Check out these fun and engaging activities for helping students develop team building and listening skills. The start of a new school year can be tough, but these activities are a great way for students to get to know each other and participate in physical activity.
In Part 1, we explored icebreakers designed to help students get to know one another better. Now, we will learn some new icebreakers that will help your students feel more like a team and test their listening skills.
Icebreakers and Team Building Games for Back to School
The Good Ship SPARK
- Participants are scattered throughout the area.
- In “The Good Ship SPARK”, I am the captain of our ship and you are the deckhands. You must learn the commands I call out and follow them quickly.
- When I say… You…
- Individual Activities
- Captain’s Coming = Salute and say “Aye, aye Captain!”
- Swab the Deck = Pretend to mop the deck
- Hit the Deck = Lie prone quickly
- Pump the Deck = Do push-ups
- Drop Anchor = Sit down quickly
- Hoist the Anchor = Do sit-ups
- Walk the Plank = Take 3 steps forward, jump up, then sink to the ground as though falling off the ship
- Port = Run to the left side of the area
- Starboard = Run to the right side of the area
- Bow = Run to the front side of the area
- Stern = Run to the back side of the area
- Shark! = Swim around with an arm up for a fin
- Group Activities
- Three in a Lifeboat = Form a group of 3, sit with legs straddled in a line all facing the same direction, and begin to “row”.
- Sailor overboard = Find a partner. One lies prone on the floor, the other straddles them and acts as though they are looking in the ocean for a person.
- Sardines = Find a group of 5 or more and lie on your sides as close to each other as possible.
- Climb to the Crow’s Nest = Piggyback a friend
- Mutiny = In pairs or groups of 3, pretend to sword fight
Do What I Say!
- Form a circle with participants facing in.
- In “Do What I Say!” try to follow the rules and move correctly during each of 3 rounds.
- In Round 1, do what I say and say what I say. There are 4 options of moves to do: Jump In, Jump Out, Jump Right, and Jump Left. I will say an option, and in this round you say it and do it at the same time.
- (Play Round 1 for at least 8 moves.)
- Now we are ready for Round 2 where you say what I say, but do the opposite. The same 4 options of moves apply. But this time, as you say the move I call out, you will do the opposite (e.g., when I say “Jump In” you will jump out while saying “Jump In”, etc.).
- (Play Round 2 for at least 8 moves.)
- Now we are ready for Round 3 where you do what I say, but say the opposite. The same 4 options of moves apply. But this time, as you do the move I call out, you will say the opposite (e.g., when I say “Jump In” you will jump in while saying “Jump Out”, etc.).
- (Play Round 3 for at least 8 moves.)
- Which was the most difficult for you? Do you consider yourself an auditory, visual, or kinesthetic learner? Does this affect how you did here?
- What we say has an impact on what we do. When does this type of self-talk benefit you? Does it ever have a negative effect?
- Form a circle with participants facing in.
- In “Dude!” the object is to still be standing at the end of the game.
- When you hear “Look down”, look down.
- When you hear “Look up”, look up and AT someone in the circle.
- If the person you are looking at is also looking at you, both say “Duuuude” and drop down to kneeling position, but continue playing.
- We will repeat many times. Each time you look at someone who is looking at you, drop down a level (from kneeling sitting to high plank to lying prone) after saying “Duuuude”. But each time you look up and are NOT looking at someone who is looking at you, move up a level. The highest level is standing.
- (Continue until a participant is lying prone.)
For more icebreakers and a comprehensive physical activity program that you can implement with your students, check out the SPARK After School Physical Activity Program.
For additional activity ideas, products, and resources to deliver programs that inspire youth to play, explore, and create, please visit School Specialty Out-of-School.
BJ Williston, M.Ed. has a Master’s Degree in Education with an emphasis on Adapted Physical Education, and holds a California Teaching Credential in Physical Education and Adapted Physical Education. BJ has worked in the Physical Education/Physical Activity field since 1984. She has taught Physical Education in Hawaii, Oregon, and California at all levels Pre‐School‐College.
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