SIMAGES 2016.2 – Ready to Use Activity: Sheep and Shepherd

Sheep and Shepherd

By Becky Rice



Using only a whistle, shepherds guide their flock of blind sheep into the pen. This is a challenging team building activity where each team needs to come up with a very good plan to be able to communicate nonverbally.

25 Minutes

Tools/Items required:
Blindfolds for the ‘Sheep’, Whistle for the ‘Shepherd’


  • Split the participants into sub groups of three to six
  • Have each group select one person as a shepherd
  • The remainder of the group will be sheep and will be blindfolded
  • The sheep will be individually led (already blindfolded) to various points in the
  • immediate area and left there
  • Mark the ‘pen’ area (not necessarily near the shepherd) for the sheep


  • The shepherds must guide the sheep into the pen.
  • The shepherd cannot move and may not touch any sheep.
  • The shepherd can only communicate with a whistle.  The sheep can only return communications nonverbally.
  • Sheep must not remove blindfolds until the end of the exercise.
  • No verbal is allowed communication after the preparation phase.
  • 10 minutes maximum for the briefing and preparation phase.
  • 25 minutes in total for the planning and the retrieval/penning phase.


  • Gather the whole group away from the pen area.  Explain that the shepherds must direct their sheep into the pen using only a whistle.  Give teams 10 minutes to prepare.
  • Take the whole group to the edge of the pen.  Blindfold the ‘sheep’ and lead them to various points around the pen area.  Disorientate the sheep.
  • Stand the shepherd away from the pen.
  • Start a timer for 15 minutes and reiterate that verbal communication is not allowed
  • Watch for safety and call “STOP” if difficulties arise



Trainers will oversee the activity and watch for participants who might be getting into difficulty.  If a trainer shouts “STOP,” everyone must stop until the trainer has sorted out the situation.
What’s the take-away from this activity?
For each team to be able to complete this challenge successfully, they will need to be very creative to invent and agree on a plan together and execute it successfully.  Help the group make parallels to their work as a team.  What plan does the team have to enable their ‘shepherd’ to successfully guide them in their work?  What do the limits of communication (no talking, using a whistle) have in common with team communication?  What happened during the planning phase and how is that like what happens in the working environment?  Did the group make a contingency plan?  How often does the group plan for unforeseen events at work?


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!

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