Home | Links | Ideas | FAQ's | Search | Site Map

If you need help NOW, click HERE for hot line numbers in several countries

youthwork activities


Group Problem Solving Initiatives

Try some of these ideas to get your thinking and working together!

To print these activities for future reference, go to Text Only Version

To divide into small groups in ways that are more fun than just counting off, click here.

Warm Up Activities.

General Group Activities

Please submit the form below to have your activities listed here.
Ideas from youth are especially welcome.
Name of the activity:
Equipment needed:
Description of the activity:
Your name:
(enter to be listed as the contributor)
Email or web page: (enter if you want a link)

Scroll through the page to find an interesting and fun new activity

Solve the Crime
Contributed by Jeanne
Equipment: None
Description: You tell the group a series of clues to describe "the crime scene". Everyone asks yes and no questions until they solve the crime.
The Crime Scene: There is a small room. There is a window in the room that is open. There is a table in the room. There is broken glass on the floor. There is also water all over the floor. There are two dead bodies on the floor. What happened?

Answer: The wind blew a fish bowl off the table and the two dead bodies are fish.
Toxic Waste
Contributed by Jonesy
Equipment: Paper (for writing down thoughts and ideas), 8 litre container, 5 litre container, 3 litre container
Description: The group has an eight litre container full of toxic waste and two empty containers, one 3 litres and the other one 5 litres. They must split the eight litres into two of the containers, each with exactly four litres in them. See below for the answer, its quite tricky.

  8 Litre Container 5 Litre Container 3 Litre Container
Pour the 8 litres into the 3 litres leaving 5 0 3
Pour the three into the 5 litre leaving 5 3 0
Pour the 5 litres into the 3 litres leaving 2 3 3
Pour the three into the 5 litres leaving 2 5 1
Pour the five back into the 8 leaving 7 0 1
Pour the 1 from the 3 to the 5 leaving 7 1 0
Pour the seven into the 3 leaving 4 1 3
Pour the one from the 3 into the 5 leaving 4 4 0

Contributed by Craig Murray
Equipment: None
Description: 2 staff members go and hide. The youth persons, in 2 teams have to go and find staff members and bring them back safely. The staff members pretend that they have some kind of injury. Its all about teamwork and getting them to work together.
Paper Folding
Contributed by Sophie Bryce
Equipment: Several sheets of large paper (A2) - chairs and tables should be available around the room but should not be pointed out to the young people
Description: Split the young people into groups of four or five. Place a piece of paper in front of each group and tell them they have five seconds to get off the floor.(group automatically jump onto paper) Then tell the group that you want them to fold the paper in half and they then have another five seconds to get off the floor...repeat this until they have folded the paper 6 or more times. The idea of the game is that the young people will automatically fold the paper and stand on it using each other as supports when all they actually had to do was fold the paper as instructed then get off the floor (they could of sat on a chair or table in the room!!!)
Walk the Plank
Contributed by Lisa Pearce.
Equipment: 4-2x6 boards
Description: Two teams of at least 3-4 people use two boards to cross a large grass or blacktop space. The team members must cooperate in passing one board forward while standing on the other in single file. If a team member steps off the board into "shark infested water" the team goes back to the starting line. Promotes coordination, communication, teamwork and cooperation
Mission Impossible
Contributed by anonymous
Equipment: Ball of String
Description: This is done with younger age groups but the older ones sometimes have a good laugh I always do. Attatch string to one end of a room tie it at diffrent places and heights to form a giant spider web.(Designing the web is often enjoyed the most) Depending how complex your web is you can blind fold and then they can instruct their mates through the web to the other side of the room. Or we play mission impossible theme tune dim the lights and have challanges to see who can get through to the other side of the room without touching the 'laser beams'
Contributed by Ben Jammin
Equipment: small rug or a sheet big enough for your group to stand on comfortably
Description: Have the group stand on the rug. They must flip the rug over with out steping off it. Simple rite? Try it and see
Bridge It
Contributed by Andrew Hill
Equipment: straws, tape, canes, string, paperclips, balloons, a4 paper, plastercine (mouldable material for weighting), toy money, a minuture man (or suitable object for the moving) and a suitable table or surface
Description: This is based on a well known activity where the participants have to move an object from one place to another without touching it. Divide your surface into 3 strips, making the centre strip the largest - this is your 'cavern' that can not be touched. The teams (this is best done competatively but not essential) have to move the 'man' from one end of the surface to the other without touching him (after the initial setup) or allowing him to touch the 'cavern' area. The limitations are that they are given a set budget and have to buy the items they need which are individualy priced. There are two sucess catagories; complete the task and complete the task within the budget. (third criteria for competative challenge is the team who completes the task using the least amount of their budget) For added interest and challenge you can have a scoring system offering points for sucess, quality of building, overal design and 'smothness' of execution.
Alphabet Song
Contributed by Carrie H.
Equipment: None
Description: The group sits in a circle. One member starts by saying the letter A. No one is designated to continue the alphabet. The group members just keep saying the letters until the alphabet is complete. However, the trick is for only one person to say each letter. If more than one person say a letter, then the group needs to start the alphabet over again.

BLT and Friends (Blind Lame Talker)
Contributed by Ang
Equipment: tape, blindfold and something to bind feet together such as shoelaces, scarf, or tie.
Description: Goals may include but are not limited to: Discovering the benefits of team work; discussing spiritual gifts; viewing handicaps in a new light; Discussing strengths and weaknesses...
Explaination and setup: Minimum 3 participants. Each person will be assigned an ability: either sight, speach or locomotion, and will be made disabled in the other two abilities. For example if you were assigned sight you would then have your feet bound together and your mouth taped shut to represent being paralized from the waist down and being unable to create any sound with the vocal cords.
Object: In teams of three (one person from each ability) participants must work together to navigate their entire team from one location to another

Now What?
Contributed by Sandra
Equipment: Flip charts, markers, index cards or paper, pens
Description: This is a good way to end an informational or educational presentation.
Divide into groups of 6 - 8 people each. The small groups brainstorm 6 to 8 practical ways the new informaton can be used in their work or lives. Ideas are written on flip chart paper and presented to the large group.
Cross The River
Contributed by RubberBullets
Equipment: 5 sheets of white paper, masking tape, and a BMW
Description: Make 2 banks of your river using the masking tape. Your shores need to be at least 3 meters apart. Then tell your young folks that they need to get across this chocolate river using only team work and 5 marshmallows (sheets of paper). However, if they leave a marshmallow (ie. without a foot on it) in the river then it gets washed downstream. once everyone is across - they have won a BMW
Save The Egg
Version 1
Contributed by Andy Kerr
Equipment: An egg, two balloons, a roll of selotape, some elastic bands,two straws and 4 pieces of paper
Description: The group has 20 mins to make a vehicle to carry the egg. The vehicle should be strong enough to withstand a fifteen foot drop onto concrete. Can you save the egg from cracking?

Version 2
Contributed by April
Equipment: raw egg, 15 drinking staws, 2 paper clips, 1 sheet of notebook paper, 2 rubber bands, 50cm of masking tape or scotch tape, and 50cm of string
Description: Using the materials listed, design and build a container that will protect a raw egg from breaking when dropped from 8 feet
Untying The Knot
Contributed by Peggy Reed
Equipment: None
Description: A group activity to bring together cohesiveness, problem-solving skills, active listening and leadership skills. A group of people young or old, the more the better, form a circle, they then put their right hand into the circle and grap a person's hand across from them. They then put in their left hand and choose another's hand from across the circle. Then the group leader instructs the group they have no more than 10 to 15 minutes to form one big circle without letting go of any one hands works well with all age groups
Community Project - Asteroids
Contributed by Scotty
Equipment: Circles made from rope of various sizes(1-3 feet in diameter, larger for bigger group)
Description: Team members have a "community project" to complete. i.e. big carnival, sports tournament, etc. and need the help of many community agencies/organizations- represented by the circles. Each team member must come up with ideas re/ who's help they will need to make the event successful. When a team member suggests a person or organization who's help they may need, they are given a circle. Once each team member has a circle, they must place both of their feet "inside the cylinder created by the circle" (in other words starting at the ground and going infinitely high-but don't give them those instructions) If everyone is within their circle you are ready to begin. You may have everyone switch to a new circle, as you take one away. Wait until all the feet are inside the circles again before another switch is made. Removing circles can represent people or organizations that can no longer help with the event, and the group must try to "pull it off" without them. Participants will begin to become crowded within the circles (be sure to leave a large one for the end). Eventually groups may figure out that only their feet must be within the circle, and they may sit around the large circle with their feet piled up within it. Making their event successful. I have many other ideas- Let me know if you have some specific group needs and I can help.
Contributed by Darin Ulmer
Equipment: none
Guidelines: Have the group start as they are, do not ask them to circle up or sit down. Just ask the participants to all get in the exact same position, every body part placed identically to everyone else's on the team. "We can go on as soon as everyone complies."
Processing: Who was eventually copied by everyone else and why? What steps can you identify that you went through as you attempted to conform to the same position that everyone was in? How comfortable was it to become exactly like everyone else or to go along with the peer pressure? Who resisted and why?
The Results Driven Structure
Another from Darin Ulmer
Equipment: blocks or Legos or other building materials
Guidelines: Half of the group is sightless. I usually just have them close their eyes on the honor system for safety purposes. The sighted half is without speech but each person can make a unique noise (e.g. one person may snap their fingers, another may clap, another may thump their cheek, another may whistle, etc.,). A structure is built quickly by the facilitator in the middle of the room. The speechless members may study it for up to one minute and then the facilitator will disassemble the structure and place the pieces around the room. The sightless team members may touch the building materials and may speak. The speechless team members may see and make noises, but may not touch the sightless persons nor the building materials. The team is to reassemble the structure as it was originally built by the facilitator.
What was this like in your life/job/organization?
How did it feel to be without sight/speech?
How did the team reach the solution?
Who took the lead and what did they do that was most effective?
A great indoor/rainy day activity passed on by the Florida State University Challenge Course.
Equipment: A box of big Legos or Tinker Toys for each team plus one extra (must be equal in terms of shapes, colors and sizes)
Preparation: Make a "creation" with one box of blocks and put it in a room where it can not be seen by the participants
Guidelines: To reproduce the unseen "creation" exactly.
Divide the participants into groups or keep as one, depending on size. Each group selects a Principal, Vice-Principal and a Secretary and is then given a box of blocks to assemble into the "creation" with the following conditions. We have separate tiny rooms for all this to take place. It is fun and the kids really talk about communication, frustration, etc.
This is also a great initiative for corporate groups. A time limit is usually necessary, maybe 35-45 minutes, but it can go longer depending on the group.
Rope Shapes
Contributed by Carl.
The goal of this initiative is for a blindfolded group to form a shape with a long length of rope.
Rules are simple: No one's hands may leave the rope for more than 5 seconds at a time and the group decides when it has completed the task.
You can vary the difficulty by the length of rope, the shape the group must make (a circle is easier than a pentagon) or the method of giving them the rope. You can put it in their hands, lay it on the ground near their feet or a distance away.
Spider Web Adaptation
This works well as a closing exercise for a group that has been engaged in learning new skills and where the focus has not been on physical activity. It celebrates group cohesion and individual learning.
Prepare tasks of varying difficulty which are related to the focus of the group (one task for each person). Some tasks should involve interacting with another person. Write each task on a separate piece of paper with simpler tasks on larger pieces and the most difficult on the smallest pieces. Tape the papers to a wall or large newsprint in a pattern resembling a spider web.
The group's goal is to get everone through the yucky, sticky, spider infested web. One person at a time can pass through and only if they are holding a piece of paper with a successfully completed task. Once on the safe side, they cannot give specific suggestions and help but must remain involved and supportive.
Any mistakes and the whole group must return and start over. When this happens each person must choose a different task. Mistakes can be: not completing a task correctly; the group on the safe side becoming uninvolved or the group on the safe side giving direct help. The leader can ring a bell or make some other noise when a mistake is made but gives no other help.
Community Quest
This is a great activity for building teamwork, learning about the services available in your community and updating your resource files.
Divide your group into teams of 4 to 8. Each team should include youth and adults. Each team receives a list of items for a scavenger hunt for information about community services. Examples: a schedule of activities at the "Y"; a Job Corps application; a brochure from a runaway shelter; a brochure from the teen health center
Teams are given a deadline to return for a pizza/ ice cream/whatever party. The team with the most items wins a small prize
Your community and the interests of your group will determine the items on the list.
Group Drawing
This activity can be presented and debriefed in a number of different ways. Examples include: teamwork; individual differences, diversity, problem solving or planning. The only equipment needed are some drawings of shapes and a large chalk board or flip chart which is visible to all. Divide the group into three small groups: The initiative is complete when the viewers are satisfied with what the drawers have created.

Teamwork and Teamplay by Jim Cain and Barry Jolliff
Cowstails and Cobras II : A Guide to Games, Initiatives, Ropes Courses, and Adventure Curriculum by Karl Rohnke
Silver Bullets by Karl Rohnke
Values Clarification/the Classic Guide to Discovering Your Truest Feelings, Beliefs, and Goals by Sidney B. Simon, et. al.
Playback: A Guide to Reviewing Activities by Roger Greenaway


Enter your e-mail address to receive e-mail when this page is updated.
Your Internet e-mail address:


Home Links Ideas Stories FAQ's Search Site Map