If you’re looking for unique and engaging ways to help the students in your classroom develop their social, communication, and problem-solving skills while simultaneously fostering peer relationships and promoting inclusion, this collection of team building activities for kids is a great place to start!
These cooperative games and activities can be used as ice breakers on the first day of school to help students get to know one another, and many of them can be used throughout the school year to encourage ongoing collaboration and team work.
There are so many great ideas here to inspire and help you build a supportive and safe environment for your students!
Why Is Team Building in the Classroom Important?
- Enables students to get to know each other better. Working collaboratively with other students within the classroom helps children get to know one another better, allowing them more insight into each other’s individual strengths, weakness, and interests. This can help students understand one another better, and often helps create friendships that may not have been formed otherwise.
- Boosts self-confidence. While some children find peer interaction easy, others are much more reserved and prefer to stick close to those they are most comfortable with. This can be especially true in middle and high school, and engaging students in fun activities that require them to come together and work collaboratively towards a common goal can help remove barriers, improve self-confidence, and boost overall morale within the classroom.
- Improves communication. In order to work cohesively as a unit, team building activities for kids teach students how to listen to their peers and also helps them learn how to express their ideas and opinions effectively.
- Encourages collaboration. One of my favorite things about team building activities for kids is that they teach children to work collaboratively, which strengthens the class as a whole.
- Decreases bullying. Team building activities for kids are also a fabulous way to reduce bullying within the classroom. When children feel like they are part of a team, they are much more likely to work together and support one another both inside and outside of the classroom. The trick is to ensure you are engaging students in team building activities regularly so these feelings continue to be fostered over time.
- Creates a comfortable environment for students and teachers. When children feel like they are part of a team and have a chance to get to know their peers on a deeper level, the outcome is almost always a positive one! The classroom becomes a safe environment where children feel their opinions matter, and once these feelings have been established, students will feel more comfortable being themselves.
7 Team Building Activities for Kids in Elementary School
Birthday Line Up. Most classrooms have a birthday calendar displayed on one of the walls or bulletin boards, and if you’re looking for team building activities for kids that you can do a little later in the school year, this is a great one to consider. The idea behind this activity is to get your students to line up in order of their birthdate from January to December. To make this extra difficult, and to promote additional teamwork, tell them they cannot, under any circumstances, talk during the activity! Consider setting a timer, and then working together as a class to make corrections before challenging your students to do this a second (and third) time!
Group Jump Rope. Did you ever do this as a kid? I did and it’s super fun and challenging! Divide your class into teams of about 5 or 6 and challenge them to jump in tandem while 2 adults turn the rope. You’ll need a long jump rope like this one, and while this activity sounds easy, it really does require teamwork for everyone to jump at the same time. Give each team a trial run, and then setup a challenge to see which team can jump the longest.
Team Scavenger Hunt. This will require a bit of upfront work on your part, but it’s a great way to get your students to work collaboratively and it can be extremely fun and engaging! Divide your class into teams of 4 or 5 and provide them with a set of clues to see who can work together to find all of the items the fastest. What I love most about scavenger hunts is that you can create subject-specific scavenger hunts to compliment your lesson plans. Teachers Pay Teachers has TONS of great ideas you can purchase for a small fee.
Hula Hoop Pass. This is probably one of the most popular team building activities for kids, but for those who’ve never heard of it, it’s quite easy to replicate. Have your students stand side-by-side in a line and ask them to hold hands. Place a hula hoop on the arm of the first person on one end of the line, and then challenge the students to move the hula hoop to the other end of the line while continuing to hold hands. It’s fun and silly and a great way to get children to work as a team!
Wheelbarrow Races. If you’re looking for team building activities for kids you can do in gym class, this is a great one to try! Pair kids up in teams of 2, with one person lying tummy-side down on the ground. The person who is standing must hold their team member’s ankles and help them walk on their hands (hence the term ‘wheelbarrow race’) to the finish line. It’s surprisingly difficult to do, and a great way to encourage kids to work together as partners.
Human Knot. This is another one of my favorite team building activities for kids as it requires no setup and can be done absolutely anywhere. It’s also super fun! Have a group of students stand in a circle and ask everyone to raise their right arm before reaching forward to grab hands with someone opposite from them. Next, ask everyone to raise their left arms and do the same thing. Be sure no one is holding hands with someone standing directly next to him or her. The object of this activity is for the group to find a way to detangle themselves without letting go of anyone’s hands.
Water Balloon Pass. If you’re looking for team building activities for kids you can do outside, this is another great one! You can obviously use regular balls, but water balloons make it extra fun and motivating in my opinion. Split your classroom up into pairs of 2, and have everyone line up so they are facing their partner with a few feet between one another. Next, have one player toss a water balloon to his or her partner. Each time a player catches a water balloon without it breaking, the partners each take one step backwards, which obviously makes the game more challenging. The object of the game is to see which team reaches the end of the playing area first, although you will obviously continue the game until all teams have finished.
7 Team Building Activities for Kids in Middle School
Blind Folded Obstacle Course. Setup an obstacle course in the school gym or playground and divide your class into teams of 4 or 5. Every member of each team will get a chance to complete the obstacle course while blindfolded while their teammates verbally lead them through the course. You can do this just for fun, or you can set a timer to see which team is more efficient with providing verbal instructions.
Pass the Exercise Ball. I can’t remember where I first saw this idea, but it definitely tops the list of my favorite team building activities for kids in middle school. Have your students stand shoulder to shoulder in a line, and then ask them to lie on the ground with their feet propped up against a wall while holding hands. The object of the game is for the class to move an exercise ball from one end of the line to the other using only their feet.
LEGO Building Challenge. I actually played this during a corporate retreat when I was in my 20s, and I’m excited to include it in this list of team building activities for kids. The idea is pretty simple, but the activity itself is surprisingly challenging. To play, the teacher must create a simple(ish) structure using LEGO pieces, divide the class into groups of 2, and provide each group with a bag filled with each of the LEGO pieces uses to create the structure. The structure is placed somewhere out of sight (i.e. on a table in the hallway), and one person in the team is tasked with walking out to view the structure and reporting back to his or her partner with verbal instructions on how to replicate it. He or she cannot use his or her hands at any time. This is all about communication and can be both fun and frustrating!
Fingertip Hula Hoop. Split your class into teams of about 6-8 students, have them stand together in a circle with their arms raised above their heads, and then place a hula hoop on their finger tips. Using nothing but their fingertips, each team must work together to lower the hula hoop to the ground without dropping it.
Relay Races. Relay races are a fabulous way to get kids to work collaboratively and there are so many different ideas you can try with your students. Check out this list of 45 ideas over on Kid Activities for a little inspiration!
Helping Out in the Community. While not necessarily a team building activity per se, finding ways for your students to work together for a greater cause can go a long way in helping them form connections with one another. This could be as simple as cleaning up your local neigborhood or park, or you could take it a step further and organize for your class to serve a meal at a homeless shelter or visit a nursing home. The idea is to do something for others, and I would suggest pairing kids together from different social circles so they can share the experience and (hopefully) bond over it. Encourage them to discuss what they did and how it made them feel as a group afterwards for greater connection.
Balloon Walking. The last idea I have to share on this list of team building activities for kids is a great ice breaker for kids in middle school and beyond. Ask the class to line up side-by-side and hold hands before placing a balloon in between the shoulders of each student. The object of the activity is for the entire class to walk in a line without any of the balloons popping or falling to the ground. It’s heaps of fun!
Whether you’re an elementary or middle school teacher, I hope this collection of team building activities for kids inspires you to find fun and engaging ways to promote team work and inclusion within your classroom this school year!