15 fun team building activities and trust games for the classroom
The well-being of students has a direct impact on their progress. So, happy students learn better. As a teacher, you play a crucial role in their social-emotional well-being and development.
You can create an engaging classroom environment with collaboration and respect. Team-building activities are perfect for teaching your students these skills. In this blog post, I have gathered 10 fun team building activities for your classroom, so your students will get closer to each other. After this, I will provide 5 more activities that will help build trust among them.
Team-building activities for your classroom
All team building activities are easy to do in your classroom or in the hallway. If you want to take a breath of fresh air, you can also go outside, but it’s not necessary. The activities are for both elementary and high school students.
1. Over the electric fence
This one is a well-known team building game. Imagine two chairs connected with a wire at about 1m high. Imagine this is an electric fence. If you touch it, you’re dead. Even worse… everyone is dead, because all the students must stay connected as well, and just like with an electric fence, if one person touches it, the electric shock guides through all the persons until the last one. Good thing it’s not really loaded with electricity. The goal is to get over the fence while holding hands. It’s a real challenge, as not everyone can just jump over it. It takes real teamwork to succeed.
2. The human knot
Another classic team building game. Let your students stand in a circle, giving hands. Now, students have to tangle themselves by walking in between students in front of them, going over or under locked hands. They can also go between other students’ legs. They have to make a knot keeping their hands locked to the other students. Now, two other students need to work together and give instructions to the human knot. They have to find a way to untangle it.
3. Escape the classroom
Create an “escape the classroom” game. Students will have to work together in groups to escape the classroom. They have to look for clues and codes on their computer and in the classroom. I just wrote a post about how you can create a digital escape room and combine it with elements in your classroom, which you can use as inspiration. Scavenger hunts, breakout games, or escape the classroom games encourage students to work together: planning a strategy, divvying up tasks and communicating progress.
4. Bob the Builder
This game is all about working together to build something great. It lets students work together, develop great things, and makes them think critically and learn from their mistakes and successes. As a teacher, you give the teams an assignment. For example, your teams have to build:
- The largest tower in Lego
- The largest bridge with toothpicks and marshmallows
- The biggest castle out of cardboard
If you’ve got older students, let them build the prettiest “alien” species with a 3D-printer. I’m sure you can come up with some nice challenges.
Gather your students in a circle and give each student a picture of an animal, object, place, … You could also give each student a certain emoji, such as a snail, a church, skis, a dancer, a baby, and so on.
Now, start a story by creating an introduction of your own. The next student goes further on the previous storyline and adds an extra narrative with the picture they’re holding. This process continues until you reach the last student. Together, you created a very complex and creative story. Every student took part in the story. This game is ideal for promoting communication, as well as a creative collaboration.
6. Shrinking classroom
Here, students have to organize themselves in a way they can fit a classroom space that’s rapidly shrinking. Divide your classroom into two groups. These two groups are competitors. They both stand in a defined place. The teacher reduces the standing area with, for example, a rope or small traffic cones. The students have to find a way to all fit in the limited area. As a teacher, you keep pushing their limits by reducing the area. The group that can get in the smallest “classroom” wins.
7. Get on the chair
For this classroom team building game, students need to be flexible and balanced. Provide a chair for every student. All the chairs should be lined up on one single line. Every student stands on a chair. Now, the teacher asks them to go stand in a certain order. For example: “I want you to organize yourselves from old to young.” The students now have to change places without touching the ground.
With this team building exercise, the students get to know each other better in an interactive way. The teacher can give other orders like: “from tall to small.” or “from A to Z.” Every time, the students have to change their positions without pushing someone off the chairs. Working together is crucial. If you want to make it more challenging, you can set a time limit.
8. Classroom party
Around Halloween or Christmas, you could get your students to cook and decorate. They have to organize a classroom party. They are responsible for decorations, for the food, and for the games. Divide your students into 3 groups. They have to work in teams to create the best classroom party ever: One team designs the Halloween or Christmas food and buffet, one team does the craftwork for decorations, and one team prepares the classroom games that will be played that day. They become true event-planners.
9. Blanket switch
Divide your classroom into 3 teams. Each team stands on a blanket, leaving about a quarter of the blanket space. Now, the three teams have to turn over the blanket without leaving it. This means they have to work together to end up standing on the other side of the blanket.
10. Movie time!
Create a class movie. It’s a big project, so students will have to work together closely. Again, this team building activity for students requires them to split up in groups. Here’s what needs to be done:
- Write a synopsis. What’s the classroom story about? Let all your students write a synopsis and vote for the best one.
- Divide the character roles
- Get the clothing and costumes together
- Prepare the scenes
- Film the scenes
- Put together and edit the scenes
- Organize a movie night.
Plenty to do for all the students in your classroom. It’s the perfect team building exercise that teaches students to work together and be creative.
Trust activities for students of all ages
Just like in the team building examples above, these trust games are perfect for the classroom.
11. Obstacle run
Use your benches, chairs, and dustbins as obstacles in your classroom. Create a real maze full of “roadblocks”. Divide your students into small groups of 2. One is blindfolded and the other guides the blindfolded students through all the obstacles. This activity is based upon one’s trust in another. If you want to spice things up, you could let 2 or 3 groups race each other through the obstacles. The fastest one through wins. Be careful though, it’s still important to guide the blindfolded student through the obstacles without any scratch.
Define a square area in your classroom. You can use tape for this. Now, place plastic cones or cups everywhere in the square area. This now represents a minefield.
Again, such as in the activity above, split up students into groups of two. One is blindfolded, the other gives instructions. The blindfolded students have to cross the minefield without touching or knocking down the plastic cups. The other students give accurate commands so the blindfolded students can cross the minefield without blowing up a “mine”.
13. Look into my eyes
Have your students take turns staring into each other’s eyes for 60 seconds. This trust activity might frighten students a bit as gazing in each other’s eyes is not easy. But, not only will they become better at maintaining eye contact, they should connect with one another on some level.
14. Falling trees
Students stand in a close circle with one student in the middle. That student in the middle is a tree, so he has to make his body stiff. Now, that student has to fall from the middle towards a person in the middle. That person has to catch the tree and push it to another side of the circle. Of course, the tree may not fall.
15. Blind artist
One of my favorite creative trust games for students is this one! Have your students form pairs. The students can’t see each other. One student gets a drawing you have prepared earlier. Ideally, the drawing should be something relevant to what you are teaching.
The student holding the drawing needs to give good instructions to the other student. The other student needs to draw it without being able to see the original picture. If you want to spice up the classroom game, you can put a variety of conditions to it, such as ‘no asking questions’, ‘must draw with your non-writing hand’, etc. Aren’t you curious about the results?
When you use this team building energizer as a revision activity, you let the pair explain to the rest of the class what the drawing is about.
Here you can see an example. The student who is going to give the description can click on the icon in the upper right corner to get a new picture. The other student takes a pen and paper and draws based on what is being told. If successful, the roles can be reversed. (The students see only 1 picture each time, so you can use this way of working multiple times.)
Now students are much closer. They may learn better, as well. It is important for students to enjoy going to school. Check out this blog post for ready-to-use first day school lessons it includes introduction games. Make sure to take the time for team building exercises and trust games such as these, not only during the first days of school, but once every few weeks across the entire year. Check out these classroom energizers and first day of school activities, so you can get to know your students better. In fact, why not try out all the team building activities for students mentioned above this school year? Investing time now means they will know each other better next school year, too.
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