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The Perfect Whole-Class Collaboration Activity for Teaching: Team Work, Goal Setting, & Grit

The Big Scribb Elephant Challenge

Written by Karina Bolier | @MsBolier

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I was so excited when I found Teaching on Lemon Lane. I loved all of the resources I saw on her website, but I was especially excited about The Big Scribb Elephant Challenge. I knew that this would be perfect for my 7th graders. This activity is a great team-building activity perfect for those first few weeks of school or when returning from a break. 


The set up was super easy because when you download the resource it comes with basically everything you’ll need. I printed out all of the papers and then had my TA cut them in half for me. I also had my TA cut out a bunch of the blank squares (each class needs 13 blank squares for the mural). I made sure to keep each set of squares separate so that I knew I had all of them for each class. I cleared a space on my whiteboard for my students to be able to hang up their squares. When the students walk into my class they always grab the papers I have for them by the door. Each student took one paper to start with. There are 51 squares that need to be drawn and I don’t have 50 students so I knew some students would need to do more than one.


The only instructions I gave my students was that they needed to copy the picture on their paper onto the square as best as they could. I told them that all of their squares together were going to create a picture so the better job they did making their drawing match the drawing on their paper, the better the overall picture would look. Before they began drawing I told them to write the number and letter of their drawing on the BACK of where the square is so that when they cut it out they would still remember what number and letter it was. I explained that the number told them what row the square was in and the letter told them what column their square was in.  I explained they should first draw it in pencil. Then they could go over it in black marker so that we could see it better on the board. Lastly, they needed to cut out the square and go find its place on the board. If they finished and there were more papers left to do in the basket, they were to go get another one and complete it. I also told them that they got 13 blank squares to finish off their picture.


I simply observed as they all worked to get their squares on the board. I had both magnets and tape that they could use to put the squares up. Most classes used the magnets because they were easier to move the squares or turn them to be right. As they worked, they were predicting what they thought the picture would be. No one came close to guessing it correctly until at least half the squares were up. It was cool to see some students were stepping up and being leaders. They would help direct people to where their squares went on the board. In some classes I had students label the numbers down the side and the letters across the top so that people wouldn’t be as confused. 

After they completed the picture of the elephant they were all proud. But I asked them to think about what they could do to make it even better. I asked them what could they do to make the picture of the elephant more clear? How could they change just their square(s) to help the overall picture? And then I told them they needed to decide as a class what they wanted to do. It was really hard to not help them come to a class decision but I wanted to see if they could do it on their own. 

Two of my classes really struggled to come to an agreement. No one could make a decision.  Eventually, each person just took their own square and did whatever they wanted to it. When they put them all back up on the board, it definitely changed the way the elephant looked, but it was not unified.

In my other 2 classes, they were able to finally come to a class decision about how they were going to color it. But one of those classes wasn’t very clear about how they were coloring it. They just said they wanted to color the background red and orange. Some students were confused about what part of their square was the background and what part was the elephant so they colored theirs wrong. Overall though, it looked good.

 My last class really impressed me because they decided to color the elephant rainbow. But they were very clear about how they would make that happen. One student wrote on the board what color each row of the elephant should be colored so that the elephant would turnout rainbow. There were also students helping other students to make sure they colored the right part of their square. When they were finished with their elephant they were SO proud. They even wanted to take pictures of it.


In all of my classes, we would end with a class discussion. I asked them “Why do think I would have you do this activity?” Answers would vary but some were, teamwork, communication, collaboration, organization, and to show that each person needs to do their part. We talked about how every person had to do their part to make the picture– and not only that but that every person had to do their part well. The better they each did their part, the better the overall picture turned out.

I also asked each class “What went well?”, and “What do you think you could have done differently?” It was amazing that THEY could do the teaching. They were able to self-reflect and realize what could have been better. We also talked about leaders.  I asked them “What makes a good leader?” and we discussed that. Every class took something a little different away from the activity, but it was exactly what they needed.

I hope this activity will help them as we start our group projects next week!

Karina’s Reflection

If I were to do anything differently I would print the papers on cardstock so that they are more sturdy. That was my original plan but had forgotten before it was too late. It still turned out fine! Other than that, I wouldn’t change anything because it went so well! All of my students enjoyed it and all of them learned something from it. I would definitely recommend this resource to any teacher who is looking for their students to communicate, problem-solve, and work together!

The Big Scribb is a FREE activity exclusive to members of On Lemon Lane. Not a member? Not a problem, sign-up is FAST, FREE, and Easy-Peasy, Lemon-Squeezy! Click here to become a member!

Click Here to Try The Big Scribb in Your Classroom

The Big Scribb is a FREE activity exclusive to members of On Lemon Lane. Not a member? Not a problem, sign-up is FAST, FREE, and Easy-Peasy, Lemon-Squeezy! Click here to become a member!

Like this? Keep Reading to Check Out another FREE Grit and Growth Mindset Challenge

Don’t forget to check out my NITTY GRITTY Classroom Challenges!

Learn the Nitty Gritty about these Best-Selling Grit & Growth Mindset Challenges:

If you plan to use these challenges throughout the school year, purchasing the bundle is your best choice and gives you the best value. This product includes access to over 60 pages and 35  DIGITAL and Printable Activities. You can also purchase the challenges individually, see descriptions for more information.

Click Here to Purchase the BUNDLE: All of the following paid activities are included


The Nitty Gritty

1. The Nitty Gritty Triangle Challenge: (Digital & Printable)

Click Here to Purchase The Nitty Gritty Triangle Activity 1:

Students will complete the Magic Math Triangle, where all digits along the perimeter of the triangle must add up to the given magic sum. There are two triangles with 4 possible magic sums totaling 8 activities! There is a signature section where you can require the student to get a signature from you, a classmate, or their own before moving on. ANSWER KEY is included! Take each challenge a step further and see if the students can find multiple solutions per magic number Triangle. Great for critical and higher-level thinking. This activity requires a minimum of 20 minutes per triangle. By no means will a student finish all 4 triangle challenges, unless you stretch the challenges out.

2. The Nitty Gritty Tangle Challenge: (Printable)

Click Here to Purchase The Nitty Gritty Tangle Activity 2

The Nitty Gritty Tangle is a great way to challenge younger students or start off on a lighter note. Don’t be fooled. These mazes are not for the faint of heart. There are a total of 7 mazes that are scaffolded to build confidence, while still facilitating a challenge.

3. The Nitty Gritty Puzzler Challenge: (Digital & Printable)

Click Here to Purchase The Nitty Gritty Puzzler Activity 3

The Puzzler, is named appropriately. This challenge includes 4 different puzzles and trust me, your students will struggle to complete them. Remember these activities are intended to cause frustration, disappointment, in order to better explain Grit and Growth Mindset. These puzzles are fun and will cause excitement and strain as students work to solve them. Two of the puzzles allow students to actually cut out the pieces to be manipulated. Great for that kinesthetic experience! Another however strictly requires only mental computation, this component truly causes a strain.

4. The Nitty Gritty Confuzzler Challenge: (Digital & Printable)

The Nitty Gritty Confuzzler Activity 4

The Confuzzler is SO fun and SO hard. I guarantee failure on this one. The best part is the answers are right in front of you and they become SO obvious once you finally know it! The Confuzzler includes 4 different types of word puzzles made up of: Rebuses, (Rebus), anagrams, pangrams, brainteasers, matchstick, logic puzzles and more! Give these time to marinate. The worst thing you can do is give the answers too quickly. In fact, you could try your hand at these along with the students!

5. The Nitty Gritty Scribbler Challenge: (Printable )

One of these activities will work as a digital product, however, it works best as a printable 😀

The Nitty Gritty Scribbler Activity 5

The Nitty Gritty Scribbler includes over 28 pages such as:

  • Tricky Triple Diamond Sketch Puzzle
  • Impossible Envelope Brain Teaser Sketch Puzzle
  • Scattered Grid Puzzle Page
  • Distorted Grid Drawing Pages
  • Symmetry Drawing Pages
  • Grid Method Drawing Pages
  • Extreme Dot to Dot
  • Grit Detailed Coloring Pages
  • Growth Mindset Coloring Pages
  • + MORE

The Following activities are Free Activities or include a Free Sample

These are available to members of On Lemon Lane! In order to access any of the Free Downloads, you will need to be logged into your account. 

Not a member? Not a problem, sign-up is FAST, FREE, and Easy-Peasy, Lemon-Squeezy! Click here to become a member!

Already a member? Click Here to Sign-In

6. The Nitty Gritty Thingamajig Challenge: FREE To Members of On Lemon Lane

The Nitty Gritty Thingamajig is a fun bunch of challenges with a more kinesthetic vibe! From folding origami to solving the Impossible Paper Trick! I’ve also included links to videos of my other favorite paper puzzles and tricks that all require a few supplies to complete, all of which can be found around the classroom! As an added bonus, the Nitty Gritty Thingamajig also includes intricate coloring pages that you or your students can edit the Growth Mindset Quote the print and color!

ALL OF THIS is available FREE to you!

In order to access these FREE challenges of the Free Downloads, you will need to be logged into your account. 

Not a member? Not a problem, sign-up is FAST, FREE, and Easy-Peasy, Lemon-Squeezy! Click here to become a member!

Already a member? Click Here to Sign-In

Click Here to Download The Nitty Gritty Thingamagig Challenge


7. The Nitty Gritty Bewilderer Activity 7: FREE SAMPLE available To Members of On Lemon Lane (Digital & Printable)

Ancient Chinese Legend tells of a turtle with a curious pattern found on his shell. It wasn’t until someone looked closer that they realized the pattern was in fact a magic square! A magic square is filled with consecutive numbers in a way that the sum of each row, column, and diagonal all add up to the same number. Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin without the help of a calculator, even created a 16 x 16 magic square over 200 years ago! He is quoted saying, “[it] is the most magically magical of any magic square ever made by any magician.” The Nitty Gritty Bewliderer allows students to dive deep into these magical shapes all while practicing Grit and developing a Growth Mindset! This Activity includes both DIGITAL and Printable activities! 

Click Here to Purchase the Full Version of the Nitty Gritty Bewilderer 

As discussed previously, I’ve created a free sample of this challenge for you and your class! The Free Sample is made up of two challenges based on the 3 x 3 Magic Square. This puzzle can be assigned as either a digital or printable! Click on the link below to check out the FREE Sample of the Nitty Gritty Bewilderer Challenge #7

Click Here to have this FREE Sample sent straight to your inbox!

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