One of the most important things you will do in your classroom the first week of school is providing team building opportunities for your students. Students need to get to know to each other to build trust and respect. Your students will be expected to collaborate with one another throughout the year, so the earlier you can start this process the better. You’ll also build a classroom community where students feel accepted and safe.
The older your students are the harder it is to find team building activities that are age appropriate and ones they haven’t done before. Here are 10 team builders I have used in my classroom for upper elementary that are fan favorites amongst my students!
Digital Classroom Escapes
Nothing says teamwork like when you’re trapped in a room with a bunch of people and must depend on one another to get out. This Back to School Digital Escape isn’t as dramatic as that, but students must work together to navigate their way thru a series of digital locks and challenges to “break out.” My students also love the Growth Mindset Challenge which promotes perseverance and embracing challenging work.
First Day Fiasco Logic puzzler
Logic puzzlers are the perfect way to spark some problem solving the first week of school. Designed to be thought provoking, students must use deductive reasoning to solve the puzzler. Clues aren’t overtly obvious and sometimes it takes reading a clue a few times for it to click! I put my students in pairs for this activity so they can bounce ideas off one another.
This activity is a fan favorite every year. Start by instructing your students that they are going to save a life today; this statement always gets their attention. Next, explain to students that Fred’s boat capsized and he needs to get out from under the boat and put his life vest (the peach gummy) on. Students must help Fred with his life vest, but they can ONLY touch the materials using a paper clip (one clip per student). Sounds simple, but it can get pretty tricky!
This activity puts a twist on the traditional game of Scattergories. In this version the teacher will provide a topic for students. Students will think of words associated with that topic that begin with the letter shown. Quick and fun!
Apple Annihilator STEM Challenge
You will definitely score major “cool teacher” points with this activity. For this STEM challenge students will design and build an apple wrecking ball. My weeks my students talked about this activity and many noted that this was their favorite STEM challenge of the year. Implementing STEM activities in your classroom can feel overwhelming but Kerry Tracy includes videos and many handouts to guide you and your students.
Follow the Leader Lesson
If you’re looking for a way to pinpoint classroom leaders and students that need more guidance, this activity is for you. Students will take turns verbally dictating a specific directive to their group so students can complete the easy faces on the sheet. This activity promotes Active listening; a skill that is so important as students collaborate throughout the year on academic projects.
Cup Tower Building Activity
This activity is so fun! I found the idea on Pinterest. The prep is easy and the initial cost is low. Students must work together to stack the cups in certain formations while only using the rubber band/string contraption. CLICK HERE for more directions.
Getting to Know You Puzzles
In this activity students will create a personal puzzle that illustrates different things about themselves. Students will team up with one another and solve each other’s puzzles. It’s a way nice for students to share unique traits, family details, or anything else that they are passionate about.
Stand Up For Your Classmate
This activity carries a more serious component to it. Students will fill out a survey anonymously; some questions touch upon anxiety, bullying, and feelings of being left out. The teacher will collect all surveys and then redistribute the surveys back out to students. Students will each hold a survey that doesn’t belong to them. As the teacher reads aloud the statements on the survey students will stand if that particular sentence has been checked off on the survey that they are holding.The purpose is to show students that they are not alone in their feelings. Most of us share the same anxieties about the first day of school or taking tests, but everything is anonymous.
Getting to Know You Jenga
I found this activity from Jennifer Findley. It’s a great spin on the traditional getting to know you questions we have our students ask one another during the first week of school. Students will play Jenga with colored blocks. When they pull a block, they will then answer a question that is associated with the colored block they selected. Jennifer has a more detailed summary on her website, along with all the FREE templates you need. CLICK HERE to read more.
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