20 classroom team building activities
Team building activities have wide-ranging benefits for teachers, students, schools, and the wider community.
They can be academically enriching by:
- Drawing from background knowledge
- Sparking creativity
- Demonstrating the importance of planning
- Engaging in problem-solving
- Requiring critical thinking
- Forming a deeper understanding
- Encouraging constant reflection
They support positive social skill building and communication skills by:
- Facilitating leadership qualities
- Learning the importance of clear instructions
- Developing listening skills and patience
- Teaching turn-taking and sharing
- Identifying strengths and building on weaknesses
- Supporting each other
- Boosting confidence and self-esteem
- Encouraging resilience in the face of challenges
- Valuing teamwork and cooperation
They also motivate young people to be more active and to have fun.
Whether the challenge is physical or academic, students cannot get through it unless they work together. By supporting each other and using their combined talents, they learn to overcome obstacles and achieve outcomes they might have thought were impossible.
Finally, they can teach students more profound life skills as they learn to value and appreciate the differences of others and how societies are built and flourish because of these differences.
20 classroom team building activities
|1. Naming your class||11. Save the egg|
Whole class team-building strategies
Here are a few simple strategies that will build a sense of camaraderie with your class. Teaching techniques like these will provide constant, implicit reminders that your classroom values and respects everyone in it equally.
1. Naming your class
Is your class named something like “Class 5 E?” It could use some spicing up, don’t you think?
Create a sense of unity and inclusion by having your students come up with suggestions for what to call your class. Then let everyone vote for their favorite name.
Something this simple can instantly spark a sense of togetherness, which you can use to motivate desirable behavior.
2. Setting classroom rules
Next, work with your class to negotiate and develop classroom rules. Working together when setting rules helps to make expectations explicit and allows you to foster a positive learning environment that values respect, safety, and inclusion.
Promoting strong classroom values could include asking your students to consider how they can:
- Demonstrate positive relationships with our classmates and teachers.
- Communicate effectively, participate, and work together during class.
- Set and achieve learning goals.
- Persevere in learning activities and social situations.
- Be responsible for their actions and accept consequences.
- Grow and learn from their mistakes.
- Create a safe and inclusive environment for everyone in the classroom and the school.
Student collaboration when rule-setting increases learner engagement, sense of connectedness, and accountability. Keep the number of rules short and display them prominently around the classroom to refer to when needed.
3. Class morning tea
When the class is due for a reward, organize a special treat for everybody during recess or any appropriate time
There are several ways you can do this to keep costs to a minimum:
- Have each student bring in an individually wrapped snack or drink, to share with everyone.
- Ask for a donation and supply the snack yourself.
- Organize with the cafeteria staff to visit your classroom and make a snack with the kids.
- Supply cupcake mix and bake in small groups with parent helpers.
- Ask your PTO/PTA to sponsor a fundraising event.
- Group desks together to create one large table setting so that everyone eats their lunch as a group.
Sharing a special meal together is a memorable way to promote happy, healthy relationships in your classroom, especially when they have earned it.
4. Class newspaper
Extra! Extra! Read all about it!
Creating an ongoing class newspaper project can be a rewarding experience that helps maintain focus on the positive aspects of school life. You can decide how frequently the newspaper will be printed based on learner levels.
Allocate your students into small groups responsible for different newspaper roles:
- Editors – peer-review their classmates’ work before press
- Publishers – design the layout of the newspaper and printing
- Journalists – report on interesting school (and other) events
- Photographers – take pictures for the stories appearing in the paper
Rotate the roles for each new edition. With explicit instruction (and under your supervision), students will learn how to give and receive constructive feedback promoting critical thinking and reflection on their learning.
Creating something of value with the whole class makes this teamwork activity meaningful. Students can also take the paper home to show their families instead of a newsletter.
5. Classroom pets
School circumstances permitting, giving kids responsibility for the care of a classroom pet teaches them valuable life skills, promotes cognitive development, and positively serves children with social and behavioral concerns. You may have one or several pets, designating small groups to care for the pet during their turn on the schedule.
Caring for a pet teaches children:
- Responsibility – providing food, water, love, grooming, and a clean home
- Trust – unconditional support from a pet and caring for the animal creates bonds and boosts self-esteem
- Compassion – teaches empathy for living things, kindness, and a deeper understanding of the stages of life
- Respect – learning boundaries, responding to another’s needs, and mindfulness when interacting with others
- Patience – putting the animal’s needs above your own, ensuring its health and safety, and persisting with care and training routines
These lessons translate well into how we should treat others. Finally, keeping a class pet offers boundless potential for academically enriching experiences across the Key Learning Areas within the elementary curriculum.
Physical team-building challenges
When the weather is nice, get your class outside for some fun, energetic games that don’t rely on how athletic every team member is – just how well they can work as a team.
6. Spider’s web
Objective: Students must strategize how to get every team member through the spider’s web without using the same hole twice or touching the web.
- Kids sized soccer goal or set two poles/trees a short distance apart
- Rope to make the spider’s web
- Create a spider’s web by tying the rope around the frame of the soccer goals with several gaps that are large enough for the students to fit through
- Split students into teams with numbers equal to the gaps in the web
- Teams must work together to get every member through the web using each gap once only and without touching the web (for larger classes/groups, you can allow each hole to be used twice)
7. Fetch a pale of water
Objective: Students must demonstrate teamwork to carry a bucket of water balanced on rulers over a designated distance without spilling any. (If this is too messy, or indoors, they can balance a basketball or stacks of building blocks.)
- Two or more yardsticks or (planks of similar lengths) per group
- Buckets or cups of water
- In groups of two or more, students will balance and carry buckets of water over a set course.
- Include obstacles like stairs or make rules like each team member only uses one hand to increase the difficulty.
- Teams that complete the challenge the fastest and with the most water win.
8. Buckets of fun
Objective: Teams throw and catch water in cups, passing it down the line to see who can fill their bucket first.
- One cup per student
- One or two buckets per team
- Water supply (can be from a tap or second bucket full of water)
- Hose (for you to keep buckets full)
- Each team stands in a line a short distance apart.
- Each student is given a cup.
- Each team has an empty bucket placed behind the last student in each line.
- The first student in line fills their cup with water and tosses the water to their next teammate.
- Each teammate tries to catch as much water as they can in their cup and will repeat the process with the next member in line.
- The last student in each line pours their cup into their team’s empty bucket.
- The first team to fill their bucket wins.
9. Treasure hunters
Objective: Teams direct blindfolded teammates around the playing area to collect all the scattered items.
- One blindfold per team
- Cones to map out the playing area for each team
- Objects to collect for each team
- Collection buckets
- Split students into teams.
- Map out similarly sized playing areas for each team.
- Blindfold one student in each team.
- Scatter objects around each team playing area.
- Teammates who aren’t blindfolded will spread out around the playing area (to help direct blindfolded teammates and keep them safe, too).
- Teams must direct their blindfolded teammates to each object and back to the collection point, on your mark.
- Once every object has been found, the challenge is over, and the fastest team wins
- For the next round, rotate players.
10. Let it roll
Objective: Teams use cardboard tubes to roll a ping pong ball across the playing field without letting it fall.
- Cardboard tubes of various lengths cut in half (one per student – not too short)
- One ping pong ball or marble per team
- Divide students into equal teams standing in lines.
- Give each leader a ball and each student a length of a cardboard tube.
- Teams must roll their ball down the line through the cardboard tubes to the finish line.
- If their ball drops, they must go back to the start.
- Any team caught using their hands to stop the ball goes back to the start.
Team design challenges
These challenges will inspire students to be creative and use critical thinking skills as they work together to solve a problem.
11. Save the egg
Objective: Teams design and make parachutes to stop their egg from cracking when dropped from various heights.
- Egg cartons, bubble wrap, and foam packaging
- Plastic bags
- Masking tape
- Explain that your eggs are returning from space, and teams must design a parachute and capsule to help the eggstronauts land safely.
- Give students as much freedom as possible to design and make their equipment.
- Scaffold learning by including time for sketching, discussion, peer-review, and testing phases before the final assessment.
- Take everyone outside and see whose egg survives their re-entry from different heights.
12. Building bridges
Objective: Teams use available materials to design and construct bridges that will support the weight of various objects in an exciting STEM engineering challenge.
- Popsicle sticks
- Cardboard tubes
- Plastic cups
- Glue/hot glue/tape/Blu-Tack
- Determine teams, explicitly state objectives and timelines for the project.
- Give students as much freedom as possible to design and build a suitable bridge.
- Scaffold learning by including sketching, discussion, peer-review, and testing phases before final presentations.
- Include design element challenges (drawbridge, suspension bridge, limit material choices) to extend learning opportunities.
Objective: Teams use basic materials to design and build sundials that track the sun’s position to tell the time accurately.
- Sidewalk chalk
- Large concrete area without any shaded places
- Paper plates
- Clock (something to check the time)
- Straight plastic straws
- Paperweight or small stones
- Show students the resources and ask how they might use them to tell time. Allow for some discussion between partners, and then ask a couple of pairs to share their ideas.
- Briefly explain the background of the sundial and that they will create their own to tell time at different intervals throughout the day. (It will need to be a sunny day.)
- Students will create two types of sundials. (You may want to have the paper plate sundial completely ready before going outside so they can quickly view both their paper plate and shadow sundials at noon.)
- Students will write “12” at the top of the plate and draw a line to the center of the plate.
- Next, they will make a hole in the center of the plate with a sharpened pencil or pushpin and put the straw through the plate. (Save this sundial for noon.)
- Take your students outside and have partners choose a space on the concrete area. One partner will draw a box around the shoes of the other partner to create a determined place to stand each time they return to the clock. (The same person will always stand in the box.)
- Next, the same partner will use the chalk to outline the student’s shadow.
- Check the actual time and write it at the top of the box. (A good place to start is 9 am.)
- Repeat these steps every 30 minutes, but mark the time at the top of the shadow.
- When it’s close to noon, have students outline their partner’s shadows and then complete their paper plate sundial.
- Have students place the paper plate sundial (they made earlier) on the ground where the shadow of the staw directly lines up with the “12” immediately at 12 pm. (Place a couple of stones around the plate to secure it in place.)
- Students will return to their sundials at 1 pm and write the number one where the shadow is on the paper plate. They can repeat this process with both sundials checking the half-hour and top of the hour throughout the day.
- Scaffold learning by including sketching, discussion, peer-review, and testing phases before final presentations.
Indoor team-building games
These games are fun to play at any time and help to develop communication skills essential to succeed.
14. Hot seat
Objective: Students guess the keyword by listening to clues given to them by their team.
- List of keywords
- Two chairs set up in front of the board facing the class (hot seats)
- Divide your class into two teams and seat them in groups together.
- One member from each team sits in a hot seat.
- Write a keyword on the board.
- Teams call out clues to the keyword, without saying it, until one of the hot seat students guesses the word.
- Award points and switch students.
15. Desert islanders
Objective: Groups must decide on a limited number of items to survive being stranded on a desert island. Each group will encounter unforeseen challenges and argue their chances of survival before their peers.
- Describe a shipwrecked scenario to the students and that, fortunately, they’ve washed up on a desert island.
- Each small group decides on four items to help them survive on the island.
- The group must give the reasoning behind their choices.
- Each group then rolls a die and must respond to a corresponding situation that challenges their odds of survival.
- Groups must now argue their case for survival considering their item choices, and the class votes for the team most likely to survive the longest.
16. Spotty students
Objective: Without talking, students must form groups based on colored spots on their backs.
- Different colored spot stickers or post-it notes (3 or more colors)
- Without the students looking, randomly put a colored sticker on their backs
- When you’re done, ask the students to find everyone in the class with the same-colored sticker without talking to each other!
- The fastest group wins.
17. LEGO model building
Objective: Teams must build a LEGO model that matches a hidden model described by one teammate.
- LEGO bricks or building blocks
- Make several random (duplicatable) LEGO models for each group playing (do this beforehand).
- Give each group one of the LEGO models.
- Select one member from each group to come to the front of the class and hand them one of the concealed models.
- Students with the models will describe their model to their teams, who must build an identical model.
- Choose the winning team by either the fastest, most accurate, or both.
18. Team auction
Objective: Teams compete in an auction for items that may (or may not) help solve an unknown challenge – then try solving the challenge. (For example, The Zombie Apocalypse Challenge.)
- A variety of interesting objects (or pictures of items may suffice)
- Monopoly or play money
- Prepared challenge scenarios
- Each team is given an equal amount of play money for bidding.
- Start auctioning off your items in any order until they’ve all been bought.
- Disclose a hypothetical problem-solving situation or design challenge and let each team develop solutions using what they have bought at auction.
19. Drawing on backs
Objective: Teams try to replicate simple drawings by tracing them on each other’s backs down the line.
- One sheet of paper and crayon per student
- Chalk or whiteboard markers
- Line teams up in front of the whiteboard.
- Give each student at the front a whiteboard marker.
- Give all other students a piece of paper and a crayon.
- Students hold their paper on the back of the teammate in front of them.
- Each student at the back of the line draws a simple picture, step by step.
- Their teammates must trace the drawings on each following teammate’s backs down the line.
- The students at the front draw the pictures on the board.
- The team who has drawn the most identical picture to their team’s original drawing wins.
20. Everyone together now
Objective: Teams must realize that the only way to solve the given problem is for every team to work together.
Tip: It is helpful to imagine receiving a furniture kit from Ikea. Four groups must put it together. But each group doesn’t have the complete set of instructions, diagrams, parts, or tools to do it. They can only build the furniture if they combine their resources and work together.
- Instructions broken into two or more sections
- Diagrams of tools, parts, and stages for reference
- Formulate a problem and the steps, diagrams/illustrations, instructions, tools, and materials needed to solve the problem – the challenge must not be solvable without all these pieces together.
- Divide the class into four groups, allocating one group half the written instructions, the next the other half, the third group pictures and diagrams, and the final group the materials (or any mixed combination).
- Tell them to solve the challenge.
Team building is a fantastic way to build relationships in your class. You can form groups based on student abilities, behavior, friendship groups, or randomly, but try to ensure that everyone has a turn working with different classmates to encourage positive interactions and class cohesion.
Your positive feedback on their participation, great contributions, and problem-solving skills will help keep morale high and set the standard for how your students will speak to and support each other during future challenges.