It is such a delight to see kids successfully complete a task during a team building activity. You can see the pride on their faces at having worked out how to solve the problem posed and having won the prize.
Team building activities designed for kids differ from those used for adults in several ways. If you try to run the activities in exactly the same way, the lack of knowledge and life experience will often hinder or prevent them from working out how to complete the task. It is often only through experimentation and observation that they can progress, and that is one of the things that you should encourage.
This guide on team building activities for kids will help you to understand the key points that will help your team building activity succeed, and to ensure that the kids have great fun.
Key Ingredients for Successful Team Building for Kids
This recipe is quite straightforward. The key ingredients to successful team building activities for kids are:
- Problem solving
- Working together
- Physical or creative challenges
Team building is a great way for supporting the character development of children in guided tasks that will explore how they think, how they approach problems, and how they work with others. These are all important life skills that you can help them to develop at this early stage.
This guide on team building activities for kids is aimed at children aged 5 to 12. At this age, kids don’t necessarily have great knowledge or experience, so any team building activities should be achievable by use of basic problem analysis, pure logic and teamwork. You may be able to introduce new concepts or principles through suggestions and structured guidance.
Why Team Games Don’t Always Work for Team Building
Remember the days at school when boys began to learn how to play football? Apart from the goalkeepers, everyone followed the ball around the pitch in an attempt to kick it towards the goal. No passing, no strategy, no teamwork.
Unless you can keep the game to a short timescale and be able to give structured feedback for them to try, it is often best to avoid team games to developing teamwork unless you want them to have lots of unstructured fun.
Experimentation and Discovery
Allowing the team time for experimentation and the discovery of how things work is quite wonderful to watch, and gives them permission to make mistakes whilst learning what works and what doesn’t. Understanding that making mistakes in life is acceptable as long as you learn from them underpins character development.
The Best Team Building Activities for Kids
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These team building activities have been tried and tested by myself and others over the years. I have tweaked my approaches to get the best from the kids, mainly from my own mistakes of running a team building activity that they haven’t understood, have failed to complete, or have cheated due to my poor rules and constraints.
Keep any activity to less than 20 minutes. Longer than that and you will lose their attention. If they haven’t achieved their goal in that time, they will become disheartened.
Here are a few ideas to get you started. Explore the category on team building activities for kids for more detailed explanations and step by step guides.
An old favourite, which can be adapted depending on your environment and equipment available. You can just run team relay races around a slalom of chairs, or include tables to crawl under and benches to climb over.
Always bear in mind the physical abilities of the kids in your group. Make sure that the course is something that they can all do so no one gets left out.
String a blanket up vertically and play volleyball. Each team only gets to see the ball as it is coming over. Teams will require a bit more vocal coordination than usual.
Each team has to transport a group of items from one end of the room to the other in a relay race. For each team, lay out the items spaced along the running route, with the bucket at the far end.
The first person in the team has to run, pick up the first object and then ignoring all the other objects run and place their object in the bucket. They then race back to tag the next person. This person picks up the first object they come to and place it in the bucket. This continues until the last person has no objects to collect apart from the bucket. They pick up the bucket and run back to the team. The team sit down to indicate that they have finished.
I love this team builder. Using whatever object you like, build a contraption to fling the object at a target. For simplicity, you could buy a 400 Yard 3 Person Water Balloon Launcher
from Amazon. These require two people to hold the elastic tight, whilst a third person loads a water bomb into the catapult.
It is then simply a process of pulling it back, aiming and firing. The two children holding the elastic tight affect the targeting.
You can make roman catapults, ballistas, or let them create their own device.
Orienteering involves a series of checkpoints scattered throughout a park or wood. Each team is given a map showing where each checkpoint is. The team have to work out the best route to visit all of the checkpoints as fast as possible.
You will need to provide some method for verifying that they have been to each checkpoint, such as an ink stamp at the checkpoint, or orienteering punch.
You can decide whether they get some “free” time before they set off to plan their route. This way their time only relates to speed and navigation. If their time includes the planning phase, they have to make the decision on how much time to plan the route as opposed to heading off and working it out on the way.
Geocaching is a treasure hunt using geospatial positioning systems (GPS). You can hide treasure at locations and record the Latitude and Longitude for the teams to enter into their GPS, or you can use apps from websites such as Geocaching.com which has geocaches hidden all over the world. Just visit the website and see what geocaches are hidden near you.
You might want to walk the route and try to find the geocaches yourself first, because some of them are well hidden even if you know their rough location to within a few meters.
This one is good for activity centres as a permanent feature. You build a massive seesaw balance that is only a meter off the ground. The team has to work out how to arrange their team to stand on the seesaw so that it balances.
You can add rules such as there has to be twice as many people on one side as the other.
Treasure Hunts and Scavenger Hunts
A good old treasure map often works well. Older kids aren’t as interested, so you may find that a scavenger hunt works better. Give the teams a list of items to bring back in the time limit.
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Parachute games such as pass the ball to a specific person can work well. You do have to keep the time short as they soon become bored.
This is awesome for coordination, communication and cooperation. The team of kids has to use a sheet of wood to carry a ball from one end of the school field to the other. Start with the sheet on the ground with the ball in the middle. Their first and biggest challenge is to lift the sheet up keeping it flat enough so that the ball does not roll off.
You can make it more interesting by racing teams, or involving an obstacle course. You will of course have to tell them what happens if they drop the ball. Should they carry on, get a time penalty, or have to start again?
Group Plank Skiing
You can make team plank skis. For each team you need two planks of wood. Attach to each plank several loops of rope long enough so that if the kids stand on the plank they can hold the end of the rope loop to lift up the plank.
The aim is for the team of kids to walk their plank skis to the finish line faster than the other teams. They have to work out the coordination technique, which involves a lot of communication.
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A simple yet popular team building activity. You define an area of ground to be a swamp using ropes as the edge or some other markers. Then give the team equipment to use to get across the swamp without touching the ground.
Equipment could be milk crates and planks, or maybe just crates. I like to make this really difficult by only giving one crate for every two people. They then have to work out whether to go across in shifts, or to share multiple people per crate and hold on to each other to keep them safe as they cross.
Need More Team Building Ideas?
If these team building ideas don’t satisfy your needs, get in touch, or explore the full list of team building activities or events for kids