Category Archives: Team Games

Three Secrets of a Super-Fun Team

secrets to a super fun team

Have you ever wondered what makes some teams great and some, well, duds? So have I. I’ve been on teams that work really well together and are downright a blast to be a part of. I’ve been on others where I couldn’t wait to go home at the end of the day. For many people, it may be a mixture of both fun and frustrating.

In working with a number of different teams, I’ve noticed a common thread among the ones who work really well together. There are certain characteristics that make these teams click. Lack of any of them, however, can cause any number of team dysfunctions.

Super-fun teams are good at collaboration

Fun teams work well together and have an atmosphere of trust and cooperation. If you’ve ever experienced working with people you don’t trust, you know how stifling that can be. And, it just takes one person to ruin an environment of trust.

You would think trust takes a lot of time to develop. The fact is, trust can be developed very quickly and that foundation can continue to be built upon. According to Stephen Covey, there are 13 behaviors you can us to develop what he calls “the speed of trust.”

Collaboration is a by-product of a high-trust environment. You can see this in those with whom you work. You tend to work well with those you trust and avoid those you don’t. The partnerships you seek are with people you know you can trust – for obvious reasons.

As you look at your team – how would you rate your level of collaboration?

Super-fun teams exhibit effective communication

Teams and co-workers communicate all the time. But is it effective? Have you moved forward with a project, only to find out at the end, that you weren’t given all the critical details?

When your team communicates effectively, it will increase productivity and significantly effect your bottom line, as well as overall team morale. People will feel more engaged and a critical part of the process.

What is the level of effective communication within your team?

Super-fun teams know when it’s time for celebration

I’m a part of a team that loves to celebrate. Whether it’s someone’s birthday, or a new team member comes on board or leaves, we celebrate. (And, no, we’re not celebrating the fact they’re leaving but going on to new adventures!)

The celebration usually centers around food, as well as the person we are celebrating. There is eating, laughing, conversation, eating, more laughing, sometimes singing, maybe a game or two (but not always), eating, frivolity, and did I mention eating? 🙂 Usually there is a theme, and it’s based on something that the person we’re celebrating likes.

We do our best to not talk about work (for the most part we are very successful). It’s not time to check in on business, but it is time for a party. We have lots of fun and don’t worry about work.

So, you may know these things already. The question then becomes, how do we make the above a reality? One of the best ways I know of to increase all of these is through a combination of icebreakers and team building activities.

That’s why I wrote a brand new book of these kind of exercises called, 10 Super Fun Team Icebreakers and Challenges. In it, you’ll find 10 team building activities that have never been printed anywhere else.

super fun team ebook

These are activities that I’ve spent the last few months creating and designing for teams just like yours. Whether you need better collaboration, communication, or you just want a day of celebration, these exercises will help your team, all based on the superhero theme.

You can use these activities one at a time, or you can group them together for a Super-Fun team adventure. Or do a half-day event by picking and choosing a few of the challenges. You decide.

Here’s a sneak peek at the book.

Right now, you can order the book for only $10. It not only includes the activities, but also has suggestions for how to use the book, instructions for how to facilitate each activity, and also (my personal favorite) a “Deep Dive” section where you can take the activity further and dig into the challenges even more.

If you end up buying the book and do some of the activities, please let me know. I’d love to know how it goes – send pictures, email me with how it went – who knows, maybe you and your team will even be featured on the blog or my social media accounts (with your permission, of course!)

5 Quick and Easy Holiday Team Building Activities

5 quick and easy holiday team building activities

Need some team building activities for the holidays? Here are five different ones that you can use as stand-alone activities or put them together for one amazing holiday gathering.

Each activity comes with instructions, and you can even download a 4-page PDF guide of this post at the end to take with you to your holiday party or team meeting. (The PDF includes additional ideas not listed in the post.)

1. Snowflake

Also called the Paper Tear activity, this exercise shows the importance of communication and clarifying instructions. This activity can be done with smaller teams as well as large groups.

Instructions:

Hand everyone a piece of paper. Once everyone has receive a piece, instruct them that this exercise is to be done with all eyes closed and in silence (except for the rustling of the paper.) Participants are not allowed to ask questions of you, their neighbor, or make comments about the process until it is completed.

Ask everyone to close their eyes and to follow these instructions exactly:

  1. Fold your paper in half.
  2. Fold it in half again.
  3. Tear off the top right corner.
  4. Fold your paper in half length-wise.
  5. Tear off the bottom left corner.
  6. Rotate your paper.
  7. Fold it in half again.
  8. Tear off a piece from the middle

Say, “If you followed these instructions exactly, all of your papers should look the same. Open your eyes and unfold your paper.” At this point, have them compare their papers with those around them.

Debrief questions:

What was it like to follow the instructions?

How hard or easy was it to not be able to clarify?

How does this resemble communication in your organization?

What ways could this process be improved/changed?

2. Helium Peppermint Stick

This is a variation on the helium stick team building activity. One year with a student leadership group, I wrapped red electric tape around a thin, long piece of PVC pipe to make it look like a peppermint stick. Depending on your team, you can create a story to go with this activity:

Santa’s elves have lost one of their peppermint sticks. It appears they’ve accidentally dropped some of the reindeer dust on it because it has a tendency to float up. It’s fairly fragile and very light weight. Because we don’t want to break it, we’re just going to use our index fingers to touch it. In order to reverse the effects of the reindeer dust, we have to set it on the floor as a team. Everyone must be touching the peppermint stick with both index fingers, and they must remain touching it the whole time.

This activity takes a lot of communication and cooperation to complete. It’s much harder than it seems at first.

Debrief questions:

  • What worked well during this activity?
  • What was your communication strategy in the beginning?
  • How did that change over time?
  • What observations did you make during this exercise?

3. Holiday Spectrums

Spectrums is a game that I learned personally from Mark Collard of Playmeo. The game is an icebreaker that asks participants to line up on a continuum based on two choices.

Designate two end points on the spectrum you’ve created. (You can use a couple of small cones, 2 chairs, roll out a long piece of webbing or duct tape, etc.) Tell your group members you’re going to read off what the 2 ends of the spectrum represent. For example, “dog lover” at this end (and indicate which end that would be) or “cat lover” at this end (point to the opposite end of the spectrum). You can choose to move to either end or pick somewhere in between. It doesn’t matter where you go, just pick a spot that you feel represents your answer.

Possible questions/categories for this team building activity:

a. Christmas is (The holidays are) awesome! OR Bah Humbug!

b. Griswold Christmas Lights… or Never put lights up

c. Black Friday shopping… or Stay at home and avoid the crowds!

d. I love holiday traditions… or I love to try new things every year!

e. I use wrapping paper… or I use gift bags.

Get more ideas by downloading the free PDF!

f. Create your own spectrum question(s).

After each person has selected their place, ask them their reason for selecting that particular spot on the spectrum (you don’t have to ask everyone – just get a few responses.)

What can we learn from each other during this activity?

4. Deck the Halls Scavenger Hunt

Option #1

Make a list of holiday items and assign points for each item. The larger or more hard to find items should have more points attached to them.

Give each team a list of the items and a time limit to gather items (typically 1-2 hours). If teams are late, they could face disqualification. I would suggest that you have the teams stay together for this activity. You can designate the teams stay within a certain area or allow them to venture out. (Just be aware that the larger the teams, the harder it will be to stay together if they are allowed outside of a certain area.)

See sample items in the PDF (Free download)

Option #2

This is the “bigger and better” approach to a scavenger hunt. Give each team a small item (small Christmas stocking, candy cane, ornament) and ask them that their job is to go out into the community and ask for something “bigger and better” than what they currently have. The idea is for each team to trade up to the most extravagant item that they can find in a certain amount of time.

Usually you give teams an hour or two to complete the task, meet back at a certain time (or face disqualification), and reveal what each team has been able to come up with. You can select a winner based on size of item or most expensive item. You could also give out other awards such as:

  • Most creative item obtained.
  • Biggest item.
  • Weirdest object.
  • Most likely to be found in a Michael Jackson video.
  • Most likely to be found in our boss’s house.
  • Create your own fun awards!

5. Holiday Mapping (Where in the world?)

Instructions:
Imagine the floor where you are is a map of the world. The center of the map is where we are physically. I will ask a series of questions and you move to the spot on the imaginary map that represents your answer to the question. For example, if I asked “Where were you born?” go ahead and move to that spot now. For each question, don’t worry about being able to afford

Additional question ideas:
a. Where in the world would you like to spend the holidays?

b. What other country’s holiday tradition(s) would you like to learn more about?

c. If you could take a 2-week vacation during the holidays (all expenses paid) where would you go? (You could also ask what they would do there once they’ve moved to their spot.)

d. Where in the world would you like to go for the New Year’s celebration?

e. What place would you absolutely NOT want to visit during the holidays? (This could create some laughs!)

f. <Insert your creative question here.>

After each question, call on a few individuals to name the place where they are and you might ask the reason they chose that particular place.

You’ll have great fun with these activities. Don’t forget to download the PDF (FREE) that also includes ideas for the scavenger hunt items above, as well as additional ideas not listed in this post.

What activities are you planning to use? What other holiday activities do you use for team building? Let me know in the comments below!

7 Team Building Games You Can Lead with Hula Hoops

games with hula hoops

If I say, “Hula Hoop,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Quick!

When you think of hula hoops, you probably don’t necessarily think of team building games. You might think of memories of elementary school PE or recess. You might think of a sibling or neighbor who used to enjoy playing with them.

As for me, a number of team activities come to mind! (Surprise, surprise.) Most of these I have experienced and led; however, some of them are new to me and a couple are adapted from other exercises that I have led.

Here are some fun and challenging team building games you can do with hula hoops. Some only require one hoop per group, but some of them require several. Make sure you’ll know how many you need before you start each activity and, as always, let me know how it goes!

7 Team Building Activities with Hula Hoops

1. Hula Hut Relay

With this activity, teams are challenged to first build a hut made from 6 hula hoops, and then they must get their hole team to pass through the hut, one at a time, until everyone has made it through.

Variations: Once team members have successfully completed the first challenge, then there are several other ways to play this game:

a. Have each person go through backwards.

b. Each team member must pass through blindfolded.

c. Once a hole or gap is used, it may not be used again.

Watch this video to see an example:

2. All Aboard

In this challenge, a team is asked to get everyone inside the hula hoop with no hand or feet touching outside the circle. Use varying sizes of hula hoops to adjust to your group size or to make it more challenging.

3. Hula Hut Tower

Similar to the hula hut challenge, the teams make a hula hut but see how high they can stack them. No one has to go through the huts, however. Tallest tower wins bragging rights.

4. Hula Pass Through

Have your group stand in a circle holding hands. This challenge is for the team to pass the hula hoop once around the circle without anyone letting go. Once the team is successful with that, have them pass two different-sized hoops around the circle in opposite directions.

Variations:

a. Add a deflated tire tube to the mix to up the difficulty.

b. Add a ball under the chin (no hand allowed) to the exercise to increase the difficulty even more!

5. Hula Crossing

Similar to a river crossing or junk yard-type challenge, you can use different-sized hula hoops to set up an exercise to move a team from one point to another. To increase the difficulty, use smaller (and fewer) hoops.

Here’s a video of a similar challenge, Hot Chocolate River Crossing:

 

6. Helium Hoop

This is a variation on the helium stick exercise. The object of this exercise is to lower the hula hoop to the ground. Sounds easy, right? This is a lot harder than it looks, and it is because of the rules.

Rule #1 – You may only use your forefingers to touch the hoop.

Rule #2 – Everyone’s fingers (both of them) must be touching the hoop at all times.

It really is a fun and amazingly hard challenge! It pushes the teams to communicate and really focus on working together.

7. Hula Crossing + All Aboard

This last one is a combination of two previous challenges. Combine them to make one extreme challenge. A group starts in one spot and must cross over to the last hoop, where everyone must get on the “island” or perish.

Push your group to use only smaller-sized hoops for both the “crossing” piece of the challenge, and the All Aboard at the end.

Make It Fun and Challenging

There are 2 great reasons to do team building activities of any kind. One is to have an enjoyable experience. The other is to move your team out of their comfort zone and learn something about themselves that can transform both individuals and groups.

The great thing about these challenges is that they are both fun and challenging. You don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. There may be times when you emphasize one over the other, but with these hula hoop activities, you have both enjoyment and difficulty.

Don’t Forget to Debrief

After you finish with each activity, take some time to process through each experience. You can use other activities to debrief, you can use one of many creative debrief exercises, or you can create your own using the hula hoops.

Whatever you decide to do, take your time in processing the activities. Don’t skimp out here. Many of the team’s “aha” moments will happen here, and you can also move a team into other activities based on what is revealed during the debrief process.

 

What Difference Does it Make?

What difference does it make?

There are a lot of team building activities that exist, and there are also a variety of team building companies that boast everything from a Drum Circle to Cooking to get your team engaged, communicating, and more productive. Sure, they may sound like fun, but what makes a team building experience worth the time, money, and effort that is put into it? Read more

How to Choose the Best Team Building Activities, Part 2

ropes course and team building activities

This post is the second in a series.  To read the first post, click here. Team building activities can be a great way to increase your team’s effectiveness, motivation, communication and vision.  When used the right way, many goals can be accomplished and issues worked on that can move a team from being dysfunctional to highly effective.

In the first post, I defined the different types of team building activities, which will help give you a basic understanding of the different types of team challenges that are available to use.  In this post, we will look at the best way to choose these activities, as well as a way to schedule them so that you get maximum impact for your time. Here is the process you can use for choosing team building activities for your team.

Each step in the process is important and should be completed thoroughly.  As always, if you have questions on any part of the process, send me an email, and I’ll be glad to answer any questions.

Step #1: Evaluate your team

Before making a plan or choosing anything, you need to stop and evaluate your team.  Here are some questions to ask during this step:

  • What are the strengths of your group and how do you want to capitalize on those?
  • What are the weaknesses of your team and how do you want to readjust them?
  • What issues does your team have that you want to work on?

For example, you might have some strong leaders but they are not strong in listening to others.  You might have people that have great leadership potential but do not step up as often as you would like. Your team might communicate well, but they need help problem-solving and brainstorming.

Step #2: Set Your Goals

After you’ve evaluated your team and determined some of the issues you want to work on, it’s time to set goals for your team building event.  Whether it’s a half-day outing or a multi-day event, setting goals is an important step and something that should be done with careful consideration.

Based on the list that you developed above, flesh those out into goals that you want to accomplish for your team activities. Many team building activities can be tailored to focus on the specific issue your team needs to work on. Once you have evaluated your team and set your goals, you are now ready to begin choosing your activities for your outing.

In the next post, I will show you how to choose the best activities that will align with your goals, and also how to organize the activities for ultimate benefit. More about that in the next and final post: How to Choose the Best Team Building Activities, Part 3.

How to Choose the Best Team Building Activities, Part 1

High ropes course team building

You have a team retreat or event coming up and need to choose a few team building activities to get your group excited and working well together so you can be uber-productive during the retreat. The best team building exercises build on each other so that your team can accelerate its performance not only during the event but also in the weeks and years to come.

How do you choose which activities to run? Here are a few suggestions on choosing team building activities. We will discuss the different types of team building activities you will encounter (in this post) as well as how to choose the best ones for your team, and what resources are available online to help you.  

First, you need to understand the different kinds of activities that fall under the team building umbrella:

Icebreakers

Icebreaker games accomplish what their name suggests. They help people feel more comfortable with each other and start breaking down walls. These activities are great if you have new team members or if your members are not that familiar with each other.

These serve as “get to know you” type activities and can be used not only in the beginning of a retreat, but they are great to sprinkle throughout the retreat as warm-ups to more intense activities.

Group Team Building Activities & Initiatives

These activities come in a variety of shapes and sizes. From exercises that are more indoor problem- solving challenges and survival simulations to the more active and outdoors, these activities use different elements to get your team working together, communicating more effectively, and can really provide an eye-opening glimpse into how your people actually work together.

For the well-trained facilitator, these events can show the leader how to proceed with the group and also what activities the group needs next (or more of).

Low Ropes Challenges

Depending on where you do your corporate retreat, these may or may not be feasible for your group. Most of the low ropes activities are designed to be facilitated by a trained instructor (someone who knows the in’s and out’s of this type of event) and are run on a specific course.

These include the spider web, junk yard, wobbly woozy, the black hole, and many more. These events usually take longer and you’ll need at least 1/2 a day to make these worth your while.  Though there are some portable elements, many of these are set up as a stationary course that can be worked through as a group.  There is no specific order, but varies upon the team and the group’s goals.  

High Ropes Course

A ropes course requires a trained facilitator; however, if you have the time (at least a half day, but a full day is recommended) it can be a good investment for your team. The types of activities a group would encounter on a high ropes course include the incline log, multi-vine traverse, trapeze jump, and a host of others.

These are some of the most intense (physically and emotionally) exercises a team and individuals can experience, but they are definitely worth the time and expense if a company is willing to invest in them.

Transformational Leadership Exercises

Transformation leadership exercises can be quite intense and can provide a team (or an individual) with some of the most incredible breakthrough’s and “a-ha” moments of any activity listed here. These events are mostly held indoors (but are also often paired with outside challenges).

These also require a facilitator familiar not only with how to set up and perform the activities, but also someone that is familiar with how to process the events afterwards.  For this type of group bonding activity, the debrief process is just as important (if not more so) than the actual activities.  

These exercises are not for the faint of heart. They are usually done on multi-day events where a team needs or wants to dig into specific issues that are holding a team back from being effective.

Depending on the group’s goals and the amount of time you want to spend on them, any of these activities can help launch a team to the next level. Set your goals before your next corporate gathering, and use the activities that will help you achieve your goals whether they are more of the fun, get-to-know-you games or the more intense transformational leadership exercises.

To continue reading part 2, click here.

What are your favorite team building activities?  What team building activity resources do you use?  Talk to me, Goose!  Use the comments below. 

10 Fun Icebreaker Games for Your Team

Here are 10 icebreaker activities you can use with your team.  They all have fairly detailed instructions, but if you need more help, please feel free to contact me here or leave me a voice mail (click the button on the right-hand side of the browser).  I would be glad to answer any questions about any of these activities.  

These icebreaker games can be used by themselves, at a retreat, or you can use them as part of a larger team building event.  I have divided them into three categories:

1. No-Prop Icebreakers

2. Get-to-know-You Icebreakers

3. Problem-Solving Activities

The Purpose of Icebreaker Games

Icebreaker activities are used to “break the ice” and have people begin to interact and get to know each other or help increase team spirit.  They are not meant to be heavy or intense mental or physical exercises (although there is a time and place for those).  

These are meant to be fun and lively to get the group engaged and begin to break down barriers in team issues, such as trust and communication. You won’t solve major problems with these games, but you will begin to break down some walls.

No-prop Icebreakers

1.) Numbered Groups

This is a great activity for dividing groups into a certain number.  If you want people to get in groups of 4, for example, use this game to get them there (but not right away).

Instructions:

Tell the group that, in a moment, you’re going to call out a number, and when you do, they are to get into groups with others, in that exact number.  If there are any remaining, then they will be “out”.  So everyone must do their best to get into these groupings as quickly as possible.

Game time!

Do a couple of practice rounds to get people used to how the activity will go.  Use a variety of large and small numbers (this will depend on your group size as well).  During the practice, people won’t be “out” but remind them that once you start, if they are left out, they will be out.  

Go through several rounds, weeding out people as you go.  You can go until there’s just 2-3 people left and then start over.  When you’re ready to get the groups into their final groups, call out the number you need.  You might have to rearrange some groups at this point, but it’s a fun way to get them there (way more fun than just having them count off 1, 2, 3, etc.)

2.) Man – Gun  – Bear

This game is a full-body version of rock-paper-scissors.  It’s a fun icebreaker game for your team and gets everyone engaged.

Instructions:

Players start out back-to-back.  When the facilitator counts to 3, the players jump around to face each other and pick one of the following choices:

a. Man – This is a man in a karate pose, and as the player turns around, they yell, “Hi-yah!”

b. Gun – Get out your shotgun and yell “ka-boom” as you turn around and face your opponent.

c. Bear – Let out your most ferocious “Grrr!” as you turn around and pose like a bear.

The way this works is the man beats the gun (chops or kicks it out of their oppenent’s hand).

The gun beats the bear.

The bear beats the karate man.

And if you tie, both die.

 Before you start the game, make sure all of the players know the rules and who beats who.  You can say it in chant, and get all of your team to say it with you.  Repeat it a few times to let it sink in.  Then, do two or three practice rounds and let your team figure out their strategy.

Game time!

Once the practice rounds are over, start the game.  The game continues until there are 2 opponents left and there is either one winner, or if the last 2 tie, they both die, and you can start the game over.

 

3.) Massage Line

The purpose of this exercise is to get your team loosened up and more comfortable with each other. I typically use this in a multi-day event as an early-morning wake-up and to start breaking down walls for the challenges to come.

Instructions:  

Have the team stand in one long line, everyone facing the same way and get close enough to reach the shoulders of the person in front of you.

Game time!

Take the team through rubbing the shoulders of the person in front of them.  Start with a good massage rub, have them do some karate chops, some fist pounding (always keeping it non-violent!), scratching and light rubbing in the end.  Make sure they also keep it above the person’s equator!

When you have finished the first round, you can say something like, “In almost every major philosophy or religion, there is a saying that talks about sowing and reaping. And it goes something like this, ‘As you sow, so shall you reap.’”  Have the team about-face and repeat the process to the person that was behind them and is now in front of them.

Get-to-Know-You Icebreaker Activities

4.) Human trains

In this game, you need enough chairs for everyone on your team.  The object of this icebreaker is to get to know the other people in your group.

Potential questions:

a.) What is something unique about you?

b.) What was/is your favorite subject in school?

c.) What is something unique that is in your dorm room (office)?

d.)  If you weren’t working at your current job, what would be your dream job?

e.)  What has been your favorite vacation spot?

f.)  Where would you like to go on vacation that you haven’t visited?

g.)  Who has been your favorite teacher and why?

Instructions:

There is a little bit of setup for this activity.  You need 2 rows of chairs that are side-by-side.  One row faces one way and the other row faces the other way so that people should be sitting side-by-side facing opposite directions (and they should have a teammate in front of and behind them unless they are either first or last).

Only one row of people will move, the other row stays put.  The row that doesn’t move will be the questioners.  The other row will answer the questions.  Each questioner gets an envelope that has strips of paper with the questions above on them.

Play the Game!

The questioner has 2-3 minutes (decide on a specific amount of time) to ask questions and asks as many questions as possible in the time allotted.  Once the time is over, everyone stops and the row that answered the questions moves forward (the person in the front will go to the very back of the chair line).  [Find an illustration for the chairs.]

After the game is over, have people volunteer unique answers that either they or their team mates discovered during the activity.

 

5.) The Name-Action Game

In this icebreaker game, the goal is to learn everyone’s names.  This is done by pairing an action with each person’s name and then repeating it until everyone has introduced themselves.

 Instructions:

Have the team get in a circle and spread out enough to where everyone can move a bit and won’t be crowded.

 Play the Game!

The first person introduces herself, and then picks some kind of motion to represent her.  For example, Sally says, “Hi, I’m Sally” and then does a ballet twirl.  Everyone responds, “Hi Sally”, and then everyone does the ballet twirl. After the second person goes, the group says their name, does the action, and then repeats the first person’s name and action.  This continues until all team members have introduced themselves.

6.) Name Samurai

This game is a good game to get to know people’s names.  The object of the game is to keep from being hit by the person in the middle and becoming “it”.

 Instructions:

Have everyone sit in a circle with feet straight out.  Leave enough room for a person in the middle to move around a bit (but not too much).  Then, have everyone go around the circle and introduce themselves.  Feel free to have them say their name and favorite movie, color, etc.

There will be one person in the middle, and one person who starts the game who is in the circle.  To start the game, the designated person in the circle says their name and then someone else’s name (also in the circle, i.e. ‘Bob to Mary'”).  Then the next person says their name and someone else’s name.  This continues until someone is hit by the Name Samurai.

 Play the Game!

The person in the middle, The Name Samurai, will be given a foam pool noodle and will try to hit the feet of the person who is speaking.  If the Name Samurai succeeds, the person who got hit becomes it, and the person who was it takes their place in the circle. 

Have your team play a few rounds until you feel the team knows everyone’s name.

Problem-solving Icebreaker Activities

7.) Rope handcuffs

This is one of the problem-solving icebreaker activities I’ve used with teens and adults alike.  It can be used to show how “independent” we get and not ask for help if we need it. The object of the game is to remove the rope handcuffs without actually taking them off.  There is a way to do it; although, it is quite amusing to see people try to figure out how to do it!

 Instructions:  For this icebreaker, you need to get some p-cord and make enough rope handcuffs where you have one per player.  The handcuffs are made by tying off a loop at both end of the p-cord (big enough for hands to go through).  You also need to leave at least 12 – 18” between the loops to give each play enough room to maneuver to get the handcuffs off.

Watch this video to see how to setup and play the game, and the secret for removing the rope.

 

8.) Human Knot

This icebreaker activity is a good one to get people starting to touch and get close.  If you have a group that is not familiar with each other, I would not necessarily start with this one.  The object of this activity is to get the group untangled from the knot that you are about to put them in.  (Sometimes, you may end up with 2 different circles, and that’s ok).

Instructions:  

Have your team stand in a circle and then move in to where they can reacch out and grab someone else’s hand. The rules are that they can’t grab both hands of the same person nor can the grab the hand of someone right next to them (it’s better to reach across the circle.)

Play the game:

Once the team has formed the circle and grabbed hands with 2 different people, their job is to get themselves untangled without letting go of any hands.  (Safety note:  If it looks like it might be virtually impossible for somone to get untangled without ripping off a limb or serious injury, give a couple of free passes to let go of hands breifly to avoid injury.)

The activity is over once the group has successfully become untangled.

9.) Group Juggle

If you need one of your icebreaker activities to help a group learn names, this is a great one! The goal of this exercise is to juggle multiple objects around the group without dropping them.

Even though this is an icebreaker, you can use this to talk about goal-setting and problem-solving as well.

Instructions:

Have the group stand in a circle.  The first task of the group is to set the order that they will juggle.  Pick one object that is fairly easy to throw.  Hand it to one of the team members and tell them that they are about to set the order that they will toss the object and this order will remain the same throughout the rest of the game (this is very important).  Here are the rules:

a.  You must toss the object underhand.

b.  You must say the name of the person before you toss it (safety).

c. You cannot hand it or toss it to someone right next to you (tell them it’s better if they toss it across the circle).

d. Everyone gets it one time except for the person it starts with and once everyone else has gotten it one time, the object comes back to the starting place.

e.  If you do not know someone’s name, you may ask, but you must say the name before you throw the object.

f.  You may not switch positions with anyone in the circle or move from your place.

Play the game!

Have the group now set the order, making sure they follow all the rules.  Once the order is set, see if they can get the object all the way around the circle without dropping it.  Have them do this 1 -2 more times without dropping it.  Then tell the group that you want them to do it again and say, “No matter what happens, keep going.”  At this point have the first person start tossing the first object.  Once it gets 2-3 people along, introduce a second object, then a 3rd, 4th, and 5th.

The game gets fun and crazy at this point!  Once they have finished tossing all the objects around the circle, ask them about their experience.  Now, have the group set a goal to see how many objects they can get all the way around the circle without dropping any of them.  [The group can also set a goal to give themselves some leeway.  For example, the group would set a goal of getting 5 objects around the tossing order with 2 drops.]  Most groups will challenge themselves to get all the objects around the group without dropping any.  If they do not and are successful at their goal, challenge them to make a harder goal and go for it!

10.) Warp Speed

The object of this game is to see how quickly team members can pass an object from person to person.  I often go into this icebreaker activity from Group Juggle (above) and have them keep their same order.

 Instructions:

Keeping the same tossing order from the Group Juggle, have your group pick one of the objects that they want to use for this activity.  Tell them the object of the game.

Rules:  The object must touch everyone in the group and the tossing order must remain the same.  Those are now the only 2 rules.

Play the game!

Have a stopwatch or phone ready to time the group.  This can get very fast!  Tell the group when to start and have them yell out when they are done so you know when to stop the clock.  Continue to challenge them until they think they’ve gotten the best time possible, and then challenge them some more!

I’ve had groups complete the task in under 2 seconds, so make sure you have a stopwatch and a quick trigger finger.  Continue to challenge the group to get better and better.  (You can even tell them you’ve heard of groups who have done it in less than 2 seconds to get the competitive juices flowing).

Debriefing Icebreaker Activities

I typically debrief most activities, including some of these listed above. Every moment is a moment that we can learn something about ourselves or others.  Stopping to reflect takes just a few minutes, but can pay off in dividends down the road.

Here are six quick questions you can use to debrief icebreaker games:

1.)  What worked?

2.)  What didn’t work?

3.)  What would you do differently if you were to repeat this activity?

4.) What did you learn about each other?

5.) What did you learn about yourself?

6.) How can you apply what you’ve learned to your work, school, life, etc.?

What other team building activities have you used with your group?  What are your favorites?  Let me know in the comments below!

Image credit: anpet2000 / 123RF Stock Photo

Team Building Activities with Purpose

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We are committed to bringing the best team building and experiential learning resources to the web.  With our experience and resources, we want to encourage team leaders, group leaders, and small business owners to see the value in team building exercises, adventure recreation, and leadership and team development to accomplish greater results in 3 different areas:

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