Class Activities for Tribes & Team-Building

Building trust and cooperation between students fosters a positive classroom atmosphere that facilitates learning. The Tribes program is a model of classroom organization developed by Jeanne Gibbs. It involves breaking a classroom into small groups, or tribes, which stick together throughout the school year. Students learn the values of appreciation, respect, camaraderie and cooperation. A fundamental component of any tribes-based classroom is team-building activities, which help members of an individual tribe learn to trust each other and work together. Make your classroom an inclusive space where young students can reach their full potential.

  1. Ice Breakers

    • Helping students get to know each other in small groups will ease a child's transition into any new classroom. Have each student stand up in front of his group and say two truths and a lie about himself. The rest of the group must guess which fact is a lie. You can also play a name game in which students sit in a circle. Each student must say his name and make a unique gesture, as well as the names and gestures of every student that came before him.

    Learning About Each Other

    • Cultivating comfort between students in a tribe needs to move beyond acquaintance. A positive learning experience can be fostered by activities that promote intimacy. Have students pair up and discuss their greatest fears with each other. Students can them reassemble into tribes and share what they learned about each other. Alternatively, have each group make a chart that shows the different family structures that group members come from. Let students learn what's it's like to grow up in a household with married or single parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts or any other structure.

    Problem Solving

    • Students can learn to work together by solving difficult problems as a team. One idea is to put a brain teaser or riddle on the board and have teams race to solve it. Students will work together and natural leaders will emerge to designate responsibility. You can also give a large jigsaw puzzle to each team and have them race to complete theirs.

    Creative Activities

    • Students that are creative together will feel part of a team together. Have students trace each other's outlines in a row on mural paper. Students can work together to paint a mural of their silhouettes. Let them decide as a group what colors and themes to use. Alternatively, have groups work together to come up with a team chant, slogan or flag. Let them discover the creative strengths of individuals within the team.

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