Team Building Tuesdays (part 1): Team-building Activities for the Secondary Classroom


With my yearbook and journalism classes, I want to make sure that all of my staffers and editors feel like an equal, important part of our little classroom community that we are building. And what is so tough is that at the start of a new year, these types of publications classes start out somewhat divided. The newer students are trying to learn all of the basics, essentially they are trying to fly an airplane as they build it from scratch! And while that happens, the returning editors are busy at work making sure the publications get a good start.

And with that predicament, Team Building Tuesday was born.

Every single Tuesday, my publication classes pause and take a break from the hustle and bustle of journalism and yearbook to come together and complete team-building activities together -hopefully establishing a bond built on trust and understanding. Please note: This post contains Amazon affiliate links to help me with the cost of hosting this website.

Here’s a look at four team-building activities for the high school and middle school classroom.

1. Stacking Cup Challenge

For this challenge, I placed students in groups of four (but you can also do groups of five or six), and the students had to use only a piece of string attached to a rubber band around a cup to stack up the cups in a pyramid. Students could not use their hands at all; they had to rely on communication.

To prep for this activity, I gave each group six plastic cups and a rubber band with four pieces of string tied to it. Students each grabbed one piece of string to pick up, move, place, and stack the cups. It’s definitely harder than you’d think!

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2. I Say, You Draw

This challenge was so much fun! I had the students partner up with someone they don’t usually sit with. For my yearbook class, that meant that I had returners partner up with newcomers. Each partner group shared one I Say, You Draw handout, and they rotated positions: each one being the drawer one time and the describer the next.

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For this challenge, students had had two roles: drawer and speaker. The describer had to describe, step-by-step, how to draw a simple object without using any words associated with it (think shapes, directions, and lines). The drawer had to draw what the describer was describing, and it was really fun to watch. Then, as the drawers were drawing the object, they also had to guess what it was. Once again, communication was key here! The objects my students had to describe and draw were a house, a camera, a football field, and a Chromebook. As an example, I had two students work on the whiteboard describing and drawing a pig. 

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    3. Group Timeline

    For this activity, you’ll need some white butcher paper and markers. To set this activity up in your classroom, cut a large strip of paper and tape it to your whiteboard. Then, you’ll draw a line down the center to create the timeline.

    The group timeline should include important events from everyone’s lives in the classroom. As the teacher, you’ll start out the timeline with the date you were born, and then you’ll end the timeline with that day’s date on the far right. Every person should add their birthdate and three significant events in their life to the timeline.

    Once the timeline is complete, have a couple of students read off all of the events that have led to your classroom. For classes like yearbook and journalism, the timeline represents all of the events that have led to your publication. After reading the timeline, display it somewhere in your classroom!

    4. Classroom Quilt

    The classroom quilt is one of my favorite activities in my Back to School Activities resource. To set up the activity, pull up an image of a quilt onto your projector. Then, explain to everyone that each quilt square is different and unique, but an important part of the quilt as a whole. As just like a quilt, the class is the same. Each person is different and unique, bringing in different strengths and insights to the class, to complete a final product.

    When my students completed this team-building activity, I played Disney hits on my Amazon Music account, and I sat down at the table with my students to make my own quilt square.

    It was a really nice way to spend the class period. We colored. We talked. We shared information from our quilt and found new common ground and shared interests.

    Team Building Tuesdays (part 1): Team-building Activities for the Secondary Classroom

    If you enjoyed these team-building activities, please check back later for more Team Building Tuesday activities!




    • Hi Christina!

      When you get the chance, would you please add a photo of a completed "quilt" so we can see the results?

      I had wanted to do something similar using the analogy of a puzzle, but was intimidated by having to find a way to make all the odd shapes so I just gave up. However, with a quilt's square pieces, it's just a quick trip to the teacher work room to use the paper cutter, right?

      Thanks for all the fantastic content you provide for us. I really enjoy following you on Instagram.

    • If you have each kid decorate a hexagon-shaped paper with their personal interests or facets of their identity, they can find a way to connect their hexagons with the rest of the class through shared interests/traits, making one big puzzle. It worked well with my 10th graders and forced them to find someone in the room that they shared a connection with.


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