Here's a list of a few team building ideas we used last year as well as some new ones I'll be using this year...
1. Untie the HUMAN KNOT. The kids loved this exercise. We would pull it out every few weeks. When we first started, there was no end to the confusion and lack of coordination on the kid's part. But by the end of the season, they figured out how to appoint a "director" so tell how to undo the knot and they were able to untie the knot. Here's directions.
2. Moon Landing Team Exercise. For this activity, I divided kids into teams of 3 and they discussed the priorities for equipment for you to take if you landed on the dark side of the moon and had to meet your landing party on the other side. It's a very interesting exercise in communication and logic. Kids had to justify why they thought one piece of equipment was better than others. Much like they will have to do when they want to run a robot or program a certain way. Here's directions and worksheets.
5. Toothpicks & Marshmallows Bridge. For this I used some pretty old mini-marshmallows. They needed to go anyways. I had two teams build the longest spanning bridge out of toothpicks and marshmallows. They had 10 minutes to figure it out. Couldn't believe that some kids wanted to eat those marshmallows afterward! Yukk. I think gumdrops would also work well.
6. Freeze Tag. This is the same game we all played when we were younger. Kids ran around the back yard just to get the wiggles out.
7. Tall Towers. Our regional FLL teamwork challenge was to give the kids a sheet of paper and tape. They had to build the tallest structure they could with just that. Most kids figured out that you should cut the paper. I think they got 5 minutes.
8. Build a Moving Device. I learned about this at a the Virtual Robotics Summit during one of the talks. Split the group into smaller teams. For each team, you'll need to have one Mindstorms brick. Next count out about 60 other parts from the kits. Each team gets the exact same parts. You can decide which parts they get, but don't give them any wheels or gears. They have to build the best moving object out of these parts. You also decide what constitutes the "best" robot. They'll have to program this object to move. This might take a bit longer as an activity, but it will get the juices flowing for how to build the most effective and efficient movable device with whatever they have on hand. I love that they don't get wheels!
9. Information Exchange. In this activity, kids organize themselves according to specific instructions such as ordering themselves in ways such as by date of birth, by birth month, by number of people in your family, state where you were born in alpha order. All these are good ways of people getting to know what another. This is good for a first time meeting so they can get to know one another and they have to communicate with each other.
10. Giant Egg Drop. Kids divide into an even number of groups. Each group gets a goody bag filled with materials that should help a raw egg survive a two story drop. I would do this outside unless you have easy to clean floors. Each group has 15 minutes to build the best protection for their egg. The team with the egg that survives the longest drop wins. Here's things you could put in a paper lunch bag: 2 tongue depressors, 4 rubber bands, paper cup, 1 sheet of newspaper, 10 toothpicks, 1 foot of masking tape, 1 raw egg.
11. Lego Bridge Contest. Fill a small lunch paper bags. Each paper bag gets exactly the same LEGO pieces. Make sure you put sturdy construction pieces as well as odd, small decorative pieces. Give them to your kids and tell them they have an "x" number of minutes to construct a sturdy bridge out of the odd pieces of LEGO . When time is up, get a can of tuna, and see if the bridges that each person built can support the can. Keep adding cans until the bridge can't hold anymore. Award points for best design, construction, etc. Kids love the excitement and the thought of the bridge falling apart under the weight of so many cans.