Asking students to line up according to a rule is a quick and easy way to create groups. Once everyone is standing in a line you can divide your students into any group size or simply fold the line in the middle to form pairs. Try these questions to get students to line up for groups:
1. What do you want to be when you grow up? (line up A to Z)
2. How do you like your salsa? (line up mild to zesty hot)
3. Birthday order (can group by month or day of the month)
4. What is your favorite food? (line up A to Z)
5. What is your address? (students line up in the numerical order of their street address)
6. Research to find answers to questions that require a % response. For example: What percentage of students age 12 - 17 own a Smart Phone? What percentage of people drink milk straight out of the carton from the refrigerator?
Find Someone Who ...
Ask your students to roam the room and find someone with a trait similar to their own. Traits might include:
Form groups by handing students cards or pictures to match:
Sole Mates: Ask students to find the person in the room whose shoes are most similar to theirs
What's My Rule
Provide each student with one of a group of mismatched items such as a mixture of sewing buttons, a variety of coins, random image cards, etc. Students will form groups, and develop a "rule" that provides an explanation of how their items are connected. For example, when using old sewing buttons, 3 students formed a group and developed the rule that they all had 4-hole buttons, 4 students with red buttons formed a group, and another group developed the rule that their buttons were were small, medium, and large.
Hand Up, Stand Up, Pair Up
Ask students to move about the room with one hand up. When students find another person with their hand up, they stop and share. When sharing is complete, partners thank each other, put their hands up and find another partner in the room.
You might give a rule for who shares first, such as the person with the longest shoestrings or most buttons or pockets.
Mix, Freeze, Share
Students wander around the room as music plays. When the music stops, students form pairs or trios with those nearby. When sharing is complete, start the music for another round. Mix, Freeze, Group. Kagan Mix, Freeze, Pair.
Cards offer lots of opportunities for grouping. For example, students can match suits or numbers or you can create a math problem (3 + 2 = 5). Pass out cards and allow students to determine what constitutes a group and what rule they used to create it. Or, ask students to create a group in number order such as 2, 3, 4, 5. To mix the groups randomly, draw one of the numbers and ask the student in each group with that number to move clockwise to the next group.
Give each student a magnetic, Scrabble, or printed letter. Ask students to match up by creating nouns, verbs, adjectives, vocabulary words, etc.
Create name placards using different colors for each letter of a student's name. Use the placards for the first seating arrangement. Then, mix groups by matching colors (such as everyone with a green letter in their placard forms a group) or letters or forming words by combining letters, etc.
Place interesting images in each corner of the room. Ask students to choose the image they like best and then move to that corner.
Hand out interesting stickers or pictures. Ask students to put together three or four different stickers and create a story that involves the items on the stickers. (This allows students to choose their groups.)
Print interesting pictures and cut them apart into pieces that match the group size you are needing to make. Give each student a puzzle piece, then ask students to find the matches to complete the picture.
Random Group Generator
Bubble Gum Blowing Contest
Line up students and give each a piece of bubble gum. When you say go, everyone blows a bubble. Create a line-up based on bubble size.
Place student names on popsicle sticks to be drawn. Or, create a system on the sticks. For example, on one end place animal stickers in groups of two and on another end place vehicle stickers in groups of three. On the other side, you can place stickers for groups of four. Students can draw sticks and you can refer them to the correct set of stickers to find the group size you are desiring.
Give students a handout with a clock face. Ask them to mill about the room and make "appointments" with a partner at the times specified on the clock - like 12:00, 3:00, 6:00 and 9:00. During the session, ask students to find their 6:00 partner or their 9:00 partner and so forth.
Provide students with a handout of a compass rose and ask them to roam the room to find partners for each direction on the compass. Both partners must have the direction open and sign their names on that direction. During instruction, ask students to find their directional partners.
Provide partners with random flash cards, envelopes of money, or math problems, ask the students to solve the problem or add up the money in their envelope and find a partner that has the same answer.
Synonym / Antonym / Homonym Groups
Have students find others that have word cards that are synonyms, antonyms or homonyms.
Resources for Grouping Strategies