Finding a Partner or Small Group

Goal: Intentional ways to create pairs or small groups

Finding a Partner or Small Group
  • task

Finding a Partner or Small Group

Contributed by Laura Borgwardt


To create pairs or small groups in intentional ways


There are lots of different options for helping your students find a partner or small group to work with. Here are some different options for pre-determined pairs/groups and random pairs/groups.

  • Pre-determined pairs/groups:
  1. Stickers – Have stickers or colored dots on student nametags. Have students find the person(s) with the same sticker.
  2. Scarves – Use different color scarves for each group. Have students dance around the room with their scarves. Have them find the others with the same color. (If you want random groups, have students find one of each color).
  3. Animals – Each person gets an animal and needs to find the other person(s) with the same animal. You can only make the sounds that your animal makes and act out your animals physically in your body. Pick animals with very different physical features and movements/mannerisms. Provide pictures of the animals. Practice dynamics first and have everyone make their animal sounds at their desks, the circle, or if there is one available, at the piano (otherwise it might get too loud in the room).
  4. Level up: You can’t make any noise.
  5. Level up: Tricky animals – Use some animals that are similar (e.g. monkey and gorilla) so the actors have to be more specific with their acting choices.
  6. Puzzle pieces – For group work, have simple images cut into 4 (or however large you want the groups to be) puzzle pieces (laminated!). Pass out the pieces and either (easy) have each puzzle printed on a different color paper, or (harder) use the same color paper for the whole puzzle.
  • Random pairs:
  1. Moving around the room – Stop for various tasks with the person closest to you. Shake hands, wink, nod, wave at one person. Every time you pass this person, you wink. Now find your wink partner. They will be your partner for this next activity
  2. Use a website or app that pairs people up randomly.
  3. Line up (by height, birthday, etc.), then count off.
  4. Circle partner speed friending.
  5. Count off – Have students put their numbers up on their fingers so they don’t forget right away.
  6. Classroom teachers also have great ways of finding partners/groups. They might have reading groups and other systems for picking partners. (For example, A teacher might use a cellphone with different numbers on “speed dial” and ask students to find their speed dial number 4 partner today, etc.)

Transition into Activity

This is a transition activity.

Transition out of Activity

When you’ve found your partner(s), sit on the floor facing each other and find out their favorite breakfast food(s). Or make a silent tableau to show that you’ve found your group etc.

Classroom Arrangement

Moving around the room into pairs or small groups.

Supports/Adaptive Materials/Tools

  • Scarves, Stickers, Visuals

Role of the Teachers and Paraprofessionals

  • Classroom teachers can support you in deciding pre-determined groups of mixed abilities.

Remote Adaptation

Try to determine groups ahead of time (work with Classroom Teachers to determine which groups/pairings will best support your students) so that you can set up breakout rooms.