Snowball Fights for Sorting in School Counseling

Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Snowball fight is a super engaging activity to use with students of all ages. Who doesn't enjoy crumpling up paper and throwing it?!

using snowball fights for sorting

*I know some folk are averse to using the phrase "snowball fight" because the word fight connotes violence. I get it. At the same time, my students have never become violent while playing it, and the activity feels more of a truly childhood game than anything else.*

One way the activity is used is for getting students to respond to questions they might not otherwise share in front of everyone. I've used it like that for lessons about the middle school transition, with students responding to prompts about how they feel about MS, a question about MS, etc. They would each respond to a question, crumple, toss, find a new paper, respond to the next question, and continue

middle school transition snowball fight

It can also be used for brainstorming multiple ideas about something. I used it that way with a lesson on problem solving. What I didn't realize until recently though, is that this is an awesome activity to use for SORTING!

Other times I've had students sort ideas (types of conflict, time management, size of problems, funny vs. mean jokes, goal action steps, conflict escalation - wow, I use sorting a lot!), I just made multiple copies of the card sets and had students sort them in small groups. Recently though, I needed to incorporate some gross motor activity (movement!) with my 2nd graders, and I realized I could mix it up a bit.


To practice using their social filter whole group, I designated three areas of classroom as "say it", "filter it", and "don't know." Then I gave each student a thought. They first just walked to whichever area reflected what they should do with the thought. Students in each area looked at each others' thoughts to "check" and make sure they were in the right spot, then they held them in the air so I could do a quick check. And then: SNOWBALL FIGHT! They crumpled their thoughts, tossed them, found new ones, read them, and again moved to the appropriate area of the room. For that lesson we repeated about 4 times, giving them exposure to as many thoughts as possible.

social filter snowball fight activity

It went AMAZING - which was really saying something given that one of my 2nd grade rooms this year is challenging to put it mildly. This got my gears going and a couple lessons later, I used the same activity with them to practice identifying emotions by examining body language and facial expressions. I set out eight graphics representing a range of feelings and gave each kiddo a half sheet of paper with an emotion word on it. They physically sorted themselves, checked each other's "answers", and then we did two or three rounds of snowball fight to get them exposed to as many as I could in the time.

identifying feelings snowball fight activityidentifying feelings snowball fight activity

While I still think sorting ideas in small groups is great and I'll continue to use that as well, I'm excited to have this new idea in my pocket! Saves a little on printing/cutting and engages the whole body more which I think all of our students need.

Considering using this activity yourself? Here are some tips I've learned:

  • Model, model, model! I model crumpling the paper (loosely and quickly). I model tossing it (underhand, into designated area). I model getting a new one (with my walking feet). I model opening it (gently so I don't rip it).
  • With particularly rowdy groups, have students go in groups to get their new "snowballs." This is the step where I find them to get the most chaotic so a little extra order here helps.
  • Have a designated spot for students to throw their paper. When they toss willy nilly, it takes extra time for everyone to find a new one.
  • Have a new set printed for every other class. Mine have held up fairly well for two classes before I needed new ones.
  • If students are writing on the paper, let them use markers - pencil seems to deteriorate and become illegible after paper is crumpled.

What about you - any ideas you have for how you could use snowball fight/crumple-and-shoot for a sorting activity with your students?

To pin this for later:
snowball fight activity for sorting ideas

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