1. Mine Field
Equipment needed: blindfold, any collection of random objects (i.e. chairs, small tables shoes, notebooks, etc.)
Skill focus: communication
How to: Break the group into pairs. Place random objects throughout the room to create an obstacle course. One team member wears the blindfold while their partner guides them, verbally, through the course. The goal of this team building activity is for all team members to use their communication skills to successfully coach their partners around the obstacles to the other side of the room.
2. Back-to-Back Drawing
Equipment needed: piece of paper and pencils or pens, and a collection of random items to draw or pictures of objects such as animals, vehicles, etc.
Skill focus: communication and listening
How to: Ask everyone to partner up (this can also be played in small groups of three or more). Team members sit back to back, or one team member turns his or her back away from the rest of the group. One partner becomes the artist while the other partner acts as the director. The director describes an object or shape to the artist. The director can only give instructions; he or she cannot reveal what object is. The artist can’t ask any questions. This activity works best with a short time limit. At the end of the activity, the team whose drawing most closely resembles the object wins.
3. Birthday Line-up
Equipment needed: none
Skill focus: problem solving, leadership, cooperation and communication
How to: Give the entire group a limited amount of time (5-7 minutes, depending on group size) to line up in a straight line, in order by birthday (day and month only), without talking. The challenge involves problem solving because team members cannot speak or write, but they can communicate in other ways, including sign language, finger counting, nudges, etc. Often one or more team members will adopt a leadership role, guiding their teammates through the team building activity and helping to stoke collaboration.
4. Human Knot
Equipment needed: none
Skill focus: leadership, collaboration, time management
How to: Have the entire group stand in a circle. Ask everyone to take the right hand of someone across the circle from them. Then ask them to take the left hand of someone else. Give the group 10 minutes or less to untangle themselves without letting go at any time. The can twist, step over each other, and contort themselves in any way, but they may not break the chain of hands at any time. If the chain breaks, they must start over, putting an emphasis on collaboration and problem solving.
5. Story Builder
Equipment needed: none
Skill focus: listening
How to: The team leader acts as a conductor and asks the group for a topic. The goal is to write a story as a group. All team members stand in a line. The conductor then “conducts” the story by pointing at one member of the group at a time at random moments. The team member chosen must continue the story exactly where the last person left off. When enough details have been added, the conductor says, “end it,” and the next person must give the story an ending. The story will only make sense if team members listen closely to each other and resist the urge to change the subject, rewrite, or contradict what has already been added. It can be fun to see how having an open mind about collaboration can help the group consider alternate points of view.
6. Flip It
Equipment needed: A large sheet or tarp
Skill focus: teamwork, problem solving
How to: Place the sheet or tarp on the floor and ask the entire team (or large groups) to stand on it. The team must flip the entire sheet over without any team members stepping off. They may lift their feet, but they cannot lift each other, and nobody can step on the floor until the challenge is complete. If someone steps off, they must start the challenge over.
7. Many Uses
Equipment needed: A basket of random objects
Skill focus: creativity, quick thinking, problem solving
How to: The team leader selects one of the random objects from the basket and hands it to a team member. That team member must go up in front of the group and invent a use for that object. They must then present the object’s use as though they were in a television infomercial for the item. Once they have completed their presentation, they pass the object to another team member, who must think up their own new use for the object. The first team member to get stumped by not being able to think of a new use for the object, gets eliminated. The remaining players then start a new round with the next object in the basket. The goal is to be creative and to think quickly to solve problems. The suggested use doesn’t have to have anything to do with the object’s real purpose, and the person must start speaking immediately. If a player pauses too long before they begin speaking, they can be eliminated as well.
8. Team Juggle
Equipment needed: Several balls of any size
Skill focus: memory, quick thinking, focus under pressure
How to: Ask the group to form a circle. Hand any team member a ball and ask him or her to pass the ball to any other team member while saying their name. Continue to pass the ball from player to player until every team member has had the ball once. Ask your team members to remember who passed them the ball and who they passed it to next. Have them pass the ball again in that exact order. Once you’ve established that they know the order, start adding more balls and see how many balls they can keep moving from person to person without making a mistake
Team building activities are a great reminder that there are many ways to help your team grow and improve. By shaking up the routine with easy team building games like these, you can help to energize your team and prevent them from getting stuck in a rut. Games like these challenge team members to use different skills than they normally do and get out of their comfort zones by partnering with different team members than usual. These activities are also a perfect way to ensure your team members do not become siloed into their departments. Taking just 30 minutes to put a little creativity and fun in every work week lightens the team members’ spirits and helps to maintain healthy team bonds while promoting collaboration and problem solving.
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