Ideas for team building activities?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by yellowdaisies, Sep 10, 2013.

  1. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

    Feb 7, 2011
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    Sep 10, 2013

    Does anyone have any good team building (or as Kagan would call them, class building) activities, preferably for primary grades? I teach first grade and we just finished the first 5 days. I am feeling like the class is very disjointed right now while last year's class felt like a very cohesive family by the end of the year. The kids in this class still don't know each other's names.

    Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. The simpler, the better! These are beginning of the year first graders, after all. ;)
  3. Securis

    Securis Cohort

    Dec 16, 2007
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    Sep 11, 2013

    My specialty! Teambuilding is about sequencing so one game/activity doesn't do it. It's just like setting up your classroom management and consistently training and retraining your students.

    So you need a name game.

    Name (Adjective/Action/Dance) 1. Stand in a circle. 2. Pick a direction. 3. Have someone say their name and (Adjective/Action/Dance) for example, "My name is Albert and I like Alpine skiing. With Dance, you do a Dance move. With Action, you do an action. You can even change adjective to other parts of speech if you're working on those.


    Name Tornado: Stand in a circle. Some one in the middle points (an obvious and unmistakeable gesture like arms extended hands flat together) to a person in the circle says either "you, right, or left". The person pointed at has to quickly give the their own name, the person to the right, or the left. The person in the middle is the judge of whether the person the pointed to responded fast enough. You moderate that and correctness. You also get to say "Name Tornado" when you feel they're getting comfortable with the sequence. The circle shuffles with everyone trying to move to stand next to someone new (be explicit about this part) and feel free to hand shuffle as needed.


    SOOooooo, there are a ton of name games and you can google that term to find more.

    What you'll also need to do is have some more difficult initiative/ problem solving games. This is where your group will really hit the phases of group dynamic (Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing) And those don't always come in sequential order.


    Moonball is a good teambuilding game because it requires the group to work towards a common goal.

    You need a beach ball and space. Form a circle if you want to give them a helping hand. Keep the ball in the air with light taps. Make a big deal about how you've seen this done and that you've only ever seen (50, 70, 100) once ever and it was by a grade level lower. Let them start and watch for leaders to appear. Moderate if needed but don't suggest any strategies. Things may get wild so at that point you stop and ask them to tell you about what's happening, what's working, what's not working, and what might work. It will happen that someone will get blamed for this or that. Remind them they are a team and everyone is responsible. Set them up to go again using what they strategized for themselves. Remind them of their goal and their strategies. Count.


    Line up is a great teambuilding activity if you lack space and need a calm activity.

    You need a set of cards that have a sequence that your children will know and the sequence can be a bit ambiguous so they have to decide on a sequence (playing cards may not be an option but these work great). Line them up. Shuffle the cards and pass them out. Round 1, they can look at each others cards, talk, or whatever. They line up in the agreed upon sequence.

    Take up the cards. line them up. reshuffle. Take away talking. pass out new cards and have them line up in the same sequence.

    round 3: take away sharing each others cards with one another.

    round 4: take away the an individuals knowledge of their own card. Stick it to their forehead so everyone but they can see it.



    Those were simple initiatives and can be modified for time and space. You build them up to more difficult initiatives as you go but be prepared for a group that storms excessively and I'll explain that last.

    Islands is done with platforms and some specific sized balance beams but you can modify anything to fit your needs. So instead of platforms, mark off space in your room. Two of the spaces should be large enough to hold everyone in room but tightly. The third space should be just large enough to hold a third of your students. Since you may not have balance beams, you could make your crossings using objectives from a class lesson (math would be good here).

    Everyone starts at Island 1 where you make up a story about why they have to leave, (outrageous works great). You'll have to have your math questions hidden and ready. Someone volunteers to go first. Then you ask them the question. They answer correctly and they get to move to the center island. Rinse repeat. IF someone gets stumped, they can ask for help from one person without penalty. If the answer is given right they go on to the center island. If wrong then there's a penalty.

    Students should get a chance before you begin to determine the penalty and the number of wrong answers before a penalty is instituted. Asking for help from one person doesn't count toward penalty but two people does. Once a person is asked, they can not be asked again until everyone has been asked for help. Examples of penalties might be someone moving back an island, Resetting and starting completely over, boys tend to like push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks but penalties vary depending on the group so you can suggest something if you think what they're saying might take too long or be to wild. If you get to the penalty phase, let them do what they gotta do and get back to it. In a time crunch, just count penalties and continue. The goal could simply be to get the fewest penalties possible.

    Since there are two islands to get to, you may want to have two sets of questions, one more difficult that the other. Soon, center island will fill and there will be a need to move some people on.

    Once everyone has gotten to the second larger island, YAY!!!

    But now comes the part that's of the most import. The reflection! Get them calm, sit in a circle if possible (King Arthur and all that) then you ask very pointed questions about their interactions. Who was a leader? Who gave the best help? What did you do? How did you help? What was most difficult? What was easiest? Let them answer, affirm their answers but don't provide your own insight until the end if at all. Depending on your goal, you could work on conflict resolution, inlcusiveness, leadership, etc.

    What happens if the group storms excessively? At any point stop to reflect. Ask what's happening. Ask if it's working. Ask what would work better. Avoid or moderate blaming because sometimes an individual or a few get the brunt of things for whatever reason.


    Hope that helps.
  4. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

    Apr 14, 2007
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    Sep 11, 2013

  5. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

    Feb 7, 2011
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    Sep 12, 2013

    Thanks for the ideas!! :) I am going to try to get into some of this next week. This week has been crazy!! (First full week!)

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