If it’s your first day of teaching in a school or you have new classes to teach in the new year, I think it’s very important that you get to know your learners first just before you get into the core syllabus that you need to teach them. You can do this by playing some team building games with them.

Team-building activities are great. Not only can they help build routines, attitude, and expectations, they’re also fun, and can help learners feel comfortable. Though a lot of older learners in high school may be grumpy at the thought of playing games, they’re usually fun, and a great way to help your leaners feel at ease. Before you dismiss them as too childish, try one. You might be surprised.

You need to also note that the game that you choose, your rules for the game, and any revisions to the rules are depend on the nature of the class you’re using them with.

Some learners may think that since you are playing games, it’s more like a “free-period”, especially in primary school, with the idea of a “game,” and so expectations must be carefully given to younger grade 3-7 learners—and even grade 8 and 9 leaners —to ensure that every learner is set up for success.

Let’s get started!

  1. Me Too!

The first learner gives a fact about themselves, for example; I love soccer, I have two sisters, etc. If that statement or fact is true about another learner, they stand up and say “Me too!” They can also stay seated, but simply raise their hand and say “Me too!”

  1. Park Bench

Two chairs are placed together to resemble a park bench. Two learners volunteer—or are selected—to act out “what happened” in a fictional news story. They are given one minute to prepare a scene where they discuss the “event” without actually saying what happened. After a  given time period (1-5 minutes), peers guess “what happened,” but they must give up all four important details: Who, What, Where, and When, for example…

What: PSL soccer match

Who: Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs

When: Early April

Where: Orlando

  1. Fact or Fiction

Whith this game, learners must be in a circle. The first learner offers two facts and one piece of fiction about themselves. Others raise hand or are called on to identify which were facts, and which was fiction. The correct guesser goes next. Play is completed when all learners have participated.

  1. The green door

A leader chooses a topic, but keeps it quiet, only saying that “You can bring a ____ through the green door.” Leaners are then forced to deduce the topic by asking if other things can be brought through the green door as well, e.g., “Can I bring a _____ through the green door?”

A leader can only reply yes or no. When topic is identified, topic resets. Topics can be content related, such as parts of speech, colours, geometric figures, historical figures, etc.

  1. One Minute Talk

Learners are chosen to give 60 second talks on anything, from self-selected topics they are passionate about, have specific expertise in, etc., to topics given by the teacher.

  1. Count to Ten

All learners stand in circle. First learner says “1,” or “1,2.” The next learner picks up where the other learner left off, and can say a maximum number of 2 numbers. The movement continues clockwise until it gets to 10, where that learner has to sit, and the game starts back over at 1 at the next learner.

Note that there can be no pausing or silent counting. Any pauses or indications that the learner is counting or calculating, forces them to sit. Also, pouting or talking during counting results in elimination from future rounds. The big idea is to count strategically so that you can keep from saying “10.”

  1. I Never

Learners form a circle. The first learner says something they’ve never done. Each learner that has done the thing the other learner has not, steps temporarily into the center. The game continues until every person has stated something they’ve done.

  1. Magic Ball

Learners need to form a circle. First learner is “given” imaginary magic ball. Learner sculpts imaginary ball into new shape, handing it to person to their right. Activity is silent. Any talking/noise results in learner sitting. After the game, guessing may be done to predict what “sculptures” there were.

  1. Silent Line

Learners are given a criteria, and must silently put themselves in a line as quickly as possible, to meet a goal, compete against other classes, or receive some reward (free reading time, no homework, etc.) The criteria can be simple (birthdays), or slightly more complicated (alphabetical order of University or career ambition).

  1. Inside-Outside Circle

Learners form a circle within a circle with (ideally) equal number of learners  in both circles. The inside circle members must pair with outside circle members. The activity leader (usually teacher, but can be a learner) presents a topic or question quickly. Partners share for 10 seconds (or less), leader asks inside circle to move clockwise a certain number of spaces to collaborate with new partners directly across from them. This is usually content focuses, and helps trigger quick discussions on content related topics, or even current events.

Now it’s your turn. Do you have some team-building game ideas that a new teacher can use in his/her first day of teaching a class? Please comment below

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