Developing Effective Classroom Groups Shared by Valerie Shaw
By Gene Stanford email@example.com
GROUP BUILDING ACTIVITIES
Stage 1: Orientation
Nametags or Nameplates— Have students wear nametags or have nameplates on their
desk to help learn names. Name plate is ½ sheet of cardstock folded into a V. Nameplates
work well for randomly assigning groups in later activities.
Self-Introductions—Have students introduce themselves while class members write down
their names and one thing they learned about them.
Name Chain—Sit or stand in a circle. Each person says their own name and then repeats
the names already introduced.
Who are your neighbors? Students sit in a circle. Person in the middle walks up to one
person and asks, “Who are your neighbors?” If the student can’t answer correctly then
that person is it. If the player answers correctly, then the person in the middle asks, “Do
you want new neighbors?” If the answer is no, the player must name two people who
have to change places while the person in the middle tries to steal one of their seats. If the
answer is yes, then all of the players must change seats. The last person up is now it.
Students can share with one student, small groups, or the whole class. *Note: begin with less
threatening activities until students are more comfortable sharing personal information about
Class Interviews (20 questions)— The class interviews each student and teacher one at a
time find out what kind of person they are. The person can say “no comment” if they wish.
I used this activity with dating to reinforce getting to know someone before asking them
out. It would also work well with other topics or to fill the last 5 minutes of class.
Round Robin—Have each member of the class (including the teacher) answer one or more
questions about themselves. You can do all of the questions at once, or space them out
over several days. I used this activity with the friendship unit, but it would work with any
topic. See handout for sample questions.
Double Circles—Divide the class in half. Make equal circles with each person in the inside
circle facing one person in the outside circle. Join the circle if there is an odd number of
students. Have students meet their partner and answer a question. Then rotate the
outside circle one person, introduce, and ask another question. Students may pass if they
don’t want to answer the question. I used this activity with the 8 developmental tasks.
Get-acquainted activities continued:
Art Projects— Have students make a collage, trademark, or coat of arms about themselves
and then share with one person, small groups, or the whole group.
I am . . . list. Students list 10 things that they are and share one or more with the class. I
used this activity when we talked about seniors to compare similarities and differences.
Voting Questions—Have the class sit in a circle. Ask “How many of you . . .?” Then have
students raise hands or put thumbs up/down to vote. I used this activity with family trends
to see how students felt on different issues. See handout.
Forced Choice—Students answer a question by moving to a different part of the room. I
used this activity when I talked about birth order. Oldest, middle, and youngest went to
different parts of the room and discussed the pros and cons of their birth order.
Secondhand Description—Have students work with a partner and describe themselves as
they think another person would describe them. For example, How would your parents
describe you? It would also work from the point of view of friend, brother/sister,
grandparent, date, etc.
Trust building activities:
* Note: be sure students are well acquainted before doing these activities.
Seeking allies—Have students name another member of the group that they think they are
most similar to. Students may or may not explain how they are the same. I used this
activity with friendship.
Imagining reactions—Have the group sit in a circle. Have each person think of a secret that
they have. (The secret won’t be shared.) Have students imagine what the reaction of the
group would be if they had just told their secret. Have willing students discuss how they
think the class would respond. Talk about building trust and respect for each other.
Ideal Reactions—Have class sit in a circle. Have each student answer this question: “What
could the people in the group do to make you feel more comfortable to talk in front of
them about things that are important to you?” Encourage specific answers.
Performance—Give students a list of embarrassing activities and have them rate them in
the order that they are most willing to do them. Discuss student’s choices and why they
chose them. See handout.
These questions go along with Havinghurst’s 8 developmental tasks
1. Do you talk problems out with your friends or is there a lot of drama?
2. Should moms work or stay home with their kids?
3. If you could change one thing about your body, what would you change?
4. Do you make decisions based on your family, your friends, or yourself?
5. Do you want to get married and have children?
6. What career are you interested in someday?
7. What is a goal you have for your future?
8. Do you feel like you are very responsible, somewhat responsible, or not very responsible at
You can start out with some of these easier questions to help students feel more comfortable.
Where were you born?
When did you move here?
If you could live somewhere else, where would it be?
What is your favorite TV show?
Who is your best friend?
What would you buy if you had $50 to spend?
If you could change your name, what would it be?
What is one thing that makes you happy?
Round Robin—Ideas for questions
What is one thing that other people like about you?
How are you different from most people your age?
What do you value the most?
What will you be like ten years from now?
How have you changed most since last year?
What was a time when you were happy? angry? hurt?, etc.
Who in this group are you most similar to?
Who in this group can influence you most?
What’s one thing it takes courage for you to do?
Who can you talk to when you have problems?
Students answer with the following:
Yes, very much—raise hands and wave them around
Yes, moderately—raise hands
Undecided OR don’t want to say—sit with arms folded
No, moderately—thumbs down
No, very much—thumbs down, moving hands back and forth rapidly.
Ideas for questions for Family Trends:
How many of you want to get married?
How many of you think it is okay to live together before you get married? Not okay?
How many of you want to get married when you are 18? early twenties? late twenties?
How many of you want kids? More than 2 kids? More than 4 kids?
How many of you live with a single parent?
How many of you think that single parents can do it all by themselves?
How many of you have divorced parents?
How many of you think that when parents divorce it is the kids’ fault? The parent’s fault?
How many of you think it is important have a good father in your life?
How many of you think that a step-father or other males can fill the role of a father?
How many of you think that blended families are just as strong as traditional families?
How many of you think that you have a responsibility to yourself and your future children
for the choices you make now?
Instructions: Number the activities on this list from 1-7 in the order that you would most prefer
doing in front of the group. 1= most preferred 7=least preferred
_____Imitate the crowing of a rooster.
_____Give a 2-minute talk about your best qualities.
_____Do a silent pantomime of a very sleepy person washing their face in the morning.
_____Give a 2-minute talk on what you like most about your classmates.
_____Share a nursery rhyme, song, or poem you remember from your childhood.
_____Balance a book on your head and walk across the room.
_____Choose a short passage from any book in the classroom to read aloud.