Team building activities are a fun way to strengthen middle school relationships. They are good icebreakers and build strong bonds as students work together to solve problems. Team building activities create trust and ease conflict between students. They develop communication skills and help students recognize each other’s strengths. Lessons learned during these activities can be applied to real-life situations.
Divide students into teams of three. Give each team two boxes of identical building materials. This could be anything such as Legos, blocks or even toothpicks and marshmallows or a combination of all of these. Set up teams at tables as far away from each other as possible. Ask each team to work together to build a structure from the supplies in one of the boxes and place it back into the box so the other teams cannot see it. When all structures are complete and in boxes, have teams switch boxes. Give each of the team members positions as “explainer,” “messenger” and “builder.” Only the explainer can see the structure. He must describe the structure to the messenger, who in turn relays to the builder instructions on how to build it. The builder must create an exact replica with only the instructions relayed through the messenger.
Build a Story
Present a student with an object or a photo of a person, place, or thing. Ask that student to make up the first line of a story about whatever you've handed to them. The next student will add their own line to the narrative, and so on, and so on. To make the exercise more complex, add more photos or objects as the storytelling is in progress. This activity encourages a flow of ideas and building upon someone else's work. Transcribe the story and display it, so the whole class can see what they've created together.
Inner Circle Outer Circle
Have students stand in a circle. Tell every other student to step back one step so there is an inner circle and an outer circle. The students in the inner circle should turn around and face the students in the outer circle. Adjust the circles so that students stand face-to-face. The teacher then asks a question, such as, “What is one of your favorite movies and why?” The students standing face to face should share their answers with each other. Give a few minutes for this exchange, and then instruct one or both of the circles to rotate. For instance, say, “Inner circle move two spaces to the left.” Ask another question and have students share that information with each other. Continue in this manner until a series of 10 questions is shared.
Have students line up next to each other, shoulder to shoulder. Then blindfold them all, and tell them they must rearrange themselves from tallest to shortest. You can use variations on this, such as lining up in order of birthdays, shoe size or alphabetical order. Another game to play while students are blindfolded is Pattern Dash. Divide students into teams of four. Give each team a number of shapes cut from poster board, such as a star, circle, square, rectangle and octagon. Have the team members sit side by side at long tables. Call out a pattern, such as square-circle-star-octagon-triangle. Teams must race to lay out the pattern within a certain time limit.
Debbie McCarson is a former English teacher and school business administrator. Her articles have appeared in "School Librarians’ Journal" and "The Encyclopedia of New Jersey." A South Jersey native, she is a regular contributor to "South Jersey MOM" magazine.