Team building in the elementary school classroom helps to create a positive, cooperative atmosphere. Team building activities can be used as beginning of the year ice breakers as well as regular, periodic events that maintain class unity. These types of activities develop problem-solving skills and promote positive social interactions among students.

Shoe Finder

This is a good activity for the first day or week of school. Have the students stand in a circle. Instruct them to remove one shoe and place it in a pile in the middle of the circle. After the students have returned to their place in the circle, tell them that they must retrieve one shoe and find who it belongs to. Once they find the owner of the shoe, they must find out one interesting thing that the person did over summer vacation. Give the signal to go and allow the students about three to five minutes to perform the activity. Have the participants return the shoes to their owners and come back to form a circle once more. Allow each student to tell about the person whose shoe they found.

Line Up

This activity, which is designed for older elementary students, promotes creative ways of communicating and helps to develop cooperation and leadership. Tell the students that they must line up in order according to their birthdays. The one rule is that they cannot speak. Give the students about five minutes to work on this. Once the line is formed, have the students speak their birthdays aloud to see if they successfully completed the task. Discuss how they communicated without using words and how leading and following are important in teamwork.

Class Quilt

Distribute a piece of art paper or construction paper along with various art supplies (crayons, markers, paint, glue, glitter and yarn) to each student. Explain that they will have one class period to decorate their paper in a way that represents who they are. The students could draw a picture of themselves, or they could create representations of their interests, abilities, goals, family and friends. During the next class period, allow each child to show her picture to the class and explain it. Discuss how we are all unique but that we can all work together and support each other. Glue the squares together to form a "quilt," and display it on the wall inside or outside the classroom.

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