Playgrounds, recess, gym class, Minecraft, board games—these are all opportunities for elementary school-aged kids to build their skills in teamwork, problem solving, and communication. Learning about sharing and teamwork starts at a young age and are both essential for setting solid foundations for life.
Often when we talk about team building, we think about common workplace activities to help boost work production. But what if we give children the opportunity to prepare for real-world experiences by incorporating team building activities into their everyday lives? Whether you’re a school teacher, gym teacher, babysitter, coach or parent, introducing activities that focus on working together will only help them long term!
5 Easy Team Building Activities for Kids
|Fingertip Hula Hoop||In this activity, have the kids stand in a circle and raise their arms to about hip-height, then tell them to extend only their index fingers. Place a hula hoop on top of their outstretched index fingers. The number one rule to follow is to keep their index finger tip on the hula hoop at all times without wrapping their finger around the hoop. The challenge is for the groups to lower the hoop to the ground without dropping it. To make this activity more challenging, you can place communication constraints on the kids—no talking or limited talking, for example. This activity helps children develop skills in teamwork, creative communication, leadership, problem solving, and inclusion.|
|Don’t Wake the Monster||This is a fun imaginary activity for kids. Tell the group that they are villagers and a furious monster has laid siege upon their village. To defeat the monster and save their village, the children must line up in order of height (shortest-tallest or tallest-shortest) without talking. Once the kids are in order, they must yell “BOO” simultaneously. This will scare away the monster, thus saving their town. This activity helps children develop skills in teamwork, creative communication, leadership, problem solving, and inclusion.|
|Traffic Lights||This is a classic team building game for kids. In this activity, an adult stands at the front of the room, shouting out ‘RED,' ' ‘YELLOW,' or ‘GREEN.' The kids stand on the other side of the room. They walk fast on GREEN, walk slowly on YELLOW, and must stop on RED. If there are enough kids, then they can be broken up into two separate teams. The team that completes the Traffic Lights challenge first, when all the kids on the team successfully make it to the other side, wins! The team building aspect here is that the kids aren't racing against each other, but rather collectively, in order to beat the other team.|
|Trust Walk||This team building activity for kids can be accomplished in either pairs or groups. Make sure the playing area is a safe, enclosed outdoors area (like a backyard, a playground, or small park), in which there is a designated start and finish area. One child is blindfolded and spun around (not too fast–we don’t want any kids getting dizzy!). Move the child around a few steps so that he isn’t in the same exact position as he was before. Then, have another volunteer come over and act as a guide. The guide must get the blindfolded child to the finish area–but the twist is that he can’t touch him, and can only provide verbal commands. To make the game more challenging, the guide can’t use any directional language. For example, instead of saying “go forward five steps, then go left five steps," the guide can only say directives such as “walk until you step on a hard surface," followed by, “now head toward the tree to your right 90 degrees," and the blindfolded child will make it over the finish line with the help of the guide's voice.|
|Tag with a Twist||Set up a normal game of tag, but instead of one child being “it," there will be two children who will be “it." The two designated "its" will then have to work together to tag the same target. The kids who are being chased learn how to work together to avoid being tagged by the pair and the "it" pair work together to find ways to tag the other kids. For a double twist, have the "it" pair link arms, which makes it harder to run and harder to tag others.|
Easy Team Building Activities FAQ:
How Do I Get My Kids to Work Together?
Much of the set-up work for the above team building activities can be done beforehand. We suggest choosing the teams ahead of time to eliminate any room for disagreements or the tried and true “this is unfair!” Where possible, when giving directions for these team building activities, explain them out loud, write them down or type them up, and have someone demonstrate what the game will look like so that children who learn in different ways will be able to understand the directions. Modify the game rules where needed and step in when individual children are having a hard time with any aspect of the game.
Why is Team Building Important in Schools?
Team building activities in schools create real-world situations that students will encounter later in life—especially if they’re working with other students that they normally don’t socialize with daily. A team building activity in school can prepare students for presenting in front of people they don’t know years down the road. Students who participate in these activities gain a sense of responsibility for their team’s success, they learn what it’s like to “get in the zone” or focus fully on a task as a group, and it helps develop stronger relationships.