Making School Memories: Team Building Activities
Type: All | Category: Making School Memories | Date: 11th September 2017
Teamwork is a life skill that every child should develop. In our first Making School Memories blog post, we look at an array of upbeat and engaging team building activities for children that can turn the most basic of lessons into something extra special that expand beyond any textbook or test.
Making School Memories is designed to do exactly what its title suggests – provide you with wonderful ideas that will make children remember their time at school fondly. Leavers’ Books will take a look at unique and fun ideas that can turn your classroom upside down, and really make education an experience.
No matter what the setting, it’s important to take some time out and have some fun. Team building activities are versatile and renowned for being a constructive way to build trust, allowing children to engage and cooperate with one another.
Not only do they promote critical thinking, but these activities help personalities shine through and aid in bringing students together who may rarely interact with each other. These tasks can even be included in teacher training days – a fabulous way to break the ice with new staff members and encourage conversation not solely classroom based.
The activities listed below are designed to provide a much needed postpone routine and establish a fun, positive classroom environment. So let’s get started!
1. If You Build it…
A fun game that involves very little preparation, and helps improve communication, teamwork and problem-solving skills. The aim is simple – to be able to build the tallest structure capable of holding up an object (ie. a beachball) within an allotted amount of time.
Simply divide students into teams and give them equal amounts of a certain material; we usually recommend just newspaper, paper, and tape. Clearly state that these are the only materials they can use to create their structures, and away they go!
The results will be variable and hilarious, but it will be so rewarding for the children to see their structures grow in size and show stability and sturdiness.
You can also recycle this activity throughout the year by adapting the challenge or materials. For example, around Christmas, you can set the challenge to build the tallest reindeer – the catch here being the four legs must be tall, but also hold up a body and head with antlers attached.
Extra: Mix things up too by creating the challenge of making a shoe tower. Using the shoes available to their team, they must construct the tallest tower – ensuring it doesn’t topple over! The team with the tallest shoe tower at the end of the time wins the challenge!
2. Story Time
With aim to build communication and creative communication skills through patience and respect, Story Time is a fun activity that makes the students become the story tellers, and ultimately, masters of their own future.
Form the students into a circle and give each child a specific word, object, animal or something along those lines - be it on a piece of card or just tell them before the game starts. From there, you begin telling a story, and after a few sentences, let the person next to you carry it on. The aim is that they incorporate their assigned word into the story before the next person takes over.
Capitalising on trust and communication, Minefield explores how well students can verbal give descriptive yet concise instructions, as well as receive them.
To prepare, arrange an obstacle course with a set route and barriers (with the help of rope or cones, for example). The obstacles can be objects that one must step over, move, carry, turn upside down, crawl under, or even kick (extra points or time shaved off if they hit a specific target) – and most of all, objects to avoid at all costs. Then, arrange students in equal teams.
Students take turns navigating the ‘minefield’ while blindfolded, with only their team mates to verbally guide them. The aim is to get as many team members across the course, and if it’s an even number, the quickest total time wins. If they trigger a ‘mine’ or step outside the barrier, they must restart. Time to test if patience truly is a virtue!
4. Desert Island
Problem-solving takes centre stage in Desert Island – an activity designed to improve communication and critical thinking. Fabricate the scenario in which students are stranded on a deserted island (of course, feel free to decorate the classroom for added effect!) and emphasise that they will need to work together to succeed.
The aim is to concoct a solution that ensures everyone survives, safely. Ask teams to come up with a list of 10 must have, realistic items that would help them the most. They can also list everything they can create with those items, or what they can use each item for (ie. an axe, to chop down trees; to cut open coconuts and other food; to hunt; to help flint and start a fire, etc.).
Once every team has presented their list and case for survival, get the students to vote for their favourite, actively encouraging a discussion as to why, focusing on praise and initiative.
5. Human Knot
Have two children start, holding hands. From there, players should join hands with someone positioned across from them and not the person standing next to him or her. Each person must hold hands with two different people, as slowly everyone joins in, creating a tangled mess!
Once the final person has entered the circle and joined hands with two different people, the real game begins. Without letting go of anyone’s hand, everyone must work together to untangle the ‘knot’. This simple game can be played with any number of players, and is a brilliant go-to as it does not require any pre-planning or extra materials.
The Human Knot challenges kids to work together and communicate without breaking the chain of hands.
6. Pass the Hula-Hoop
Quite similar to the Human Knot, Pass the Hula-Hoop encourages children to hold hands and effectively communicate – if they can hold in the laughter at any rate. Ask the children to form a circle, and place a hula-hoop over one of the children’s arm; instructing everyone to then join hands. Without letting go of anyone’s hand, the team must find a way to move the hula-hoop all the way around the circle.
It’s fun, it promotes listening, executing instructions and teamwork. Students will try different methods of getting this around their body – as other students will enjoy seeing their friends contort their body and struggle to step through or over the hoop to complete the task.
Go is a fun game, and a little different from the rest; it teaches children about non-verbal communication, especially eye-contact while working together. To begin, ask the children to stand in a circle, and pick someone to start the game. For the purpose of explanation, we will call them Child A.
Child A will make eye-contact with another player (Child B) in the circle, and say the word ‘go’. Once Child B receives the command, they slowly move towards Child A; the person that told them to ‘go’.
In the meanwhile, Child B will have to make eye-contact with another player (Child C) and say ‘go’ in time to let Child A take Child C’s spot. The players have to continue the game this way, until everyone has changed places.
The best way to explain this game is by a quick demonstration with five students before the real game begins. Go works on improving non-verbal cues, perfect timing, and encourages kids to stay alert, monitoring two situations at once.
Bang! is a lot like Go, but with a devilish twist. Again, focusing on non-verbal communication skills and having a keen eye for detail, there are three roles:
- The detective
- The killer
- The victims
Have the children form a circle and select one child to be the detective. They are to leave the room for one minute whilst you decide the killer. Once decided, the detective returns to the room and re-joins the circle. The race is on to find out who the killer is before everyone falls victim.
The killer’s objective is to make eye-contact with other players and blink. Once they register the blink, the player has been shot and must fall to the floor (the more dramatic, the better – naturally).
The other players cannot make it obvious who the killer is, and are encouraged to not simply look at the killer – their eyes are to dart around looking at everyone. As the numbers fall, the detective will become more desperate to catch the killer… But they only have three guesses before they lose.
9. Dragon’s Den
Much like the popular television show, Dragon’s Den inspires creative thinking, encourages children to come up with inventive ideas, and boosts healthy competition. The premise is rather simple: what can you create to better this world?
Separate the classroom into groups of three or four, and with a variety of big sheets of paper and marker pens, allow their imagination to take over. What innovative product can they invent? How does it work and what does it do? What is required to make it work? How do they intend to market it once it’s made?
At the end of the lesson, it’s their turn to present the invention to the rest of the class and explain convincingly why they should win. The idea here is not to test their business skills, but to encourage their creativity. Are you in, or are you out?
10. Half a Jigsaw
The aim of the game is for teams to work together and complete a puzzle as quickly as possible. Initially, the teams will be divided and all given separate bags of puzzle pieces (with no picture of the final image) – and they will think they are all competing against each other.
However, as time goes by, students should soon start to realise that there are a variety of completely different puzzle pieces in their bag. Encouraging communication with other teams, they should establish that there is no way of completing their own puzzle without the help of other teams, who will have puzzle pieces of theirs, as well as pieces of each puzzle.
You’ll notice a common theme throughout these top ten team building activities for children – and that’s that they actively encourage communication and showcase team work at its finest. When a team play together, they build together, and they win together. Let the games begin.