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Team Building Games 101

Team Building Games 101 is filled with experiential
learning activities you can lead now with little or no
advanced preparation. If “props” are required to
lead an activity, they’ll be easy to find at local stores
and will require little, if any, preparation time. Here
you’ll find games for big and small groups, cerebral
and physical challenges, and activities lasting from
5 to 55 minutes. Every activity is designed to
creatively engage your group and provide openings
for important discussions to help your group become
a high performing team.

Willow in the Wind
Group Size: 10 – 15
Age Range: high school – adult
Intensity: Mental=2, Physical=2
Time: 10 – 30 minutes (without debrief)
Space: Minimal– Medium -- Lots
Set Up Time: 1 minute
Props: none
One person stands in the center of the circle and trusts her teammates.
Set Up / Preparation
1. Gather the group in a circle and discuss the importance of learning how to
spot team members safely. Make sure the group is ready for this activity.
2. Have the group form a circle (arms length from each other) and show the
group how to stand in a “spotters stance” - - one foot behind to add stability,
knees slightly bent, arms outstretched with palms facing forward and elbows
slightly bent.
3. Once everyone practices the spotters stance ask the group to step in and
make the circle smaller, shoulder to shoulder while assuming the spotters
4. You (the leader) will now step into the center of the circle and demonstrate
how to become the “Willow in the Wind”. You’ll cross your arms across your
chest and place your feet together and then make your body stiff like a board.
5. Tell the group their job, as your spotters, is to gently catch your fall and then
gently push you (shove you) back to another part of the circle. Have the group
be close enough to you that they are gently touching you with their hands. As
comfort grows they can allow you to “fall” a greater distance.
6. Before you actually start “falling” into the group you (and all that follow you)
must first say the group “Spotters ready?” and the group says “Ready!”. You
then say “Ready to fall!” and the group says “We’re ready to catch you!” - - and
then you fall into the group. If you continue on to the Trust Fall activity
(described elsewhere) you will use these same verbal commands so it’s good to
start practicing them now.
7. Once you determine the group has had enough practice (on you), ask for a
volunteer to come to the center and take your place (you take their place in the

circle). The person in the middle stays in for the length of time that is
comfortable for all involved.
1. Spotters must always have a foot behind and hands up when anyone is in the
center of the circle.
2. Only a serious and focused attitude is allowed when doing this activity.
Safety Warning
1. It’s important to place people in the circle in such a way as to make the
strongest possible circle. Don’t allow the smallest people to stand next to each
other because it’s possible for a large person in the center of the circle to fall
through if they are passed around to a side with several small people standing
next to each other.
2. Be sensitive and aware of participants who don’t want to try standing in the
center of the circle. They may not like all the touching involved in this activity.
Allow people to participate at the level that feels most comfortable to them.
1. This activity makes a good lead up activity to more demanding trust activities
like the Trust Fall or Mouse Trap Trust.
2. Be aware of the potential impact touch may have on some in your group.
Some populations may take advantage of the situation and attempt to touch or
grab areas of the body that are inappropriate to do so. Others may be fearful of
being surrounded by a group of people.
3. This activity has been led with at least half the population on the earth (at
least it seems that way sometimes!). If some people in your group report
having “done that already”, they may be the ones that will take this activity less
seriously and may adversely affect the mode of the group. Whether you’ve
done this activity or not, it is a great one to experience trust, so let’s do it right.
Debriefing Suggestions
Who are the people you surround yourself with in your life (at home, work,
etc.)? On a scale of 1 to 10, what level do you trust them? What level do they
trust you?
1. The person in the center can close their eyes.
2. Trying doing this activity with complete silence.

Welded Feet https://www. Set Up / Preparation . walk from one point to another acting as if your feet are welded v=nZKQLe4mC_c&list=PLUxSAtylk96mcqUWFOehxpJAYzyKHGdtH Group Size 6 – 30 Age Range: Elementary – adult Intensity: Mental=2. Physical=2 Time: 15 – 30 minutes Space: Minimal – Medium– Lots Set Up Time: 60 seconds Props: none Objective As a I learned this game from master team builder Betsy Hipple.

2. the entire group must start all over. the harder the challenge. Consider starting a large group off by working in small teams (4-6 people) and then making larger and larger teams. Debriefing I like to use this activity to lead into discussions about coordination of efforts over a sustained period. It’s one thing to coordinate efforts for a short time but it’s a rare team that can sustain it. If anyone’s feet become un-welded (un-connected) during the walk. Everyone needs to slide their feet close enough to the person next to them so that the sides of their feet are touching. everyone must have their feet “welded” to (stuck to the side of) the person next to them.Walt Disney Variations The larger the group trying to coordinate efforts. 2. standing shoulder to shoulder. Rules 1. Comments This is a great activity to lead when working with a group that needs to explore “moving ahead as one”. History . Create a start line and a finish line. Get the team to line up behind the start line. The group in the video makes this look easy but most groups I work with have difficulty with this activity. Safety Warning Some groups become so committed to keeping their feet welded together they end up falling over! Tell the group to avoid falling over as it’s not worth risking injury.1. While crossing from point A to point B. The people at the ends of the lines only have one foot welded. Because there are many opportunities for the group to cheat (not announce a foot “un-welding”) I often weave in a discussion about integrity and how one person’s integrity can effect the entire team (positively and negatively). Quote “Of all the things I have done.” -. the most vital is coordinating the talents of those who work for us and pointing them towards a certain goal.

WARP SPEED https://www.I learned this activity from master team builder Viva .

Make sure the group has the sequence memorized by throwing the ball through the sequence a second time. Each time the group asks you the objective you must repeat it the same way. Before throwing. Otherwise. announce. take yourself out of the circle and make the person you initially tossed the ball to the first person (I will refer to this person as the Start/Stop Person). You can only receive and toss the ball one time and you can toss it to someone next to yourself. Set Up / Preparation 1. announce this person’s name to give them a warning. Once the last person in the group has received the ball. get set. 8. The sequence now begins and ends with this person (instead of yourself). Hand four balls to the Start/Stop Person. ask them to toss it back to you (this completes the sequence). Allow the group to discuss how they are going to throw the balls quickly if they want to. The balls are marked 1 – 4 (marking the balls is not critical). GO!” . Your job (as the facilitator) now shifts into the roll of timekeeper. Using one of the tennis balls establish the “official sequence” that will be used throughout the game. 3. “On your mark. This person tosses the ball to someone else (other than you) across from them. Now. 5. Physical=1 Time: 10 – 30 minutes (without debrief) Space: Minimal – Medium-. A simple way to keep track of who has yet to receive the ball is to ask everyone to hold their hands out in front of them (catching fashion) and once they catch the ball they are to put their hands by their sides. To establish this sequence announce to the group that you need to establish a sequence and to do so you will toss the ball to someone across the circle. Now tell the group the following: “Your objective is to pass these four balls through the sequence we just established as quickly and efficiently as possible. 2. The group circles up (include yourself in the circle). Make sure the group understands this.” 7. You need to be crystal clear about how you tell the group the objective. 4.Group Size: 10 – 20 Age Range: middle school – adult Intensity: Mental=2.Lots Set Up Time: 1 minute Props: four tennis balls and one digital stopwatch Objective Pass the four balls through the sequence as quickly and efficiently as possible. 6.

After each attempt. It’s good because it’s great for all the right reasons. With that said. 2. Ask the group to identify the “shifts” that resulted in a lower time and what brought those shifts about. Time stops once all four balls have made it back into the possession of the Start/Stop Person.” It’s not uncommon for a group of 15 to have an initial time of 40 seconds and then. ask the group if they can beat their previous time (i.”). Now. Someone in the group usually asks if this is OK (rearranging the group) . 11. back to the activity itself… The group will undoubtedly figure out that they need to rearrange themselves to speed the passing of the balls. I don’t recommend using this activity as the “culminating activity” of your program. A “sticking point” your group might wrestle with is the interpretation of the word “pass” when it comes to the stated objective of this activity (as in: “PASS the four balls through the sequence as quickly and efficiently as possible. You can end the activity when the group believes they have the fastest time possible or supply them with an ending time (“You have five minutes remaining. It’s bad because it’s been done so much that it’s possible you’re group has already done this activity (though this has only happened to me one time in all my years of leading team building games).. 2. Some people will interpret this word to mean “touch” (you must touch the ball) while others will interpret it to mean the ball must simply travel past a team member. to have a final time of 2 or 3 seconds (or lower!). All four balls must be passed through the sequence. This is an activity I consider to be a “classic” which is both a good and bad thing. I’ve never had a group say anything other than “You bet we can!” 10.9. Comments 1. All it takes is for one person in the group to have done it and figured it out and the activity becomes a “non-activity”. Allow the group multiple attempts. The sequence must remain the same.e. 2. after 8-10 different attempts. Record the different attempts and the resulting times and share these with the group during the debrief. The sequence must include everyone.”). This allows the group to determine how they want to collectively .and I respond with “You can do anything you want as long as you don’t break the rules. 3. Share the time (this new “record”) with the group and ask them if they can beat it. Debriefing Suggestions 1. set a new record). Rules 1. I do not interpret the rule for the group even if they ask me for clarification.

Related to this is the issue of “giving up”. . 3.interpret the rule. i. Quote “Almost all quality improvement comes via simplification. 4. History Warp Speed was written up in the classic games book by Karl Rohnke entitled “Cowstails and Cobras II” published in 1989.e. When a group wrestles with this issue I always (almost always) bring this up in the debrief. there is always someone who feels the decision was the wrong way to go and I want to discover how the group feels about (works with) dissention. 2. when is it time to throw in the towel? This can be a very powerful conversation especially if you have strong “Type A” personalities who are never satisfied. Supply the group with a limited amount of time to complete the task (example: 20 minutes). Variations 1.Tom Peters. When the situation is right. I’ll ask the group to help me determine when “it’s good enough”. I want to know how and why they came to their decision. I often find that either way the group moves. This activity provides a great opportunity to see how the group manages creativity and “out of the box” thinking.” -. Is it encouraged? Is it squelched? 5. Supply the group with a limited number of attempts to get the lowest time possible (example: 10 attempts). Ask the group to identify – metaphorically – what the tennis balls are (represent) and what the passing of the tennis balls represents. v=5x1F2y4RFTU&feature=player_embed ded Group Size: 20 –30 Age Range: elementary to adult .TRUST WAVE http://www.

ask for a volunteer from the group to be a runner (you take their space in the Trust Wave line). Have the spotters raise both arms so they are extended in front of them with arms parallel to the ground in such a way as to barely touch the fingertips of the person in front of them (in the opposite line). It’s unlikely someone will get seriously hurt in this activity. Set Up / Preparation 1. As you approach the outstretched arms. just in time to avoid touching you. Physical=2 Time: 5 – 10 minutes Space: Minimal – Medium-. Those standing in the Trust Wave (the spotters) must carefully watch and anticipate the person walking through the Wave otherwise someone will get hit in the face. You are to keep a steady and even pace during your walk through the Trust Wave. 3. however. Divide the group in half and create two lines – the lines should face each other and be parallel. Position yourself at least 20 feet from the end of the two parallel lines. if the group is indulging in horseplay you must stop the activity. Comments .Intensity: Mental=1.Lots Set Up Time: 5 minutes Props: none Objective Run through a veritable sea of arms (and not get hit in the face!). 5. 2. Rules Prior to someone walking through the Trust Wave. in unison. The group must acknowledge this person by saying. 4. 2. You (the leader) will then demonstrate how to walk through the Trust Wave . After you successfully demonstrate how to walk through the Trust Wave. I’ll refer to the people in the lines as “spotters”. Give everyone a chance at being a runner. Announce that you will start walking at a rapid pace through the center (and parallel) to the two lines. “We’re ready!” Safety Warning 1. Trust building activities are not the time to fool around.I’ll refer to you as the “runner”. the spotters are to lift their arms (like a draw bridge) out of the way. they must notify the group of their intention to walk through the Trust Wave.

I’ve successfully led this activity with large groups (200+) by first demonstrating with 30 people (two lines of 15) and then having the large group divide into smaller groups. . I love this activity because it’s so effective in providing a trust building experience while being easy to set up (requiring no props). History I first learned this activity from the book “Quicksilver” by Karl Rohnke. this is no more difficult or dangerous than the basic version. allow (encourage) someone to jog or run through. 2.1. find your eternity in each moment.” -. The runner must trust that spotters will do their job and the spotters must trust that the runner will do his/her job.spotters move their arms up and down in a big random chopping motion. And now for the “that looks dangerous” version: Slice and Dice Trust Wave . The added speed will be challenging for all involved. launch yourself on every wave. Once the group feels comfortable with someone who walks through. When the runner looks down through the Trust Wave lines the typical reaction is “I’m going to get hit!” If the spotters do their job and anticipate the movement of the runner.Henry David Thoreau Variations 1. 2. Debriefing Suggestions Trust is a two way street. What specific strategies can you take to improve your relationship so that trust flows with greater ease? Quote “You must live in the present.


youtube. Physical=2 Time: 45-60 minutes Space: Minimal – v=XSkMk7A9brY&feature=player_embed ded Group Size 15 – 20 Age Range: high school – adult Intensity: Mental=2.http://www.Lots Set Up Time: 10 minutes Props: Articulated ladder or platform Objective .

.NOTE: the feet of the Faller must not be any higher than the arms of the Catchers (usually no higher than 5 feet)! When the Faller falls. I also like using an articulated ladder because it’s highly portable. Do not allow Catchers to grab each other’s wrists . large rings. The Coach must make sure the Catchers are ready and aligned . These Catchers must stand shoulder to shoulder (no gaps). 3.Catch a team member who falls backwards into the arms of the group.. The Faller: For the first Trust Fall. Note: This is why I like to use an “articulated ladder”. This slow and steady approach helps “set the stage”. sticks.this will result in injury! Catchers stand with one foot back to stabilize themselves and their arms are bent at the elbow. which means the strongest Catchers should be positioned in the area where the Faller’s torso will land.. etc.when the “Faller” falls. The Coach stands on the ladder so he/she is facing the Catchers and the Faller climbs the side of the ladder. Set Up / Preparation 1. This zipping action creates a basket effect and reduces the chances of an accidental drop. First of all. Positioning in this line is important . 4.. Take this activity seriously (and remember to have fun!). Catchers must remove watches. 5.). Catchers who are opposite each other must be of similar size and strength. his/her torso will create the greatest impact. they must remain stiff and rigid “like a board”. this type of ladder is strong enough to handle the weight of both the Faller and the Coach. the Catchers must be ready to catch. hands can be placed in pockets or the Faller can give themselves a tight bear hug. You’ve got to have the right group to complete this activity with the least amount of risk. Catchers should rotate positions so everyone can get a chance in a new catching location. palms facing up. The Catchers: Have the team create two parallel lines with people facing each other. The Catchers “zip” up their arms . The Coach: Find a responsible person from the group to be the Coach who will stand on the ladder with the Faller. Then the Coach (see below) climbs the ladder and then. find someone who is eager to be the first to go. The hands and arms must be held in such a way as to prevent them from hitting the Catchers .. which puts his/her back to the catchers. If you don’t have an articulated ladder you can use a platform of some kind. the Faller climbs the ladder . If you do the activity inside. Take it slow and steady as you prepare the Faller and the Catchers. this is an advanced trust activity.this means the Catcher’s arms from side A are intermingled with the Catchers arms from side B. Before the Faller is allowed to climb the ladder. Make sure you’re group is ready for the challenge. you must place a mat on the ground to help absorb someone’s fall should the group not catch accomplish this. Setup a 16 foot articulated ladder on a flat surface outdoors in the grass (no rocks. once everyone is ready. Catchers must look at the Faller throughout the activity. bracelets…anything that could hurt the faller. 2. Note: the articulated ladder is folded in half to look like an 8-foot stepladder.

). It sounds silly. they must return them safely to the ground. If you want to fall (if the group wants you to fall) than do it towards the end. Safety Warning 1. Rules See “Setup / Preparation” above.correctly and the Coach makes sure the Faller is ready to fall safely. Place yourself in the catching line so that you will be where the torso of the Faller will hit. After the group has made a couple of successful catches you may decide to remove yourself from the catching line and closely observe and coach the group. The decision for a person to attempt this activity (to be a Faller) should be made without coercion of any kind. 3. While the Faller is on the ladder. Ladder Stabilizers: Two people stand on either side of the articulated ladder to stabilize it. while celebrating their achievement. One way to know you should not try this activity with your group is if you don’t trust them enough to catch YOU. Give people the opportunity and if they should decide not to try it then allow them to help in other ways (hold the ladder. The Return: Once the group catches the Faller. This is very dangerous. etc. drop the faller on the ground! Make sure the Faller is carefully placed on the ground (feet first) after the catch is made. 7. the Coach places one hand in the small of the Fallers back to signal to the Faller that they are NOT clear to fall (yet). Throughout the activity the ladder spotters hold onto the ladder with both hands to make sure it remains rock steady. you will have to catch the Faller all by yourself (or at least slow them down). The group is inexperienced and they need your guidance and coaching in the catching line. DO NOT be the first person to fall. There is a huge difference between talking about trust and experiencing . catch. 6. Comments 1. but it’s not uncommon for a group to successfully catch someone and then. The SEQUENCE: When everything is ready and everyone is in place and paying attention. the Faller initiates the “falling sequence” which is a verbal set of commands: Faller: “Catchers ready?” Catchers: “Ready!” Faller: “Ready to fall!” Catchers: “Fall away!” 8. 2. In the worst-case scenario. 4.

clear communication. allow people to choose the level they want to fall from (another great reason to use a ladder). experiencing etc. 2. Debriefing Suggestions 1. As participants catch teammates. If the group is not ready to start falling from the maximum height of five feet. society. If the group is large (20+). This activity lends itself to discussions around the following topics: letting go. This activity allows the group to experience trust as the faller and to provide support and create a trusting environment. family.. 2. To engage the rest of the group. providing support. I once led this activity with a group of female inmates. During the debrief session. trust and caring which creates a sense of team bonding. trusting teammates. you can pass a Faller down the line (after they’ve fallen) to the end of the line where they are placed (feet first) on the ground. Quote “You can’t blame gravity for falling in love. many of the women had a hard time believing I would trust them enough to fall. We had a great discussion about trust . They just weren’t used to being trusted in the prison environment. History Karl Rohnke provided a description of this activity in his book “Silver Bullets” published in 1984. they develop team support. only the people closest to the Faller will actually be doing any catching. After everyone had taken a turn the women asked me (the only male) to take a fall. Camaraderie is developed as the team successfully provides a human safety net for their teammates.trusting themselves. 2. The feeling of providing for the success of a teammate (during their fall) is incredibly rewarding.” -.Albert Einstein Variations 1. . I took them up on their offer and they did a great job catching me.

one person “drives” (guides) their partner (the car) around an .com/watch? v=A5NqOAdguFU&feature=player_e mbedded Group Size: 20 – 500 Age Range: elementary to adult Intensity: Mental=1. Physical=1 Time: 5 – 10 minutes Space: Minimal – Medium-.Lots Set Up Time: 60 seconds Props: Boundary markers Objective Working in pairs.TRUST CAR

if you have 40 people in your group the playing area should be approximately 15 feet by 15 feet. Comments 1.I don’t like using blindfolds for the most part.. Drivers stand behind the cars and place their hands lightly on the cars shoulders. If there are an odd number of people. (No running) 2. I know some facilitators would feel inclined to have the cars use blindfolds in an activity like this. What are the attributes of a good driver (leader)? . However. 2. Create a playing area. This is a simple yet surprisingly effective activity to explore trust. Regarding the use of blindfolds . For example. drivers can drive their cars wherever they want inside the playing area. Walking speed only. 5. Have everyone partner up. 2. I’ve used this activity many times with great success with all types of groups. My job is to help create an environment where the participants feel safe enough to challenge themselves. Debriefing Suggestions What is “trust”? Define this term in relationship to this activity. I like to use this activity early in a program. especially corporate types. Allow the drivers and cars to experience working together for about a minute or two and then ask everyone to stop and switch roles: cars become drivers and drivers become cars. When someone takes a peek during the activity to make sure everything is OK then I say that person is choosing the level of challenge they are up to. Have each pair determine who will be the car and who will be the driver. Set Up / Preparation 1.enclosed area. I believe the use of blindfolds diminishes the power of the activity. When the signal is given. However. 4. I confess that it appears somewhat juvenile and some facilitators may be reluctant to lead this with a group of adults. I usually create a quick boundary out of a length of rope measuring 60 feet (I make a circle). If you have an energetic (rambunctious) group make the playing area smaller which will slow the players down. make one group of three. No collisions. Rules 1. 3. Accidents (collisions) are not allowed. Walking only. Cars put their “bumpers” up (hands up) for safety.

This variation requires a new level of trust between car and driver. offer them the following challenge: it’s now nighttime and cars need to close their eyes (drivers keep their eyes open!). History I learned this from master team builder Jeff Long. .” -.What are the attributes of a good car? Which did you prefer: to be the car or to be the driver? Why? Who or what is guiding (driving) your life? What is your relationship to this force? Quote “Anyone who doesn’t take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either.Albert Einstein Variations After everyone has had an opportunity to be a car.

com/watch? v=IYXyPmH7YOA&feature=player_em bedded Group Size 15 – 150 Age Range: middle school – adult Intensity: Mental=1. Physical=1 Time: 5-15 minutes Space Minimal – Medium– Lots Set Up Time: 60 seconds Props: none Objective .youtube.TRUST CIRCLE SIT http://www.

on your signal. Don’t allow them to sit down too long. etc. After the test run. Safety Warning 1. People with bad backs. 3. ask the group to reconfigure themselves if necessary so everyone is ready for “the real thing”.Working as a team. should NOT do this activity. getting so close to each other that they are like packed sardines. 2. Set Up / Preparation 1. no one is actually sitting in anyone’s lap. Give them a countdown to stand up. bad hips. During the test run. Next. you will miss their legs altogether. If your group lacks maturity or the ability to do this slowly and methodically and not fool around than don’t do it. Tell everyone that you’re about to sit down on the lap of the person in back of you so (while holding onto the shoulders of the person in front of you) look behind you to see how close the person’s legs are behind you. 30 seconds is plenty of time. Keep your tone slow and methodical. 4. bad knees. This can be accomplished by having the group first stand in a traditional circle (shoulder to shoulder) and then have everyone raise their right hand and point it toward the center of the circle while the left hand points to the outside of the circle. At this stage of the game it’s likely the entire group will need to sidestep towards the center of the circle. ask everyone to gently grab on to the shoulders of the person in front of them (hold on throughout the activity). they are to sit down together (still holding shoulders). The group will respond to the tone you set. Comments . If they are too far away. No fooling around. give them a countdown whereupon the group slowly sits down on the person’s lap behind them. If they sit too long they are likely to fall over. This is accomplished by telling the group that.When everyone is ready. lowering themselves just to the point that they can feel the lap of the person behind them and then stand back up. Now it’s time to do a “test run”. Rules: No horseplay.. The Real Thing . Legs MUST stay together during this activity otherwise people will go to sit down and then fall to the ground. 4. 2. Stand in a circle with everyone facing in a clockwise direction. 3. sit in the lap of the person behind you. If someone is very heavy or very tall or very short they should not participate.

tree. this activity is not inclusive. The entire circle is adversely affected. On the other hand. The big drawback to this activity is also it’s greatest value . It’s also not good for people who are really overweight. Leading this activity with a group that has anyone who is overweight can make them feel self-conscious. This activity is not good for anyone who has a history of these types of experiences. Have the group let go of each other’s shoulders once seated. 3. etc. I say it’s a drawback because there are so many people that have had extremely negative experiences with strangers and others touching them (ex.Albert Schweitzer Variations: 1. 2.. Instead of nametags from nature you will create nametags with key components of the business and marketplace. honeybee. owl. For an overweight’s very “touchy feely” which means people are very close to each other and they will touch each other in places that are not normal in public. 2. Debriefing 1. pick another activity.” -. If you teach environmental studies you could do the following to teach the interconnectedness of all things: Prepare large nametags ahead of time that participants will wear. You have to use your best judgment when selecting this activity for your group. You can also do the same variation described above if you are working with a business team. 3. The nametags might include some of the following: fox.1. water. . fish. Is this true to life? 2. Have the group attempt to walk (waddle) in a clockwise direction while seated (everyone must hold onto shoulders). For the very brave. the fact that people are close and must rely on each other is the reason I’ll lead this activity. sexual abuse). have the group lean back at the waist so their torso is resting on the person in back of them. this activity is hard to beat. man will not himself find peace. History I learned this activity from the book entitled “The New Games Book” published in 1976. Have the group do the Circle Sit in a soft grassy area and then have one person purposely fall over and watch the ramification. Quote “Until he extends his circle of compassion to include all living things. With the right group. When in doubt.

I respectively andteam members Group Size 8 per Traffic Jam set up Age Range: high school – adult Intensity: Mental=3. Eight team members (players) are to stand on one of the following squares: A. 6. H. 7. 2. D. and I. Half of the group travels in one direction while the other half travel in the opposite direction. Specifically. D respectively. Refer to diagrams below. 2. team members 1. Set Up / Preparation 1. Space “E” is to remain empty at the beginning of the exercise. G. H. Rules . C. B.TRAFFIC JAM http://www. 8 must move to spaces A. B. Physical=1 Time: 30 – 60 minutes Space: Minimal Set Up Time: 2 minutes Props: Space markers Objective Solve this human size 3. F. Place the nine letters (space markers) in a right angle configuration with the letter “E” in the corner. G. 4 must move to spaces F. C.

Violation of a rule may result in a penalty. Players may only move forward (towards the direction the player must end in). I’ll then ask the group what skills were required to create such a document and I’ll ask what value the document holds. what specific skills are transferable to creating a similar step-by-step success plan for their current (real life) situation? Variations 1. You can also offer the group “bonus points” if they finish the solution in less than the given amount of time. 4. Players may only “jump” a maximum of one person/space at a time. Require the group to be able to repeat the solution on demand. To simplify this activity. problem solving skills and patience from the group. 3. Players must stand on a spot marker unless they are moving. In this situation. Only one player may move at a time. The solution represents a precise step-by-step approach that (nearly) any group could to follow to solve the Traffic Jam activity. 7. etc. 8. you would only have 6 people playing the game. I’ve seen groups who are totally engaged to the person and I’ve seen groups where two or three individuals are offering suggestions and feedback. The directions are virtually the same. Penalties might include no verbal communication for 1 minute for the one person or the entire group.. 2. . 5. Players may use the “corner” square (Position “E”).in other words. blindfolding one person for 5 minutes or the rest of the activity.1. The playing area may not be altered. give the group only 7 spaces to start with (instead of 9). Only one player on a square at a time. What To Expect This activity requires lots of communication. When I lead this activity I’ll require a group to create a solution sheet (see “Solution” below as an example). 6. 2. Debriefing I like to use this activity when a group needs to discuss / work on / create specific reproducible plans to achieve success. I’ll then ask the group to make the metaphorical jump to “real life” .). who ever talks must do so while clapping their hands repeatedly.

Require that they solve the challenge in the least amount of time. In addition to the “objective” as listed in Group A and B’s written directions.” Group A says “ we’re moving people along the floor”). B. You’ll need 3 radios and 3 rooms to accomplish this. A is doing this in “life size” while groups B and C are working on table top versions. Only allow communication via the radios. Group B has the rest). 4. You may observe the following behavior in this variation: I have had the two groups communicate early on only to decide that they are working on two totally different problems (Group B says “we’re working with little toys on a table. Do NOT allow the two groups to see each other. Group B is supplied with the same written directions as Group A.. The 8 participants maintain the samenumber throughout the activity.only the participants move (from space to space). Require all 3 groups to succeed (solve the puzzle). The tabletop version looks just like the full size version only Group B is using small figurines (toys) to move through the puzzle (outlined on a sheet of notebook paper). A critical piece of equipment for this activity is a set of walkie-talkies so that the two groups can communicate without seeing each other. 2. To make this EXTRA difficult. and C).3. The spaces (spots that participants step on) are identified with the letters A through I (the first 9 letters of the alphabet). as described earlier) while Group B is asked to complete a “table top” version of this challenge. Usually one group solves the challenge before the other. History I learned this activity from a book by Karl Rohnke called Silver Bullets (Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company. The spaces do notmove or change . which allows one group to help the other. have 3 groups (A. first divide the group into two groups so that one group is made up of 8 people (Group A has 8 people. . There could be more than one solution but this is the only one I know of. When the two groups are separated. Do not present the activity or show any component of the activity until the two groups are physically separated (in two different rooms). require the following objective: Success is only achieved when BOTHGroup A and Group B have solved the challenge. 3. In the following solution there are a total of 24 moves. In order for BOTH groups to be successful they must share information and be EXTRA clear. supply Group A with the basic challenge as described earlier. The following is for a sophisticated group who needs a real challenge: For a group larger than 8 people (8 to 15). 1984) Solution to Traffic Jam (see the grid below) 1. Group A will be working on the “life size” version of this activity (again.



TOUCH THE BALL Physical=2 Time: 5-15 minutes Space: Minimal– Medium v=5Sct_9ewWE&feature=player_embedded Group Size 8-20 Age Range: Elementary – adult Intensity: Mental=1.Lots Set Up Time: none Props: One ball for each group of 10-15 people Objective .

Rules No touching anyone or anything else (includes hair and clothing). just pass the balls out. This is a great introductory level group problem solving activity to do at the beginning of a program. Once everyone has succeeded (this is easy with so many balls). how do you expect to touch other people?” -.Everyone must touch the ball at the same time. No need to divide the group up. Once they succeed. another with their elbow. Set Up / Preparation Get your ball ready and gather your group. I like this because it requires people to be close physically yet prohibits touching.Tori Amos Variations 1. This activity begins the investment required to ease barriers around touching and close proximity. Comments 1. To lead this activity with a large group (20 – 200+). start off by supplying the group with lots of balls (about 1 ball per 10 people). People will scurry around trying to find a place to fit in. give the directions and start counting. Tell the group that everyone must be touching a ball at the end of 30 seconds (and you can’t be touching anyone/anything else). Now give the group 30 seconds to find a spot and touch a ball. 2. and you don’t touch your own heart. require the group to follow the same rules AND add these rules: one person in the group must touch with their nose. another with their knee. Debriefing Suggestions What issues should our group focus our attention and energies on? How can our group do more with less? Quote “When you stop putting yourself on the line. If someone violates the “don’t touch anyone/anything else” rule I usually serve him or her a penalty – something like singing one round of row-row-row your .see below. tell the group their has been a “reduction in funding” and they will have to do the same with less (or something similar) – this gives you the reason to take a couple of the balls. This is a great activity to lead with large groups (200+) . and another with the tip of their shoe (which must stay on their foot) AND then give the group 2 minutes to solve this. After the group has successfully completed the basic challenge outlined above. 2.. repeat the process (take more balls away).

. Once the penalty is served they get to join back in. History I first learned this activity while working as a juvenile corrections officer in the Camp Woodson program.boat while hopping around the room.

Lots Set Up Time: 60 seconds Props: Five hula hoops (aka “containers”). 150 tennis balls Objective Get all the items from the center “container” into your own “container”. Supply each team with a hula-hoop. Physical=3 Time: 30 minutes (with debrief) Space: Minimal – Medium -. Set Up / Preparation 1. Place a fifth hula-hoop on the ground (called the center hula-hoop) and ask each team to back away from the center hula-hoop approximately 30-40 v=V5yP6GWqgk&feature=player_embedde d Group Size minimum of 20. Ask the groups to open their envelope and begin reading the directions on your signal .TENNIS BALL MADNESS http://www. Each group then places their hula-hoop on the ground (on the corners of an imaginary box). 3. Refer to diagram below. maximum of 100 Age Range: High School – adult Intensity: Mental=1. 2. Dump the 150 tennis balls into the center hula-hoop and then hand each team a sealed envelope containing the directions (see below).youtube. . Divide the group into four equally sized teams (or as close to equal as you can get).-the goal being to get all four groups reading the directions simultaneously.

e. (3) Once the center container is empty. Allow the teams just enough time to read the directions and then shout. When you yell “GO!” the groups will have just enough information to begin taking action.RULES: (1) Each person may carry only one item at a time. “GO!” The goal here is to force the teams to take action without planning. (4) You may not guard any of the containers. Safety Warning Make sure the area you intend to run this activity in is free and clear of holes or things the participants could slip on. This way. 5. you may take items from any other container. they are more likely to work really hard during Tennis Ball Madness which usually equates to everyone learning the lessons at a deeper (more emotional) level. people become more competitive) by getting the small work groups to do something competitive prior to the Tennis Ball Madness activity. Any old competitive activity will do. When you yell “Go!” without allowing them to plan. The point is to get them working in small teams and thinking competitively just before the Tennis Ball Madness activity. I’m trying to “set the group up”. If you wait too long and allow the groups to read through the information AND start to make a plan. they will usually run to the center hoop and start grabbing tennis balls. (5) You win when all the items are in your container. This activity can work even better (i. They must begin to think of a solution where everyone can win. 2. Rules See rules listed above. Usually within 3 or 4 minutes most will start to catch on that it’s nearly impossible to ever win unless something changes. (2) Items must be carried (no throwing or rolling of items). Most groups decide to cooperate by stacking ALL of the hula-hoops and then placing all of the balls inside the stack of hula-hoops. The center hoop will quickly empty (within 60 – 90 seconds) and then the groups will begin taking balls from the neighboring hoops.4. (6) Violation of a rule may result in a penalty. Each group will have the SAME set of directions. A frenzy of activity will ensue (see the video clip). which read:OBJECTIVE: Get all the items from the center “container” into your own “container”. What needs to change? The way the group thinks. 3. Comments 1. they may decide to work cooperatively right off the bat (without going through all the frenzy). This is “legal” according to the rules. 4. Debriefing Suggestions .

e. No one in the room challenged this teacher. 2. I give the small groups 5 or 10 minutes to discuss ideas and then we meet back as a large group to share insights. One person can make all the difference in the world. TRUE STORY: I led this activity with the teaching staff of a public middle school. In the real world she said. During the debrief. Win – Win. Even the principal was in agreement. have one central hoop (aka “container”) and only three outer hoops .i. Then. Sometimes I’ll ask the small discussion groups to identify what the tennis balls and the hula-hoops are metaphorically. After some dialogue. 3. If the group size is small (20 people). lose-lose. Just like every other group that plays this game. a teacher suggested letting one team win by placing all the balls in their hoop. 4. Common insights: 1. Lose-Lose and Win-Lose require lots more energy. by the way. One of the teachers suggested that their solution (a win-lose solution) was more realistic. people are out to get you and you better watch out for yourself. The way I usually debrief this activity is to ask the groups to form into groups of 7 – 10 people making sure someone from each of the previous work groups is represented in this new discussion group. That’s usually all it takes for the small discussion groups to have a good conversation. We must be on the look out for Win-Win opportunities from the outset.. You can . The other three teams conceded defeat and everyone placed the balls in the fourth team’s hoop.e. stack the hula-hoops). I was able to help the teachers see that win-win thinking is valuable and alive in our everyday society. NOTE – This will usually be an insight when one person is responsible for getting the group to stop the frenzy and come up with a Win-Win answer (i. All it takes is one committed person to see things differently AND have the courage and conviction to make their views known to the larger community. we discussed win-lose (which is what they decided on). 2.1. She argued that the “real world” doesn’t play by win-win and they shouldn’t teach that type of thinking to the kids. Imagine having these teachers work with YOUR child! This team. everyone ran around trying to win the game by placing all the balls in their own hoop. was experiencing a number of very deep and difficult challenges. No tennis balls? Try cutting up foam noodles into 2-inch sections. as the group got tired of running. 2. I then ask them to discuss the following (I show this to them on a piece of paper: Lose – Lose. divide the group of 20 into only three working teams instead of four. and win-win. Win – Lose. Keeping the work teams at a minimum size of seven people seems to work better than allowing them to get too small (smaller than 7). Variations 1.

Don’t want to deal with foam noodles? Go to the craft store and buy a bag full of soft fuzzy balls that are about an inch in diameter. These are supper easy to carry on a plane. 3. . No hula-hoops? Not to worry. Create some hula-hoop size rings out of short sections of rope or string. They cut really easily with a bread knife.find foam noodles at department stores that sell pool toys. History I first learned this activity from Sam Sikes who has authored many great book on team building activities including “Executive Marbles” and “Feeding the Zircon Gorilla”.

TEAM BUILD A Word http://www. Physical=1 Time: 15-45 minutes Space Minimal – Medium– Lots Set Up Time: 60 seconds Props: One 3x5 index card per person Objective v=X4cMhStJrPk&feature=player_emb edded Group Size 20 – 200+ Age Range: Elementary – adult Intensity: Mental=3.

Using a black marker. Each person is supplied with one card. have a second set of index cards (26 letters) ready to hand out.. Once you've formed your word. If you have more than 26 playing. Set Up / Preparation 1. One set of cards = 26 letters (all letters of the alphabet). When I give the signal. You know what I'm talking about. O. Rules: 1. 2. 4. even the lost and found letters. Comments A wonderful activity to lead with a large group. During this round your team will be timed . Usually lots of laughter is involved. After the words are formed.) Everyone plays. 3. Ask all non-utilized letters to come to the "lost and found" area (so they can help each other).Create words using letters on index cards. Debriefing 1. People almost always observe that rounds 1 and 2 had people acting on their own self-interest where as in round 3 people shifted into helping the COMMUNITY. Give the group about 60 seconds to form their words.. I. U). sharing letters is permitted). First you must create at least one 3x5 index card for each person. IMPORTANT: Each time you create a set of alphabet cards you must add an additional set of vowels (A. stay with your word (group) until the next set of directions. E. 5. If you have a really large group (say. You must stay with your card throughout the activity (no trading cards or handing them off). 2 and 3. give some people two cards.e. If you have less than 26 people playing.200) you'll need lots of sets of the alphabet so everyone can play. What types of behavior would you like to see carried over from . take a moment to see what all the words are (let everyone see each other's words). After round three I like to have people form into small groups to discuss the differences they observed in the behavior of the group between rounds 1. Round 2: Now form 4-letter words (but not the bad kind of 4-letter have 5 minutes to complete the task starting from the moment I say “Go!” Every letter in the room must be used or the entire group fails. You can make words of any length. You can use letters in a crossword fashion (i.. form a 3-letter word. Round 3: Similar to rounds 1 and 2 in that you will be forming words with your letters. write one letter of the alphabet on each card using BIG block letters. Most likely all the letters won’t get used in each round (but look in the variations section below). 2.

If you’re teaching Pig Latin have the group form Pig Latin words. After we play.1) right letter in the wrong place and/or 2) missing letter. We are all unique and it’s our job to awaken to our divine purpose. . Until we awaken. I then share with the group my belief that our mission in life is unique. There is no other person on the planet like you.round 3 into our daily life? 2. I will often lead this activity at the beginning of a personal mission statement workshop. History I learned this activity from the book “Cowstails and Cobras II” by Karl Rohnke.Mark Twain Variations: If you’re teaching Spanish. then how is it possible to have a misspelled word? The group responds with . It can be enlightening to hear how these two people were treated. the owner of the vowel will usually feel included when the group invariably needs their help on a consistent basis when forming words. Consider giving a vowel to someone who is normally treated as an "outsider". 3. Quote “I respect a man who knows how to spell a word more than one way.” -. On the flip side. exclusion. I believe there are many people who are unhappy with their job/life because they are. just like the letters of the alphabet. frustration abounds. ask the group to form Spanish words. consider giving a “tough” letter (Z for example) to someone who is popular or with the “in” crowd. I like to use this activity when discussing inclusion vs. I continue…If there are no wrong letters. like the wrong letter in a misspelled word. I ask the group if there are there any wrong letters (out of 26 letters in the alphabet)? The response is usually – no.. in the wrong place. Because vowels are so useful.


http://www. Set Up / Preparation 1. The group may request a “pull” from the facilitator whenever they 2. Each “pull” will result in two things: (1) the facilitator pulling an arms length of rope from BOTH ends of the rope pile and (2) adding 5 minutes to the final time. Pile the rope in such a way that the two ends of the rope are on top and to the side. It’s important that the group understands the objective . tie a loose knot in the middle of the rope (don’t tie a tight knot because it will be too easy for the group to see). 3. Asking for a pull can result in added stress to the group because some will not want to have the time (5 minutes) added while others will feel that a “pull” is the only thing that will allow the group to make a conclusive decision.Lots Set Up Time: 1 minute Props: One rope that is 75 – 100 feet long Objective In the shortest amount of time. No member of the team may touch the rope pile. Lay one end of the rope to the North and the other to the South.they must CONCLUSIVELY determine if the rope has a knot tied in it AND they must make their decision in the least amount of time. Gather the group around the rope pile and give them the objective and rules. v=RkPTTSIfcRM&feature=player_emb edded Group Size: 5 – 10 Age Range: high school – adult Intensity: Mental=2. These two requirements set up a “balancing act” that is the beauty of this activity. Physical=1 Time: 10 – 30 minutes (without debrief) Space: Minimal– Medium -. The group usually struggles over how to manage coming to a conclusion in the least amount of time. Prior to the group arriving. The group will almost always ask for several “pulls” so they can see what’s going on “inside” the pile of rope. Rules 1. .. Comments 1. conclusively determine if the rope has a knot tied in it.

that determine our destiny. When is it appropriate to make decisions based on observable data? When is it best to make a decision based on intuition? How does the group currently make decisions? Are both camps honored? Quote “More than anything else.2. they must pay a big financial penalty. This activity presents a fantastic opportunity to discuss decision-making. If you’re working with a business group consider giving the group play money. not the conditions of our lives. I believe it’s our decisions. One group (usually the minority) is satisfied with making a guess to determine whether the rope has a knot in it. . The other group (usually the majority) wants to make a decision based on observation (can they see a knot?). You would have to set up the strings in advance. They are trying to do two things: keep as much money as they can AND conclusively determine whether there is a knot in the rope. Pull one arms length of rope from each end of the rope pile. I’ve always wanted to try a “table top” version of this activity. Have people work in groups of 3. History This game was taught to me by master team builder Jeff Long. When you do a “pull” on the rope pile. 2. In this version you could have multiple groups working at one time. The two groups are usually in conflict. Make sure you pull only the rope that needs to move. If they are wrong. A “pull” would only be inches long (rather than arms length). Debriefing Suggestions Every time I’ve led this activity I see two distinct groups of people form.” -. kite string) rather than rope.Anthony Robbins Variations 1. Supply each group with small diameter string (ex. you should do so carefully. If they make a correct determination about the rope in the given amount of time they get a monetary bonus (play money). Set a price for each pull of rope (they must pay you).

I figured I could get 20 drops on. Physical=1 Time: 5-30 minutes Space: Minimal– Medium -. small water container. Rules The game is over when you place so many drops of water on the head of the penny that the water leaks off the penny and on to the paper towel. Comments The first time I did this activity I was asked to set a goal as to how many drops I thought I could fit on the head of a penny. Keep track of the number of drops. paper towel Objective Using a regular eyedropper. Have everyone place his or her penny heads up on the paper towel. I was totally amazed. Then begin. and one small container of water (half a cup) per person.Lots Set Up Time: 1 minute Props: Each person (or pair) is supplied with: eyedropper.PENNY CHALLENGE Group Size: Individuals or teams of 2 Age Range: elementary – adult Intensity: Mental=2. one penny. Set Up / Preparation Provide one eyedropper. Remember to count drops. place as many drops of water on the head of a penny as you can. ask them to FIRST determine how many drops of water they think they can get on the head of their penny (and write this number down). penny. The reality? I was able to get over 50. one paper towel. The science behind the ability to place lots of drops of water on the head of a penny is called . Before the group starts placing drops of water on their penny.

Often times people will place judgment on this unfortunate soul because they are having such miserable luck getting the water to bead up on their penny. The sum total of all that lives is God. For everyone has faith in himself and that multiplied to the nth degree is God. I EXPERIENCED a great lesson: I must be careful when setting goals because I may be greatly underestimating my real potential. When I’ve done this in the past I watch the reactions of the person with the cup AND the reaction of the people around this person. Debriefing Suggestions This is an awesome activity to show the effect of setting goals.or should I say.) decreases the capacity of the team rather than increases it. The first time I did this I way underestimated the number of drops I could fit on the head of my penny. During the debrief (process) I’ll ask this person to share the frustration they felt and then I tell them about the soap I added to their water.“surface tension”. even as a little drop of water is of the ocean. back stabbing. jealousy. This will severely reduce the water’s surface tension which means the person who ends up with this cup of water will not be able to get nearly as many drops of water on the head of their penny. I learned a great lesson . etc. .Mohandas Gandhi Variations Before the group arrives.” -.. We may not be God. How can we manage the culture of our team / organization to maximize capacity? History I learned this activity from Dev Pathik. but we are of God. Quote “Everyone has faith in God though everyone does not know it. contaminate one of the cups of water with a small amount of liquid soap. This leads to a discussion about “contaminating the environment we work in” and how contamination (rumors.

5 x 11) to each team as well as one large coin and a pair of scissors. build the tallest freestanding structure that will hold a large coin as far off the ground as possible.5 x 11). no carpet) and where there is absolutely no wind. Physical=1 Time: 15-30 minutes Space: Minimal– Medium -. This activity is best done on a floor that is rock solid (tile.PAPER TOWER Group Size: 2-4 people per team Age Range: elementary – adult Intensity: Mental=2. one pair of scissors Objective Using two sheets of paper.Lots Set Up Time: seconds Props: Each team receives: two sheets of regular paper (8. Set Up / Preparation Provide two sheets of paper (8. Make sure people are far enough away from each other that they don’t interfere with each other’s . one large coin.

You plan a tower that will pierce . If you like. have desire. Variations 1. This total is now the “record”.i. You’ll then fold each piece of paper into a long triangular tube (see pictures below). Then insert one tube end into another tube end.. 2. It can’t lean on or be supported by anything other than the surface of the floor. Building a tower to hold up a coin is a lot like setting and achieving goals. Hopefully the group will begin to share the “best practices” in design strategies. Then fold each sheet in half lengthwise and then fold it again to create three folds in each sheet. The tower must be free standing. 2. etc. Comments The solution I’ve provided involves cutting each sheet of paper in half lengthwise . You can keep these tubes from unfolding by cutting little tabs into the ends of the tubes. you can keep going by re-supplying the group with new paper and have them build new structures with the goal being to beat the record. If they share designs and help each other. the winner is the one whose coin is the furthest off the ground. The structure must be completed in the specified time limit (example: 15 minutes). experiment.25” x 11”. share ideas. If you can beat my record of 45” send me a photo! Debriefing Suggestions I like to use this activity to talk about goal setting.e. Rules 1. 3. Once you’ve created a tower made of four sections of this triangular tubing you’ll be faced with balancing it and then placing your coin on top (a tricky thing to do). it’s likely the group will significantly surpass their original record. This activity can be competitive in nature . No other supplies may be used. it’s as if you are going to make an antennae. Once all the structures are completed. ALL structures will be measured (floor to coin)’ll end up with four pieces of paper measuring 4. The total of all structure heights are then added up.structure. One has to make a plan. There are other ways to build a tall structure I’m sure. Or you can make this a win-win activity by establishing the following goal: individually you are to build your structures to hold your coin up. Quote “Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending.

Wright” following the “right – left” directions of the “Mrs.Saint Augustine History I like building things out of paper and one day tested this activity with a group I was training and it worked out nicely.” -. Physical=1 Time: 5-10 minutes Space: Minimal Set Up Time: 60 seconds Props: 3” x 5” index cards . Have each person right their name on the card.the clouds? Lay first the foundation of v=JlDNfh7YFLI&feature=player_embe dded Group Size 20 – 200+ Age Range: middle school – adult Intensity: Mental=2. Supply each person with an index for each person Objective Pass the index cards around the circle. Set Up / Preparation 1. WRIGHT http://www. MRS. .

Do a “test run” with the group. Left (pause to let everyone pass their card to the Left). Then slowly speed up. 3. they will end up with their card at the end of the story. 4. This is where you start reading the “Mrs. Tell the group: “I’d like to do a test run with you. Now lets begin the story. But Billy. was the saddest of all. If the group is really large (100+) you can have them form 2 (or more) smaller circles. This mistake left Billy’s friends in the dark. Inform everyone that you are about to read a story. He left behind all the addresses of friends that he wanted to write to while on vacation. Wendy left a whole plate of leftovers for her cat to eat during the Wright vacation. Tell the group that during the story.” 6. but Mrs. who is the president of a local leftist organization. Comments People will quickly discover (experience) through this activity that everyone needs to pay attention. Wright” story (see the story below). Mrs. and Billy Wright) on a vacation. they are to pass the card they have in their hands to the Right. Wright took her three left handed children (Wendy Wright. Wright decided that the right thing to do would be to return home right away. Wright” activity make sure everyone has only ONE card (this is very important). They left on a Monday and planned to return just before the Thanksgiving holiday.” Rules See description above. Before starting the “Mrs. in time for Thanksgiving leftovers. They still had the weekend left. If everyone does their job. By the end of the week. Larry Wright. They arrived back at their house. Start off slow so people can get a chance to feel successful. all the Wrights wished they had never left. Billy Wright left school for the Wright vacation. If one person isn’t doing his or her job then it has a big effect on everyone else.2. Everyone should now have the card they started out with (your name is on your card). 7. 5. Very good. If they hear the word “left” they are to pass the card they have in their hands to the Left. if they hear the word “right”. THE STORY: “Once upon a time. Have the group stand up and form a big circle. which is located to the left of Yankee Stadium. Actual numbers of people in each group is not important. Debriefing I like to use this activity to discuss the impact our individual efforts have on the . Ready? Right (pause to let everyone pass their card to the Right).

2. If you work with young people. It is a great activity to lead right before the Mrs. this activity has successfully opened the doors to great conversations about the importance of full commitment from those involved in a project. For example. if one person (“Bob”) does his job well (listens to the directions and passes the cards in the correct directions) and another person (“Sally”) located 4 positions to Bob’s left doesn’t pay attention and doesn’t do her job well. With groups I’ve worked with in the past. There is a great icebreaker activity I call “The Big Question” (found on this site) that involves index cards. . Wright” story (it’s tricky!). this can effect the outcome for Bob (he may not end up with his card). have them write a story of their own that works out like the “Mrs. author of the book “Teamwork & Teamplay”. Wright activity. Variations 1. History I learned this activity from Jim Cain.whole.


Potato Head toy Objective Build something with the supplied plastic pieces. Physical=1 Time: 5 – 15 minutes Space: Minimal– Medium – Lots Set Up Time: 60 seconds Props: One Mr. . v=xIMMgqAAMuQ&feature=player_e mbedded Group Size 5 people with 10-60 observing Age Range: high school – adult Intensity: Mental=2.

2. The volunteers must be willing to sit on the floor and keep their eyes closed for up to two minutes. Next tell the volunteers that the big group is going to observe them as they work and they might hear people in the big group laughing – they are not to be alarmed at this laughter. 6. The management team was looking at the bottom line which was being negatively impacted by the problem. Volunteers will be able to complete this task without moving around. I like to use this activity to discuss the concept of “Process and Product”. Don’t allow anyone to see the contents of the bag. 4. 2. It’s a very cerebral activity. Finally. Process” (see below). Tell the big group to observe what happens because you’ll be asking some questions after the activity is over. The wait staff found the kitchen staff to be rude and demeaning. Gather the group of 10 to 60 people and then say the following: “We need 5 volunteers for this next activity. ask the volunteers to close their eyes.” 3. Then tell the volunteers to build something with the supplied plastic pieces as you dump them in the middle of their small circle (note: I do NOT tell the group to build a Mr. place the Mr. Potato Head usually comes with lots more parts to put on than he has places to put them.Set Up / Preparation 1. Debriefing 1. The volunteers will be asked to complete a task using pieces of plastic. Potato Head activity as described above and then had the group . Potato Head). Before the activity starts. I led the Mr. Tell the group they have two minutes to complete the task. Potato Head pieces in an opaque bag (like a brown paper bag). I always supply the group with all the pieces so they are faced with making a decision as to what to put on and what to leave off. The kitchen staff found the wait staff to be “a bunch of whiners and complainers”. Rules The team of 5 must keep their eyes closed throughout the activity. Comments This is a great activity to do at the beginning of a program if you use it to discuss the concept of “Product vs. A real life example of how I used this: a restaurant team consisting of wait staff and kitchen staff were at odds with each other. NOTE: Mr. Then get the volunteers to step forward and sit down on the floor in a small circle and in such a way that the rest of the group can observe them. 5.

. Potato Head activity created a new awareness among the kitchen staff.divide into smaller teams to discuss and then answer the following question: Which is more important . Potato Head looks)? 3. I set the activity up as described earlier only this time the group of volunteers had one person who horded all the pieces and built the Mr. the Mr. if it wasn’t for the 90%+ of the iceberg underneath the water (the Process) we would never see the upper part (i. His response was “Yeah. The question of which is more important (Product or Process) is a trick question. The result of diminishing the size of the iceberg below the water is a reduced amount above the water . the Product cannot stand alone in a sustainable way). Potato Head). It’s the part we all tend to pay the most attention to. 6.. Here’s the metaphor…think of an iceberg. Process) I keep Mr. the Product is diminished. 4. He then went on to announce to the rest of the group “I’ve done it!”. The challenge is the Process part of the equation is harder to see and it’s not as sexy as the Product. but I always get the job done.the same is true in a team or in business. It’s well known that the majority (over 90%) of an iceberg is located under the surface of the water. However.he didn’t communicate what he was doing and he horded resources. When I pose this question to the group (Product v. The wait staff understood the importance of a quality product (food) and yet they also knew the experience of working in a negative environment. If one fails to care for the Process. The portion above the water is analogous to the Product (the Mr. Only a small portion of the iceberg is visible above the surface.” What this attorney . Potato Head to look EXACTLY like the picture on the box.e. Potato Head handy to show the group metaphorically what the product is. Process supports the Product. 8. The management knew that customers didn’t want to eat at a restaurant that serves tasty food in a negative environment (the wait staff always had a bad attitude). and thus many people (many teams) fail to care for it. 5. Would you be surprised to discover the kitchen staff believed that Product was most important and the wait staff believed Process was most important? The kitchen staff was operating under the belief that the product (the food) is all important. For this group. 9.(1) Process (how the group worked together to put Mr. Another example of how I’ve seen this activity play out is with a law firm I worked with. He did this without help from the rest of the group and without consulting the group. I believe Product and Process are inseparable. Potato Head together) or (2) Product (how Mr.. Potato Head mirrored his behavior in the office . Potato Head who looked nothing like the picture on the cover of the box (volunteer Potato Head builders almost always build some weird looking thing). It’s important to note that the group of volunteer Potato Head builders created a bizarre looking version of Mr. One of the other participants told him that his behavior during Mr. 7.

this “Lone Ranger” said Product is always the most important thing. MOUSE TRAP TRUST . When I asked the group to discuss the topic of Process vs. History I learned this activity from Elbert Hargrave who is a master games player living in North Carolina.failed to realize was the real cost to the team (the community) of his behavior. Product. This activity helped broach the subject and gave this individual and the team an opportunity to discuss what changes needed to be made to create a sustainable working environment.


Physical=1 Time: 20 – 30 minutes Space: Minimal– Medium -. This step can be shocker for some. They might find it hard to believe what you’re doing. each pair gets 1 trap. Don’t do this activity if you or the group isn’t Speak clearly and confidently. 2. Find some other way to add value to the experience (observe and give feedback. practice setting the trap. Don’t show all 4 steps at one time. 3. Partner up. Don’t rush this activity. When you’re group is clear on the rules of engagement tell them there will be four stages to this activity: STEP #1: Leader demonstrates how to set a mousetrap. Make sure everyone understands they can participate (or not) at the level that best suits v=1IwbqUiCEVQ&feature=player_em bedded Group Size: People work in pairs Age Range: Adult Intensity: Mental=3. Plan on this taking about 4-5 minutes. 6.http://www. Rules .Lots Set Up Time: 3 minutes Props: One wooden “traditional” mouse trap per pair Objective Coach your partner (who’s eyes are closed) into placing their hand on top of a set mouse trap. Plan on this taking about 4-5 minutes.). 5. Pacing is important. STEP #3: Show the group how to safely un-set a trap by placing your hand directly on top of the trap and then taking your hand off the trap (see video). Participation in this activity is purely voluntary. This is not the time and place for jokes (by you or anyone else). STEP #2: Partners each get a chance to set a trap with their eyes closed. Prior to leading this activity you (the facilitator) must accurately assess your groups ability to safely participate in this activity. STEP # 4: Person A closes eyes then person B sets trap and places it on a hard surface. Set Up / Preparation 1. Person A is coached by person B to un-set trap. Plan on this taking about 5 minutes to have pairs try. Show one step then have the group do that step. 4. If you don’t want to participate then don’t do it. etc. Switch roles.

Expect some people not to participate in this activity at all. to coach or be coached? If this mousetrap represents a fear in your life.Jon Hammond Variations . It’s so portable and yet so powerful in it’s ability to create growth possibilities within individuals and a group. 2.This is an optional activity. This activity can be powerful with a small group (two or four people) and just as powerful with a room full of people (500+). If you are familiar with the trust building activity called the Trust Fall (described elsewhere in this CD) you’ll find this activity to be similar in it’s impact. but the second mouse gets the cheese. Debriefing Suggestions Which did you prefer. 2. Don’t do what you don’t want to do. I’d even go so far to say that this activity will be transformational for many. Comments 1. 3. Have your participants sign a liability release form prior to participating in this activity. No joking around. Expect others to stop participating half way through (like when you tell them to put their hand on top of the trap). People can get hurt in this activity but it is unlikely they will get seriously hurt (that’s one reason we use a mouse trap instead of a rat trap!). This challenge is best left for a group that is advanced as far as maturity and their ability to safely care for one another.” -. what did you like about how you handled it? What would you change? What did you observe in the interactions between partnerships around you? Quote “The early bird gets the worm. 3. 4. This is one of the most amazing activities I’ve ever seen.1. Safety Warning 1. A high degree of trust is required to successfully accomplish this challenge. 2.

Have people partner up and ask them to assume the traditional “arm . Physical=1 Time: 5 minutes Space: Minimal– Medium -.Lots Set Up Time: 60 seconds Props: One bag of M&M candy Objective Earn as many points as you can before time runs out. Setup / Preparation v=x1oEXze9mn8&feature=player_em bedded Group Size 2 . History I learned this activity from Sam Sikes who is a master games player and author of many books including “Executive Marbles” and “Feeding the Zircon Gorilla”. Have them write on the trap a fear they are choosing to face in their out a mousetrap to each person. M&M ARM WRESTLING http://www.200 Age Range: elementary – adult Intensity: Mental=1.

Getting to eat candy is usually great incentive for kids although I’m not much for giving kids more sugar. 2. After 10 seconds is up say “Stop!” and then see how many points people have earned. Win – Lose. This activity has been around for a while and yet. Win – Win 2.wrestling” position. The following directions are then given to the group: “Your challenge is to earn as many points as you can before time runs out. 2. most of the people I meet haven’t played it. I then ask them to discuss the following (I show this to them on a piece of paper: Lose – Lose. Once you know the “trick”. I’ll give the group a couple of tries until they start to “get it”. The way I usually debrief this activity is to ask the groups to form into groups of 7 – 10 people making sure someone from each of the previous work groups is represented in this new discussion group. What usually happens (99% of the time) is very few points (if any) are earned because people spent all their time actually arm wrestling rather than working together. here’s the explanation . shoulder or back injury they should not participate. Rules See the description above. it’s easy to earn LOTS of points. You (individually) earn a point when the back of your arm wrestling partner’s hand touches the ground. That’s usually all it takes for the small discussion groups to have a good . arm. Then say “Go!” after you’ve given the instructions.” 3.” Using this phrase will plant a seed that will influence the actions of the participants. Debriefing Suggestions 1.” (Demonstrate this for the group) “You will have 10 seconds from the time I say GO. if tables are easily available you can use them. even with adults) however. Comments 1. I like people to lie on the floor and get in the arm wrestling position (yes. people get one M&M candy.for every point earned. 4. The trick is to work together (win-win) with your partner by allowing your arms to go back and forth and back and forth very quickly. Safety Warning If someone has a hand. If you’re wondering where this game gets its name. Part of the setup for this is to actually use this phrase “Please get in the arm wrestling position.

is counterproductive. Sometimes I get this…”OK. JUMP ROPE RECORD http://www. I play competitive sports and I love to win (but not at the expense of relationships). especially with people on your own team. The challenge is the application of this “win at all costs and in all situations” attitude is that it’s un-sustainable and very costly and it’s unattractive. but I just want to show my domination in a game of arm wrestling. History I learned this activity from master team builder Betsy Hipple. I give the small groups 5 or 10 minutes to discuss ideas and then we meet back as a large group to share insights. there’s nothing “wrong” with that type of v=bFuzJukbAT0&feature=player_emb edded Group Size: 10-30 Age Range: Elementary – adult Intensity: Mental=1. We must be on the look out for Win-Win opportunities from the outset.conversation. this win-win stuff is all fine and dandy Tom. What’s wrong with that?” Well. Going for the 4. Physical=2 . People need to get their competitive “yah-yah’s” out in an appropriate venue (like playing some kind of sport). Common insights: Lose-Lose and Win-Lose require lots more energy and this type of thinking produces less (points) for all involved. 3.

This game works well with kids and adults (yes. the demo team must jump the rope 3 times without the rope stopping. Set Up / Preparation 1. Safety Warning As the group becomes more ambitious and starts adding more people to “beat the record”. From this point forward. adults!). Everyone (rope turners and demo team) work to coordinate their efforts. 3. The demo team stands next to the rope and. prepare to jump as a group. 4. If things start to look dangerous stop the activity. working with the rope turners.Time: 10 – 20 minutes Space: Minimal – Medium – Lots Set Up Time: 60 seconds Props: 30-foot section of rope Objective Get as many team members as possible to jump a rope simultaneously. Rules In order to count as a successful jump. They can stop and plan at any time. 2. Start with a small group of people (3 – 5) that are willing to help demonstrate how the game is played. Start by having the rope turners stand in the “ready position” (rope at rest on the ground). the group attempts to add people as jumpers. the team must jump the rope 3 times without the rope stopping. it’s possible someone could fall and get hurt. Find two volunteers willing to operate the rope in a jump rope type of fashion. Comments It’s a rare group that doesn’t like to “go for it” and create some kind of “world record” and this activity plays into this natural desire among teams. In order to count as a successful jump. .

What would you like it to be? High functioning teams exhibit highly coordinated efforts.Benjamin Franklin History This activity was first described by Karl Rohnke in his classic book “Silver Bullets”. Because of this. I use this activity to discuss such issues with the group.Debriefing This activity requires focus.” -. INTERFERENCE . How would you describe the level of coordination we display as a team? Quote “To succeed. To what degree are we focused on finding a solution (to X problem)? On a scale of 1-10 rate the level of commitment on this team. commitment and a high degree of coordinated effort from the entire group. jump as quickly at opportunities as you do at conclusions.


The facilitator will share this message with Group A momentarily. 2. Set Up / Preparation everyone must be silent and Group C will share the message they received.http://www. 3. Group B (the message interferers) must prevent Group C from receiving the message successfully. The ropes should be at least 30 feet apart. Create the playing area by laying two 30-foot long ropes on the ground parallel to each other. 2. At the end of 20 seconds. whistle Objective Group A must successfully communicate a message to Group v=ZZjLksl4yM&feature=player_embedded Group Size: 30 – 200 Age Range: middle school – adultIntensity: Mental=1. Rules: 1. Communicating the message via written word is not . Divide the large group into three equal smaller groups. Groups A and C win if it is the exact same message sent by Group A. If Group C has only part (or none) of the message. Only verbal communication may be used to send the message. 4. Group A has 20 seconds to transmit a specific message to Group C. Group A will be the “Message Senders”. Group B will be the “Message Interferers” and Group C will be the “Message Receivers”. Group B (the message interferers) wins. Physical=1Time: 10 –20 minutesSpace: Minimal – Medium – Lots Set Up Time: 60 secondsProps: Two 30 foot long ropes. If the group is large (100+) you will need longer ropes and the ropes will need to be further apart to accommodate the size of the group. If you don’t have rope you can use masking tape (if inside) and if outside you can use orange cones.

” Prepare this message ahead of time and write it on white paper using a black marker in large easy to read print. Group A moves to the message receiving area and Group B moves to the message sending area. 5. The message to be sent during round two is: “You don’t have to try. Prepare for round # 2 by asking Group A to move to the center playing area where they will now be message interferers. This activity gets VERY loud. After all is set and everyone understands the objective and rules. 2. the facilitator will secretly show Group A (the message senders) the message. You will repeat this process for each round. which is: “A friend is a present you give yourself.” 4. 6. Do not let the other teams see the message! Allow the message senders 20 to 30 seconds to prepare a plan and then blow your whistle! After 20 seconds blow your whistle again and get everyone to stop so you can hear what the message receivers heard. . Each group must stay behind their lines. Make sure you won’t disturb others when you play this game. The Message Interferers will usually yell like wild animals and direct their yelling at either the Message Senders or the Message Receivers (or both). It’s important for each group to rotate into each of the positions (sender. 5. No one may travel beyond the ends of the lines. you just have to be. The message to be sent during round three is: “The quieter you become the more you can hear. Prepare for round # 3 by asking Group C to move to the center playing area where they will now be message interferers.” 3.permitted. Message Senders that are successful will tend to plan their efforts and yell their message as a unified group. receiver) so everyone has an experience of each position. Comments 1. interferer. The Interferers may jump up and down and wave their arms so as to act as a further distraction. Group B moves to the message receiving area and Group C moves to the message sending area. 7.

. There is always some kind of interference going on however this does not mean communication has to stop or be unclear. INHUMAN KNOT . Variations With larger groups you may want to give them more time to send the message .What is true about communication? 2. What strategies worked well in sending a message that you can use in real life? 3.maybe 30 seconds. If the message senders and the message receivers are committed to the process they will overcome (most any) interference. ask the group to form into smaller discussion groups of 4 or 5 people and then ask these questions: 1. What did you learn/experience about interfering with messages that is important to understand? Usually these questions lead to greater insights and understandings about effective communication.Debriefing After three rounds. History I’m not sure where I learned this activity but it reminds me of growing up with my two brothers. What strategies worked will in receiving a message that you can use in real life? 4.

You need at least 12 people (two groups of 6) to play this game.Lots Set Up Time: 3 minutes Props: Three ropes (each 5 feet long) for each group of 6 people. is easy to transport (in your pocket) and is fun and challenging. 3. Objective First. 4. . Once you pickup a rope you can't let go of it until the activity is over. Setup the activity in advance of the group by placing three ropes on the ground in the shape of an asterisk. (*) Each team of 6 will have their own set of ropes in the shape of an asterisk. People will be working in teams of 6. 2. Set Up / Preparation 1.You need one 5-foot section of rope for every two people. I use 1/8 inch diameter nylon rope. create a tangled mess of your ropes then trade your tangled mess with another group’s and see if you can untangle their mess (while they work on yours). Physical=1 Time: 20 .40 minutes Space: Minimal – Medium -.Group Size: Groups of 6 Age Range: middle school to adult Intensity: Mental=2. Here is a great team building game that uses simple props. Team members pickup an end of a rope with one hand.

7.After time is up. Rules Once you grab the end of the rope you have to hold on with that same hand until the activity is over. What is it about making a mess and then handing it off to someone else to clean up? It sure feels good. Now work together to untangle the knot without letting go of the rope. What can we do to avoid problems all together? 4. Keep working on making the knot more tangled until time runs out. What is our responsibility to this problem? Is it ours to solve? Quote . Are you working with a team that needs to experience what it’s like to make a mess and then hand it off to another team to solve? Sometimes you see this in shift workers – they will either create a problem or recognize it and then postpone solving it if they know the next shift will be more likely to solve it. lay your ropes (your tangled mess) on the ground and let go of the ropes. I find that I like this activity (Inhuman Knot) better than the Human Knot because everyone can get involved in the solution a little easier. People also love making a big scary knot out of their ropes. no letting go of the rope! 6.5. Debriefing Suggestions 1. 2. Remember. Each team of 6 will now take two minutes to tie a big knot in the center of the ropes. Teams will now rotate to another team's knot and pickup a rope. Comments The Human Knot team building game (found on this site) is a “classic” and this activity – Inhuman Knot – builds on the success of that. What is perfect about this problem? 3. It’s the old “passing the buck” syndrome.

It takes lots longer but it can be done. Index Card Challenge http://www. feature=player_embedded&v=Skovy 58P7ts .Alvin Smith Variations 1. Time the group to untangle the knot. Close your eyes while untying the When it’s time to switch. Sam calls this activity "Knot Exchange" but I call it "Inhuman Knot" because it reminds me of another team building game called "Human Knot".“A good knot on a bad rope is no better than a bad knot.” -. teams of 8 must switch with teams of 8. History I learned this activity from Sam Sikes who is one of the most creative team building guys I know. If your group size is not divisible by 6 than you will have to be creative. You might need to make two teams of 8 (four ropes required for a group of 8). 3. Sam has written a number of great team building games books and I recommend every one of them.

  Debriefing Suggestions This is a handy activity to teach the concept of “making due with what you have” or “making a lot out of  (seemingly) a little”. make a hole in the index card large enough to pass your entire body through. When the average person reads this challenge and then looks at the index card.  In  other words. Set Up / Preparation Provide one four inch by six inch index card and a pair of scissors to each participant (scissors can be  shared if necessary). Rules 1. Write on the card that you plan to cut up. Comments 1. History I learned this from my friend Jim  Potter who is an officer in the DARE program.No other materials may be used.  People can work individually or in teams to find a solution. Physical=1 Time: 5­30  minutes Space: Minimal – Medium ­­ Lots Set Up Time: seconds Props: One 4” x 6” index card and one pair of scissors for each person Objective Expand a four by six inch index card to a dimension that is large enough to actually step through. the reaction is usually  “There is no way!”  I love activities that look impossible. This activity works with an even smaller index card (3x5) but you have to cut it just right.  2. Solution .” ­­ Anais Nin Variations 1. 2. Quote “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.    Another lesson could be that in order to solve some challenges we have to expand  our thinking (like the card has to be expanded).  2.  Have people write the areas in their life that could use some  expansive thinking. This can be a great individual challenge and it makes a good team (of 2 or 3) challenge.Group Size: Individuals Age Range: elementary – adult Intensity:  Mental=2.The card may not be ripped in the process of stepping through it.

Click on the image below to view a solution.  NOTE:  People might find more than one solution to this  challenge. Physical=1 ­ Time: 5 – 10 minutes without the debrief ­ Space: Minimal – Medium ­­ Lots . Hoop Pass ­ Group Size 5 ­ 20 ­ Age Range: elementary school – adult ­ Intensity:  Mental=1.

  When they get to the midway point there is  usually some confusion. 3.  Allow  another attempt to break the “record”.  This is not a good activity for people who are obese or  who have difficulty balancing. consider creating two smaller groups and having them work  independently of each other. If you have more than 12 people.­ Set Up Time: 60 seconds ­ Props:  One hoop per group Objective Pass the hoop around the circle as quickly as possible.  Start them in the same location but ask the group to pass one hoop in a clockwise  direction and the other hoop in a counterclockwise direction. even if it is in flames. 2. This is not a good activity for obese people or who have trouble balancing or who have shoulder  injuries.  Safety Warning 1. 2. The hoop must travel in a clockwise direction. Comments Initially a group may find this challenge impossible to complete – they might say “How do you pass the  hoop around the circle without letting go of hands?”  This activity will often times get a group laughing  as they watch each person pass through the loop. Rules 1.    What are actual hoops in your life that you have jumped  through?  Are hoops good or bad?  Do some people have more to deal with than others? If so. Time the group as they pass the hoop to see how long it takes them to get it all the way around. 2. Everyone must stand in one location (no running around). No letting go of hands. Set Up / Preparation 1.  Debriefing Suggestions The hoop in this activity could metaphorically represent a hoop or hoops people jump through on a  regular basis (for one reason or another). 2. History . why?   What hoops would you add/remove from/to your life if you could? Something To Think About “I advise you to say your dream is possible and then overcome all inconveniences. ignore all the hassles  and take a running leap through the hoop. have one pair of people break hands. reach  through the hoop and then reconnect hands. With the group standing in a circle and holding hands. Provide two hoops.” ­­ Les Brown Variations 1. Remove glasses prior to playing (they might fall off and break).

Hidden Numbers .I learned this activity from coworkers at the Camp Woodson program in North Carolina during the mid  80's.

 You should use some theatrics here by acting like you are trying to make a particular shape (in reality  the shape makes no difference to what you’re really doing but the group begins to think it does).  Then place one shoestring on the  ground in any shape at all. Physical=1/3 Time: 5 minutes (without debrief) Space: Minimal – Medium ­­ Lots Set Up Time: 20 seconds Props: A shoelace Overview This activity is perfect to help your team experience the value of looking beyond initial perceptions. 2. Objective Participants must solve the puzzle by discovering the hidden numbers. .Group Size: 5 ­ 40 Age Range: Elementary School – adult Intensity:  Mental=3/3. Set Up / Preparation 1.  Announce to the  group that you are about to show them a number between zero and 10. Begin by kneeling down on the ground with the group in a semi­circle facing you.

  4.   Some people will even argue that you were not showing the numbers with your fingers the entire time  (when you really were). acting as if the pen moving is the  source of the information. HERE’S THE TRICK:  You must show the “number” with your fingers. After the first guess by the group. make another design with the shoestring on the floor.  After fiddling around with the shoestring. please keep your responses to yourself and stealthfully  observe your teammates.” 6. which are on your thighs. place your hands on your thighs again and ask “What number is this?”  If the group is  slow to pick up on it.  If  the number is 10.  If the number is zero then you keep two fists on your  thighs.3.” Debriefing Suggestions Oftentimes in life the solution to a problem is right in front of us but we don’t see it because we allow  ourselves to become distracted by extraneous information. . place your hands on your thighs then ask “What  number is this?”  The group will look at the shape you’ve created with the shoestring and make a guess.  This only serves to distract people further.  If they still don’t get it. Rules There are no real rules for this game. then tell them the answer.   Ask for a couple of answers. author of the famous team building games book “Silver Bullets” among others.  People tend to focus so intently on the string that they block out all other useful information. History I learned this activity from Karl Rohnke.  If I suspect this. After you’ve arranged the shoestring on the ground. Comments It’s possible that someone in your group knows the answer to this activity before you even start (i.  Are there any problems you’re faced with right now that have an easy solution  that you’re not allowing yourself to see?  What is it that distracts us as a team?  What will cause us to  gain clarity?  What will change when we gain clarity? Variations When I don’t have a string for this activity I like to use four or five pens to “distract” the group.  If the number is 7. take the shoestring away and ask the group “what number is this?” while  emphasizing your fingers.  When done  with the design. confirm that the “number is right in front of you. If the group has a very difficult time solving this puzzle. I’ll make an announcement that goes something like “If  you’ve experienced the activity I’m about to lead.  The idea is the same.  The setup is the important thing (see above). 5. then you would have five fingers on one hand and 2 on the other hand with the “extras” folded under. tell them you will make it more obvious as to  what the number is. REALLY emphasize putting your fingers  on your thighs (being somewhat theatrical).  someone has played it before).  You may even wiggle your fingers so that people will notice  them.  You can even  act like you are making a pattern if you want. the shoestring acts as a  distraction. simply move the pens in some kind of geometric way.  In this case. then you keep 10 fingers out.e.

ELASTIC BULLSEYE  Group Size:  Groups of 6 – 8 people   Age Range: middle school – adult  Intensity:  Mental=2. Physical=1  Time:  10 – 20 minutes (without debrief)  Space: Minimal – Medium ­­ Lots  Set Up Time: 60 seconds  Props: One piece of stretchy elastic and one “target” (non­elastic string loop) for each group Objective  The group must release the stretched out elastic circle in such a way that the elastic falls inside the target  (inside the bulls eye).   Set Up / Preparation  .

   2.  Especially if you allow/make them do the activity for a long time (i. Frustration.  NOTE:  the target in the video clip and photo is a bucket ­ ­ this is a MUCH more difficult  challenge than using the non­elastic string as a target. Have each team form into a circle. 3.   Rules  1.  If you have lots of people  have them form into multiple teams of 10 to 15. The stretched elastic circle must be kept parallel to the ground. The elastic can only land inside the target as a result of the simultaneous release of the elastic by  the group (example: the elastic cannot be thrown in to the bucket by one person) Safety Warning  Do not allow participants to place the elastic near their eyes. The group must release the elastic simultaneously. The group must now release the elastic simultaneously and in such a way that the elastic falls into the  target.  If you have a group  that can get any challenge done quickly and easily then this is a great challenge to give them. Each person in the group holds onto the elastic with two fingers and then the group backs up so the elastic is stretched out in a big circle (people are spaced evenly from each other). Is it possible to solve this challenge?  Yes.  Team size of 10 to 15 works best. 2. verbally count up sequentially (as in 1. 30 minutes).  But it’s very rare (in my experience).  You must do this in a  .) to a number equaling the total number of people in your group.  Comments If you’re looking for a team challenge that is easy to transport and very difficult for a group to have  success with.   This activity may be the thing that helps them evolve and play a bigger game. 3. 3.  Why do it  then?  Offer this activity up BECAUSE it’s nearly impossible to complete. The target must stay in the center of the circle.Divide the group into teams of 4­8. co­author of “Teamwork & Teamplay” Count up  Group Size: 10­15  Age Range: Elementary – adult  Intensity:  Mental=1. Your ability to debrief this effectively will determine the outcome of this lesson.  Blame. a 5 gallon bucket. 2.  Place the target in the center of the circle. 5. 4. 2. etc. this is it!  Very rarely will a group actually solve this challenge ­ ­ it’s that difficult.   3. The group must keep the elastic fully stretched just before the release.  Because the group will likely experience non­success. Tell the following to the group:   “In your small teams. etc. etc.  These are things you’ll likely be helping a group process through with this  activity.   Debriefing Suggestions 1.   2. it will provide them with an opportunity to determine what non­ success means to them.  Examples:  a string circle on the ground. Set Up / Preparation  1.) to a number equaling the total number in the team. Physical=1  Time: 5­15 minutes  Space: Minimal – Medium ­­ Lots  Set Up Time: none  Props: none  Objective  The group verbally counts up (sequentially as in 1. Supply each group with one elastic circle and one “target” (non­elastic string). a cup.  What  this activity will do is get a group to engage in dialogue and creative problem solving.  Are you able to work with a group that is trying to process non­success? Variations Use different types of targets.e.  History This game was taught to me by Jim Cain.

  What has  changed is the individual’s perspective on the situation. This is an activity for 1 or 1.   Debriefing Suggestions 1. If two people say the same number at the same time the group must start over. have all the participants lower their hand to chest level while they keep their finger  pointing up at the clock AND continue moving their finger in the same motion (never stop the  motion).  Now imagine the second hand moving around the clock (in a clockwise  direction).  If two people say the same number at the same time the group must start over. Physical=1  Time: 60 seconds    Space: Minimal – Medium ­­ Lots  Set Up Time: none  Props: none Objective  Experience how one’s perspective is vitally important to understanding a situation.  Each  person may only say one number.  I also believe it’s possible to develop one’s intuition with practice.” ­­ Albert Einstein Variations Ask the group to count as high as they can go before making a mistake.  You (the leader) should demonstrate this  for the group.   4.  The participant can be sitting down or standing up.   2.random manner. I like to use this activity to enter into a discussion about the value of intuition as it applies to  building high performing teams.000.  You may not create a pattern to help you count up.  Set the world record.  Now ask everyone which direction their finger is moving ­ ­ clockwise or  counterclockwise?  The answer:  counterclockwise!   Rules  See Setup / Preparation (above) Comments When most people do this activity they are surprised to find their finger starts off moving in a clockwise  direction and then magically switches to moving in a counterclockwise direction.” Comments This is a good activity to focus the group and have them work towards a common goal. Each participant now extends their arm and finger and points at the clock AND THEN makes  their finger follow the movements of the second hand. CEILING CLOCK  Group Size: Individuals  Age Range: elementary – adult  Intensity:  Mental=1.”  Rules  1. Have participants first imagine an analog clock (the kind of clock with hands on it) glued to the  ceiling above them.   3. This must be done in a random manner.  The participants should be looking down at their fingertip now (which has never  stopped moving). 2. 2. History I first learned this activity from master facilitator Jeff Long.) to a number equaling the  total number of people in your group.   3. To what degree do we as a team value intuition?  How are we currently using our intuition? “The only real valuable thing is intuition. 4. Each person may only say one number.  You may not create a pattern to help you count up.  Team members simply  announce the correct number in the sequence when they have the intuitive sense to do so. 3.  The key understanding  is that the person’s finger has NOT altered it’s direction during the course of the activity. Finally.  I believe intuition is highly undeveloped in most people and  not valued enough.   Set Up / Preparation  1. etc. Team members must verbally count up sequentially (as in 1.  At first the person was below looking up at their  . 2.

 she wants her audience to understand the power of  perspective and she leads the students in this exercise. Physical=1  Time: 5 – 15  minutes  Space: Minimal – Medium – Lots   Set Up Time: 60 seconds  Props: For each team of 6­10 people: One plastic cup. 3.  What is the value of perspective?  What can we do to change our perspective and what do we expect to  happen when we do? Quote to Ponder “You must look within for value.  There were about 30  people so I had them form into 3 groups in one of the meeting rooms.  The group is now  asked to transport the bandana­cup­marble from one point to another. The supplied equipment (props) may not be altered. BANDANA CUP MARBLE  Group Size: 4 to 10 people per bandana  Age Range: Elementary – adult  Intensity:  Mental=1. inexpensive and easily transported.  After everyone was set to go with  the activity. I asked them to place their bandana­cup­marble assembly on a small table in an adjacent  room SIMULTANEOUSLY.  I had everyone circle up in their small groups and answer the following questions:  What  metaphorically is the bandana. they change their perspective to looking down on their finger. Everyone must hold on to the edge of the bandana with both hands. 2. and table relative to your job in this organization?  I gave the  groups 15 minutes to create a presentation. 5.finger and then. marble. one marble Objective Transport a marble balanced on a cup from one point to another. Set Up / Preparation  Create groups of about 8 people and supply each group with one bandana.  The group surrounds the bandana and  holds on to it with both hands along the edges creating a tabletop effective.  When our perspective  changes. If the marble falls off the group must start again.  There was only one doorway and to the other room so the teams were  forced to wait on each other. but must look beyond for perspective. which they would be giving to the other groups.  The group  loved the activity and loved the discussion as well as the presentations from the other small groups.  Apartheid hadn’t changed yet ­ ­ it was her that changed ­ ­ it was her  perspective that changed. No other supplies may be used.  The cup is now placed up  side down on the bandana then the marble is placed on top of / balanced on the cup.   Debriefing Suggestions I have a white female friend who grew up in South Africa during apartheid. 4. Variations .  She began to see things from a new standpoint and that made all the difference  in the world.   Debriefing  I once led this activity at a retreat for a group of school system volunteers (adults).  When speaking to the school groups. The bandana must be kept tight and flat. Rules 1. cup.  It is  versatile.   Comments This is a great activity to do with a small group (6 people) or with large groups (200+ people).  The table was small which forced the groups to communicate and create a  plan.  She now speaks at schools  about her experience growing up and the day she realized what was going on around her and how she  wanted justice and equality for all. one bandana. everything changes.” ­­ Denis Waitley History I learned this activity while attending a conference on creating personal mission statements. one marble and one plastic cup (the plastic cup should have some kind of lip on the bottom of it).

 have people rotate  positions in their small groups so everyone can get a chance at being the first person.  Provide the person at the front of each line with an 8 _” x  11” sheet of paper and a marker.  Use a taller cup and a larger. have them  transport the cup by holding the bandana above their heads. denser ball (like a baseball) to make this lots harder.  By the  time the story gets all the way around the circle. we will compare  final drawings with the original drawing.   This provides for an interesting debrief topic.e. 2. This activity requires people to communicate through touch. The person at the front of the line will then draw the picture on the piece of paper using the marker. Place obstacles in the path of the group such as a tables or chairs. People have only one chance to draw the picture on the back of someone else. and so on.  It’s a stretch for most people to use this sense in this way (and stretching is good). Set Up / Preparation  1.  If you want to get folks really wet. author of “Executive Marbles” and “Feeding the Zircon Gorilla”. History I learned this activity from Sam Sikes. 2. 3.  Consider having the group go  up a flight of stairs. Give the big group the following directions:  “In a moment. one person behind the other. BACK WRITING  Group Size:  10 – 100   Age Range: elementary – adult  Intensity:  Mental=2.  Once each team is done. Occasionally there will be a person or two who attempt to “cheat” by looking at their neighbors  to see how they are doing.  Groups  will often discuss issues such as the importance of clarity and how messages delivered with great care can get turned upside­down in short order. . the story usually sounds nothing like the  original story.  After the first round. I’m going to ask the person at the  back of each small group to come to the front of the room where they will watch me draw a  picture on a big piece of paper. Comments 1. I like to have groups participate in this activity and then discuss (in their small groups) what  they’ve found to be true about communication as demonstrated through this activity. 2. Verbal communication is not allowed. Fill a cup of water and balance it on the bandana. This activity reminds some of the children’s game called “telegraph” where a group of 10 or 15  people sit in a circle and the leader whispers a short story into the ear of the person sitting next to them who then whispers the story into the persons ear sitting next to them. 2. 2.  Only this small group of people will be allowed to view the  picture.” 3. Keep the first picture simple – like a smiley face. Debriefing Suggestions 1.  Once they see the picture they will return to their seats where they will then use their  finger to draw the same picture on the back of the person sitting in front of them – who will then  draw the picture on the person’s back in front of them – who will then draw the picture on the  back of the person in front of them – and so on.  See  “Variations” below for suggestions on other (more difficult) pictures to draw.   Rules 1. Physical=1  Time:  5 – 10 minutes (without debrief)  Space: Minimal – Medium ­­ Lots  Set Up Time: 60 seconds  Props: Markers and paper Objective Successfully communicate (“transmit”) a written message through your team. Create small groups of 4 or 5 people each. their neighbor is doing it wrong).  Have each small group sit in chairs (or on the floor)  in a line.1.  I don’t concern myself with this behavior because what often  happens is they end up getting erroneous information (i.

Variations I use the following pictures in this order (each is harder than it’s predecessor): As the pictures get more advanced.  This will likely increase the chance of success.” ­­ annonymous . A Thought For You “A true friend is someone who says nice things behind your back. History I first learned this activity from Jim Cain who authored the book “Teamwork & Teamplay”. consider allowing the drawers to make multiple attempts at drawing  on the back of someone.

 Group Size:  10 – 20 
 Age Range: high school – adult
 Intensity:  Mental=2, Physical=2
 Time:  20 – 40 minutes (without debrief)
 Space: Minimal – Medium ­­ Lots
 Set Up Time: 5 minutes
 Props: Two boundary ropes, one bandana per person (to tie ankles), six hoops.
Travel from your ailing spacecraft to the rescue spacecraft.
Set Up / Preparation 
1. Position two boundary ropes on the ground about 20 feet apart as shown in the photo.  Place the 
six hoops on the ground in a zig zag pattern ­ ­ placing the hoops about 6 inches from each other.
2. Here’s the story to share with the group:  “The spacecraft you’re currently on has lost all power 
and will soon begin descending into Earth’s atmosphere (this is bad).  Another spacecraft has 
been sent to rescue your team.  Get your team to the rescue ship before time runs out.”
3. Ask the group to stand behind one of the boundary lines (this places them in the “ailing 
spaceship”) and then line up shoulder to shoulder.  Provide each person with a piece of cloth (I 
use a bandana) and ask them to loosely tie their ankles together.  
4. Ask the group to travel to the rescue ship following the rules below.
1. The boundary ropes and hoops may not be moved.
2. The group must remain in a line with ankles tied throughout the activity. 
3. Stepping outside of the hoops while traveling to the rescue ship is not permitted.  
4. No other equipment may be used.
5. Violation of a rule may result in a penalty. (Example: touches outside of the hoops will require 
the team to start over)
Safety Warning 
1. People with knee, ankle or back injuries should not participate.
2. Use soft cloth to tie ankles together and tie loosely to prevent injuries.  
3. It’s important for the group to move slow so no one gets hurt.
1. This activity is best left for groups that are patient.  Do not attempt this activity with a 
rambunctious hyperactive group.  
2. The group movement will remind you of a centipede.  
3. This activity emphasizes communication, careful steady movement and team coordination. 
4. Just for fun, play the sound track of the movie “2001 A Space Odyssey” while the group travels 
from one spaceship to the other.
Debriefing Suggestions
Prior to starting the activity, have the group identify the “spaceship” they are leaving behind ­ ­ 
metaphorically this ship represents all that they no longer need and/or those things that no longer serve 
them.  Also identify the “rescue ship” and it’s qualities.  What do the hoops represent?  What do the 
bandanas represent?
1. Supply the group with a limited amount of time to complete the task (example: 20 minutes).
2. Give two or three people a bandana to blindfold themselves for part or all of the activity.
3. Divide the team in half.  One group starts on one side and one group starts on the other.  The 
groups must switch places before time runs out. (Will they work together or against each other?)
4. Do this activity in a room that you can turn the lights off so as to make it completely dark.  Warn
the group that you might turn the lights off during the activity.  If you do turn the lights off, keep
them off for a short time (5 to 10 seconds).

This game was taught to me by an intern when I worked for the YMCA.

 Group Size: 20 – 50 (and more!)
 Age Range: middle school – adult
 Intensity: Mental=1, Physical=1
 Time: 30 minutes (with debrief)
 Space: Minimal – Medium ­­ Lots
 Set Up: Time: 60 seconds
 Props: Line on the ground
Get the person across from you on your side of the line.
Set Up / Preparation 
1. Create a line on the ground using rope, tape or string.  The line needs to be as long as the group 
is wide (see below).
2. Divide the group in half with the groups standing on opposite sides of the line.  Each group is 
two large paces away from the line.
3. Everyone must get a partner – the person directly across the line from him or her.  If you have an
odd number of people then have three people working together.
1. Because of the nature of this activity, there aren’t any rules per se.  Instead I will offer the 
following description:
2. You (the leader) stand at the end of line (side) A and tell this group to repeat what you are about 
to say:  “There ain’t no flies on me! (they repeat while pointing at themselves).  Then, with a bit 
more emphasis, “There AIN’T no flies on me!” (they repeat while pointing at themselves).  
“There might be flies on YOU!” (they repeat while pointing at their partner on the other side of 
the line).  “But there ain’t no flies on me!” (they repeat while pointing at themselves).  Then you 
say to this group (this side) “Good job!  Now take one big step forward!” (this side steps forward
toward the line as a group).
3. I then walk over to the other side – line B – and proceed to repeat the same process with this 
group (i.e. “There ain’t no flies on me”).  But before I start, I look at them and say “You aren’t 
going to take that are you?” (I’m purposefully egging them on just a little).  Just like line A, I 
have line B take one big step forward after they have completed saying all of the “Ain’t no flies”
4. I then return to repeat the entire process with Line A.  Before starting, I attempt to egg on line A 
one more time by saying something like “OK.  This is your last time.  Don’t take that from 
them!”  When they are done, I have line A take their final big step up to the line.  At this point 
everyone in line A is standing with their toes to the line.
5. I then return to line B for the final time and go through the “Ain’t no flies on me” sequence 
again.  Before starting, I attempt to egg on line A one more time by saying something like “OK.  
This is your last chance.  Don’t take that from them!”  
6. FINALLY – When both line A and line B are facing each other toe­to­toe at the line I quickly 
announce to the group the following:  “Your next set of directions are as follows…as quickly as 
you can, get the person across from you on your side of the line!  Go!”  What usually ensues 9 
times out of 10 is a tug­o­war pulling session between partners.  I let the mayhem (the pulling) 
go on for about 5 seconds; if you let it go on too long someone might get hurt.
Safety Warning 
1. Have participants remove rings, watches and bracelets before this activity because people will 
inevitably start pulling each other by the wrists which may cause damage to valuables.
2. If you have participants with weak backs, shoulders, etc. do not do this activity.


It’s hard to find an activity that produces a more dramatic effect than this one especially in 
regards to pointing out the effects of lose­lose and win­lose thinking (as opposed to win­win 
2. I once led this activity with a group of 200 classroom teachers.  I had 100 on one side of a very 
long line and 100 of the teachers on the other side of the line.   Though this did work, I 
recommend breaking a large group like this into smaller groups of 50 (25 on each side of the 
line) ­ ­ this requires a big space and multiple lines on the ground.
Debriefing Suggestions
1. With a group of 30 people doing this activity (15 on either side of the line) there is usually one 
pair that doesn’t end up pulling and tugging on each other.  Pulling and tugging is almost always
what I see when I lead this activity.  The neat thing is pulling and tugging is not necessary to 
2. There are really two activities happening here.  The first is the “set up” where I’m getting people
riled up with the whole “ain’t no flies” thing.  I use this as a build up to the final set of 
instructions which is “Your next set of directions are as follows…as quickly as you can, get the 
person across from you on your side of the line!  Go!”  Like I said, the normal reaction to this set
of directions is to pull one’s partner onto their side of the line, which creates a Win – Lose 
scenario (the winner being the one who successfully pulled their partner onto their side).
3. There is a Win – Win scenario:  the partners calmly step over the line simultaneously.  
Remember the directions?  To win, all that must happen is for my partner to cross over to MY 
side of the line.  It doesn’t matter where I’m standing in order for me to win.  This realization 
rarely happens in the “heat of battle”.
4. Now about this “set up” issue.  Yes – I do purposely attempt to get the two lines agitated with 
the whole “ain’t no flies thing”.  I propose that Life “sets us up” on a daily basis.  You make the 
determination…are the following situations “set ups” for confrontation and Win – Lose 
scenarios?  Palestinians v. Israelis ­­ Black vs. White ­­ Muslim vs. Christian ­­ Male vs. Female 
­­ Wealthy vs. Poor ­­ Democrats vs. Republicans
5. Sometimes people finish this activity and are a bit embarrassed at how they reacted, wishing 
they had recognized the situation immediately as an opportunity to practice Win – Win.  What I 
offer to the group is that we as a culture (in the US) see and experience Win – Lose and Lose – 
Lose way more frequently than Win – Win.  All it takes is turning on the television or opening a 
newspaper and trying to look for Win – Win described in the major media (it’s hard to find).  I 
suggest that looking for Win – Win requires a conscious effort, at least at first.
I learned this activity from master facilitator Earl Davis.
as/dinamicas-integracion/ .http://www.