17 Team Building Activites for Elementary Students
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Team building is an incredible opportunity to create a positive, engaging, and enriching classroom where everybody feels connected, important, and loved. Tension and confusion can be high at the start of a new school year when everybody is getting to know each other for the first time.
This is something to expect and embrace, and then channel into a positivity for the weeks to come. Team builing not only provides an excellent way to handle the difficulties that arise in a classroom, but also a way to learn more about each other, engage in the world around us, and get to know ourselves on a deeper level.
This article talks about 16 different team building activites that are great for elementary school students. They involve interation and creativity, and encourage children to step up to the plate.
2. Flip it Over Challenge
Here is an activity to exercise creativity. Split the group into two and have one group of children stand on a blanket or a towel. There should only be about 1/4 of available space.
The goal is for the students to slip the blanket or towel over, but without stepping off the blanket. Once the first team succeeds, switch the groups.
3. Human Knot
Have everybody stand in a circle, shoulder to shoulder.
Then have everybody raise their right hand, and find another right hand to hold.
Then have everybody raise their left hand to find another left hand to hold.
Now tell them they have to untangle themselves, while still holding the other's hand.
The only rule is that they cannot let go of the other's person's hand.
Here is a good team building activity for communication. You will need to give each student a picture of something (be it an animal, object, place, person). Then, start a story. You come up with the introduction.
The next student then adds to the introduction, based off the image they are holding.
The story continues to grow until the last student contributes. In the end, the class has created a complex, and often-times hilarious story, which is great for bonding and memory-making.
5. Blind Artist (Don't worry, The Floor Wont Look Like A Jackson Pollock)
This activity is great for improving trust, sparking creativity, and encouraging in-depth thinking.
Pair your students up, and then give one of the students a picture that you have prepared and that is relevant to what you are teaching. That student must then give instructions to the other student on how to draw it, without exactly giving away what the image is of.
The student drawing the picture is not allowed to see the original image, and the goal is to make the drawing as close to the original as possible. You can make it more challenging by having the student draw with their non-dominant hand, or not allowing them to ask questions.
Afterwards, the pair of students should explain the two images and the process.
6. Traffic Lights
Traffic Lights is another great way to encourage teamwork.
Divide your students into two groups, and pick a leader from each group. The leader from Group A will be the traffic light that Group B listens to. The leader from Group B will lead the students in Group A.
Therefore, Group A and Group B are working among themselves to beat the other group. Their group leader is from the opposing team.
When the Group Leader calls GREEN, the students run. When YELLOW is called, they must walk. When RED is called, they have to stop. The goal is to get from one side to the other before the other team does.
This game is active, exciting, and a great choice for outside.
7. Forehead Dots
What you need to do is lightly tape a colored dot on each student's forehead. The students must then figure out what color is on their head. Depending on the size of the classroom, some students will have the same color as one another.
If this is the case, instruct them to find other members of their team. They are not allowed to talk. Rather, they must learn to communicate nonverbally. The team that comes together first and knows their color is declared the winner.
Just be sure that there are no mirrors in the classroom!
8. Birthday Line-Up
This is another great game that helps students learn to communicate without using their voices. It is also a perfect opportunity for everybody to get to know the other person a little better.
Have your students line up in order of birthday. It is best if you place a time limit on them. More than likely, some students will be out of place.
As you go down the line and ask each child for his or her birthday, you can pull out the students that are in the wrong spot.
Then, set another timer during which time they must get in the right place.
9. Spaghetti Tower Of Mighty Feats
A great team building exercise for collaboration and communication is the spaghetti tower. Divide the classroom up into groups of about four students, and arrange them at several different tables around the classroom.
You need to provide them with building material, like dry spaghetti, marshmellows, tape, and string. If you do not have these materials, you can use paper cups, cards, or something else that they can use to build a free-standing tower.
Set a time limit, and tell them to build a free-standing tower using only the materials provided. The winning tower will be the tallest and most structurally sound.
This is a great opportunity for students to share their ideas, make mistakes, and have some fun competition.
There are a couple different variations, but a fun way to do this team building exercise is to first divide the group in half.
Have the two groups line up and face the other group. Then have each student extend their right hand so that it rests right next to the other person's hand, thus creating a little ramp from one end of the line to the other end. Then, place a ball in the first hand.
The goal is to roll the ball down the hands to the other end of the group. The students cannot hold the ball, nor can they pop or jolt it. They have to figure out how to roll it.
It is a great activity for cooperation and problem-solving.
11. Goodie Bag Skits
Here is an activity that might make a couple students uncomfortable. Therefore, it might be an activity better suited for later on in the year when students know each other a little bit better.
Divide the classroom up into groups, each group being about 8 students. Give each group a goodie-bag full of random items. Each group must then come up with a skit using all of the items in the bag. Give them about 5-10 minutes to come up with the skit and practice it.
After the practice period is up, have the groups perform in front of the rest of the classroom. If desired, you can hold the perfomances up to a vote to declare the winner.
12. Inside-Outside Circle
This is a great ice-breaker and also team building activity, which can be very helpful at the start of the year.
Divide the group exactly in half, and instruct them to form a circle within a circle. The students in the outside circle face the students in the inside circle. You then must come up with a topic, and the partners discuss the topic for about thirty seconds. They should share their thoughts, experiences, etc. on the topic with that person until time is up.
Then, have the outside group move one student down so that everybody is now interacting with somebody new. Continue this exercise until the circle starts over again.
Inside-Outside Circle can help students better understand a topic, and get to know each other more personally.
13. Idea Building Blocks
For this team building activity, divide the classroom into groups and present each group with a different problem. Provide each group with a piece of paper.
The first person in the group writes down a suggestion/solution to the problem, then passes the paper to the next person in the group to do the same.
Once everybody has written down their idea, call the class to order and designate a spokesperson for each group. That person should explain the problem given to them, and report all of the solutions that the group came up with.
14. Deserted Island
Divide the classroom up into groups and have them imagine that they are stranded on a deserted island. You need to give them a list of several items that they can have with them on that island.
The students must then rank the items in order of importance, first on their own, then as a group. Give them a time limit, then have them present their decision to the class.
This activity is great for getting children to recognize the needs of the individual, as well as the needs of an entire group.
15. Recycled Goods
This team building activity is helpful to get students thinking a little more outside the box, and on topics that are relevant to the real-world.
Present students with simple objects, like a pencil, paper, ruler, chair, or fork, then ask them to come up with as many different ideas as possible on other ways to use that item.
You can take it a step further by having the students visit the school custodian or a junkyard. The students should fill up a box of little items. They can then trade items with one another to make something new out of the items that they all found.
16. Create Your Own
As your classroom gets to know each other a little better, divide the class into groups and assign them with the task of coming up with three team-building activities.
Tell them they need to consider the point of the activity, whether it be to help with communication, collaboration, creativity, etc. Then, have the group explain their activities to the classroom.
Not only do you have your students working together to create something for themselves, but you also will have a ton of new, interesting, and refreshing activities that your classroom is excited about doing.
17. Fingertip Hula
This is a simple challenge that helps children learn to be patient. They stand around the hula-hoop and extend one finger underneath the hoop.
The teacher sets the hoop onto all of the extended fingers, then the children must lower the hoop to the ground. They are not allowed to wrap their fingers around the hoop.
If you want to make it more challenging, feel to restrict communication and have them focus only on watching each other and themselves.