My third graders had such a fun time with this simple activity. It got them talking with one another and working as a team from day one.
You will need plastic cups, 4 paper clips per group, gummy worms and gummy lifesavers.
Fred, the worm, was riding in his boat, the cup, when it tipped over. Fred is on top of the boat and he doesn’t know how to swim. Lucky for him, he brought a life preserver, the lifesaver. The problem? The life preserver is stuck under the boat.
Students will work in groups to plan a way to get Fred inside the life preserver. They cannot touch the worm, the boat or the life preserver with their fingers. The only tools they can use to help are the four paperclips. I divided my students into groups of 4. First, they talked together about how they wanted to approach the task. When the group had a plan, they could begin their work. Throughout the task they were laughing, strategizing and working together. It warms my teacher heart to see all of this happening on the first day of school!
After they have completed the task, I had them write and illustrate about their strategy. The different groups shared with one another.
Spaghetti and Marshmallow Challenge:
My school used this activity as an icebreaker when we came back to school last year. It was a fun team competition that had students creatively working together.
You will need to give each group uncooked spaghetti noodles and large marshmallows. Each group should have about the same amount of supplies.
Students work in groups to see who can build the HIGHEST structure in the specified amount of time. They can only use the spaghetti and the marshmallows. The winner is the team who has the highest structure when time is called. Many will build tall structures that fall before time is up.
One of my groups built a medium sized structure. Groups around them were building taller ones, but this group stopped. I came by and asked why they weren’t building. They said that they figured the other towers would fall and they were taking their chances with the shorter by sturdier structure. Smart, right? They won!
Groups drew pictures of their creations and reflected on what they learned about building.
Everyone giggled a lot and it was a great time to talk about good sportsmanship and how games are played fairly in our classroom.