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Team-Building Activities for Back to School

The first week of school sure is a busy one!  I work hard to balance the mandatory paperwork with games, hands-on activities and team-building fun.  Even with bigger kids, it's important to keep them moving throughout the day and providing a variety of activities.

1. Marshmallow Tower

For this activity, you'll need the following materials for each group:
     - 1 large marshmallow
     - 20 strands of spaghetti
     - 1 yard of tape
     - 1 yard of string

Students are challenge to work together in a group to create the tallest freestanding structure with only the given materials.  They are allowed to use some or all of the materials, however, they may not receive extras.  The tower must feature the whole marshmallow at the very top.

It is very interesting to watch students work together and to see who takes on a leadership role in the design process.  I was first introduced to this activity by my principal when we did it during a faculty meeting.  Sadly, my team's tower did not win.

2. The Great Puzzle Race

For the Great Puzzle Race, students work together as a team to put together a puzzle as quickly as they can!  I purchase multiples of the same puzzle from The Dollar Store.  I always get map ones because I teach Social Studies!

I observe as each group comes up with a game plan (or lack thereof) for completing the task.  We then discuss which strategies worked best or didn't work at all.

3. Save Fred

The story behind this activity is that Fred has been trapped in a storm and capsized his boat.  The students' job is to get Fred into a life preserver and back in the boat, using only one material.

Fred is a gummy worm, his life preserver is a gummy ring and his boat is a plastic cup.  

I start by placing the worm and ring underneath the cup before the activity starts.  

The students are instructed to work as a team to get the worm into the ring (the life preserver) and then back into the cup (the boat), right-side up.  The challenge?  They cannot touch the worm, the life preserver or the cup with their hands!

For each group, you will need:
     - 1 plastic cup
     - 1 gummy worm
     - 1 gummy ring
     - a paper clip for each member of the group

Fred has been saved!

Want to save these ideas for later?  Just pin the image below!


  1. These are AWESOME. I think you've just inspired my end of summer reading party at the library!

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