Sample Team Building Exercises

Examples of Terrapin Adventure’s Team Building Goals and Exercises

At Terrapin Adventures, our games and exercises are all about developing and improving relationships. We strive to create some “aha” moments for participants as they learn, laugh, and share. Often, groups learn more when they fail as we debrief each exercise asking participants:

  1. How did it go? What worked well and what did not work out so well?
  2. What would you do differently?
  3. How does this apply to your work and personal life?

Objective: Break The Ice
TA Exercise: Knee Tag. Participants play an elimination tag game to get people moving and having fun.
TA Exercise: Hula Hoop Pass. Participant in a circle holding hands must pass a hula-hoop between people without letting go. This loosens people up and breaks some personal space boundaries.

Objective: Getting To Know Each Other Better
TA Exercise: Dance Machine. Click here to see video.
Participants must introduce themselves, and share something about themselves that is not known. Then they must share their dance move, which the other participants must replicate.
TA Exercise: Web Rollup. Each member must talk about themselves until piece of webbing rolled up.

Objective: Building Confidence in Self and Your Team
TA Exercise Conquer Your Fear of Heights: Taking on one, two or all three levels of the high ropes challenge course to conquer ones fear and anxiety. For a group confidence, small teams belay one member up the climbing tower. For added challenge, we sometimes blindfold one of the participants so they have to communicate clearly and trust their fellow participants.

Objective: To Communicate Clearly And Understand The Nuances of Verbal And Non-Verbal Communication
TA Exercise: Toss A Name
Standing in a circle, participants must toss soft objects around the circle in a specific order. Participants learn how to provide verbal and non-verbal communication.

Objective: Learning How To Focus And Be Productive In A Chaotic/Stressful Environment
TA Exercise: Whichit-Whosit
Participants must pass objects around a circle keeping the message clear.

Objective: Learn How To Lead, Listen and Follow
TA Exercise: Rear View Mirror

Involves three different participants.

  1. Seeker (Staff Member) – A person that cannot see, but is tasked with searching for an object to build something with.
  2. Talker (Middle Manager)- Has back to seeker but is taking information from the Director, while relaying that information to the Seeker.
  3. Directors (Sr. Executives) – Cannot talk, but can see the Seeker and must formulate and convey their plan to the Talker.

The directors communicate to the talker non-verbally.  The talker is taking that information and telling the seeker where to go & what to do.  The seeker is listening to the talker and trying execute the instructions. The object is to clearly communicate the goals and objectives. This game is to mimic what happens in the workplace when communication is not perfect between work groups or people are not in same physical space. The focus is to emphasize how important clear communication is and how the workers are dependent on each other to execute an order and produce quality output. This exercise can help demonstrate the importance of clear communication up and down the chain of command.

Objective: Be Open To Other Points of View
TA Exercise: Bull Ring Click here to see video
The group must lift an object in the center of a ring attached with string and move it to another location. However, because of their physical location, everyone has a different point of view and needs to share and accept that things look different depending on your vantage point. This develops cooperation and emphasizes equality in the work process.

Objective: Stimulate Creative Problem Solving
TA Exercise: Egg Drop
Teams are given the same amount of raw materials and a time limit and they must construct a structure to protect and egg as it is dropped from a specified height. This develops creative problem solving, teamwork and execution of a plan.
TA Exercise: Magic Carpet
The group must flip a tarp over without getting off it. This exercise also bursts some of the personal bubble space and silos that people operate in.
TA Exercise: Human Brain
Participants form a circle and grab the hand of the person opposite them and then the group must unwind themselves without letting go. This develops teamwork and cooperation. 

Objective: Collaborate Effectively
TA Exercise: Australian Trolley Click here to see video
Participants must work in unison to travel a distance along the ground while attached to a couple of 2/4’s with strings.
TA Exercise: Pipeline
Groups must work together to transport a marble through a pipeline they construct and negotiate some obstacles in the process.
TA Exercise: Master Weaving Project Click here to see video
Imagine a large spider web. In order to successfully pass through the hazard, the group must thread a piece of knotted webbing through the openings in a particular order without the webbing or participants touching the side of the web. To add complexity, we often blindfold half the participants so that the team must figure out how to communicate clearly and work with constraints.

TA Exercise: Traffic JamPeople are in a line on spaces marked with a piece of paper with one open space and the people on the left side must move to the right in order and visa versa. This is like a chess match as each person can only move in certain ways. It focuses on how your moves affect others in your team and only if you develop a plan and think, as a unit will you be successful.

Objective: Develop or Improve Trust
TA Exercise: Mousetrap
Participants are put into small groups and teammates must verbally instruct team members how to place their hand on a live mousetrap while blindfolded. This exercise instills the importance of specificity in communication and feedback loops to build trusting relationships.
TA Exercise: Wind in the Willows
Participants learn how many hands make light while they first learn how to properly spot for each other. Then one participant at a time trusts the group to catch them as they fall backwards and are lifted up in the air above the spotters heads.
TA Exercise: Wild Woozy. Click here to see video
After learning how to spot, two people at a time get up on a triangle 1 foot off the ground and use each other for support as they go from the apex to the base of the triangle with their teammates for spotting support. We like to call this exercise total commitment, as participants must really commit to each other to be successful.

Objective: Ability to deal with change, constructive conflict, deadlines, constraints.
TA Exercise: Nitro Crossing Click here to see video
Team must cross an imaginary obstacle on a tarzan swing 2 feet off the ground getting all team members across safely to stand on some raised platforms. Often during an exercise we will assess the ability of the group and make harder or easier depending on their progress during the day. On this exercise we may remove the number of landing spots or have people lose the ability to stand on a leg if they touch the hazard. In other instances we may blindfold someone or impose a time constraint. 

Objective: Ability To Develop And Execute A Plan
TA Exercise: Whale Watch
All the members of the team must get on and stay balanced on an unstable platform one foot off the ground and then get off it without the platform touching the ground. The key with this and many exercises is to think, plan and look at alternative ways to solve a problem before jumping in.

Objective: Opening People’s Perspective
TA Exercise: Welcome To The Village
In two different versions of this exercise, the group must figure out the key to a riddle by looking beyond the obvious to be accepted into the village.

Objective: Collaborating Effectively on Complex Tasks
TA Exercise: Team Build Click here to see pictures
Members of team must work together to build an object. Examples of items teams build are a boat made of cardboard and duct tape which a team member must navigate across the Little Patuxent River. Another project is to build a bicycle which is then donated to a local charity