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Teamwork for Homeschool Support Groups

Icebreakers and Fun Team Building Exercises

By Kris Bordessa, author of Team Challenges: Group Activities to Build Cooperation, Communication and Creativity

Forming a homeschool support group can be an onerous task, as organizers try to accommodate the needs and desires of many different families. Gather a roomful of home educators, each with a different reason for homeschooling, kids of different temperaments and ages, a variety of homeschooling methods and the desire to create a homeschooling network, and you may have a recipe for success. Unfortunately, egos and personal agendas can sometimes get in the way.

Before this diverse group of people can be considered a support system, they really must learn to work together toward a common goal.  Instilling a sense of cooperation between the organizers, as well as the families participating can create a feeling of belonging and trust, and an understanding that no single person has all of the right answers.

Whether yours is a new group just starting out or one that has been together longer, consider adding some fun team building activities to your next meeting. Remind participants that the group counts on help from everyone, and with full participation the group will thrive. Without cooperation, the group will struggle to meet the needs of the participants.

The activities you’ll find below give groups the opportunity to see first hand how every person is crucial to successful teamwork (you’ll need a timer or stopwatch for both of these activities). These activities are best done in groups of 5-8, so divide into teams and see how successful you can be!

Balloon Walk

This task simply cannot be completed without the participation of every person on the team.

Set Up:
Mark a finish line on the floor using tape. Line up the team parallel to the finish line and about twenty feet away. Place a blown up balloon or beach ball between each player’s hips and instruct them not to drop the balloons or balls. Read the team instructions out loud to the team.

Team Instructions:
Have you ever heard the term ‘joined at the hips’? In this task, you have the opportunity to see exactly what that means. Without dropping any of the balloons or beach balls, you have three minutes to work your way to the finish line. If you drop a balloon or beach ball, you must begin again at the start line. You will be notified when you have one minute remaining.

Assemble A Paperclip Chain

This is a fun challenge that tests the team’s ability to work together within certain limitations.

Set Up:
Provide ample space in which team can work. Give the team a box of paper clips and read the team instructions out loud to the group.

Team Instructions:
You have five minutes to make a chain of paperclips as long as possible. But there’s a catch! This is a one-handed task; all team members place one hand behind their backs. No talking is allowed during this task. You will be notified when there is one minute remaining. Your team will receive twenty bonus points if your chain measures at least twelve inches long.

Suspend As Many Marshmallows In The Air As Possible

Suspend As Many Marshmallows In The Air As Possible

This challenge requires not only teamwork, but communication between team members as well. How will the group decide upon the best tactic? The imposed time limit means that a decision must be reached quickly and without disagreement. Think creatively!

Set Up:
Gather the materials listed below and place them in a box. Provide an area in which team can work. Read the list of construction materials and the team instructions out loud to the team.

Construction Materials:
5′ length of string
1 bag of large marshmallows
10 rubber bands
5 straws
10 toothpicks

Team Instructions:
You have three minutes to devise a method to hold as many marshmallows as possible above ground level. No team member is to be in direct contact with any of the marshmallows during the scoring process. Scoring begins at the end of the three minute building time. You will receive up to ten points each for creativity, cooperation and communication. You will also earn one bonus point for each successfully suspended marshmallow.

The activities in the article are excerpted from Team Challenges: Group Activities to Build Cooperation, Communication and Creativity(Zephyr Press). Visit the author online at www.KrisBordessa.com or get more team building ideas at http://greatsolutions.blogspot.com. Copyright 2006, Kris Bordessa.


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