Introductory Volleyball Activities for Elementary PE [Video]

Volleyball can be a hard unit to teach at the elementary level. These introductory volleyball activities have been successful with my students and have become some of their favorites!

Big Ball Volleyball

Focus on skills like teamwork, catching, and throwing with this fun game! Place students into groups of four (2nd-5th grades) or groups of eight (Kindergarten-1st grade). Each group has a small parachute or a bed sheet. Groups must work together in order to get an Omnikin ball, lightweight oversized ball, or a beach ball over the net only using the parachute. The ball cannot touch the ground or it is a point for the other team. Groups must use teamwork to catch the ball and get the ball over the net.

Get everything you need to play Big Ball Volleyball with this Team Launch Volleyball Set!

Volleyball Serving

Even though this activity is an easy setup, students enjoy it so much because they enjoy the challenge. I challenge the class to make a certain amount in the hoops, and I keep score.

There is a volleyball net set up in the gym to encourage the students to serve the volleyball high and over. Place students in lines along the baseline of the volleyball court. For younger students, you’ll want to start your lines within the volleyball court. Students serve the volleyball and try to make it into a hula-hoop on that is directly across from them on the other side of the net. On the count of three, the first person in each line servea. Students should serve quickly, but keep the students who waiting in line moving by doing various fitness or locomotor activities until it is their turn. Depending on their age or grade level, they can pass a ball to themselves in place or practice their serving form.

Newcomb Variation

This game has been around since the early 1900’s and is great for 3rd-5th grade. Instead of bumping and setting, the students are learning rotation and focusing on three players playing or touching the ball after they receive a serve.

Two teams (12 players total) on the court at a time. Play begins with the student in the serving position serving the ball over the net to the other team. Students then catch and throw the ball back and forth over the net until it drops. Three players may play the ball before throwing it over the net. If it is more than three players or if the receiving team misses, the serving team scores a point. The serving team then rotates and the next play begins with a different server.  If the serving team does not get the ball over, it loses the serve and the opposing team scores a point. The next play begins with the opponents as the serving team. Each time a team wins a point, they rotate so a different player serves for the next play. This allows everybody to get a turn serving in the limited time. The first team scoring 11 points or the team with the most points after a set time limit wins the game.

Passing Challenge

Split players up into groups of five to eight and challenge each group of players to see how many times they can pass the volleyball to other players in the circle without letting it hit the ground.  Beach volleyballs, oversized volleyballs, or balloons can be substituted for a regular volleyball depending on the age and skill level of the players.  Older players can also do the same challenge but instead of passing they will set the volleyball to other players.

A variation of the passing challenge is to pair players up and see how many passes they can complete back and forth without the ball touching the ground.

Related Blogs:
3 Skill-Based Volleyball Games for PE! by Shannon Jarvis Irwin
5 Resources to Take Net Games to the Next Level by Jessica Shawley
Dice Bonk: The Target Game with Endless Variations by Mike Morris

Elementary Volleyball Equipment:

Terri is a Physical Education and Health Teacher at Colonial Hills Elementary in San Antonio, TX. She was the 2009 and 2015 TAHPERD (TX) Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year and the Judson ISD Educator of the Year in 2010.

Terri is a Physical Education and Health Teacher at Colonial Hills Elementary in San Antonio, TX. She was the 2009 and 2015 TAHPERD (TX) Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year and the Judson ISD Educator of the Year in 2010.


  1. This is my second year teaching PE. Our school is a primary school; grades Kindergarten through 4th grade. I am the PE teacher at my school. Your ideas are wonderful. Tomorrrow I am setting up the old volleyball poles and nets to have two nets (4 poles) across the gym. What is the correct heighth for the net, top of the net to the floor? I used the poles to place 4 basketball hoops at 5 feet and 6 feet from hoop to floor for my Kindergartners. So, last years marks on the pole are gone to show where to put it for volleyball.
    Thanks, Kris L. Schleigh


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