Team Building Activities

See Mix and Match Machines on video in section 3 of Start UP! Reading with Elaine Jaltema

or a print version see

Mix & Match Machine- make a grass cutting machine.jpeg

Toilet Paper Wrap:

A team building activity to kick-start discussion of personal attributes and transferable skills in Career Education

Objective: to take on a crazy task and consider how a team works
Group Size: 6 or more
Materials: one roll of toilet paper per group

Divide the group into teams of 3 – 8. I had just made a desk change and used the new desk groupings as my teams.
Give the teams 15 minutes to decorate one of their members using the toilet paper. The person may be decorated as anything the group decides. My students created the Statue of Liberty, a Greek god, a cheerleader, a sumo wrestler, a ninja and runway model. Hold a ‘fashion show’ at the end to celebrate the creativity.

To tap into HACE PLOs, have a class wide discussion about what ‘transferable skills’ were needed to take on something as crazy as this – team-work, time management, creativity, flexibility, etc. Also consider how you (the student) worked on your team – a leader? a follower? listener? contributor? Why did our group work well (or not so well) together? What were MY personal attributes that contributed most to the group etc.

This was a fun activity and the students were engaged in the discussion of how skills transfer from school, sports, etc to any kind of ‘work project”. It was also a fun, carefree activity that was a non-threatening way for students to see how groups can work together and why they may not.

This activity is based on Team Building Activities for Every Group by Alanna Jones.

Name Game – A team building activity – Kirsten Paterson
This game will help develop a collaborative classroom and seems to be suitable for the intermediate level.
for students to learn each others names
Group size:
12 or more
Paper , Pens, Pencils or Colored Markers
How to Play:

  • Ask group member to break into small groups by finding people who have the same number of letters in their first name as they do (you may have to combine groups if too small).
  • Once groups have been formed, have each group create a banner that contains all of the their names. Each person must then find an object in the room that starts with the same letter as the first letter of his/her name.
  • After finding the objects the group must work together to create a song, rhyme, rap, story, etc… that contains every person’s name and each object that was found.
  • After all the groups have completed the task, allow time for each group to share their creations and present their story, song, rhyme, etc. with everyone else.

Activity from: Team Building Activites by Alanna Jones.

Broken Squares

– contributed by Holly Lloyd

Broken Squares instructions.doc
broken squares puzzles.doc

Secret Buddy Compliments

– Jennie Boulanger
This is a great self-confidence-building activity a student teacher of mine developed.
– for students to notice and share great things about their peers and themselves
– divide your class list into 5 groups; use bold felt pens and write each group (i.e. up to 6 names) onto five 8.5″ X 11″ sheets. Staple them together (i.e. one list will be on top, the other 4 underneath).
– also print each student’s name onto a flashcard
What To Do:
– on the first day, call the students listed on the first 8.5″ X 11″ paper to choose one flashcard each; they are not to share that name with any peers; instruct that group of students to secretly observe their “Secret Buddy” over the next day, to note one good thing about them (i.e. shared their pencil crayons, helped a student on the playground, picked up a dropped coat in the cloakroom, smiled at you and cheered you up, played well in dodgeball…)
– display the top page of the package of 8.5″ X 11″ papers in the classroom
– at a good time the next day (i.e. just before filling in Planners) have the group stand up one at a time (or I have them all line up at the front of the class and take turns) to say:
1) “I compliment (name of Secret Buddy) for (tell what the Secret Buddy did well) .”
2) “I compliment myself for (tell about something you did well) .” (This takes a loooooooooong time for some
students the first times, as we are all so critical of ourselves! Try not to let others call out or help them. This is such
an important skill to develop, how to compliment ourselves.)
– turn the first page over and call the next group up to choose a Secret Buddy to watch over the next day(s) until they are called upon to do their compliments
– I keep 2 piles of flashcards: one pile of names that were already chosen and one pile of names not chosen yet. When they’ve all been chosen, I shuffle and start again
– the first times we do this, I quietly check with students before they stand up, to make sure they have a compliment ready
– every once in a while we do a “random compliment” session; anyone who wants to compliment a person or group of persons in the classroom can do so, as long as they compliment themselves too!
– I try to start each day with a list of compliments for some students and end with one about myself; I write them down first and keep track so that I touch on every student at least once a week
– over the year I debrief about how important it is to compliment ourselves and others. Sometimes in life we may feel unrecognized by peers or supervisors. Instead of feeling bitter, we should always be our own best friends, instead of our own worst enemies! Compliment yourself every day!