Great team-building and problem-solving initiatives are sometimes hard to find. Look no further, because this classic leadership activity is perfect for small groups looking to accomplish a task while working together.
Number of Participants: 5-25
Time: 15-30 minutes
Activity Level: Low-Moderate
Props: Gridwalk Tarp and Gridwalk Map
Objective: For the entire group to cross the grid following the pre-determined path.
Setup – Get a tarp (preferably), a sheet, or just some tape on the ground and make a 7×7 grid of squares with each square being 1 square foot.
- One participant on the grid at a time.
- If the participant steps on the wrong squares (not in the direction of the path), the entire group must start over.
- After stepping on a wrong square, the participant must leave the grid in the exact order in which they entered the grid (basically walking the path backwards).
- If a person does not follow the path correctly, they lose their verbal communication for the rest of the activity.
- After a participant crosses the entire path on the grid and gets to the other side, they lose verbal and nonverbal communication abilities. We do this so that those students who do not pay any attention must pay the consequences.
The goal for the group is to cross the grid as quickly as possible by following the path on the Gridwalk map.
Have you used Gridwalk with your team? What variations have you implemented to best suit your teams needs?
If you have any questions on how to add this to your program’s curriculum, just let me know!
Founder, Paradigm Shift
Have you ever had a group find the “gray area” of the rules? A group that tries to skirt around the edges of the activity to get a competitive advantage?
I come across groups and teams like this all of the time, and it always comes back to integrity…doing the right thing when no one is watching. This activity is perfect for processing and encouraging integrity within a group. Don’t give the group any instructions except what is written below, and then let them play. Let the play go on longer than they expect, and then call it when things get intense. Typically I have groups who will continue throwing even after I ask them to stop.
It is after this when I can discuss integrity and following the rules with the team. Try it out and let me know what you think!
Number of Participants: 5-75
Time: 5-10 minutes
Activity Level: High
Props: Throwables, Boundary Line
Objective: To get as many pieces of trash in your neighbor’s lawn as possible.
Divide the group into two teams and scatter an equal amount of throwables on their side of the boundary line. Tell them that the other team is up to no good and keeps throwing trash on their perfectly manicured lawn.
Their goal is to throw as much trash from their lawn onto their neighbors before the end of the activity. Don’t tell them how much time they have to complete this activity.
The issue is that the neighbors dislike each other so much that they have placed a 20-30 foot tall fence in between the two lawns, and the teams must throw the trashballs over the fence to get to the other side.
Sources: The Bottomless Bag Again by Karl Rohnke – pg. 73.
What types of integrity activities do you use with your group? Have you ever played Trashball?
Count The Beans
Number of Participants: 10 or More
Time: 15-25 minutes
Activity Level: Low
Props: Jar of Beans, Paper, Writing Utensils
Objective: To correctly guess the number of beans in the jar.
Place a jar of pinto beans in the middle of the floor, and hand each participant a piece of paper and a writing utensil. Ask everyone to write their name at the top of their paper, and put Round 1, 2, 3, and 4 in the consequent rows.
- Round 1: The participants try guess how many beans are in the jar. Give enough time for each participant to put some deep thought into the process. It is important that each group member does this individually.
- Round 2: Participants partner up and review guesses. The two then try to come up a group guess.
- Round 3: The two participants join another group of two and compare guesses. They then try to come up with a group guess.
- Round 4: The entire group discusses their guesses, and comes up with one large group guess. Eventually the facilitator reveals the answer and determines how close the group was to the actual answer.
***It is very important that the facilitator actually counts the number of beans in the jar for the integrity of the activity.
Number of Participants: 2-30
Time: 10-15 minutes
Activity Level: Low – Moderate
Props: Blindfolds, Throwables, Buckets, Rope/Tape for barrier
Objective: For every member of the team to place a throwable into the bucket.
Set Up: Create a large circle barrier with the tape or a rope. Place a bucket in the middle of the circle. Toss the throwables randomly inside the barrier.
*****It is very important to ensure and instill a sense of trust within the group before attempting this activity. Please do not try Snakes before building trust on a smaller/safer level. Sequence several build-up trust activities prior to Snakes.
Depending on the amount of people in the group, ask the participants to get into teams of 5-7 people. Ask the participants to stand in a single file line and place their hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them. All participants will be blindfolded except for the person standing in the very back of the line. This is a no-talking activity, but allow the group to take 1-2 minutes to pre-plan.
The person in the back of the line will guide the participants around the circle barrier by simply tapping the shoulders of the person in front of them, who will tap the shoulders of the person in front of them, and so on, until the person in the front of the line will move towards a throwable. When a throwable is approached, the person in the front will grab the throwable and then be guided to the bucket where they will drop the throwable.
When a participant drops the throwable into the bucket, they will then remove their blindfold and move to the back of the line and become the sighted team member. The person who was in the back of the line then puts on a blindfold.
Continue this process until all team members have placed a throwable into the bucket. If there is more than one team, the first team to finish is the winner and then should encourage the other teams until they are finished. If the teams are uneven, the team with the least amount of members will continue to rotate until they have dropped as many throwables into the bucket as the largest team would have to drop into the bucket.
Check out the video below to see the activity in action:
Have you attempted this activity? What are your thoughts on using trust activities as a team-building exercise?
Fill the Bucket is a collaborative team-building activity that requires participants to plan ahead to achieve a group goal. I first learned this activity from the great and wonderful Diane Walker. We consistently used Fill The Bucket as a planning and goal setting initiative.
Fill The Bucket
Number of Participants: 7-25
Time: 15-25 minutes
Activity Level: Moderate
Props: 3 Buckets, 30-40 throwables (yarn balls, Beanie Babies, etc.), and tape/rope/webbing to mark the boundary
Objective: To hit the team’s goal by scoring as many points as possible during each round.
Place the tape/rope/webbing in a straight line about 20’ – 25’ long. Place one bucket 5 feet from the line, another bucket 10 feet from the line, and the third bucket 15 feet from the line. The buckets need to be 5 feet apart, thus creating a staggered line of buckets. Lay all of the throwables along the line on the opposite side of the buckets.
- 5 points for throwables tossed into the closest bucket
- 10 points for throwables tossed into the middle bucket
- 15 points for throwables tossed into the furthest bucket
This game is comprised of four (4) one-minute rounds. Each round has different rules, but before each round the group declares a group goal score. Also, before each round suggest (or require, depending upon the group) a two-minute planning period.
Instruct the participants that their goal is to score as many points as possible by tossing the throwables into the buckets.
- The participants cannot cross the line.
- Once time is up, the participants cannot toss any more throwables
- The participants cannot retrieve any throwables from across the line.
- If the group throws all items before a minute, the round is over.
At the end of the round, encourage the group to help you add up the score. See if their score matches or exceeds their goal score.
Follow the rules for Round 1, but challenge the group to reevaluate their approach to the activity and see if they need to make any changes. Ask them to give you a new goal score for Round 2.
When the minute is over, ask them if they set an appropriate goal.
Follow the rules for Round 1, but this time give the team a new resource. Invite three participants to become “runners,” teammates who can cross the line and retrieve throwables that have not landed in the bucket.
Runners can only retrieve one throwable at a time, and must hand the throwable across the line, not toss it. Encourage the team to pre-plan and then ask for a new group goal score.
After the round, ask the group to evaluate their progress and determine the validity of their group goal score.
Follow the rules for Round 3 (including the runners), but this time give the group another resource, “Backboards.” Three participants will serve as backboards that will straddle the buckets, sitting on their knees with their back to the bucket.
Ask for a goal score, and complete the activity. After they are finished, process the activity with a creative and insightful debrief.
Questions for Discussion:
- What was one word to describe Round 1? What about Round 4?
- Did the group allocate adequate time for pre-planning the activity? What pre-planning steps did the group take?
- What ideas did the group find to be the most successful to complete the activity? Which participants developed the ideas?
- How did the new resources change your plan? What action steps did you take to implement the new resources?
- How did the group communication during the activity?
- Did any members of the group take charge? Who? How?
- It helps to record the group’s scores after each round on a white board or flip chart. This allows the team to see the progress over the rounds.
- Some groups need instruction on how to communicate during the planning period. Either provide that instruction or build up to that point throughout the day’s activities.
Have you used this activity? Do you have any fun variations for Fill The Bucket? Where did you learn Fill The Bucket?
I love initiatives that require activity and group communication while challenging the group’s thought process. Avatar does just that, and allows for the group to have some fun while solving the group problem. I first learned this fun activity from my favorite trainer Nate Folan at Project Adventure.
Number of Participants: 5-20
Time: 15-30 minutes
Activity Level: Moderate
Props: Rope Barrier, Hula Hoop, Spot Markers
Objective: To get the entire team from their spot around the circle and through the hula hoop as fast as possible.
Set Up: Place the spot markers around the circle and place the hula-hoop in the middle of the circle. Ask participants to stand on a spot around the circle.
- The hula-hoop must start in the middle of the circle every time.
- Participants cannot leave their starting position until time is started.
- Time is stopped when the last person gets back in their position and yells stop.
This initiative challenges the group to communicate and work together to achieve a common goal. Each participant must pass through the hula-hoop and return to their starting position as quickly as possible. The team will get four rounds to complete this activity, and will set a team goal in between rounds.
- Add two hula-hoops for large groups.
- If activity is your primary objective, make the circle very large.
- Leave the instructions vague about passing through the hula-hoop, but do make sure that the participants entire body passes through the hula-hoop.
- Ensure safety during the activity as some groups will try to jump through the hoop to save time.
- Make sure that the time does not stop until the last person yells stop. This is a very important step.
This activity is meant to help your participants discover and develop their dreams and goals. Dream Catcher is based on the SMART goals theory that goals and dreams must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.
Number of Participants: Any size
Time: 15-45 minutes (depending how in depth you would like to go with your group.)
Activity Level: Moderate
Props: A bucket to act as the Dream Catcher and a throwable for each participant to act as their dream (If you do not have enough throwables, have the participants wad up a piece of paper)
Objective: For every member of the team to toss their dream (the throwable) in the dream catcher (the bucket) as quickly as possible
Organize participants into a circle and place the bucket in the middle of the circle.
While the participants are in the circle, challenge them to think of their dream. During each round the participants are trying to complete the round as quickly as possible and help each participant “achieve” their dream by placing it in the Dream Catcher. This activity will have three timed rounds:
- Round 1: The goal is for each participant to say their dream and place it in the “Dream Catcher” as quickly as possible.
- Round 2: Challenge the participants to restate their goal, making it more specific and time bound. The team still has the same goal for this round: Each participant says their dream and places it in the “Dream Catcher” as quickly as possible.
- Round 3: This time the group gets even more specific and has the same goal: Each participant says their dream and places it in the “Dream Catcher” as quickly as possible.
In between each round, challenge the participants to really think about their dream and start to “own it” by declaring that they will achieve their dream each time they share it with the group. The group always has the goal of completing the activity as quickly as possible while every participant “achieves” their dream. They may start out by tossing their dream into the Dream Catcher or even running to the middle to place their dream in the Dream Catcher. There are no rules on how their dream gets into the Dream Catcher, and they can even pick it up and pass it around the group.
- You can use this activity just as a dreams activity without the actual initiative involved.
- Do the activity with five rounds and follow the SMART goal steps.
Questions for Discussion:
- Were the participants inspired by each other’s dreams?
- Were there any ideas or options to help them more quickly “achieve” their dreams?
- Could they have moved the bucket? Are there any things in their actual life that could help them achieve their dreams?
- Use the processing time as an opportunity to help the participants plan out ways to achieve their dreams.
- Challenge the participants to come up with a dream that is actually achievable or attainable.