Teach This Today: The Second Day of School

Teach This Today: The Second Day of School

The second day of school is a great time to start building teamwork with your students


The first day of school is a lot like Christmas. The buildup begins way too early (back to school ads in early July, for cryin’ out loud), it’s difficult to sleep the night before, and the day is physically and socially exhausting. And then it’s over.

On the second day of school, some of the shine has worn off of the penny. You and your students wake up to the cold reality of the 179 days ahead and everyone is pooped from the day before. It’s not a good time for you to stand and lecture, and an even worse time for students to be confined to their desks.

Now is the time to help your students to work together and take charge of their own learning with some constructive team-building exercises. Generally, team-building exercises give a group or “team” a problem to solve and require that everyone participate. These activities take about 15 to 20 minutes of a one-hour class period. They are a great way for students to accomplish something together as a group and build trust, confidence, and communication skills.

 Here are some team building ideas for your second day of school:

Lego Sculpture Replica— (20 minutes)

Materials Needed: A generous supply of Lego blocks. If you don’t already have these, chances are you can borrow some from a colleague.

Instructions: The teacher builds a small to medium-sized sculpture using Lego blocks. (If you’re not feeling particularly creative, you can go to Lego’s idea website for inspiration:


Divide your students into groups of 4 or 5. Each group should have enough blocks to duplicate your sculpture.

Place the sculpture on a table, equidistant to the groups, but shielded from general view.

The object of the activity is for each group to duplicate your sculpture. One person from each group can come up and look at the sculpture at any time for as long as they want and try to memorize it before returning to their team. Students may not use a camera nor pencil and paper.

No student can visit the sculpture twice until everyone in the group has had a turn.

The object is to be the first group to successfully duplicate the sculpture. This is a great collaborative exercise for learning to think strategically and solve problems as a group.

Textbook on the Moon - (15 minutes)

Materials Needed: one textbook for each group of four students

Instructions: Tell your students to pretend that they are now in a classroom on the moon. Their textbook is no longer subject to gravity. Have each student hold out two fingers of their right hand at chest height. Place the textbook on top of the outstretched fingers.

The object is to lower the textbook to the ground while keeping all fingers touching the textbook. If anyone’s fingers lose contact with the book, the group must start over.

At first, the textbook will seem like it is rising, rather than lowering – as if it were on the moon – because of the upward pressure of everyone’s fingers. Soon the team will get the hang of it and be able to lower the book to the floor.

It may be necessary to have a referee for each group to “call it” whenever someone loses contact with the book, if you think there is apt to be a little cheating!

Reverse Scavenger Hunt (10-15 minutes)

A great way for your student to learn where things belong in your classroom.

Materials Needed:

Miscellaneous classroom items

Cardboard box

Instructions: Place a number of objects from around your classroom into cardboard box. You may have to label some of the items for clarity. Ideally, every group should have a different set of objects. Here are some ideas for things to put in the box:



Item for lost and found

Paper to turn in

Box of tissues

Hand sanitizer





Dry Erase Boards

Promethean or Smart board pen

Hall passes

Students take turns selecting an item from the box and placing it its proper place. Similar to a relay race, one team member must come back to the group and sit down before the next person can get up. The first team to successfully place all of the objects is the winner.

Domino Fall - (20 minutes)

Materials Needed: A bulk quantity of dominos (search online for deals or ask your colleagues).

Instructions: Give each group 3-4 students an equal quantity of dominoes. Instruct them to work together to make a “domino fall” by standing the dominoes on their short ends at equal distances apart.

Each team member must take a turn placing a domino until they are all in line or pattern. Other team members may not move a domino that another has placed or instruct her to change its position. Other team members may, however, place dominoes within the line.

The object is to create a fall that incorporates every domino in the most interesting pattern possible. The teacher can serve as the judge, awarding points to each group for originality and number of dominos that fall in one “push.”

Marble Run - (20-30 minutes)

Materials Needed:

Several pieces of flat cardboard.


2” wide strips of light cardboard (such as cereal boxes)

Marbles (1 or 2 for each group)


Instructions: Divide the class into groups of 3-5 students. Provide each group with one piece of cardboard and a supply of the strips, tape, and marbles. The object is to build a pathway for the marbles to travel down the full length of the cardboard when it is held perpendicular to the table.

Each student must take a turn adding a piece of the pathway. The first group to build a pathway on which the marble makes it all the way to the bottom without falling out is declared the winner.


Standards-based jigsaw puzzles and station activities are a great collaborative activity. Check out our puzzles by clicking here and get one in your classroom today!

Jane @ StandardsInPuzzles.com


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