It is just another day in the play area of Primrose Apartments and children are busy with various activities based on their age – the little ones are creating their own masterpieces in the sandpit, while the older children are playing badminton. There are other groups of children playing in the vicinity. Six-year-old Adi sits around playing with his electronic gadgets. He does not try to join his peers, even though they call out to him.
As a parent of this child or any concerned parent, what would you do? Would you encourage the boy to join one of the groups? Would you call out to a few children of his age and cheerfully engage all of them in a team-building game?
Shy children prefer not to be the focus of attention. So, engaging such children in team-building activities that are structured but do not get them out of their comfort zone, will help them learn the importance of co-operation. Team-building games are not just a prelude to some sporting activity. They teach important skills and build positive qualities in your child. When a child is playing a team game, she learns how to be patient, think-out-of-the box and how to work together amicably to achieve a common goal.
These games help children of all ages build trust in their peers/teammates, encourage creative thinking and problem-solving skills, and promote peaceful co-operation and commitment. These qualities hold them in good stead when they become adults and must step out into the big bad world.
Here are some interesting team-building games for children:
1. Jigsaw puzzle – Puzzles always pique a child’s curiosity. A big jigsaw puzzle with many elements needs good co-ordination from a team to put together. This game needs a group of at least 4-5 children. Take a block puzzle or one with cut out pieces and give each person a set of pieces, which is part of the bigger puzzle. Firstly, each participant needs to put together their set, before all the team members come together to join all the pieces. Based on where each set of pieces fits in the larger puzzle, each of them will have to adjust their set. They will learn co-operation, decision-making and creative thinking in this interesting team-building game.
Ages: 7 - 14 years
2. Jumping Rope – A simple game which cannot be played successfully, if all the team members are not in sync with each other. All you need is a rope which can be held by two adults on opposite sides. Now get about three to four children and as the rope is being turned, all of them must jump together at the same time. You can even play some music to help the children jump in rhythm. If all of them do not jump together, some will fall, while others may get their legs tangled in the rope. This game teaches synchronisation, quick thinking and patience.
Ages: 5 – 8 years
3. Recreating blocks – In this game, you can have a large group of 7-8 children or a smaller group (3-5 kids). The adult conducting the game should show the group a set of blocks in different colours and shapes, which has been put together to form a shape, for e.g., a house, a tree, an animal and so on. They can look at it for a few seconds and then leave. The blocks are then dismantled, and the group must put it back from memory. This is a great game for smaller children and teaches them memory skills, co-ordination, and creative thinking.
Ages: 4 - 6 years.
4. Follow the leader – This game should have four groups with at least five people in each group. Every group gets their turn one after the other. While the other groups stay out, one group gets into the room and the team members choose a leader. Then, the chosen member makes various actions which need to be replicated by the other members. At this juncture the other groups are called in to watch. The leader can change the action without warning and the others need to follow suit. The group that guesses correctly who the leader of the performing group is, will go next. This game is good for learning co-ordination, power of observation and think on their feet.
Ages: 6 -10 years.
5. Toss the ball – A simple and easy game that is not just great for team building but in smaller children, help in motor skills and eye-hand co-ordination. All the kids must do is move some colourful balls from one bucket to the other in a specified time. You can have not more than two or more children in a group who must take turns to pick the ball and put them inside. The group that moves the maximum number of balls is the winner.
Ages: 3 - 6 years
As children, we may be part of a team in school and as we grow older we become part of a community. It is imperative we learn to live in harmony. That is why, team-building games are a helpful tool that teach us early on to work as a cohesive unit.