If you want a successful learning environment in your elementary classroom, use team-building activities early in the year and periodically throughout the year. These activities help students to feel safe, connected and free to express ideas. Subsequently, the students often participate in far fewer unproductive behaviors, allowing the learning environment to flourish.

Look, Go, Create

This activity requires students to use observation and communication skills to create an object or picture together. Decide on an object or picture for the activity, and make a sample for each team. Place each team's sample inside a box where it cannot be seen easily.

Only one team member views the sample, and he must relay what he sees to a designated communicator. The communicator relays the information to the rest of the team who must create the object or picture based on the communicator's directions only. The communicator only relays information. He cannot help build or draw. Teams may send questions back to the viewer through the communicator. Give team members supplies for creating the object or picture in advance, or have a general supply table where teams send one member to gather supplies as needed. When teams complete the project, reveal the samples and compare the results.

Human Chain

The Human Chain activity helps students see that they have things in common. Finding commonalities, helps a child feel safer and promotes team spirit. One student stands and begins telling students about himself. As soon as a student hears something he has in common with the speaker, he gets up and goes to stand by the speaker, linking arms, and begins to tell about himself. This continues until all students have linked to the chain.

To prevent students racing to join the chain over common elements such as someone stating that he has a sister or brother, ask students to use details. For example, a student might state that he has an older brother in high school.

Blind Obstacle Course

In the blind obstacle course activity, students assist team members in navigating a simple, safe obstacle course while blindfolded. Set up a simple, safe obstacle course for each team to use. Clear the middle of the room and arrange small or flat objects such as sheets of paper, small blocks, stuffed animals and small pillows in an obstacle course for each team.

Blindfolded team members navigate the course using the assistance of one other team member who stands nearby giving directions for getting around the objects without touching them and to the other end of the course. If the team member does not succeed, he goes to the end of the line and tries again. Play continues until all team members navigate the course successfully.

Mouse Trap

In Mouse Trap, teams must keep a group of same color balloons in the air while weeding out the different color balloons or "mice" to a "mouse trap." Give the team one balloon of the common color per member and three balloons of a different color to keep in the air.

One at a time, teams send one member bouncing a balloon in the air to a trashcan "mouse trap" at the other side of the room. Meanwhile, the other team members keep all the balloons in the air. Teams work to be the first team to get the three different color balloons into the trap.