10 Team-Building Games For The First Day Of Class

10 Team-Building Games For The First Day Of Class

by TeachThought Staff

Team-building activities are great. Not only can they help establish routines, tone, and expectations, they’re also fun, and can help learners feel comfortable. Though many older students in high school and college may groan at their thought, they’re usually fun, and great ways to help students feel at ease. Before you dismiss them as too juvenile, try one. You might be surprised.

Note that which game you choose, your rules for the game, and any revisions to the rules depend on the nature of the class you’re using them with. Certain students may feel overly liberated—especially in middle school—with the idea of a “game,” and so expectations must be carefully given to younger K-8 learners—and even 9-12—to ensure that every student is set up for success.

1. Me Too!

Ideal Grade Levels: K-20

First student gives a fact about themselves—I love basketball, I have two sisters, etc. If that statement or fact is true about another student, they stand up and say “Me too!” They can also stay seated, but simply raise their hand and say “Me too!” 

2. Park Bench

Ideal Grade Levels: 6-20

Two chairs are placed together to resemble park bench. Two students 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 every actually saying what happened. After given time period (1-5 minutes), peers guess “what happened,” but they must give up all four important details: Who, What, Where, and When, e.g.:

What: College Basketball game

Who: Kentucky and Kansas

When: Early April

Where: New Orleans

3. Fact or Fiction

Ideal Grade Levels: 3-12

In circle, first student offers two facts and one piece of fiction about themselves. Others raise hand or are called on to identify which were facts, and which were fiction. The correct guesser goes next. Play is completed when all students have gone.

4. Green Door

Ideal Grade Levels: 5-20

Leader chooses a topic, but keeps it quiet, only saying that “You can bring a ____ through the green door.” Students 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?”

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

5. One Minute Talk

Ideal Grade Levels: 5-20

Students 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 from teacher.

6. Count to Ten

Ideal Grade Levels: 3-20

All students stand in circle. First student says “1,” or “1,2.” The next student picks up where that student left off, and can say a maximum number of 2 numbers. The movement continues clockwise until it gets to 10, where that student has to sit, and the game starts back over at 1 at the next student. Note that there can be no pausing or silent counting—any pauses or indications the student is counting/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.”

7. I Never

Ideal Grade Levels: K-20

Students form circle. First student says something they’ve never done. Each student that has done the thing the other student has not steps briefly into the center. The game continues until every person has stated something they’ve done.

8. Magic Ball

Ideal Grade Levels: K-20

Students form circle. First student is “given” imaginary magic ball. Student sculpts imaginary ball into new shape, handing it to person to their right. Activity is silent. Any talking/noise results in student sitting. After game, guessing may be done to predict what “sculpture” was.

9. Silent Line

Ideal Grade Levels: K-8

Students 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 simple (birthdays), or slightly more complicated (alphabetical order of college or career ambition).

10. Inside-Outside Circle

Ideal Grade Levels: 3-20

Students form a circle within a circle with (ideally) equal number of students in both circles. Inside circle members pair with outside circle members. Activity leader (usually teacher, but can be a student) presents a topic, prompt, or question. 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 spur quick discussion on content related topics, or even current events.

Source: The Advisory Book by Linda Crawford


  • IMHO, I tend to think that an emphasis more on ‘strengthening relationships’ and less on ‘team-building’ is a far more successful strategy. The team ‘team-building’ is much maligned these days, and may even telegraph an unrealistic result to a group. Better to say ‘I’ll provide you with lots of opportunities to build and strengthen your relationships’ (in my program / curriculum) than we’re going to do some ‘team-building.’ What do others think?

      • Yeah, the actual face-to-face process of meeting, interacting and sharing with one another is indispensable. No amount of relationship building can occur until one ‘meets’ another. Ideally in person, where the ‘whole person’ can be involved.

    • The number one complaint from Employers is new hires can’t work together. These types of things can allow you too to get to know your students faster and build those relationships which I agree with you are very important, for us all. 🙂

  • Calin, in my professional experience, the #1 reason people believe ‘team-building’ does not work is because of a poor previous experience. And in all cases, when these programs are examined more closely, it is clear that the problem was a meaningless approach or rationale behind the program. If people view their ‘team-building’ program as a series of irrelevant exercises, divorced from their workplace or school, etc, then the program ends up just being an excuse to have a fun time. It is critical that all programs have a philosophical underpinning which provides the glue between the activity and the group’s ability to make sense of what they are doing. There are many philosophical elements, but in brief, I believe there are five key tenets – challenge by choice, valued participation, irresistible fun, a sequence appropriate to the needs of the group and finally, substantive debriefing or processing of the experience (to ensure learning takes place). I think you’ll find that people who refer to ‘team-building as crap’ are referring to programs that are missing at least one if not most of these core elements. For a more elaborate discussion of this philosophical framework go to http://www.playmeo.com/philosophy

    • Mark, I simple love your team-building ideas. if people remember that these are ideas that one can build on, and alter to suite our particular environment and circumstances. The purpose I see for relationship building in the workplace is for all employee to buy-in to the vision statement, values, goals of the company whether it be governmental or privately based. I will certainly examine each one closely to see how I can use it with new set of LPN student.

  • I am looking for really creative ways for middle school student to get to know each other. We know that the relationship they build with each other is the most important relationship. I just attend a conference, the take away was ” your cant get to rigor with out relevance and you cant have relevance without relationship… So how about sharing your first weeks of school activities.

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