Here are four some simple team building lessons that require minimal preparation and are great to do with grades 3-5. I have enjoyed doing these lessons over the years with my students. I hope you and your students will enjoy them as well.
The first is my Introduction to Team Building. It gets the students thinking about their various team experiences and what it takes to make a team. Student groups are challenged to arrange themselves in different configurations. Watch for who's a good listener, leader, or encourager in this activity.
Next is an activity called Snowbound. I got this one from a Cooperative Learning workshop I attended many years ago. Students must decide as a team what supplies to take as they leave their plane crash to search for help.
Students will enjoy getting their creativity going by Building a Car. The idea of teamwork on an assembly line is the main focus here. Everyone must cooperate to "build" (draw)as many cars as possible before the competitors finish theirs. Also a great lesson for career week.
Cooperation Spelling gets two groups of students competing with one another in a team spelling bee. Teams must organize themselves and spell their word using pre-made alphabet index cards and the brainpower of the team. Teamwork and cooperation are a must to beat the clock and spell your team's word correctly.
The Handcuffs Puzzle is a lot of fun too. You will need long pieces of string or yarn and plenty of room for this one. This is more of a "small team" activity because two students, each with a long piece of yarn tied from one wrist to another and criss-crossed over each other, must work together to figure out how to get themselves separated with out cutting or breaking their yarn.
I love teaching team building with these activities, I hope you and your students enjoy them too!