At the start of each new school year, every teacher is faced with the challenge of turning a group of random kids into a functioning team unit. This can be a lot easier said than done, especially when you have a 50-minute time limit, and when you're working with middle school students.
Follow along with this list of team-building activities to get your year started right!
1. Escape Room Activity
Escape rooms gained popularity a few years ago for their interactive, puzzle-like themes that require a team of people to "break out" of the locked room by solving riddles and finding clues. By turning your classroom into one, students must talk and work together in order to "escape" and make it through! This is especially great as a STEM activity.
Learn More: Lasseter’s Lab
2. Supply Drive
Make a classroom supply drive that pits class periods against each other! This fun, friendly competition allows students to raise up supply for your classroom (and others, if you want to share) so learning can happen for everybody. The class that brings in the most supply wins a pizza lunch (or whatever you choose).
Learn More: 2Moda
3. Virtual Peer-to-Peer Discussion
Create a space on the web for your class to interact safely and ask questions to their peers when they need help. Google Classroom is great for this, but you can also use other sites that are paid. Your school may even have a program bought for you that you can utilize!
Learn More: Owl Labs Resources
4. Scavenger Hunt
In this epic activity, you will design a scavenger hunt to help students learn about the school and each other. This classic game promotes teamwork with each other as students race around the school to find the items on their list.
Learn More: Teachers Pay Teachers
5. Hula Hoop Pass
If you're looking for something more time-friendly, look no further than the classic hula hoop pass! Students get into a circle and join hands, then pass the hula hoop around the circle. The team who works best together wins.
Learn More: Absorn Roberson
6. Build It Tower
Using plastic cups, paper plates, and tongue depressors, have students set out to build the tallest tower possible in a short amount of time. Whoever's tower is the tallest, wins!
Learn More: Pinterest
7. Class Community Projects
Choosing a community project as a class can build classroom community, as community activities will bring students together in an authentic manner. By serving those around them through a project, students can work together for the greater good.
Learn More: Amber Melanie Smith
8. Rock, Paper, Scissors Championship
Have students partner up and play rock, paper, and scissors. The loser of the match must follow the winner and cheer them on as they find their next opponent. The winner of the subsequent rounds accrues all the cheerleaders as they compete over and over until there is one sole champion!
Learn More: Plaaaytime
9. Math Relay
If you're in a middle school math classroom, you may want to incorporate some math skills into your team-building activity. You can do this by putting students on small teams, then having them race around the room completing different math equations from algebra, geometry, multi-step word problems, and more. This not only provides real-time student data, but it also allows students to work on their teamwork skills at the same time as they're doing a fun math activity!
Learn More: Share My Lesson
10. Blind Maze
Set up a maze using plastic cones and other barriers, then pair students up. Have one blindfolded student in each pair start to work their way through the maze, using only the instructions from the student who can see. This will challenge students to speak up, work together, and build their listening skills.
Learn More: Corporate Team Buiding
Using the "fun" Kahoot topics, like Disney characters or 90s music, have your kids compete to see who is the greatest trivia master of all! This easy kids activity doubles as a STEM activity.
Learn More: 25 Kahoot Ideas and Features to Use in Your Classroom
12. Puzzle Time
This classic team-building game has students working on their problem-solving skills and their team-building skills as they work to put together a good, old-fashioned puzzle. You can make it as normal as a Harry Potter puzzle, or order a custom puzzle with different classroom mottos from somewhere like Etsy!
Learn More: Very Well Family
13. Get To Know You Balloons
This balloon STEM activity only uses balloons and a piece of paper! Have students write something about themselves on a small slip of blank paper, then place that slip inside a balloon, blow it up nice and big, and tie it off. Have students pass the balloons around and read about each other!
Learn More: Alamy
14. Beachball Questions
For this icebreaker activity, write a bunch of questions (such as "If you could live in any fantasy world, what would it be and why) all over a beach ball and have students pop it up. When they catch it, have them read and answer the question before tossing it back up for the next student to catch it!
Learn More: Guide Inc.
15. Toilet Paper Icebreaker
For this fun activity, pass around a roll of toilet paper. Students can take as many or as few squares as they like (minimum 1). Once everyone has their squares, tell them to write 1 fact about themselves per square! Then, share them with the class.
Learn More: Thought Co.
16. Pows and Wows
Spending time each week going over highs and lows can allow students space to process challenges and victories together. Not only does this build listening skills and encourage empathy, but it also fosters community forming within a classroom.
Learn More: Resilient Educator
17. Pen Pals
Writing letters to younger students can foster team building within your classroom. Allowing students to help kids work on their reading and writing skills makes your whole school community a team.
Learn More: Responsive Classroom
18. Jelly Belly Artist
Using a few jelly beans and toothpicks, have students create a sculpture with only the jelly beans and toothpicks. Have the class vote on whose sculpture is best!
Learn More: The Artful Parent
19. Suspect Cards
In this living version of Guess Who?, have students write a fun fact about themselves anonymously. Then, shuffle them up and pass them back out randomly. Have students walk around to try to guess whose card they have and who has theirs!
Learn More: Shelley Gray Teaching
20. Magic Carpet
This fun outdoor activity is great for an active activity. Using a blanket outside, have students all stand on it and attempt to flip it over while all still standing on the "magic carpet". The team who does it first wins!
Learn More: Thom Stecher & Associates