Starting School with a Blast
July 28, 2009 4:06 AM   Subscribe

Teacherfilter: Hurrah, another school year is fast approaching and I'm looking for 48-minute or less teambuilding activities I can use with my 8th grade students (all with emotional disabilities). This is my second year working with these scallawags and we have a silly, trusting relationship, but I want to start 8th grade with a bang! I'm looking for fun, in-class group activities that will continue to get them to think outside the box and help each other accomplish a goal. Anyone got any corporate/academic memories that would address this?
posted by dzaz to Education (7 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I begin the school year with "the name game." Each kid introduces himself and the next kid has to remember the first kid's name and tell his own. Go around the classroom and you, the teacher, goes last. A variation of this game might work for you. It takes a good long while and relaxes the students. From a selfish perspective it teaches me their names.

Another idea is to have small groups pretend to be Mongols, Europeans, Native Americans, Chinese, etc. and draw a map of the world from their people's perspective in 1500. That might be too advanced-- my "kids" are college-aged. There might be another imagined map exercise that works for 8th graders.

One age-appropriate variation would be to have teams design flags or coats of arms. Then each team explains the meaning of each design element.

Two subjects that students love are Mongols and to a lesser extent pirates. Memail me if you want ready to use Mongol information. The ideas above all work well with the Mongol Empire. ...Always a crowd pleaser, for reasons unknown.
posted by vincele at 4:59 AM on July 28, 2009

I've done an exercise with a murder mystery plot (I suppose you could create another crime if that seemed too extreme) where each person got 2-3 clues toward solving the mystery ("The concierge saw Mr. Green return to his apartment at 11:35"). No one can figure it out on their own, they all have to pool their information and make sense out of it (create a chart showing where people were at different times, etc).

It works pretty well with college kids and up, but it might need some finessing for younger students or those who have trouble staying on task.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:52 AM on July 28, 2009

Best answer: I always like group construction or deconstruction tasks - something perhaps simpler, depending on the level of emotional disability. Things like building a tower with straws and tape, or perhaps taking a giant tangled knot and trying to untie it.

Also, and I literally just came across this, so I don't vouch for anything about it, there's this, a wiki for teambuilding activities.
posted by SNWidget at 6:00 AM on July 28, 2009

I taught 7th and 8th grade science for a while - one of my most successful exercises was having my students design sneakers while learning about the anatomy and physiology of the human skeleton. We focused on the implications of certain sports on the structure and function of the foot, ankle, and knee and used what was learned to design "smart" sneakers. Students were allowed to think outside the box in designing footwear that maximized protection of bones and joints... The results included some fantastic poster projects...and a lot of exposure to design with Photoshop, Illustrator, and CAD (I had my own software installed on the classroom computer...)
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 6:06 AM on July 28, 2009

You might want to check out an Outdoor Education book. My administrator has a few and they have lots of little games and team building activities.

Off the top of my head:
Booger River: the team has to get everyone across an imaginary river using only a few objects
Steal the Water Bottle: kind of like red-light/green-light but the team steals a water bottle from you
Human Calculator: the team has to step on numbers in a certain order in certain amount of time

If this sounds interesting email me and I can give details.
posted by Wayman Tisdale at 7:34 AM on July 28, 2009

An Egg Drop Engineering Contest is really fun.

Make either a space suit or a landing pad for your egg, so it will withstand a fall from ceiling height. There will be a time limit, limited materials, and a scoring system.

Each team gets:
one raw egg
20 drinking straws
1 yard of masking tape

Optional: Other objects (these can be different for each team, or all the same. Sample objects: small ziploc bag, sheet of newspaper, handful of popsicle sticks, old magazine, bag of cotton balls, handful of paper towels, etc)

Optional: You can extend the duration of this activity by putting all the materials together on a table and giving each team fake money, then auctioning off the items. Or you can just give each team the same stuff.

Whatever you want- can be as short as 10 minutes, or as long as 30, to build the contraption.

Put a paper target on the floor, surrounded by newspaper.
Teacher or disinterested party (Principal?) stands on a desk & holds the protected egg at ceiling height.
Team places landing pad if necessary.
Team verbally directs boss where to hold the egg to drop from, and when it's right, they count down & teacher drops it (not a throw, just let it go so it drops)

Scoring: (make up something like this)
Egg lands without breaking = 50
Cracked but still mostly intact & not leaking = 30
Busted = 0
Lands right on target = 50
Hits target but bounces off = 30
Misses target = 0
Bonus points for style and ingenuity
Bonus points for finishing construction before the time limit ran out

Keener Bonus Round:
if an egg didn't break, you can do a bonus round of throwing it down the stairs or off a balcony or something for extra fun.

This is reeeeally fun and surprisingly fascinating & competitive.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 9:46 AM on July 28, 2009

I saw a thing on Dragon's Den the other night where someone was offering group drumming as a teambuilding exercise.
posted by primer_dimer at 3:06 AM on July 29, 2009

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