Developing social skills is a really important component of in-class learning and something that needs to be explicitly taught. During my last prac in Stage 2, we focused on social skills once a week. Content fell under Personal Development and Health and at the end of each lesson we played team-building and cooperation games. I came across a few great ones and have tried some of these myself, but wanted to put them all in one place for quick reference:
Circle of Silence
Students for a circle and one person is chosen to stand in the middle of the circle wearing a blindfold. The rest of the group needs to pass an object (such as a tin full of marbles or paperclips) around the circle without making any noise. The person in the centre must try to locate the tin by pointing in its direction. If they point at the right person (holding the tin), they swap places.
This is a good task for 10-20 students. It doesn’t take long – it’s more of a quick, fun game than a challenge.
This one is done in pairs. Students sit back-to-back and one must describe a shape or even a simple drawing, while their partner tries to draw it as closely to the original as they can (without seeing it). You should distribute sheets with the image on it rather than getting students to think of their own. This one is about verbal communication. It can take about 20 minutes, giving both students a go.
Students work in groups of 4 or 5. They are given 6 cups and an elastic band with 4-5 strings attached (depending on number of players). Students must stack the cups using teamwork and verbal communication.
There needs to be some clear stipulation of rules in this game. Students can only hold their string by the end – there is a tendency of students to move closer and closer to the rubber band (this is cheating! In fact, the kid in this image is holding the string too closely to the band). If a cup falls over, students cannot touch it. They must signal to the teacher who can come a set it up. Also, you might want to emphasise the use of positive, supportive language. This one takes about 10 minutes. Have extra cups on hand to increase the level of difficulty.
Line students up along a line and pair them off. The first pair of students and the last pair on the line will have some manipulatives (folding geometric shapes are good to use along with different coloured pegs). The first pair must create a fairly complex shape using the materials. You have to make sure they cannot be seen by the rest of the pairs along the line. They will need to describe the shape to the next pair who must pass it on, and so forth, to finally see if the final pair can reconstruct the same structure.
Students can only describe the shape by whispering. If they do not whisper, they have to start again with a new shape. If students have communicated well, by the end of the line the final pair will be able to reconstruct the same object. Whispers can move up and down the line (i.e. in two directions, if any questions are raised) but can only be communicated to the pair on the left or right. This is essentially a more complex, group game of back-to-back drawing.
Lay out an area on the floor (approx. 3m. x 3m.). Mark an entry door and an exit door on the floor plan. Lay out ‘mines’ – these could be anything from pieces of foam, scrunched up newspaper or classroom objects. Students work in pairs – one of whom is blindfolded, the other whom must verbally guide them – through the minefield to the exit door. This activity takes about 10-15 minutes.