Classroom Culture

Team Building Games

Have you ever thought of asking your entire class to cross a river a lava using only 10 pieces of paper?

“Cross the River” is one of my favorite team building games because it can take hours for the students to crack, and it is very low effort on the teacher’s part. All you need is an open pathway, and a stack of construction paper (it works even better if you can steal some of those rubber circles or mats from the P.E. teacher).  Simply tell the students to get the entire class across the river using those “stepping stones”. Everyone must get across and everyone must help in the planning process.

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This game promotes planning, communication, shared leadership, and reflection. I enjoy giving extra challenges when things get too easy, or when one person has been taking the lead for too long. This group had some very quiet people, so there was a day that the students were only allowed to whisper. Most of the time, the boys took the lead, so there was a day when only girls could speak (excuse the gender binary). Sometimes I would walk over, take the stack of papers out of one person’s hand and give them to someone else, announcing they were the leader now.

My personal favortie was when I told the three biggest leaders in the group that they had to be the last three to cross the river. This meant that they could no longer be at the forefront of the activity. If they had an idea, they had to verbally communicate it to their classmates insted of physically acting it out.

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There are lots of twists and turns with this game, and it can last as long as you wanted it to. My students begged me everyday to keep try to solve the puzzle, and were always disappointed when we had to stop. This kept them busy for weeks, while creating a communal feeling in the class, and teaching them valuable life skills.

Team building games are great breain breaks or indoor recesses. Some can last for 5 minutes, and some, like “Cross the River” can last for weeks, and can be picked up for 5 or 10 minutes, whenever you get a free second. Some other great game ideas are:

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