This is an excerpt from Healthy Breaks: Wellness Activities for the Classroom by Jenine De Marzo.
This activity allows students to share equipment and understand the responsibilities of decision making and problem solving. The group is challenged to complete tasks while working cooperatively.
- Students will be able to efficiently practice the social skill of sharing.
- Students will be able to identify their individual roles in the success of the group.
- Students will be able to differentiate the value between individual achievements and the achievements of individuals working toward a common goal.
Grade Levels K-3
NHES Standards 4, 5, 6
NASPE Standards 2, 5
Suggested Time Requirements 10 minutes
Lightweight balls such as beach balls, or foam balls to connect the “snake” (the larger the ball, the easier it is to connect the snake); an assortment of any of the following items spread around the room: beanbags, small pylons, balls of yarn, circus scarves, and any other items that won't roll away (each snake should be able to retrieve at least a dozen items, so you will need a dozen for each group); one wastebasket or hula hoop per group
- Make an open space in the classroom for students to move around in. Arrange children in groups of four or five (snakes). Distribute the “food” around the classroom.
- Have the snakes retreat to a corner of the room; this is their “den.” Place a wastebasket or hula hoop in that area, which is where they will deposit all retrieved items.
- Have students place the ball between their backs and the belly of the person behind them (for four children, there will be four balls; the first person or leader is required to hold a ball to his or her waist). The balls are not allowed to drop to the floor. The leader is not allowed to pick up food; the other members of the group should pick up the food.
- It is the job of the front person to lead the snake around the room so they can collect as many pieces of food as possible.
- The collected food is deposited into the snake's den.
- The group must decide when to return to the den to deposit their food collection.
- If the snake drops any of the balls that connect the students, they must return all the food they are carrying to you; redisperse the food around the room.
- If the children are having difficulties, encourage them to switch positions and to strategize how they will be able to get to the food without dropping the balls.
- Children should be reminded that the goal is to move together as a group and fill the snake's den with food without dropping the ball. Continue as time allows. Winning or losing is not the focus of the game; cooperation and strategy are.
Make sure the play area is free from desks and chairs. Use non-ball-type items as food so that they stay stationary. The size of the balls between children depends on their abilities; choose a ball that is light and allows for comfortable personal space between students.
Tips and Variations
When the children get the hang of it, tell them to switch positions by making a circle in their snake formation, reposition the balls, and have a new leader hold a ball to his or her waist and lead. Instead of using balls between students, you can use pool noodles that are placed under the arms of the group, freeing their hands to pick up food. The leader in this case is allowed to hold the noodles as they are placed under his or her arms.