Middle school can be a stressful, confusing time for students. Consider engaging them in meaningful activities that help develop positive leadership qualities and character traits that will help them be good role models in their school. The activities are versatile and can be used with small and large groups of students.

It's a Tie Races

Encourage students to work together by making them race together. To do this, place a long strip of masking tape at one end of the classroom. This will be the finish line. Then, have students stand at the other end of the classroom. Say, "go," and ask students to race to the tape. The caveat is that all of the students have to make it to the tape at the same time, so they have to walk/run at the same exact pace. To do this, they'll have to focus on how fast everyone is going. If you have several groups, time the groups and have them compete to see who can finish fastest. Disqualify a group if not all of the members finish at the same time.

Silent Groupings

Have students remain silent and use non-verbal skills. First, create several cutouts of shapes, such as circles, squares, stars and triangles. Then, tape a shape on each person's back without him seeing which shape it is. Then, tell students they must remain silent while they try to get in a group and create their shape with the other students who are also the same shape. Encourage students to use non-verbal communication to help each other get to the right groups. Give students a timeframe to find their other shapes and keep reminding them throughout the activity that there is no talking. When time is up, ask students what it was like to not know where to go and not be able to simply ask for help. How else besides talking were they able to communicate? Did they ever feel left out when they couldn't figure out which group to join?

Character Education

Encourage basic positive character traits among your student body with a character education word of the month. Every month should have a new word---words like "integrity" or "honesty." Create scenarios to help students figure out ways to incorporate that word into their daily lives. Gather a group of student leaders to create scenarios and activities for other students. That way, the students who are leaders will also learn by doing. An example would be to have them create three possible scenarios that demonstrate honesty and then have the rest of the student body figure out which one best describes honesty. Students can focus on the character education words in small groups during their homeroom or advisory period.