Starting Off Right: Team Building Ideas To Help Your Students Forge A Classroom Community

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Team building games serve three purposes in the classroom. They help students to connect with one another as a community, trusting the opinions and insights of the group more readily. They also help provide movement, which can help burn off some energy and help increase focus on the bulk of the lesson. Finally, team building exercises can improve critical thinking and problem solving skills, especially in students who are not as confident in academia. Popular team building games you can use in your classroom include the following:

  1. The human knot. Have your students gather in the center of the room. Have everyone join hands in a muddle. Without breaking the handgrip of any student, they must work to disentangle themselves. Sometimes, the students will end up in a circle, or they will be two or three smaller circles once the mess is sorted. This exercise is a great communication builder.
  2. Egg drop contests. Divide students into three or four groups. Have the groups work together to create basket or other protection for an egg. Drop the egg from a height of several feet to test each team's invention. Increase the heights until eggs begin to crack. The team that has the most successfully designed protection wins. 
  3. Blindfold instructions. Have one student blindfolded and removed from the room. Tell the rest of the class that the goal is to help the blind folded student successfully draw a picture on the board hearing only the instructions from the rest of the class. 
  4. Catch the captain. This game appoints one student to be "in charge." He must stand facing the wall. The rest of the classroom must work in silence to get close enough to the captain to touch him. If he turns around, everyone must freeze. Anyone caught talking or moving when the captain looks caused the team to begin again. 
  5. What's wrong. Place two pictures on the board and have small groups of student collaborate together on all the ways the pictures are different and the same. This process can open a discussion into interpretations of the picture, and not just the physical details. 
  6. Silent explanations. Choose an object to describe. This could be a chopstick, a pen, or a towel. Give the object to the student. Have them "explain" the use of the object without speaking. Students must guess what the object is to be used for. The next student then gets to "explain" the same object, but must come up with a new use. This can work very well when two teams are working to come up with the most explanations for a prize or privilege.