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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Teamwork: Cup Stack

I stumbled across this idea on Pinterest and thought it would be perfect for my third and fourth graders!  I often hear complaints from students that although others "allow" them to play games at recess, they often do not "include" them in the game.  For example, in football they are on the team but the ball is never passed to them.  I used this as a springboard for discussion on what teamwork really looks like.

The Cup Stack is a great activity to facilitate teamwork.  Some groups are able to complete the task very quickly while other groups must keep trying and trying to complete the task successfully.  It's hard not to give up when things get frustrating, and this is a valuable lesson for children to learn in a safe environment.  All you need is cups, rubberbands, and string.  I decided to put my students into groups of 6, so I tied 6 equally spaced strings (about 1-2 feet long) around a single rubberband.  Each group was given this device and 6 cups.

The challenge is for the group to build a pyramid out of the paper cups (3 on the bottom, 2 in the middle, 1 on the top - can be adjusted for more cups).  Group members cannot touch the cups with their hands or any other part of their bodies, even if a cup falls over or on the floor.  Each person holds onto one of the strings that are attached to the rubber band and they use this device to pick up the cups and place them on top of each other (by pulling the rubber band apart and then bringing it back together over the cups).





  
Some groups took 2 minutes to accomplish their goal, some 10 minutes, and some never successfully built their tower.  I had groups that finished early watch the remaining groups to add a little "pressure."  Afterwards we debriefed with the following discussion questions:
  • Was anyone frustrated at all during the activity? If so how was it handled?
  • What did you learn about yourself or others?
  • Why was teamwork so important for this activity?
  • What is so hard about teamwork?
  • What did you do today to contribute to the teamwork on your team?
  • What are some skills needed to be good at teamwork?
  • Are you every in a situation where you must use teamwork? Is this always easy for you? Why or why not?
  • How can we use what we learned through this experience in situations outside the game?   
 Check out Teamwork: Cup Stack Take 2! 

14 comments:

  1. Hi Ms Sepp, I used your idea to extend a lesson on empathy with middle and high school students. SUCCESS! Thank you so very much. Here is a link to our lesson.

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1KlJ2Y38IpKcb2xMvion1PtNcm1ysg8YJvxKp5WqKMHA/edit?usp=sharing

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    1. Thanks Deborah! I'm so glad it worked well for you guys! It is such a fun lesson for kiddos and for the adults watching. :)

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  2. I saw quiet students smile as they worked with others. ;)

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    1. Yay! Yes, it requires teamwork of all members so everyone is able to participate.

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  3. I did this activity as an ice breaker for 1st and 2nd graders for Odyssey of the Mind... awesome!

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    1. Yes! I've even done this with my college students. :) It's a crowd pleasure and teachers such great teamwork skills!

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  4. What a cool activity! I will be using when term start. Can't wait and thanks!

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  5. Looks great. Will be trying this out when term starts. Thank you!

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  6. I bought my supplies yesterday and am doing this with my 4th graders tomorrow! I am so excited! What a great idea .

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  7. This is wonderful! I'm a new teacher and I was looking for team-building activities. Thanks so much! <3

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  8. Great activity! You could also extend this by just giving them the materials - ie string and rubber band not attached - to encourage problem solving of the solution.

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    1. I like this suggestion!

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