Choosing teams is a common activity for gym classes, youth groups and after school care. In the past, teams were chosen. The teacher or leader would appoint two team captains, and these students would take turns choosing the people they wanted on their team. They usually chose the best or most popular students first. Being the last person chosen was a shameful experience, because it meant you were the least talented and had the fewest friends.
Another way to choose teams is to use old greeting cards and turn them into puzzle pieces.
Find two cards that have very different pictures on them but are the same size and are printed on the same color and texture of paper. Cut the cards into pieces; the same number of pieces as people on the team. Make all the pieces the same size and shape; either rectangles or squares. Place the pieces into a deck of cards, or into a sack, and have each student draw a card at random. When all the cards have been drawn, tell the students to find the people who have the same picture on their card.
Gather up the cards and keep them in a Ziploc bag. They can be used again the next time teams have to be chosen.
Other ways to choose a team can be to have the students line up according to their birthday, and then divide the line in half.
Students can also line up according to their height, and then count off, one, two, one, two, so that each team has the same number of tall and short people on it.
Students can also be chosen by their pets. First have the students draw a picture of their pet on a piece of paper. Tell them to hold the picture in front of their chest, so that they can’t change their mind to get onto another team. Put all the dog owners on one team, and cat owners on the other team. Or call students out according to the size of their pet; horses first, large dogs, second, etc. Or, call the color of the pet; any black pet, any brown pet, any white pet, etc. If the students don’t own a pet, they can choose the pet they would like to have if they could have one, or they can fill in the spaces on the team with the fewest players on it.
Choose teams by their favorite color. Have students choose their favorite color from a box of crayons. Call out the colors in rainbow order, or have all the warm colors on one team, and cool colors on the other.
If the method of choice is different each time, the students won’t anticipate the answer, and the teams will have a different roster each time. Being on a different team will encourage them to make new friends.
This advice is an exerpt from the new book Caring After School: How to make after school care teach more, cost less and run more smoothly. It is now available as a Kindle from Amazon.