Team-building activities are a fun way for children to bond and develop essential skills to cope with life's challenges; skills like communicating clearly, making decisions, solving problems, having a try and not giving up, trusting each other, taking the lead and listening to others. These are the skills your child will be using all the way through life, long after they've forgotten the answer to that grammar or maths question.
Just one game played together can have a ripple effect with children re-living the triumphs, disasters and fun all over again when they next see each other and feeling an increased sense of belonging and playing a vital role.
Playing a team sport like football, rugby or netball enhance all these talents, but we should encourage children to play games at every opportunity.
Here are five team-building games designed to foster essential social skills and self-esteem.
1. Human knots
Get the group in a tight circle, tell them to grab the hand of two different children, not the ones standing next to them. Each person will be holding the hands of two different people and the circle will look like a human knot. The task is simple - without letting go of any hands, just untangle the knot. It is possible…
2. Relay races
In a relay race you have to work together as a team, but you can increase the opportunities for teamwork by turning each relay of a race into a different team game - the first a wheelbarrow race, the next a three-legged race, then a blind-folded obstacle course with the rest of the team shouting instructions.
3. Trust falls
There's a reason why Trust Falls is so popular in cubs and scouts: the game builds confidence and trust in each other so you become a real team. One weak link and the circle of trust fails – dramatically.
In Trust Falls, children are partnered together. One child has to stand in front of the other and make their body go rigid. They have to give a signal that they are about to fall backwards. As they fall, their partner catches them, preventing them from hitting the ground. As trust grows, the children can increase the distance between each other.
4. Capture the flag
A play area is divided into two parts with a well defined line. At the centre end of each side, five or more sticks are placed in a pile. A prison is marked off in one corner - coats and jackets are fine. Players are divided into two teams. The object of the game is to steal the opposite team's sticks without being caught.
As soon as the player crosses the centre line, they may be caught and put in prison. A player may be released from prison if one of their teammates can touch their hand. They can then come back to their own side without being tagged. The team who gets all the opponent's sticks and has all its members safely out of prison wins the game.
5. Skin the snake
The children form a straight line. Each child puts their right hand forward and left hand through their own legs to shake hands with the person behind. The last person in the line lies down and everyone else backs up to be able to lie down as well. When the whole group is lying down, the first person stands up and (carefully) walks forward over all the other people until the snake has skinned itself. If the group is working together well, you can give them other challenges like dribbling a football down the Snake.