Basketball Activities for Elementary PE

Two girls and a boy standing together

When putting together a basketball lesson plan for elementary-aged kids, begin with individual-focused activities and then move onto partner and group games. Students will feel more comfortable if they’re able to get comfortable with the ball before having to perform in front of their classmates. Individual, partner and small group activities keeps the students engaged and moving. Avoid activities where students can find themselves standing around.

Individual Activity: Dribble Circle

The dribble circle activity can be used as part of your class warm-up. Have each student grab a basketball, and form them into a large circle. Position yourself in the circle’s center. Take the students through different dribbling drills, such as dribbling with their right hand, dribbling with their left and crossing over from one hand to the other. While the students perform each type of dribble, have them simultaneously call out the number of fingers you’re holding up. This teaches them to keep their head and eyes up while they dribble.

Partner Activity: Passing and Catching

For partner passing and catching, organize the students into pairs and have them stand about six feet away from each other. Each set of partners receives one ball. Have the students practice throwing and catching two-handed bounce passes, two-handed chest passes, one-handed bounce passes, one-handed chest passes and overhead passes. Before each pass, have the student begin by holding the ball with both hands at his chest. Have the students count how many successful passes and catches they complete in a row.

Group Activity

In dribble battle, every student begins with a ball. Use cones or chalk to create a large square court. Alternatively, if you have access to an indoor or outdoor basketball court, you can use one half of it as the dribble battle court. All students must continue dribbling and stay within the court’s lines. For students in third grade and below, have them try to keep dribbling while playing tag within the court’s dimensions. For fourth-grade students and older, the object is to dribble while knocking away students’ basketballs. If a student’s ball is knocked out of bounds or she stops dribbling, she is out. Play for three minutes, with the students still in the game declared winners, and then play again.

Group Activity: 3-Catch Basketball

The 3-Catch basketball game places two teams of three students up against each other, with the goal of the game to complete three passes in a row. Use chalk to create 10 by 10 feet squares, one for each pair of teams, which will serve as the court. One team begins on offense and the other on defense. The offensive team can pivot, pass and move to an open spot to receive a pass. Each defender matches up with a player and attempts to intercept or knock down the ball, or force an incomplete pass. When they do, their team gets to become the offensive team. When an offensive team completes three passes in a row, they get a point. Play for 10 minutes. The winning team is the one who receives the most points.