There are many benefits of team-building activities for kids. By working and playing together, all kids — from toddlers to preschoolers to elementary-age children — can learn how to better navigate social relationships.
It’s easy for parents and nannies to find team-building exercises that suit every child’s interests. For instance, if your little one loves to act, he can participate in improvisational comedy, which promotes teamwork, helps kids make friends and teaches kids how to defuse conflict.
“We teach creativity (writing and thinking), community (team, listening, respect) and leadership (public speaking, eye contact, focus, self respect and self confidence) [in our team-building exercises],” says Walt Frasier, the founder of Improv 4 Kids and executive producer of the New York Improv Theater.
Team-building activities also provide kids with situational tools that they need to recognize those around them and interact with others in a meaningful way.
“Teamwork games enhance listening skills and demonstrate how each member of a team brings a unique set of experiences, skills and knowledge to a collaborative process,” says Jayson Wechter, the founder of San Francisco Treasure Hunts. “This emphasizes how a well-functioning team is stronger than the sum of its individual members.”
Here are 15 team-building activities for kids.
1. Parachute games
Gather around a parachute and work together to bounce balls, make a tent or play popcorn! You can learn about different parachute games on High 5 Team Building.
2. Duck, Duck, Goose
Gather in a circle and try to tag the goose in Toddler Toddler‘s variation of the classic game that gets everyone running.
3. Drum circle
Get inspired by Drum circles! Hand out egg shakers, tambourines and mini drums to get everyone rocking to the beat together.
4. Obstacle course
Jump, hop, skip and tag each other in a team obstacle course challenge. LeapFrog can show you how to create obstacles in your yard.
5. Relay races
Tailor your relay races to the season! Learn Play Imagine shows you how to set up an Olympics-themed water relay race.
6. Three-legged race
Team kids up to work together and cross a finish line while attached at the ankle. Learn more about the rules at A Mom With a Lesson Plan.
7. Build a marshmallow tower
Caring for the Kids was inspired by an activity that originally appeared in TED talks. Physics meets teamwork and communication skills in this fun tower-building challenge.
8. Stretch band teamwork
Get siblings or teams of two to collaborate and perform different activities while attached to each other with a stretch band! Kids Activities Blog has all the details.
9. Walk, Stop
In this game, a leader calls out instructions (“walk,” “stop,” “clap” and “hop”) and the players perform these actions on cue. To make things even more fun, the leader eventually switches the meanings of the words.
“The game has moves from a simple following instructions game to making students think and focus, while paying attention to the space around them,” says Frasier. “It’s very powerful with younger classes especially.”
You can find the instructions on Humor That Works.
10. Zip Zap Zop
In Zip Zap Zop, players stand in a circle and pass energy from one person to the next while making eye contact. The University of Texas provides additional variations and extensions.
Elementary school games
11. Treasure hunts
“A treasure hunt gives kids the shared experience of using their collective brainpower and insight to accomplish something a bit too difficult to do alone,” says Wechter. “This teaches kids the importance of group collaboration and communication and working effectively with others.” Check out these eight scavenger hunt ideas for kids.
12. Straw maze
Get a big group of kids together and challenge them to create a working maze as a team. Learn more at Teach Preschool.
13. Human scavenger hunt
In About Education’s ice-breaker game, teams of two or three get lists of standard traits and go around the room collecting signatures of individuals that possess each trait.
14. Human knot
Players create a knot by holding hands and attempting to untangle themselves without letting go. Group Games shows you how to increase the difficulty by adding more people.
15. Birthday Line Up
In Guide, Inc.’s Birthday Line Up, kids have to line up by birthday without saying a word.