in a shorter amount of time.

Alternate version

  • Place one hoop around the perimeter for each color ball.
  • Instead of having their own hoop, students deliver the balls to the hoop of the corresponding color. Therefore, a yellow ball can only be placed in a yellow hoop.

There you have it! I’d love to hear about similar games you play. Please let me know of any team-building games that work for your students. Thanks for reading!

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