A great compendium of team building and focusing tools and exercises.


Good introductions to Teamwork and Team Building for Destination Imagination teams:


Object: transport a “radioactive isotope” (tennis ball) from beginning destination without letting the “isotope” touch the floor (reverses the ionization of the sub-floor rebars, resulting in a decomposition of structural integrity and collapse of the floor, or touch any body part. It is the group’s civic and humanitarian responsibility to use the available customized led shield transporters (milk carton with the bottom cut off) to transport the “isotope” up, over and across a few well-chosen obstacles.


  • “Isotope” must touch only the “transporters”.
  • “Isotope” must make contact with the interior of each transporter; i.e., the ball must be transported from jug to jug.


  • Establish a deadline for completion. This is a timed event.
  • Variation, require that everyone choose a place to stand, then remain there – pivot action on one foot allowed.
  • Variation: use balloons and have them have to keep them in the air (not carried) Use as many balloons as team members. More balloons to safety higher the score.


This activity helps team members learn how to communicate an idea and the difficulties one encounters in giving directions.

The Objective: See if each group member can communicate to the remainder of the group (pencil and paper in hand) the geometrical abstraction (see below or make up you own) that has been given him/her.


Four separate pictorial attempts are made with four separate abstractions, following these guidelines:

  1. The presenter vocalizes the abstract illustration with his/her back to the group.
  2. Rotate the group through as presenters for each abstraction.


Scores could be based on number of instructions given to the group. Higher score based on fewest instructions. Scores also based on number of correct abstractions drawn. Scores are not a requirement of this activity only if desired. The leader may wish to do this activity just for learning how to give and listen to instructions or ideas and how a different people hear what others say.

  1. presenter must use verbal instructions only, no gestures and not face the group and no questions may be asked by the group or answered by the presenter.
  2. presenter may use verbal instructions only and face the group with or without questions (try both ways).
  3. presenter may use only gestures no talking or sounds allowed.
  4. presenter may face the audience , talk, gesture, and answer questions.

You may want to have a different variation for each abstraction.


This is an exercise in giving and following directions, listening, and accepting others ideas. Have each student remove his/her shoe (if they have no laces then have them borrow one from a team mate which does. Then have them one at a time give the instructions to the others on how to tie a bow those following directions may not talk or ask questions the direction giver may not demonstrate. Discuss this with the students after all have had a turn. You may want them to practice their own methods before they have to give their directions.


This is a good warm-up activity for skit practice.

The purpose of this activity is to diminish inhibitions.

The coach should ask the student on the right or left the following sequence of questions and also indicate to them what their reply should be. This is a very traditional game.

Coach: “Did you hear what happened to Mrs. O’Grady?”
Student: “No, What happened?”
Coach: “She died.”
Student: “How did she die?”
Coach: “With one cocked eye.”

Now, the coach closes one eye tightly and holds it closed until the game is over. The student who is answering the questions then asks the identical series of questions of the one next to him/her. This continues around the circle until all the participants have “one cocked eye”. When the questioning role is the coach’s again continue to ad embellishments to the way Mrs. O’Grady died. Eg: “With her mouth awry” (twist mouth grotesquely to one side); “Breathing a sigh”; “With her leg held high” (lifting one leg off the floor) and “Waving goodbye”. By the time all of these movements, sounds, and postures have been continued by all members of the circle, physical fatigue and a certain hysterical monotony allows an unselfconscious abandonment to the game.


The purpose if this sit-down stress situation is to give students the opportunity to function efficiently through short periods of discomfort and anxiety.

Equipment: A digital stop watch, and a folded piece of paper (per student) with a short division problem on it (e.g. 713 ÷ 8) or the word COOPERATION. With the instructions do this problem solving to the first decimal or find 7 words in the one on the paper

Divide the group into pairs. Give each pair two pieces of paper one with the math problem and one with the word. Ask each student to hold his/her breath for as long as possible, as his or her partner times the attempt. Record the result and reverse the roles. Have him or her subtract 15 from each result and record the difference. Direct one partner to hold his/her breath again. Once they are hold their breaths, instruct the partners to hand them the piece of paper when they have only 15 seconds left from their original record of breath-holding. The partners are to tell them they must complete the task on the paper before they take another breath (the difference or the original record minus 15). Before a breath is taken have them pretend they are scuba diving and their life depends on doing the task their partner will give them quickly and correctly.

Following the two trials, discuss with the students how they felt. What helped them finish the task without taking a breath, what happened when they opened the paper, etc? Continue to discuss how they might feel when presenting their solution in front of an audience, judges and what they can do individually and as a team to make it less of an uncomfortable experience.


Lay a 4–8 foot long board on the floor. Have the students line up of the board. Then ask them to remain on the board, “plank” and line up according to their birthdates without touching the floor or the sharks will eat them. This requires the students to cooperate and try to build a strategy prior to moving.


  • Ask them to perform the above task nonverbally.
  • Ask the group to line up nonverbally and blindfolded. Start as a blindfolded cluster.
  • Change ways to line up – alphabetically, height, color of shirts, street address, etc.


This activity is to show students that some things depend on how one looks at something not just in doing the task. Initially expect a wide variety of answers. Start with each student working separately. Give them a limited time then start having the work in pairs or trios then as a whole group. As they begin working together, have them brainstorm on how they can use visual aides to solve the Challenge.

Give each student a copy of the multishaped polygon below. Ask them to count the number of triangles they find in the polygon (the correct count is 38). Use their answers to discuss how people see solutions. Talk about how each one came up with his/her answer. Remind them that no negative remarks or actions will be allowed during the discussion. Use this to begin brainstorming about solutions to the team’s Destination Imagination Challenge.



This one is for fun.

This can be very messy.


  • A pan of finger jello (any flavor) cut into 1″ cubes.
  • An elevated platform (step ladder, table, etc.)
  • A plastic mat (table cloth or shower curtain)

Once set up, this is a easy fun activity requiring cooperation, coordination, and a steady mouth. The dropper climbs up any elevated platform with the pan of Jello (pre-cut) in hand. The dropper carefully drops one cubed a time into the wide open mouth below. A ten foot drop makes for a good splat when the catcher is off by an inch.


Material(s) Needed:
Two different colors of carpet squares (the stepping stones), tape
Time required:
20-25 minutes
Team building, process vs. goal oriented
  • Before beginning the activity mark off with lines of tape or rope where the lava bed will be. The bed should be approximately 15-20 feet long depending on the number of participants you have.
  • Explain to participants that their goal is to get all of their team members across the lava bed safely.
  • The group gets half+1 as many stepping-stones as people in their group (i.e., group of 12 or 13 gets 7 stones, 14 gets 8, etc.).
  • The rules are as follows:
    • Everyone must reach the other side safely, using only the stepping-stones.
    • The _______ colored stones can only move forward, the ________ colored stones can move both forward and backward.
    • There can be no piggybacking on top of group members.
    • Once the squares cross the line where the lava bed begins, they must be touched by a body part at all times or they will be lost FOREVER.
    • You have 20 minutes to complete this activity.
  1. The facilitator can make penalties for anyone who dips in the lava bed (i.e. the whole group starts over, that person ismuted/blindfolded or needs to choose another person to be mute/blindfold), but you can assign these as the activity goes on and don’t need to explain them before the activity starts.
  2. 2. Watch the first stepping-stone VERY carefully. It is very likely that they will forget about the rule that a body part needs to be touching it at all times and will throw it on the lava bed and then put their foot down. If this happens, take away that carpet square away immediately.
  3. 3. If the group loses too many carpet squares to make it across the lava bed successfully, you can offer the chance to “buy” back a square by everyone or one person doing something ridiculous. Suggestions are to sing and dance to a popular song, I’m a little teapot, or anything else you can think of.
Debrief/ Discussion Questions:
  1. How did it feel to be successful/ unsuccessful in completing this activity?
  2. How did it feel to have to start over?
  3. How did it feel to have stepping stones taken away (to get them back)?
  4. How did your team come to consensus during this activity? Did you come to consensus at all?
  5. How did it feel to be muted/ blind? (to have to mute/ blind another person)?
  6. Why did you choose to follow _______’s strategy to cross the lava bed?
  7. How well do you feel your team communicated during this activity?
  8. How concerned were you with completing the goal?
  9. How much time did your team spend planning your strategy vs. actually attempting to complete the goal Was there too much planning? Not enough?
  10. How did your team react to the time restrictions? Were they helpful or a hindrance?


Have the group try to spell out words or sayings using their bodies as letters. (Forming letters with fingers is not allowed) This can be done as one large. group or two small groups one which tries to figure out what has beers spelled If the whole group works together then the coach should have them draw the word or phrase from a heat (they can be ones the students wrote so the coach is in the dark). The emphasis is on team work and cooperation. there should be a time limit for discussion and planning and a time limit for spelling the word or phrase.


Tape a square, large en tough fear the whale team in which tostand with elbow room, on the floor. This is easier on a carpeted floor. Explain to the students that they are on a sinking ship end they must keep everyone on the ship to keep from being eating by the sharks in the area outside of the taped square. Once the students are comfortable make the square smaller. Proceed shrinking the ‘ship” after the team has readjusted to the smaller square. Each time the square is made smaller the students must remain in the taped sections of the ‘ship”. Encourage the students to worktogether and in a positive manner.

A similar activity to this is to try to have all the students stand on & platform 2 feet square and 4 inches off the floor.


Challenge: To pick up a 12 or. glass bottle with a plastic straw.

Rules: The bottle must remain off the floor, desk, etc, for five seconds. No other props are allowed: one bottle per straw. No knots are allowed to be tied in the straw.

Possible Solution Bend the straw about V3 of the way down, or 1/3 of the way up. Stick the bent straw into the bottle opening until the straw flips partially open and seats itself around the interior shoulder of the bottle. Lift the straw and the bottle should follow.


Set up a people sized bowling pin layout on the floor. Givethe team enough markers so that team member and markers total 9. The task is to have the team and the markers assume positions on the layout on the floor. Then they are to begin jumping pins (teammates or markers) (any pin with any adjacent pin to an empty apace) until any further jumping is impossible, If only one pin is left this is the best. Encourage teamwork and cooperation Allow them time before stepping on to the layout to discuss their initial arrangement and strategy.


Try to pass a # 10 can (empty) from foot to foot (shoes on) around a seated people circle. Time this event to add excitement.

Variations: Shoes off

Let the can touch the floor between feet

Use two cans and start them in opposite directions.


A) This is an unusual month – Santa, snow, and so on. This is an unusual paragraph, too. How quickly can you find out what is so uncommon about it? It looks so ordinary that you may think nothing is odd about it until you match it with most paragraphs this long. If you put your mind to it and study it you will find out, but nobody may assist you; do it without any coaching. Go to work and try your skill at figuring it out – it’s usually about half an hour. Good luck – and don’t blow your cool.

B) (Begin by saying Gooney likes the MOON but he doesn’t like the SUN. The object of the game is for your audience to guess why Gooney likes some things but doesn’t like the others.) Gooney likes BILL, but he doesn’t like JOHN. Gooney likes FEET but he doesn’t like SHOES. Gooney lilies the color YELLOW but he doesn’t like BLUE. Gooney likes TOOLS, but he doesn’t like GEAR  Gooney’s favorite word is BOOKKEEPING, He likes BEER, but not BREW.

( Answers: The letter E. is not used anywhere in the paragraph. (Gooney likes any word with double adjacent letters.)


Object: all the team members are to make physical contact with an empty pop can without making physical contact with one another.

One person’s nose must be touching the can. Hair more than 4 inches from the head, does not count as a point of contact.


Objective: To place a piece of rope as a group in the configuration of an equalsided square, triangle, etc., while blindfolded

Procedure: The area should be free of arty obstacles. A rope or string forty feet brag may be used the team members put onthe blindfolds and arc given the rope. They must keep at least one hand on the rope throughout the Challenge when they believe the rope is in the required shape they may remove their blindfolds.


In an open area, use tape, chalk, or carpet squares to make a railroad with 7 spaces. Line up 6 members of the team in groups of 3 with the groups facing each other, with an empty space in between.

The two groups then attempt to switch positions, following these rules:

  1. No one may pass a teammate from his/her group of three, When the Challenge is completed, each threesome will be in the order in which they began.
  2. A person may move into an open space immediately in front of him/her.
  3. Backward moves are not allowed.
  4. A person may not step around someone from the opposite threesome to move into an open space.
  5. Only one person out of the entire group should be moving at a time.
  6. Stepping around a group of two or more people from the opposite threesome to reach an open space is not allowed

It may require several attempts before solving the Challenge. Because it is primarily a mental challenge rather then a physical one, it is better suited to older students — younger students may become frustrated while trying to solve it.

This can also be done with 4 on each side.


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