Jul 27

Activities to Build Relationships With Students

Whether you teach elementary, middle school, or high school students, student engagement plays a significant role in motivating students to learn and focus. And building student-teacher relationships and student-student relationships in the classroom is key to student engagement. This post will cover some activities to build relationships with students that you can use in your classroom throughout the academic year.


Team building activities are ideal activities to build relationships between students. There are 4 main types of team-building activities, including:

Communication activities. 

  • Find a common thread. Divide students into small groups and give each group five minutes to find something they all have in common. If groups need more time, add another five minutes. Once all the groups have come up with their common thread, you can have them share with the class, or if you have more time allotted to the activity, have them make a flag or coat of arms to represent their common thread.
  • Find your teammates. Place a colored sticker dot (blue, red, green, or yellow) on each student’s forehead without letting them know which color it is. Instruct the students to find their teammates without talking. 

Problem-solving and decision-making activities

  • Flip the sheet. Divide the students into two teams. They will take turns completing the challenge. Begin with all members standing on a flat bedsheet so that they fill ¼ of the sheet. Ask the team to flip over the sheet so that they are standing on the other side of it without stepping off or touching the ground.
  • Replicate the model. Divide students into groups (six to eight students per group). Create a model made of blocks or other materials. Give each group the exact “ingredients” you used to make the model and a set time to replicate your model.

Adaptability and planning activities

  • Adapting circle drawings. Instruct students to draw 5 (or any number) of circles and use their imagination to turn them into anything they can think of (e.g., a tree, a dog, a baby, etc.). At the end of 5 minutes, have them share their drawings and describe what they have drawn to the class. Next, explain the concept of adaptability and challenge the students to draw and turn circles into anything they can think of without using their hands. They can use their elbows or their toes, and they can use their hands to build tools to help them, but they can’t use their hands in any way while drawing. At the end of 10 – 15 minutes, have each student present their circles and explain how they adapted to not using their hands.
  • Up in the air. Divide students into groups and give an equal number of inflated balloons to each group according to the group size. Set a time limit and ask the teams to keep their balloons in the air by hitting them among their group. The balloons are taken out of play if the balloon goes outside their group or hits the floor. At the end of the set time, determine which group kept the highest number of balloons in the air. Ask them to share how they adapted to meet the challenge. 

Trust-building activities

  • Human knot. Divide the students into groups of 8. Tell them to close their eyes. They must reach forward to the middle of the circle with their hands and find another hand to hold. Once everyone finds a hand for each of their hands, ask them to open their eyes. Now instruct them to untangle themselves from the knot to form a circle again without letting go of any hands.
  • Hula hoop pass. Divide students into groups. Have each group form a circle with their arms to their sides. Place a hula-hoop over the arm of one child in each group, and then ask everyone to join hands within their group. Each group must pass the hula hoop all the way around the circle without letting go of each other’s hands.


Relationship Building Activities For Elementary Students

  • Hug, high-elbow, or fist-bump. Students feel acknowledged when you greet them. As your students arrive, leave to go to specials, or at the end of the day, let them choose how they would like to be greeted. Give them choices such as a hug, an elbow or fist bump, or a nod and words.
  • Pop a question. Give each student an empty balloon and a small slip of paper. Have each student write a question on their paper. For example, they may ask, “How many brothers and sisters do you have?” or “Do you have any pets?” Then they put their questions inside their balloon, blow it up, and tie the end. Gather the students and on your signal, have them toss their balloons up in the air. When you call them to stop, have each student grab a balloon and sit in the circle. Go around the circle and, one at a time, have students pop their balloons, read the question inside, and answer the question. 

Relationship Building Activities For Teens

  • Find out what activities your students participate in and show up to them. Make sure they know you are there and take the opportunity to interact with other students while you’re there. When giving feedback, make sure to be positive and not coach or criticize. 
  • Make a collage with pictures of things that interest or are important to you. No words are allowed. Then have your students try to identify as many things about you as they can looking at the collage. Then ask them to make a collage about themselves to share with the class. 

For more strategies on how to build relationships with students, and other topics that are relevant to your classroom, subscribe to Avanti. You’ll get access to hundreds of videos made by teachers for teachers, with more added monthly. Here is a free sample video of a strategy related to relationship building. 

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