Just by reading the title, 99% of high school students all over the globe would roll their eyes. We know. I know. I’ve been in the arena for a while and I can tell you something: they’re incredibly smart, but when it comes to team building activities for students, they all think they’re too old for that.
However, relevant and engaging games can energize the entire classroom and unlock new levels of learning. When teamwork activities for high school students are included in the daily curriculum, the classroom becomes a safe space, where students feel comfortable being vulnerable and empathetic, speak their minds, develop new skills, and – last, but not least – have fun (*because that’s how we roll on eTeamBuilding).
Check out the ultimate ‘Team building activities for high school students’ list. You will find:
- group activities for high school students that attend in-person courses
- relationship building activities for high school students that learn online
- short games: 10-minute activities for high school students
- high school team building activities that work great as indoor games
- teamwork activities for high school students that are suitable for outdoors
1. Idea Building Blocks
- Start by presenting a problem related to the subject you’re teaching.
- Divide the class into teams – at least 2. 5 people in each team would be ideal, but you can adapt it no matter what.
- One team member must write down a solution and pass it along to the next team member, who builds upon that idea, and then passes it along to the rest of the team. The paper is passed around until each team member has added to the original solution.
- When their time is up, each team must choose a spokesperson who presents their solution to the rest of the class.
- Create a poll and let students choose the best solution.
2. Shark Tank
This one’s a good choice for challenging learners’ creativity and public speaking skills. It’s similar to ‘Money tigers’ or ‘Dragon’s Den, but the format is the same. ‘Shark tank’ is a suitable teamwork activity for high school students, regardless of the course type (online or in-person).
- Start by dividing the classroom into ‘marketers’ and ‘sharks’. Split the marketers into teams/breakout rooms (*at least 3 students in each team).
- Next, ask the ‘marketers’ to think of a product and come up with a brand name, a logo, and a marketing strategy, and to present it to a panel of judges (the ‘sharks’).
- After everyone has presented their ideas, the sharks vote on their favorite project.
- Bonus: Add a special treat for the winner! An ‘A’, no homework, a special certificate, or an extension on their latest assignment.
3. This or That?
‘This or that’ is a classic. Just like ‘Truth or dare’ or ‘Never have I ever’, this can be suitable in so many contexts. It’s:
- a fun icebreaker
- a good conversation game for teens
- a nice camping game for adults
- and also, as a 10-minute activity for high school students
You can play it during your in-person or online courses, and you can choose to focus on the topic you’re teaching or be more relaxed about it. You can use your students’ answers in the future, to create new lesson plans that will suit their interests better.
- Start by presenting a list of provocative statements before class.
- Next, ask students to pick ‘this’ or ‘that’ and defend their position amongst the other students. Here are some examples:
- Clean up national parks or build a skyscraper?
- Teach a class or learn from reading a book?
- Be a teacher or be a student?
- Be known as a kind person or be known as a resourceful person?
- Be known as an active person or be known as a communicator?
- Be better at writing or better at speaking?
4. Scavenger Hunt
If we were to come up with a definition for ‘Scavenger hunt’, it would be ‘the perfect relationship building activity for high school students’. Yes, contrary to popular opinion, this is not just for kids. Planning a scavenger hunt can be a great group activity for high school students that want to get better at designing a strategy, dividing up tasks, and communicating progress. In other words, the focus is on enhancing their collaborative skills. Obviously, scavenger hunts require physical presence so they are great for in-person courses.
- Begin by dividing your students into teams.
- Hand them over a list of items and set a time limit to find as many of them as possible.
- Make it more challenging by offering clues or riddles rather than the names of items.
5. Make a Burger
This one’s a fun high school team building activity to be played during in-person courses! Besides teamwork, it also tackles the community building of the classroom.
- Start by splitting your students into teams. Ideally, each team should contain 7 players, but you can adjust that when you create the list of ingredients (more about that, in the next step).
- Explain the rules. They must make a full hamburger, that starts with a bun, and that has lettuce, meat, cheese, pickle, tomato, and another bun. You must state a specific order of the ingredients and they must follow it. You can adjust the ingredients depending on how many members you have in each team (add more meat or remove veggies).
- Then, tape one ingredient onto each student’s back and instruct students to work together to find all the necessary ingredients and then line up in order.
- The first team to do so correctly wins.
- You can either play silently, or you can tell students to say what ingredient is on their backs, but instead only provide hints.
*Adapt this teamwork activity for high school students to your course material. You can replace burger ingredients with vocabulary words and definitions, planet names, math problems and solutions, and so on.
6. Make It Personal
‘Care’ is the middle name of ‘efficient learning’. You need to care for your student’s needs and wants and you need to constantly ask for their feedback, to see if what they learn in high school actually meets their expectations and taps into what’s important for them. ‘Make it personal’ is a 10-minute activity for high school students, suitable for both in-person and online teaching.
- After you’ve discussed a new topic in class, divide students into groups/breakout rooms.
- Next, ask them how the concept impacts their prior knowledge of the topic, or what the initial reaction to that concept was and how it’s changed. This way, you will encourage learners to reflect on their personal connections to the course concepts they are facing.
7. Improv Games
If you’re looking for a relationship building activity for high school students that’s also funny, here’s your best bet! Improvisational games are all about thinking fast and connecting with others, while also stepping out of your comfort zone. Choose these activities when you have a short time during your online or in-person class. The ones you must have definitely heard of are: ‘Stand, sit, kneel’, ‘Last letter, first letter’, ‘Team Building questions only’, ‘Sound effects’, and ‘Numbers game’. These do wonders in relationship building for high school students and also develop life essential skills.
8. Think, Pair, Share
‘Think, pair, share’ is a group activity for high school students who want to enhance their debate skills. It’s appropriate for both in-person classes and online courses. You will need at least 20 students and one good question.
- Pose an open-ended question and find out your students’ take on that.
- Next, pair them up and have them agree on one single response.
- Next, combine the pairs in groups of four and have them accomplish the same task.
- Keep going until half the class goes head-to-head with the other half, defending their viewpoint.
Don’t worry if your setting is online. Breakout rooms on Microsoft Teams or Zoom allow you to replicate this experience with virtual classes.
9. Deserted Island
Another great team building activity for high school students is one that challenges their leadership skills. ‘Deserted island’ can be played online or during in-person courses, as long as you provide your students with a list of items for survival.
- Divide the learners into teams/breakout rooms and present the context: they’re stranded on a deserted island.
- Ask them to individually rank and prioritize the items on the list.
- Then, have them do the same thing, but this time, as a group.
This game tests both their problem-solving skills and helps them differentiate between the needs of the individual and the needs of the collective.
The benefits of team building activities for high school students
Group activities for high school students are known for:
- Enhancing the learners’ self-esteem
- Developing both competitive and collaborative skills
- Enhancing communication skills (public speaking, problem-solving), since team building activities for high school students require their active participation
- Getting to know each other better
- Building trust
- Allowing students to feel more relaxed in an academic environment