Balloons and Pins
By Becky Rice
Quick, fun, and simple, this activity demonstrates the value of team work. It will get everybody energized and moving around the room and excited about the training. It can be a great opener for your team building session.
Balloons (one for each team member), Pins (one for every team member), Stopwatch
Give each person one balloon and one pin. Ask participants to blow up their balloons. Once all balloons are inflated and everyone is ready, say the following, “You have 1 minute after I say go. After the minute is over, the person who still has his/her balloon held up and intact above his/her head is the winner of this game. Now Go!”
Rules for the trainer:
For this activity to work, the trainer must not tell the group to actually use the pins and pinch each other’s balloons. Give your instructions quickly, clearly, and succinctly but don’t wait for questions. (Try to prompt them to move without actually telling everyone to start pinching each other’s balloons using the pins; they will normally start doing this on their own)
What will happen is that the group will go wild as soon as you say go. Each team member will start pinching the balloons of others while trying to protect his/her own balloon. The group will go crazy chasing each other around the room.
Debrief and Discussion:
Discuss what prompted everyone and motivated them to be the winner? Couldn’t we all be winners in this game somehow? Why did we decide on our own to use the pins and pinch the balloons of the other team?
Tell the group that we could have all easily become winners in this activity if we all decided to raise our balloons in the air after you said Go! Explain that you did give everyone pins, but you did not say anything about pinching their partners’ balloons.
What’s the take-away from this activity?
This great activity makes a clear point that in the dominant culture, each one of us in the team wants to stand out and be the only winner. This will have been very clear in what happened during this activity. With real team spirit, everyone works together so they can be all winners and achieve the common team goals.
Becky Rice is currently Training and Development Manager for the White Castle Corporation. She has a BS in Biology from the University of Kentucky and a Master of Arts in Teaching degree from the University of Louisville. Becky has had an array of careers, including a bird trainer, a zookeeper, a museum educator, a quality control technician and a high school Biology teacher. She enjoys scuba diving, golfing, making people laugh and writing. She has a husband and one son who is almost 4. Becky believes that the key to making all learning successful is to MAKE IT FUN!