Have you ever noticed how classroom learning is formal by design? There’s an intent behind every lesson plan, even group work and team activity. With the rise in online schooling, however, educational institutions are learning to let loose with virtual team building activities for teachers and students.
Classroom work was disrupted due to the coronavirus outbreak in 2020. In fact, nearly 1.2 billion children were taken out of school. One year later, some schools and universities around the globe are cautiously reopening but most of the learning, handing in assignments and administration of examinations continue to happen online.
With the summer vacation approaching, every child is yearning to spend time playing outdoors. But who says all the fun’s only outside, though? There are several indoor virtual games that teachers and students alike can play to kick off the holidays on a high note before school resumes. And that’s precisely what this blog is going to cover!
1. Ideas for Free Virtual Team Building Activities for Teachers
1.1 Poker face [Free]
Poker face is a fun ice breaker where the participants try making the rest of the group laugh. Every player keeps a straight face while one participant mimes makes a wisecrack or comical expression to get the person to laugh. Whoever manages to keep their poker face on wins!
1.2 Jump in Jump out [Free]
This is one of the virtual team building activities for teachers and students to warm up with. Jump in and Jump out is an instruction-led exercise where all participants have to say what you tell them to say and do. In-person, this game is played by everyone forming a circle. The online version is slightly modified and involves everyone standing up in place while you call out a series of commands, such as “jump in”, “jump right”, “ jump left” or “jump back”. Whoever gets any part of the sequence wrong is automatically out of the game. Keep playing until there’s a winner!
1.3 Who are You Like? [Free]
“Who are you like?” is a game that matches you with a celebrity/sportsperson/famous person. You can have everyone in the class come up with a personality and announce who amongst them, teacher or fellow classmate, talks, acts or resembles the celebrity. Make sure there are enough names from diverse backgrounds so that no one is left out!
1.4 Murder Mystery
This virtual team building exercise is an opportunity for everyone to channel their inner Sherlock Holmes. The game facilitator can build the context by creating a persona and leaving behind clues. Split the group into teams to examine these clues and solve the mystery within the set time limit.
1.5 Lemon Race [Free]
I don’t mean to jest, but what’s life without a little zest? If you thought balancing a lemon on a spoon is something you can do only if you’re at a park or picnic, think again! Keep the camera on and have everyone go to the end of their respective rooms with the lemon in place. You can make it funnier by playing music and challenging contestants to dance their way to the finish line, which is their work desk. Whoever makes it back to their seat without dropping the lemon wins!
1.6 Code Break
Teachers can turn coding into a game for their students. Create levels and award points for every command they execute correctly. They can progress till the end to unlock a certificate. There’s another way to play this which doesn’t involve coding. You can create a puzzle or trivia board and split up the group into teams. Whichever team cracks the code first is the winning team!
1.7 Escape Room
Escape rooms come under remote adventures, and involve everyone being locked in themed rooms with hidden clues. There will be a set of instructions for where to find the clues and how to use them to move forward. Virtually, escape rooms can be conducted on zoom in breakout rooms and the host will let out the team that’s closest to finding and solving all clues.
The themes include trapped in an elevator, an ancient castle or a haunted mansion. You can log in to Zoom, receive instructions from the meeting facilitator or Host and use the live feed and dashboard as you go along. Points will be deducted for the team that seeks hints.
If you want to make it even more fun, you can have everyone dress according to the theme. For example, if you’re trapped in a haunted mansion, everyone can wear black and goth make-up to really set the eerie mood!
1.8 100 Point Challenge
The 100 point challenge is a game the Sorry I was on Mute team played last year. It is facilitated by an event facilitator (Dan Paech, in our case, who’s also the Cofounder). The team splits into two or three in a breakout room, give themselves a team name and then head over to a link containing riddles. You have to get all the individual riddles right to unlock the answer to the master puzzle. Even though neither team managed to crack the final puzzle, our team actually got more answers right than the other team, so that’s something!
2. Virtual Team Building Activities for Elementary Students
2.1 Virtual tours of Museums or places of interest
You can arrange with your local museum, planetarium or aquarium for a virtual trip. You can also play a 3D IMax movie but will have to provision for everyone having the glasses to sit through and watch it in comfort.
2.2 Virtual dance-along- party [Free]
Who doesn’t love a good dance-off? You can either choreograph a routine and have the little tots do the steps, or have everyone do any move they like. While you’re at it, involve the parents too if they’re home and free! Everyone can be silly together.
2.3 Halloween theme party
You can have a costume party and turn it into a competition for whose outfit is the scariest! Teachers can don a witch’s hat or have a broom nearby while practising their evil cackle. Schools can package sweet boxes and either arrange for curbside pickup or delivery to individual addresses.
2.4 Online talent shows [Free]
Host a mini-talent show or a show-and-tell for the kids. Inform the parents in advance of when you’re planning to do this so that they can assist their children if required. Make sure to time performances and step in if any performer is overrunning the given time. After all, the goal is to get everyone to show off a skill!
3. Virtual team building activities for middle school students
3.1 Five minute book talks
The five-minute book talk is a reading exercise where each student gets five minutes to talk about a book they recently read. You can either create a reading list and have your students pick a book from it to read and talk about or set it as a task to complete before convening online.
3.2 Virtual Scavenger hunt [Free]
Send the kids on a timed virtual scavenger hunt. You can even create a theme for the scavenger hunt, such as space or jungle exploration. Come up with written or verbal clues for the objects that they should find. (For example, describe coins as 1) A round shiny object that fits in your palm and 2) is found in someone’s pockets). Whichever child finds all or almost all of the items on the list wins a spot on the student of the month!
3.3 Lip reading [Free]
Keep the camera on and have each person take turns muting themselves on call and saying a word. The participants have to guess what the word is based on their ability to read lips. Whoever gets it right wins! This is one of the virtual team building activities for teachers and students that can be played two ways. One, students play amongst themselves, with a teacher in charge of judging the best lip reader. Or, both teachers and pupils are on opposing teams!
3.4 Story Recitation [Free]
This is an exercise in using one’s imagination and storytelling ability! One student starts the story and the next student picked at random continues the story. Go on until every child gets a sentence or two in. Here’s an example;
Student 1: Once upon a time there lived a beautiful princess who owned a magical tiger.
Pupil 2: This tiger could turn himself into a harmless plush toy.
Student 3: One day, a passerby saw the tiger transforming and decided to steal him to sell to a travelling circus.
I won’t give away what happened to the tiger in this story, but you may find out if you play the game!
3.5 Blind Drawing [Free]
This is an activity that reveals how children and teachers work as a team. It works by selecting pictures for one person to describe. This person has to describe the picture verbally and the teammate has to try drawing the picture. Have every team share their drawings and original picture on-screen while on the call. The team with the most accurate representation is the winning team!
4. The Takeaway
Classroom-based team building activities are a learning opportunity for students and teachers alike. It teaches them how to work with others, and lets tutors see what children are good at and show a shine to. Our picks for virtual team building activities for teachers and students include blind drawing, storytelling and the dance-along/ dance-off. Call me biased, but dances can liven up any party and help everyone relax!
Which of these virtual team building activities for teachers and students will you be brave enough to try?