Before we start, I want to remind you that one of the worst ways to create
teams is to let the kids pick the teams. Keep in minds that our
students self imagine is at a fragile stage, therefore there is no reason
to subject a student to the painful consequences of being the last person
picked. In my opinion, there are way too many other ways to
creatively and safely (mentally) divide, group and pair our students.
No Equipment Needed
1. Grouping/Pairing - At the beginning of
the year, during my cooperative games, I play a game called data
processing. This is a game that gives my students time to practice
grouping into whatever size group I desire. During this time we talk
about our rules of grouping which include:
1. No turning
2. As soon as
you have the correct number, join hands and sit quietly.
3. If you are
having trouble finding a group, raise your hand and look for others.
4. No leaving
a group once you are joined.
To help make sure that the same students are not
always grouping together, I may have them walk briefly and shake hands
with as many other as possible, then I will call the group size. I
also stress that just because they are in a group together, does not mean
they are going to be on the same team, so many times, to insure that they
are not grouping with friends, I will have them group, then split the
group into teams (see 3 & 4 below)
So using grouping, I may: . 1. Call for groups of 4
students per group and those are my teams. or
2. Call for 2
boys and 2 girls per group.
3. Call for
groups of 4 then assign each player in each group a number (color, letter,
animal, etc.),1 through 4. and all 1's go together, 2's together, etc
divide groups by alphabetical order, birthday, letters in name, most
letters on shirt, by height,
I spend a little time on this in the beginning of
the year, but it pays off all year long, as I can make teams
quickly. My students can make a basic group of any size in 5
seconds. I give them 10 seconds for specialty calls, (ex.
2boys, 3 girls per group)
Just for the record, I highly praise in front of
all, students who display any unselfish acts during grouping. For
example, sometimes a group will accidentally have too many, but I give
great positive reinforcement to the player who chooses to leave, instead
of trying to get other to leave. ( I will make them line leader that day,
or give a certificate etc.)
Also, if there is an odd number, I will have the
odd student out join the team of their choice, or I will choose it for
2.Sit and Stand - Have
students pair up following rules as discussed above in pairing. Now,
have 1 player sit and the other partner stand. You now have two
teams, the standers and the sitters. A.
Other ways to split pairs (have 1 sit and 1 stand): Birthday order
or (Day only April 2nd is a 2), alphabetical order (first name, last
name), number of letters in name (first, last middle), height, shoe
size, number for letters or numbers on shirt, play a game of
rock, paper, scissors or Muk Jee Bah, (any similar game). Use your
imagination, the possibilities are endless.
3.Counting off - You can always do the old school
numbering off. Students line-up and have students or you count-off
down the line, 1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4, to create 4 teams. you can also use
letters, colors etc. A.
Change this up by having more numbers than teams. For example, count
off by 6's then group the 1's an6's together, the 2's and 5's
together, and the 3's and 4's together, to create 3 teams.
4. Similarities - Another way to get the kids thinking is to
have them find a partner or partners with whom they have something in
common. for example: find a partner with whom your shirts have something
in common, or your shoes, or pants, etc. take a little time after
they have found a partner, to let a few partners explain what they found
in common. If there are some left over without finding someone in
common, I will let the class help look for commonalities.
You can make this as specific or basic as you
5. Quick Splits - To quickly make 2 teams have the students divide
into two groups by:
(Jan - June) team 1, rest team 2
(odd number day) team 1, evens team 2
students sit Indian style ( if their left leg is over the right) team 1,
right over left team 2.
4. Use you
imagination, anything that will be about 50-50 will obviously work.
CARDS Many times during the year, I
will use cards to divide my teams. This does not take long as I just
hand each student a card as they walk into the gymnasium. They do
have to follow a couple rules, regardless of what type of card I use.
1. No showing
your card to others
2. Do not
bend, twist or damage cards.
Types of cards to use are unlimited. I use
playing cards, pokemon cards, old maid, uno, Jumbo size cards, matching
cards, flash cards. The more creative the better. Playing Cards: Group student by
suit, or group students by number, Group students by a sum of two
numbers (find a partner whose card and your card add up to 10. Specialty cards: Students group by
picture, numbers, colors, animal, again, depending on the type of card you
use, possibilities are endless. I like to use math problems, so
students must find a partner who added, subtracted, etc equals a certain
Of course, using cards takes a little preparation to organize the cards to
match your class size and teams needed, but I know from my grade book how
many is in each class so I just add or remove cards as necessary.
When you collect cards from the students they should be in order, this
makes it very easy to organize for the next class. Just for the record, I get a lot of cards
from my collection drive.
MARKERS I have a colleague who uses
floor markers (stickers or paint) to divide his primary students into
groups/teams. On his floor he has five columns of different shapes,
one column is stars, one column circles, etc. Each column contains
five or six of those shapes. This creates a design of 5 columns and
six rows (use whatever numbers you need). Each row is a different
color. So the Blue row would have 1 of each shape, th red row one of each
Students are assigned a particular spot to sit on
when they come to class, they may keep this assigned spot of 3 or 4 weeks
(you decide the time).
Anyway, he can now group his teams by colors or
by shapes: or combine with other types of grouping as discussed in the no
GAMES You can use short games to divide
your class into 2 or 3 teams (Maybe more but I have not tried any yet, have
you?). Have class pair-up (as described in grouping pairing
section above) then play a game of
Paper, Scissors - Have students play 1 game or best of 3. Winner
2. Muk, Jee,
Bah - play 1 or best of 3
3. A game of
daggers - 1 point or best of 3
4. Gold, Silver,
Bronze - 3 teams
You can use any number of games. however, I
suggest avoiding games of skill to divide the players. Keep the
games simple and try to use games of luck.
This is another good way to group players, if you
have the equipment. I was playing a game that I call Hills and
Valleys. This game requires a lot of dome markers or cones (at least
1 per player), and uses two teams distinguished by pinnies (vests).
Anyway, at the end of the class, I would have the students hide their vest
under one of the markers. When the next class enters, they will sit
by a marker. When I am done explaining the game, they will put on
the pinnie found under their marker. voila, instant teams.
I am still tinkering with a way to hide pinnies
in a small container or any other way to make this work without needing
the markers. If you have tried anything similar
please let me know.
CHIPS During my square dance unit, I
will use poker chips to pair my students. I use 20 red and 20 white
plastic poker chips (you decide the number you need. Anyway, I
number each color 1-20, using a permanent black magic marker. After
I go over all the rules to my activity, I will have the girls pick from 1
color (from a hat or bowl so they cannot see), and the boys from the other
color. I will then call the numbers to make my sets and positions.
Of course, these would work with any other
activity the same as playing cards, you could pair by numbers, or by the
sum of a math problem, etc.
Just for the record, I get plenty of poker chips
through my collection drive.
This is just a few of the ideas that I
have been using. If you have any others that you would like to
share, then please e-mail me at Ideas@MrGym.com