Although finding fun activities for teams may not be impossible, finding activities that teach valuable lessons can be challenging. Teens need to learn team skills like developing relationships, effective communication, problem-solving and teamwork.
New teams tend to be hesitant at first, so it's important to use exercises that are not only challenging but will help team members break the ice in relaxed, non-threatening ways.
Activity #1: Photo Contest
Hosting a photo contest is a fun activity for team members to get to know and become comfortable with each other while having lots of laughs and creating great memories. Encourage the teens to have fun and be creative with their photos.
- Prizes to give to the winning team of each category
- Develop categories for your photo contest. Categories can include things like funniest photo, most unusual photo or best close-up.
- Divide your group into teams of two or three people.
- Designate the geographic area that can be used for the contest. Usually, a radius of a few blocks is enough.
- Give the teams a time limit in which they have to complete the task.
- Allow the teams to submit one photo per category.
- Have the teams vote on the winning photo for each category without voting for their photo.
- In the event of a tie, the group leader makes the final decision.
Why It's Fun
- Teens get to spend time in smaller teams getting to know each other.
- Teens love to take pictures of themselves and each other.
- Teens are encouraged to be creative and funny.
Activity #2: Truth and Lies
This activity will allow team members to share interesting information about themselves and learn interesting information about each other. What's especially great about this activity is that it doesn't require any special materials.
- Have each team member think of two interesting facts about themselves and one lie.
- Next, one at a time, each team member tells the group all three 'facts.'
- Let the other team members try to guess which piece of information is the lie.
Why It's Fun
- Teens love talking about themselves and this gives them the opportunity to do so.
- Team members can learn information about each other they may not otherwise learn.
- Members will be amazed at what others thought was true about them.
Communication exercises require teamwork and clear communication consisting of giving instructions, giving feedback and listening.
Activity #3: Copy Cat Artists
This activity shows how difficult it really is for team members to verbally express themselves and listen effectively. It also shows how easily miscommunication can happen, even when both parties think they are being clear.
- Two pictures (per team) with simple lines and shapes
- Blank paper
- Pencil with eraser
- Divide the team into pairs.
- Allow the teams to decide who will describe the picture and who will try to recreate it.
- One person describes the picture in detail to the drawer, who draws what is described. The person who is describing can only use words; no hand gestures are allowed.
- The person drawing is allowed to ask yes or no questions. For example, questions such as, "Is the circle the size of a quarter?" are fine. However, questions such as, "Does the circle go here?" are not.
- The person who is describing cannot watch what the other team member is drawing, and the person drawing cannot see the original piece of art.
- Once the entire picture has been described and drawn and there are no more questions, the pair is to compare the drawings.
- Bring the entire team back together to discuss the results. Generally, those who were describing will feel as though they described the drawing accurately, while those who were drawing will feel they interpreted the directions accurately. However, the drawings are usually very different. Discuss how difficult true, accurate communication is.
- Have the pair switch positions and use the second pre-made drawings. Compare to see if their drawings become more accurate after their first experience. Generally, pairs are able to recreate the new picture more accurately the second time. Talk about the possible reasons for this.
- Have the groups share all of their drawings and encourage them to find humor in their miscommunications.
- Have the entire team talk about times when they experienced miscommunication in their lives. Normally, some really amusing stories will begin to emerge.
Why It's Fun
- One aspect of funny situations is the unexpected. Both members will think their pictures are close to identical, yet, they will naturally laugh at the unexpected differences between the pictures.
- Teens get to share amusing stories about their lives.
Activity #4: Line Up
Line Up is a fast-paced activity that requires good communication skills to complete each task successfully. It is designed to improve a team's communication skills by requiring quick thinking and verbalization among group members. The bigger the group, the more chaotic this activity is.
- Make a list ahead of time of instructions for each line up.
- Have the team members stand up.
- For each round, the team leader will shout out an instruction. Instructions can include things such as:
- Line up by your birth month and day.
- Line up by the number of people in your family.
- Line up by the number of states you've visited.
- Line up by your height.
- Line up by the number of pets you own.
- Give team members enough time to complete the task, but only if they do so quickly.
- Team members must line up by the instructions given.
- After the line is formed, each member must give their answer to the instruction to see if the line is correct.
Why It's Fun
- Anything that requires quick thinking and movement will inevitably end in some bumping into each other, causing laughter.
- The adrenaline the time pressure evokes subsides in relief when each task is done. Reduction of adrenaline naturally improves mood.
- Teens will learn more information about each other.
Problem solving is another important trait of successful teams. The following exercise requires the entire team to work together to develop creative solutions to a fun problem.
Activity #5: Water Relay
Although easy in theory, Water Relay requires advanced problem solving to complete successfully.
- Two large containers to hold water
- One smaller bucket for each team member
- Fill one large barrel with water.
- Poke holes in the bottom of each small bucket. Make sure the holes are big enough to drain the water steadily.
- Have the team form a line, or a relay, to the other barrel.
- The team must figure out how to pass the water from bucket to bucket to move the water from one barrel to the other barrel, losing as little as possible.
- The team should be encouraged to do this several times to figure out how to pass the water without losing most of it out of the bottom of their buckets.
Why It's Fun
- It's fun and challenging to problem solve ways to lose as little water as possible.
- It's water. What's not fun about a physical activity that gets you wet on a hot summer day?
Activity #6: Team Walk
The Team Walk's purpose is to promote teamwork, communication and problem-solving skills amongst the entire team. The bigger the team, the better this works.
- Anything that can be used to tie (or tape) two people's ankles together such as rope, string or bandanas
- Have all team members stand side-by-side.
- Tie or tape the right ankle of one person to the left ankle of the person next to him/her.
- Continue tying (taping) all the members' ankles together until the entire line of people is connected.
- Have the team walk in a straight line for a specified length without falling.
Why It's Fun
- This exercise makes them move awkwardly, giving them the chance to laugh at themselves and each other.
- Teens will find staying upright is harder than they think.
- The domino effect that happens when one person falls is pretty amusing.
The following activity uses creativity to get the entire team to work together as a group. Not only do teens like to do things together but tapping into their creative sides can be a lot of fun!
Activity #7: Decorate a Vehicle
The purpose of this activity is to allow a group of teens to work together to create something they can be proud of. Decorating a vehicle for an event requires teamwork from advanced planning to the gathering of materials to the actual decoration. A vehicle can be decorated for a sporting event, a school dance, a wedding, etc.
- A car, truck, or minivan to decorate
- Materials that are safe to use on cars such as:
- Soap, shaving cream, or window markers to write on windows (you can even use the soap or shaving cream on the body of a darker colored vehicle)
- Streamers and/or ribbon
- Anything else that can be Scotch-taped to a vehicle
- Have the team decide on a basic plan for their decorations based on the event they are decorating for. The team should also decide who is responsible for what so there is no conflict later
- The team should then gather or purchase the materials needed to complete the decoration
- Get the team together and let them decorate!
Things not to do:
- Don't use anything with sugar in it as it will destroy the paint.
- Don't use strong tape (duct tape, masking tape). It can remove the paint when you remove the tape.
- Don't cover the license plate - it's illegal.
Why It's Fun
- Shared creative endeavors are always enjoyable.
- Teens get to do something they're generally told not to. How often do teenagers get to write on cars?
Activity #8: Create a Website
Creating a website for a special interest or a special group allows group members and anyone interested to keep up with current news. By making and maintaining a website, teens learn technical skills, how to maintain relationships, improved communication, problem-solving skills and teamwork.
- Go to Weebly and sign up for a free website. Although there are different sites that offer free website design, Weebly is user-friendly and has been around long enough to prove its stability.
- Follow the tutorial provided by Weebly to get started.
- You are able to choose the name of your site as long as the name is not already taken. Your website URL will be your site's name followed by .weebly.com.
- Weebly uses a drag-and-drop template which makes designing and editing easy.
- It also allows for the creation of several pages on your site, which would be perfect for each team member to design and maintain a page.
- Once your team is done adding material and designing the site, you are ready to publish.
Why It's Fun
- Getting to design a website is not only creative, it's just cool.
- Weebly also has a mobile app, upping its teen appeal.
- Teens can add and edit the material on their site to keep it current and mirror their unique sense of style and personality.
Team (and Life) Skills
Developing and maintaining relationships, improving communication, learning to problem-solve and learning to work in a team are skills that all teams must learn. However, working with teens in teams is different than working with adults in teams. Teens need activities that are more entertaining and novel. They need tasks that will evoke emotional responses. Experiential learning is how they learn and remember best.