Trust games and activities are a fun way to help middle school students learn about the importance of teamwork and communication. Teachers and other educators can use these activities to help in building good group dynamics and encouraging students' self-esteem. Many of these games require little to no equipment or supplies and can be practiced in fairly limited spaces, making them appropriate for classroom use. Try these activities with your middle school students for an enjoyable and educational trust-building experience.
Seated Trust Circle
This activity is good for medium to large groups (with a minimum of six people). The student participants should stand in a tight circle, facing the back of the person in front of them. Make sure there are no gaps and all students are evenly spaced. On the leader's cue, all students will slowly lower as if they were sitting down in a chair, except they will instead be sitting on the knees of the person behind them. If all students participate fully, they will form a seated circle without the benefit of chairs or other devices. Should the circle not work the first time, try asking the students to stand closer together.
Willow in the Wind
Ask students to stand in a tight circle, facing inward. Have one student stand in the center of the circle, arms crossed over the chest and feet together: the "willow." The students forming the circle (the "wind") should stand with arms outstretched and with one foot slightly in front of the other for balance. Briefly explain about safety and building an atmosphere of trust. Teach some key phrases to ensure good communication during the exercise, so that the "willow" and the "wind" know when the other is ready. For example: Willow: "Ready to fall." Wind: "Ready to catch." When ready, the student in the center will lean forward or backward, so that the other students "catch" him and gently pass him around the circle. When one full pass has been completed, ask the students to gently return the center student to an upright position. Repeat with other students as the "willow" and debrief afterward.
Place your students into three groups: an A (sculpture), B (artist) and C (clay) group. In each of these groups, ask students to form small groups of two or three and give each pair a number. For example: A2, B2, C2, etc. Have the pairs in the A group work together to form a human "sculpture." When finished, they must close their eyes and hold the pose. The corresponding pair in group B will act as artists, to "mold" their corresponding pair in group C to match the first group's sculpture. Group C cannot assist in any way; they must move only as directed by group B. Compare the "sculptures" once all groups have finished, and repeat by giving the larger groups a different role until everyone has had a chance to participate in groups A, B and C. Discuss how trust plays a part in the different roles: as sculpture, artist and clay.
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