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    5 Team Building Games That Teach You Critical Thinking Skills

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    5 Team Building Games That Teach You Critical Thinking Skills

    Team building games offer students fun opportunities to hone critical thinking skills for success in the modern workplace. Students (and future employees!) that value teamwork are more motivated and creative. They're also better at problem-solving and communicating with one another and have a higher level of trust. We already know students love working in groups. Why not make a game of it?

    While you can use brain training activities to help students develop lateral thinking, in most instances, games are a better option. The following team-building games improve cooperation and communication skills while developing critical thinking. Try them out in your classrooms for a critical thinking and collaboration boost. Then take it to the next level by picking up a copy of our Critical Thinking Companion with full assessment rubrics and many more activities.

    If You Build It

    One of the best aspects of a building game is that it is such a flexible concept.

    • Divide the group into small teams of three or four people.
    • Give each team an equal amount of a particular material such as blocks, pipe cleaners, or marshmallows.
    • The team must use their materials to construct a certain item.

    For example, the groups might have to use their marshmallows to build a structurally sound tower. If this game goes well you can repeat it periodically with different building materials and challenges.

    Save the Egg

    In this game, each team of three or four people will drop their egg from a specific height. They must figure out a way to save the egg so that it doesn't break during the fall. They can use the items of their choosing to create a soft landing or some sort of device that will allow the egg to fall safely.

    As this one can get messy, it's important to find a safe place to conduct the game where no one has to worry about damaging valuable school property.

    Balloon Balance

    The concept of this game is very straightforward. You can decide whether you'd like your students to be in pairs or small groups. Each team is responsible for keeping their balloons in the air with each member being allowed to touch one balloon one time for each turn.

    At first, with just a few balloons, the game will be fairly easy. Over time it will become more challenging, forcing students to develop a strategy for keeping their balloons in the air.

    A Shrinking Vessel

    A shrinking vessel is another team building game with a simple concept. It is up to you how many people you would like to have on each team.

    The team must work together to occupy a space that shrinks over time until there is no more room between the individuals in the group. They will be forced to come up with creative solutions to occupy the increasingly smaller space, such as having one team member ride on another team member's shoulders.

    Use small traffic cones, a rope, or another suitable material to form a boundary.

    Dare to Be Different

    There are numerous real-world situations in which people must use out of the box thinking to come up with solutions to common problems. Dare to be different encourages students to think outside of the box to solve a problem together.

    Introduce a basic concept and then ask the students to come up with an unconventional solution. For example, maybe the group has to eat spaghetti without using traditional utensils and without making a mess.

    It may take some trial and error to determine which team building games are the best fit for your students. Don't get discouraged if one game doesn't go as well as you expected it would. Simply keep trying different critical thinking games, taking note of the ones that are the most effective.

    Editor's note: This post was originally published in 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

    Originally published Feb 11, 2018, updated September 29, 2021

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