1’ x 1’ squares of cardboard or foam or rubber baseball bases work well also(half to two-thirds as many squares as people in the group)
You can also substitute 8.5" x 11" pieces of paper
2 pieces of rope (or masking tape or 4 cones)
Several Blindfolds (optional)
Create a river by marking two river banks with the rope. Make the river wide enough to be a challenge for the group to get from one side to the other (look at about 15 – 25 ft.). Distribute the cardboard squares – 1 piece for every 2 people.
The object of the activity is to get all members of the group safely across the river. They must go as one big group, not multiple smaller ones. Also stress that everyone must be on the river before anyone can get off the river, forcing the entire group to be engaged at once. Participants cannot touch the water (floor/grass) and therefore must use rafts (cardboard squares) to cross. The water is filled with piranhas. Therefore if someone loses their balance and touches a hand in the water it gets eaten(put behind the back). Same goes for a foot. If a person completely comes off the raft they are gone and since this is a team exercise everyone must start over. I recommend using this motto with the group, "start as a team end as a team." You can also be creative and add challenges in as the group crosses. For instance you can say a fish jumped up and tail slapped someone in the eyes so now they cannot see(blindfolded). Tell them the river is acidic and when two people share a raft it tipped and now their legs are fused together(tie ankles together). Use these tools to help take away the natural leaders or more outspoken participants and it forces the others to step up and take on more substantial roles. No scooting or sliding on the squares. This can be a safety issue and it emphasizes individual work versus teamwork. Rafts must be in contact with a human at all times or they will be swept away with the current. Once the group has started the process, your role is to take cardboard squares that are “swept away by the current” and to watch for safety issues. Use this to your advantage as well. The participants will invariably slip up and leave some rafts here or there with no one contacting them, those you should steal. When the first group members get to the other side immediately start to encourage them to hurry and get off the river. Nearly every time the first few people will rush off the rafts leaving them unattended for you to steal and stranding some of their team-mates. Work this into your debrief, when working with a team you can't forget about your mates. just because you have made it to the finish line someone else may not have.
Participants must stay in constant contact
Each raft represents a symbol named by participants
The tiles can only go forward. They cannot move backwards
No one can finish until everyone has left the “bank” of the river
Choose to add challenges like muting individuals, using only 1 arm, eyes closed/blindfolded, no one can talk, others can be "gators" in the river and try to impede those crossing the river, stand in front of the group with arms outstretched to simulate tree they must go around.
Give group an object that they need to carry with them to safety and discuss what that might represent
Create situations for them to draw from that are connected directly to their group
What happened during the process? What worked? What didn’t or what hindered the process?
What leadership was demonstrated during the process? How so? What did you observe?
What were the individual roles people played? Were members comfortable with their roles?
Who knew what the process for crossing was? Who didn’t? How did you communicate the plans to group members?
What might the different aspects of the exercise represent in your group: the squares, the river, the loss of squares, the facilitator, etc?
When the first people rushed off the river and stranded some of you how did that feel?
See no evil & hear no evil
Materials: Chairs, cones, anything that can create an obstruction for an obstacle course.
Set Up: Set up obstructions in an open area.
Directions: Divide the group into smaller groups of three. One group member will be blindfolded and have to maneuver through an obstacle course. One group member can see the first one and the obstacle course but cannot speak. The last group member can speak but is not allowed to see the blindfolded group member or the obstacle course. The group member whom cannot speak must use gestures, hand signals, or any form of non verbal communication (pen and paper is not allowed) to tell the group member who can speak what directions to give the blindfolded group member to successfully navigate the obstacle course. The first sub-group to successfully navigate the obstacle course wins.
Debrief: Discuss what went right/wrong and what communication barriers the groups experienced. Relate this to communication successes/obstacles in your organization.
Nametags, Marker, List of Celebrity Names or demographic characteristics (see variation below)
Writing out the names on the tags ahead of time saves time, and also have brief bios of the people to help with the debrief.
From the participants perspective, the object of this activity is for each group member to discover the personality that is written on their own back. You begin by assigning each group member a “personality” by sticking a nametag with the name of a famous person or character to his or her back. DO NOT show this nametag to the participant! Participants should be able to view the personalities of all other group members, just not their own. You then instruct the group to mingle, and ask questions of the other "guests at the party." Individuals can ask yes or no questions about their personalities of others in the group, such as “Am I a woman? Am I a singer? Etc. Instruct participants to ask each member of the group only one question at a time, moving on to another person after each question. Encourage participants not to offer hints.
You can also use this activity to address issues of stereotypes by using an intentionally diverse group of name tags. For this variant the facilitator goes around to the group and sticks the name tags to the participants foreheads. When each participant has received their label ask the participants to introduce themselves and to shake hands with others. Participants try to guess what their label is by the way they are treated by others. Possible labels might be:
Cheerleader * Football Player
Person in a wheelchair * Trash Collector
Catholic priest * Mechanic
Single teenage mother * Lifeguard
Homeless person * Walmart Greeter
Baseball Player * Banker
Hearing impaired person * Race Car Driver
Pediatrician * Professional Wrestler
American Idol winner
* Teacher * Coach
You can also use creatures in nature instead of personalities.
What was challenging about this activity?
What did you notice about the kinds of questions you or others asked?
Return to home page