Problem Solving, Communication & Team Building Outdoors
In our outdoor classrooms, children need to learn to work in teams, small groups and sometimes as an entire class. It is critical that they learn problem-solving, communication and team-building skills as they constantly draw upon these skills in an Outdoor Classroom environment. Teaching team building is not always as easy as it sounds.
Do you ever feel challenged to get children to think and work together as a team when learning outdoors? Frustrated when children don’t know how to solve their own problems? Hopeless when kids don’t use their minds as much as we would like? Exhausted when children lack creativity? Confused when kids just don’t “get it”?
Would you like to explore how to use GAMES to help children generate and evaluate possible solutions to problems? Learn how to use HANDS ON ACTIVITIES to stimulate children’s thinking and communication skills outdoors? Have fun and engage in activities that will help you facilitate children’s learning and build their concentration and listening skills? Today we are going to tackle these issues and learn how Cooperative Games can enhance learning and teaching in our Outdoor Classrooms.
Firstly, we need to understand school-age children and ask questions. What are the interests and needs of school-age children today? What are the issues facing children today? How do children learn? What do children need to know?
Secondly, we need to understand why don’t they listen. There are 3 possible reasons:
- The Child has an Unmet Need (social, emotional, physical)
- The Child Lacks Skills (cognitive)
- There is a lack of fit between what the child brings and the environment
Thirdly, we need to break the cycle of reacting and try something different. What are children trying to tell us? Ultimately, kids want our time. They want us to slow down, be positive, enjoy life and have fun. Introducing Adventure Curriculum is a way to keep learning active and playful outdoors. Adding cooperative games to your outdoor classroom “curriculum on the go” toolkit will add a sense of adventure, suspense, drama, and unpredictability. Children love this as there is a merging of intellectual, social, physical and emotional learning.
Here are a few Cooperative Games to get you started: LET’S PLAY!
GROUP JUGGLE: Organize the group into a circle, and set up a juggling system that processes juggling balls by throwing them across the circle of team members from one person to the next. When a ball is thrown the thrower must shout the name of the recipient. When a ball is received, the receiver must say, “Thank you____.” Keep adding different size balls and a rubber chicken or two.
COUNTING 1-10: Organize the group into a circle. Begin with everyone looking down at the floor. Invite participants to count 1 to 10 without anyone saying the same number at the same time. If a number is said at the same time, the entire group needs to start over.
GOTCHA: Organize the group into a circle standing shoulder to shoulder. Ask everyone to lift their right-hand pointer finger in the air. Then ask the group to take their left hand and place their palm face up. Take the pointer finger and place it in the neighbor’s flat palm. Each person, in the circle, will be connected with pointer fingers on each flat hand. The leader yells out “Gotcha” and everyone tries to catch each other’s finger. Wait for the roar of laughter.
WELDED ANKLES: Organize the group into a line. Invite each person to connect their feet with the person next to them. As a group, they need to get across the floor without unhooking their feet. If their feet unhook, the entire group needs to go back to the beginning. The group can strategize, work together, and try again.
LOOK UP-LOOK DOWN: Organize the group into a circle. Everyone looks down at the floor. The leader says “lookup” and everyone makes eye contact with someone in the circle. Participants can’t switch once they have looked up. If participants make eye contact, they are out. Begin again with “look down.” Keep going until there is a winner.
To top it off, it’s fun to add a few Higher Order Thinking activities to your toolkit.
THE MARSHMELLOW CHALLENGE: Build the Tallest Freestanding Structure
- Teams of Four People
- Eighteen Minutes
- 20 sticks of spaghetti
- One Yard of tape
- One yard of string
- One marshmallow
Now I want to hear from you. What is your favorite team building game? Do you want to learn more about the Outdoor Classrooms on-site training and outdoor courses? Start HERE. If you have any questions, please contact Victoria at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you.
Want to learn more about PLAY from the experts? Check out the Outdoor Classrooms Summit.
Do you want to schedule a Cooperative Games on-site training? Learn more HERE.