By Teachers, For Teachers
Many teachers like to have their students work on classroom activities collaboratively throughout the day in small groups. Group work is a great way for students to learn from one another and to build a sense of community in the classroom. It also gives shy students the opportunity to open up and work on their communication skills in a smaller learning environment. Whether you want a fun way to review for an upcoming test or are just looking for a few new classroom activities to help mix up your groups, we have some creative ideas for you.
Is there an upcoming test that your students need to review for? If you are stick of your old review games like Jeopardy! or Family Feud, then you need to try playing “Pass the Ball.” To begin, instruct students to sit in a circle and position yourself in the middle of the circle holding a soft ball. Ask a review question to the students and give them a second or two to think about the answer to themselves. Next, point to a student, then toss the ball to them. They must come up with an answer whether they know it or not. If they get the answer correct, they pass it to you. If they get it incorrect, they point, then pass the ball to another student to try an answer correctly. The game continues until every student has gotten at least one question correct.
This is a fun group work activity to get your students up and moving. You will need to find about 30 objects and place them into a tote or box. Make sure that the box is covered, so when students choose their objects, they cannot see what they are choosing. Divide students into small groups and have each group blindly choose five items. The students must work together in their group to write a skit, then act it out using the five objects that they chose. Many teachers like to correlate the objects with what the students are learning about. For example, if students are learning about the civil war, then the objects could include a sword, body armor, bell, frock coat, battle flag, etc. It’s a fun way for students to work together while learning about important concepts.
Another fun review activity is to challenge students’ memory by writing down several vocabulary words and placing them onto the table. Allow students while in their groups to view the words for about 60 seconds, then cover them up. The goal is to see which group can remember the most words in one minute. Make sure to set the timer for one minute after the words are covered up. After the lists are checked by you, then set another challenge for the students. This time, take away a few words to see if the students know which words are now missing. Once that challenge is completed, you can further extend the activity by adding additional vocabulary words to see if the students can figure out which words were added. Once the memory challenge is completed, the first group that can write down the definitions for each word on the table wins.
A fun getting-to-know-you activity is to play the game “Guess Who?” This group work activity forces students to work together to complete their task. Put students into small groups and challenge them to secretly choose one person in the group to describe to the rest of their classmates. Next, have students come up to the board and take turns writing one descriptive word about the secret student in their group, including the secret student they are writing about. After each student writes their description on the board, the other groups huddle together to take a guess at who they are talking about. The groups then write down their guess on piece of paper and hold it up after each description. The first group to guess the secret student wins.
Another fun group work activity is to have students work as a team to complete a puzzle. This activity does not use any normal puzzle, but challenges the students to draw one. Print out any picture of your choosing, then cut the picture into nine pieces. Make sure that you cut the picture so that students will be able to put it back together like a puzzle. Give each student three pieces of the puzzle (so that means three students per group). Ask students to draw their pieces of the image as closely as they can on another set of three puzzle pieces. Once students are done, have them put the puzzle together again using their drawing this time.
Do you have any fun classroom activities for group work that you would like to share? Please feel free to tell us about them in the comment section below, we would love to hear your ideas.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.