15 Teamwork Activities For Any Group
By Toni Hoy
Updated December 19, 2018
Reviewer Rashonda Douthit , LCSW
Most people look at teamwork challenges as a chore. They are either seen as uncomfortable situations which force people together or just another chance for someone to shine brighter than everyone else. Here are 15 teamwork activities for any group, which require everyone to take part. They range from the creative to the athletic, the empathetic to brainy, and much more.
1. PB & J Challenge
The purpose of the Peanut Butter and Jelly Challenge is to promote communication and critical thinking skills within your group. Have everyone find a partner and give each participant a sheet of paper and a pencil.
Instruct each person to write the most detailed instructions they can for making peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Encourage them to think about every single step involved. Once done, have everyone swap instructions with their partner.
Now the fun can begin. Give each person everything they need to make their sandwich, but let them know they can only use the instructions provided by their partner as their guide. They cannot pick up, move, open, or use any supplies or ingredients that were not written as so, nor can they add or take away any steps.
Hilarity will ensue if someone has forgotten, "open the bread bag," "pick up the knife," or "open the can of peanut butter." See if anyone successfully makes it to the end. This challenge is a wake-up call for being clear with words.
2. Lego Matching
For this exercise, have your group split into pairs. One partner will be the "builder," the other the "speaker." Put a divider between them so they can no longer see one another and give each person the same Legos. Color, shape, size, style, and number must be identical.
The activity will begin with the speaking partner creating a Lego structure on their side of the divider. The "builder" should not see any of the activity taking place. Once complete, the "speaker" will then try to guide the "builder" in replicating the structure on their side, without seeing the "builders" progress. However, there is a catch. The "builder" cannot ask questions. They must go off the instructions of the "speaker" as best as they can.
Once complete, both structures should be the same in color, shape, and orientation. When the "builder" is finished, remove the divider so both parties can see how closely their structures match. It is unlikely they will be exact replicas, but the pair that gets the closest can officially be crowned the winner.
3. Relay Races
Relay races are a tried and true method for encouraging teamwork. You can stick with a traditional approach like a sack race or make up your own. Simply divide your course, so the first participant only races to the first milestone, at which point they can hand off their place in the race to a second runner, and so on. The team whose final member crosses the finish line first wins. Make the race as simple or as complex as you like.
4. Scavenger Hunt
Everyone enjoys a scavenger hunt, and they are perfect opportunities to encourage teamwork and communication. There is no limit to scavenger hunt activities, so choose a theme and get started.
For scavenger hunts involving kids, it is wise to keep the search area small. Stick to a home, classroom, or park to hide your clues. Use quotes from books or movies, or riddles to guide your group to the "treasure."
Scavenger hunts for adults can get more complicated. They can cover an entire building, neighborhood, or even city. Use technology to incorporate information from Google, QR codes, or social media. Time it or add physical challenges to create even more pressure to work together.
Food brings people together, and it is no different for small groups. Host a dinner for your team to give them some down time to get to know one another better. Take the bonding to the next level by having your group prepare the meal together themselves. Urge them to introduce their teammates to their traditions and culture through food, so they learn something new about each other.
6. Escape Room
Escape rooms are increasingly popular. This form of live-action entertainment immerses your group in a real-world experience they have to get out of. They will need to solve clues, puzzles, and codes together that might be in any area of the room, and they only have a set amount of time to do so.
Some escape rooms are designed for thrills, putting your team in situations that are scary or "dangerous." Others, are more of a test for the mind, relying on complex clues instead of fright. Anyone can participate in an escape room challenge, and it is likely you will need a range of skills and knowledge to be successful. Perfect for friends, co-workers, family members, or sports teams, if you have not tried an escape room yet, do not wait any longer.
Get your team to connect through creativity. Purchase a large canvas, paints, and brushes, and let them create a mural together for their work, practice, or lounge space. Develop a theme for the piece that reflects the goals, attitude, and individual members of the team. Display it proudly where they can see it often to remind them of the beauty of working together.
8. Egg Race
There are many variations of an egg-race, but few are as thrilling as the original. For this activity, have your group work in pairs. One partner will be blindfolded and will hold a spoon in front of them. The other partner will act as their eyes, guiding them to the finish line with detailed instructions of where to walk, when to stop, and what to avoid.
Place an egg in the spoon of the blindfolded participant. On the count of "3" let the race begin. To make it even more interesting, add obstacles to the course, like cones or tires that the blindfolded racer must navigate. Whoever holds on to their egg longest is the winner.
9. Charity Run
Have your team come together for the greater good. Host a charity run, where all the money raised by each participant goes to a mutually agreed upon cause. Give your team even more incentive to work toward their common goal by offering a prize if they can raise a set amount of money. This will get not only them, but their family and friends involved as well.
Sometimes when a team struggles with working together, a little perspective can go along way. Organize for your group to serve the needy. Schedule some time in a soup kitchen, visit the elderly in a nursing home or volunteer in a children's hospital. Not only will they make someone else's day a little bit brighter, but they will also develop a newfound appreciation for how important it is to have one another.
11. Face Off
There's no shortage of team building skills when it comes to sports games. Have your team challenge another to test their ability to work together. Choose a sport that is easy for everyone involved to play. Bowling, volleyball, and dodgeball are all good places to start. To promote even more unity, come up with a team name, a "uniform" and cheer. If they win, reward them as you see fit.
12. Show And Tell
You probably haven't participated in the show and tell since elementary school, but it is a great strategy for teamwork. Teamwork is not only about communication, efficiency, or accountability; it also requires a desire for people to work with and care for one another.
Ask the people in your group to bring in one of their most treasured possessions. One by one, allow them to share the story behind their object and why it matters so much to them. By the end of the activity, your team will likely find common interests they did not know they had, and know a few new interesting facts about one another.
13. Human Knot
The Human Knot is another well-known team building activity, and it is one of the most entertaining. For this exercise, have your team stand close together in a circle.
At the same time, each member of the group will reach with their right hand, and grab the hand of someone else that is across from them. Then, they will do the same with the left. Make sure no one is holding the hand of either person directly next to them.
Now, it is up to your team to decide how to untangle themselves from one another. No one can let go of each other's hands at any point, but, it is okay to readjust grip if a position becomes too uncomfortable. This exercise will force your teammates to work together and come up with creative ideas. Encourage everyone to get involved, so it is not up to one person to solve the puzzle.
The theatre is another creative outlet for your team, and it is versatile enough to use in any group or setting. For children, have them reenact their favorite stories, or create one of their own. For adults, ask them to do a comedy sketch or teach one another a lesson or skill on the stage.
To make the project even more collaborative, have your group write the story, create the costumes, and be in charge of the set. This is a great way to bring an otherwise dull topic to life like compliance procedures in an office or safety training in a classroom.
Last but not least, have a frank discussion about what is going right and wrong in the team. When a married couple struggles, they reach out to licensed counselors to find problem-solving strategies to overcome their differences. Groups of any size deal with the same issues and benefit from working through their problems just the same.
If two members of the team cannot get along, arrange for them to attend mediation. If the group as a whole is not running smoothly, host an open forum where everyone can speak their mind and offer suggestions with no negative consequences. Mutual understanding is key for teamwork, and without it, no game or activity will be helpful.
As you can see, there are many activities to try when it comes to teamwork. Use strategies like these often to see the best results. Do not forget to have a range of activities to accommodate all members of your group. Whether artistic, athletic or clever, everyone's strengths will contribute in some way.