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Ponsonby teacher promotes team building during first week of school

September 12, 2017


PONSONBY, Ontario – Grade 5/6 teacher, Josh Ellis, spent some of the first week back in the classroom promoting team building with his students.

Students were tasked with the Hubba Bubba Challenge. In teams of five, students were given two oven mitts and one package of Hubba Bubba chewing gum. The challenge requires students to take turns wearing the oven mitts and without using their teeth, they are required to open the package of gum and put an unwrapped piece in their mouth. After the first group member is successful, the mitts and remaining wrapped pieces of gum are given to the next member of the group until each group member has participated.  To help students determine who will play first, the tallest student in the group determines the order of play.

Ellis encourages students to spend some time prior to commencing the challenge to talk about and build a strategy. To help students strategize, Ellis gives them two prompts, “what could go right” and “what could go wrong.”

Ellis got the team building idea from the Tribes Energizer Kit. He explains to students that this is not a race and that the group will achieve their goal when all five students are chewing their gum. The incentive is that students can keep their gum in their mouth until the bell, so it is up to the group to determine their game strategy.

After the game, Ellis asks students the question “how well do you think a fish could climb a tree?” Ellis said, “they usually laugh but it gets them thinking. We discuss how for most of us, using our hands is something we don’t even give a thought to. It is automatic. However, during the challenge, our brains know exactly how to open the gum, but the oven mitts provide a physical challenge. I then conclude the activity with this statement. ‘If someone is having a challenge this year, please remember the bubble gum challenge. We struggled together, with a smile on our faces. We supported each other.’”

Ellis uses the challenge to establish a safe culture of risk taking and challenge for the year and thinks this is a great activity to try in the classroom or at home.  

Grade 5_6 student participating in Bubble Gum Challenge

Categories: Spotlight On Schools