If you’re looking for some fun back to school team building activities to use with your middle school students, then this post is for you!
It’s no secret that building relationships with students is KEY to successful classroom management! Team-building activities are a great way to start off the school year and build community within your class.
Here are 5 of my favorite back to school team-building activities to use in the middle school classroom!
1. Saving Sam
Saving Sam is a huge hit every year with my sixth grade students! The materials are simple and students love to use their problem solving skills to figure out how to “save Sam.”
To do this challenge you need only a few easy supplies: paperclips, gummy worms, gummy lifesavers, and a clear, plastic cup for each group.
To begin: Each team receives a upside down cup (capsized boat) with a gummy lifesaver trapped inside. Sam, the gummy worm, is positioned on top of the cup.
The challenge is to use 2 paper clips to turn the boat right side up, put the life jacket on Sam, and put him safely inside the boat.
- They can only touch the materials with the paper clips – no hands may touch Sam, the boat, or the life preserver!
- They may not harm Sam in any way – no skewering Sam!!!
- I was able to reuse the gummy worms for each class, which allowed me only to buy one bag of gummy worms. I bought a larger bag of gummy Lifesavers to give each student when they left. 🙂
- Black Forest brand gummy worms were REALLY FAT compared to Great Value.
- I gave each of my sixth grade groups 2 paper clips. NOTE: You may want to give younger students 3-4 clips to make it a little easier. BUT I found that more paper clips in the group caused the gummy Lifesavers to tear.
- To help differentiate, some of my more advanced classes got an oar in their boat (I just used a wooden skewer).
- A little Mission Impossible music added a fun vibe!
2. Cup Stacking Team Building Activity
Students love cup stacking, but this brings stacking to a new level!
In this challenge, students will work together to stack plastic cups WITHOUT touching the cup!
Materials: rubber band, string (12 inches) per person, 6 plastic cups
For the challenge, place students in groups of 4-6. Students will use the rubber band with string tied to maneuver the cups into a pyramid shape.
Check out this post by Solo Cups for some fun and challenging formations for your students!
3. Index Card Stem Challenge
This team building activity was a real hit!!!
It takes place in two phases: working together to list things everyone in the group has in common on index cards and building a tower.
Place students in groups of 3-4 and give them 10-15 index cards. I set a timer for ten minutes in which they had to talk as a group and write one thing they they had in common with each other on each card.
It was great to hear all of the kids asking so many questions to find commonalities!
“Which elementary school did you go to?”
“Do you have siblings?”
Note: I gave them some guidelines for what NOT to write so it challenged them to really get to know each other. For example, don’t write, “we all have eyes.” – “We all have blue eyes” would be acceptable.
When time was up, I collected any blank cards.
Groups could use the remaining cards AND scissors to build the tallest free-standing tower in 10 minutes.
I was surprised at all of the strategies that students used. Some cut their cards in half so they had more (genius!), some cut slits to make cards fit together, some bent and stacked.
There are so many ways to modify this activity.
- Time: You could give them more or less time to write their similarities and build.
- Number of cards
- Materials to build – ex: tape
⭐️Kids loved the competition.
⭐️I loved the STEM skills.
Cheers to getting to getting to know each other!
Who doesn’t love BINGO! This is one of my favorite team-building activities to use in the middle school classroom!
- It gets students up and moving around the classroom.
- Students have the opportunity to learn the names of their classmates.
- It’s a great way for students to meet peers with similar interests.
- I love to play along and use this as an opportunity to connect with students!
Here’s a ready-to-use version – just print and go!
4. Three Truths and a Lie
This easy game is always a hit and is guaranteed to get a few laughs! Challenge students to think up three interesting facts about themselves and one lie.
It’s fun to have the students take turns reading their four statements and let their classmates guess which is false.
Don’t miss out on the fun! I love to go first and see how many students can guess my lie!!!
Students can easily write these down on a sticky note or index card. If you’re digital, check out the digital version in my free resource library.
5. The Line Up Game
It’s an oldie, but a goodie! The line up game is always my go-to, quick activity in the middle school classroom!
Here are a few reasons I love it!
- Have a few extra minutes? It’s quick, so you can do it on the fly!
- See which students stand out as leaders.
- Students have the opportunity to problem-solve and communicate with each other.
Ideas to get started:
- Alphabetically by first or last name
- Number of siblings
Students love brainstorming categories! You’ll be amazed with what they come up with!
Tips: This works best with groups of 10-20. You may want to split your class up into smaller groups to make it more manageable or adapt the difficulty to for your group.
Challenge: Can they line up silently???
If you’re looking for more ideas for relationship-building – check out this post!