Most people think about the workplace when they hear the term “virtual team building.” But, as all teachers know, virtual team building isn’t just for adults at work! It’s an essential part of learning as a student. Team building for students, no matter what age and grade is incredibly important for the learning process. Virtual team building activities teach students skills like effective communication, intentional listening, and creative thinking.
However, because so many classrooms have moved to remote learning, it’s made putting together team building activities a little more difficult. Teachers and leaders are having to think creatively on how to build this culture of team building virtually.
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There are tons of directions you can go in when planning a team building experience for your class. For older students, you might want to try challenging activities to really engage them and keep their attention. With younger students, you may want to choose team building activities that don’t take too long, since their attention spans aren’t very long.
Check out these virtual team building activities for students that may just be the perfect choice for your classroom and reap all of the team building benefits!
Virtual Team Building Games for Elementary Students
Teachers know how valuable it is to help students learn at an early age how to work together and build friendships. When planning these team building activities for elementary students, you may need to alter some details to work for your age group!
1. Smithsonian Virtual Tour
One of the most exciting parts of school is taking field trips! If you’ve got a remote classroom, you can still bring the joy of field trips to your students. The Smithsonian National Museum of History Virtual Tour allows groups to take self-guided tours through different exhibits either on a computer or mobile device. Your students will love getting to see the 11-ton elephant in the rotunda, the Hall of Fossils, and the Sant Ocean Hall with over 600 specimens!
2. Stand-Up And Sit-Down
Prepare a series of “yes or no” questions with only two options for answers. For example, “Do you like apples?” Students stand up if the answer is “yes” or sit down if the answer is “no.”
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3. Once Upon A Time
One student begins the story with something like, “Once upon a time, a man was walking down the road. Just as he turned the corner, he saw…”
That student can then pick the next person to share, and so on. The story finishes once everyone has gotten a turn! With your students’ creative minds, who knows where the story will go!
4. Sixty-Second Sketch
Pick a topic and have students draw it for one minute. Or pause during reading time and ask them to draw a picture of something happening in the book!
5. Break The Ice
Compile a list of icebreaker questions for students to answer and number each of them. Students will use an online dice roller to roll the dice and answer the question it lands on. It’s a great opportunity for the students to learn a little bit more about each other and get their little minds thinking.
6. Virtual Scavenger Hunt
It’s a good idea to communicate with parents in preparation for this one. Create a list of virtual scavenger hunt items for parents to place in easy-to-find spots around the house. Announce the first item and have the kids run to get it. Give each student the next item as they return. The first person to find all the items wins!
Virtual Team Building Games for Middle School Students
Middle school is tough enough in normal times. Throw a pandemic into the mix and teachers have an extra hurdle trying to help their students develop emotionally and relationally. Here are some team building activities for students to help them out of their shells and work together!
Share an online bingo board with your students and select themes that match a subject your class is learning.
Don’t forget a prize for the winners! Maybe they get no homework or their choice of the next group activity.
Pick a student to be the detective. This person closes their eyes and counts to thirty. While this happens, choose a student to be the spy.
The spy begins with an action (like waving their hand or tapping their nose), and all of the other students will follow along. Now the detective opens their eyes and observes their classmates.
The spy continues changing actions as the other students follow. The detective’s job is to figure out who the spy is!
9. Two Truths and a Fib
Have each student write down two true things about themselves and one fib. Each student will read theirs to the class and you can have the whole class vote on which they think is the fib. This is a fun game to get the creativity flowing as they have to think of a believable, yet fun fib. It’s also a great way for the students to get to know each other better as they may have not known the other truths about each other.
10. Waffles or Pancakes
This is a great game to engage all the students, even those who struggle to speak up in class. There are no right or wrong answers! Start with one student and ask “Which do you like more—waffles or pancakes?”
The student answers and gives an explanation why. Then using their answer, add a new option and ask another student. For example, “Which do you prefer, waffles or hot dogs?” The game continues this way!
Virtual Team Building Activities for High School and College Students
One of the best parts of teaching high school and college-aged students is that you can give them unique, challenging projects and watch them rise to the occasion! Check out some of these options your class is sure to enjoy!
11. Virtual Escape Room
At Team Building Hub, we’ve put a lot of thought into how to make an epic online team building activity for students and a virtual escape room is a fantastic option. Your students can play a real escape room using a live camera feed. Each room has a Game Guide actually in the room who acts as your eyes, ears, hands, and feet. Along with the Game Guide, students progress through the room using their digital dashboards, 360 room scans, and an inventory system. Find a list of virtual escape room options here.
12. Online Mystery Game
If you have a bigger class, an online mystery game is also a great option. Your students will be broken into teams of 5–7 secret agents who race to solve a crime before the other teams. You can raise the stakes here and offer extra credit for the winning team. Or maybe even offer a pass on some homework!
It’s simple and there are so many options out there for virtual trivia games. You can use tools like Kahoot! to make the game engaging! Maybe pick a theme that goes along with your class, or rather than quizzing on a particular topic, have a trivia game instead! Your students will have a blast getting out of the normal routine! Whatever you choose to do, trivia is a low-impact, simple thing to add to your schedule.
14. Map Challenges
Use a world map of your choosing, break students into groups and give them a certain amount of time to list as many states, cities, countries, etc. as they can in that map. If you’re a geography teacher, this would be an especially fantastic team building activity for your class!
15. Story Telling
Provide students with four or five different images. The students arrange them however they want and create a story that connects them together. It’s fun to see what direction students will take! Some will come up with funny stories, while others will go for the drama. Any time we can encourage students to tap into their creative, collaborative sides, we’re setting them up for success!
16. Typing Speed Test
Do you have some competitive students? There are so many online options for typing tests that you can challenge your students to. See who has the quickest typing fingers in the class!
17. Shark Tank
Chances are, you’re familiar with the show Shark Tank. In this activity, you’ll split your class into teams where they have to come up with a product or service to pitch to the sharks. This could be a fun opportunity to bring in some guests to the class to serve as the panel of sharks.
They’ll have to work together to come up with a logo, product, marketing strategy, etc. This activity will also help them grow in their public speaking skills! After everyone has presented, your sharks can vote on the best presentation.
Benefits Of Team Building Activities For Students
This has been an interesting year for teachers, parents, and students as everyone navigates the complexities of virtual and hybrid learning. Teachers have had to create innovative opportunities for socialization in their online classrooms. But educators know that dedicating time to online team building activities for students enables them to gain the following skills!
According to Psychology Today, “creativity is the thinking that fuels innovation,” and “creativity is or is related to 9 of the top 10 skills that global executives say is essential for 2020 and beyond.”
It’s important in the academic years to show students that there are many different ways to be creative!
Online team building activities are an opportunity to make space for creative thinking, and equip students for success.
While students learn alongside peers, they often work on schoolwork by themselves. While independence and individual learning are important, it’s also necessary for students to learn how to work together and navigate group situations.
Choosing a virtual team building activity that requires groups to find solutions together is a great way to develop that collaboration muscle.
Because of remote learning, students are missing the opportunities to socialize that are normally a part of school. It’s a challenge to get kids to build relationships online organically. Team building activities are a great way to spend some time learning those communication skills and making friends!
Remote learning isn’t often viewed as “fun.” But taking a break from the routine and participating in virtual team building activities is a great way to just have some fun and engage with your class! Students will want to engage in the work more readily when they’re not feeling burnt out by the constant computer time.
Anecia is a Nashville-based writer who believes in the power of team building. She writes a variety of content focused on creative corporate team building ideas, to help teams become more dynamic, unified, and successful.