What’s one way to ensure all students feel welcome and valued in your afterschool program? By building positive community.

Strong communities include members who have shared goals, feel empowered to contribute, trust in one another, and feel understood and capable as individuals. In this environment, students are more likely to demonstrate teamwork, cooperation, a willingness to negotiate, and the ability to draw on one another’s skills.

You can help create a sense of community in your program with team-building activities. These fun activities are designed to strengthen students’ interpersonal skills. As they play, students learn how to respect each other's point of view, interact in a positive manner, and work together towards a common objective.

Try these five activities to build positive community that lasts throughout the school year:

1. Hankie Hop

Materials

Handkerchief
Cones to mark the start and finish line

What to Do

Divide students into two teams, and give each team a handkerchief. The first player of each team has to balance the hankie on his foot and hop to the finish line and back. Then, the next person in line goes. If a player drops the hankie, he has to start over. The first team to finish wins.

2. Tug o’ War

Materials

Long, sturdy rope

What to Do

Take a long rope and tie a flag to the midpoint. Then, divide students into two teams and have them stand on either side of the flag, facing each other and holding the rope with both hands. Next, draw a line on the ground under the flag. On “Go,” each team tries to pull a member of the other team across the center line to win.

3. Wheelbarrow Race

Materials

Cones to mark the start and finish line

What to Do

Mark start and finish lines, and pair students up. One student will have his hands on the ground, while his partner will hold his feet. They must walk this way all the way to the finish line. First team to finish is the winner.

4. Hip Waddle

Materials

Beach ball or balloon
Cones to mark the start and finish line

What to Do

Pair up students, and give each pair a beach ball or balloon. Stand partners side by side, and place the ball between their hips. Have each pair walk to the finish line without dropping the ball. If it drops, they must pick it up and start over again. The first pair to the finish line wins.

5. Spaghetti Tower

Materials (per group)

20 pieces of uncooked spaghetti
One yard of tape
One yard of string or yarn
One large marshmallow
Scissors

What to Do

Divide students into groups of four. Then challenge the groups to build a spaghetti tower using 20 pieces of spaghetti, 1 yard of tape, 1 yard of string or yarn, and a large marshmallow. Once they’re complete, measure to see which group built the tallest freestanding tower.