We just started a new semester over here and my classes changed up a bit. Some of my kiddos “graduated” from being in a resource, some kiddos stuck around, some new kiddos filtered in. New kiddos = new understanding of how we cooperate and get along in resource.
I was talking to my friend, Meg, about possible ideas and she suggest cooperative squares which she found at this site. When I looked online, there seemed to be many versions. I, being kind of a formatting snob, decided to make my own set just so I could change up which letters were on each page, and make the font different, etc…
Anyhoo… after I made my own set, I made copies so that all 5 squares were on the same color. Because my classes are maxed out at 10, I made two sets of cards (one set green and one set yellow). Actually, I made 5 sets (green, yellow, pink, blue and purple) in case I ever go back to a ‘full’ class so that I already had them made! Also, each envelope had a letter on it, and the pieces inside had corresponding letters.
Then I grabbed some old report card folders (go talk to your school secretary, they probably have some of these stored away! Mine gave me 6 boxes and I use them for EVERYTHING!!!)
Here is one set prepped and ready to go! The directions are on the other side so the kiddos can be reading when they get the envelope.
So what exactly is this activity?
Each team consists of 5 kiddos. Each kiddo gets an envelope containing some (in my case 3) pieces of a square. The goal of the activity is that the 5 students should work together, using each other’s pieces to form 5 squares of equal size. That doesn’t sound too bad, right? Oh yeah, I forgot to mention – they cannot talk or touch any piece that does not have their given letter on it.
After reading the directions to my first class, they took out their pieces and quickly started checking out what other people had in their envelopes.
One student was ‘brave’ and decided that her piece looked like it might have some pretty vital information, so she pushed it out to the middle of the table.
Within moments, two other kiddos pushed their pieces forward and the first full square was complete.
After seeing the size of the first square, another kiddo realized his piece was almost the full size and pushed it forward. Again, they other four were able to chime in pretty quickly with the correct pieces to complete full square number 2.
The next three squares were a bit pickier. This class decided that making eye contact was a great way to communicate. The girl on the left made eye contact with the boy on the right, showed him the triangle that she was going to use, and he realized he had the same one. They linked the two pieces. At the time they didn’t realize this was a correct move, and later separated the pieces
The same thing happened with these two pieces. The students put them together via the eye contact. method they had established. Much like the last two, they soon pulled them back a part.
At this point, they had two squares formed and two squares semi-formed.
Within a few moments, they were able to piece together the 3rd full triangle.
At this point, they pulled together the before mentioned pieces and all took turns puzzle-piecing their piece with others.
This lead them to square #4
Square #5 was the hardest for them. If you remember before they had the two triangles placed together correctly… it took them over a minute to put those two back together.
After about 9 minutes, and absolutely no talking, or touching other pieces, all 5 full squares were complete.
After they finished creating the squares, they answered a few questions.
Here’s what a few of them had to say:
I used the same activity in all of my classes that day. All of the kids really enjoyed the activity and were all able to talk about the value of communication. We talked about verbal and non-verbal communication and how hard it is to work together but how essential it was too!
The kiddos are already asking to repeat this activity! I was very surprised at how well it went over and cannot wait to use it again when they need a little reminder on how to ‘play nice’ with each other!