15 Team Building Activities, Exercises & Ideas for Small Groups

Home » Resources » Team Building for Small GroupsUpdated: July 07, 2022

Here is our list of fun team building activities for small groups at work or school.

Team building activities for small groups are fun-filled exercises, games and ideas designed to enhance team collaboration. For example, the broken telephone and the tower of babel are good activities for students and adults. The purpose of these exercises is to strengthen relationships and encourage team participation in small groups.

These ideas are a subset of office team building exercises and fun group activities, and are similar to small group icebreaker games. You can use these ideas as trust-building exercises, community-building activities and for team building events.

This list includes:

  • team building activities for small groups
  • team building exercises for small groups
  • team building ideas for small groups
  • small group team building activities for adults

Here are the ideas.

List of team building activities for small groups

When choosing team building exercises for small groups, it is best to select activities that allow everyone to participate. You can adopt these quick small group team building activities for your students or colleagues.

1. Quick-fire Trivia

This quick succession question-and-answer activity tests coordination, speed, and teamwork.

Required: Divide your team into smaller groups of two to four people. Each subgroup will choose a representative. The facilitator will then read the questions drawn from different disciplines. For example, the questions could range from history to art or science.

The goal is to get the most points within each two-minute round. For each correct answer, the team earns a point.

Here are the rules:

  1. The team members can discuss the questions, but only the rep will answer.
  2. The answers should be short – a word or a list but not descriptions.
  3. The reader can only repeat a question once.
  4. The team cannot answer before the facilitator finishes reading the question.
  5. The representative’s answer is final.
  6. The team can express differing opinions; however, the rep has the final say in deciding the answer.

At the end of the exercise, the members will discuss the performance and strategize ways to improve. This exercise aims at educating members about consultation and decision-making.

Here is a list of more problem-solving games and a collection of starter questions for trivia.

2. The Clueless

The Clueless is one of the best small group activities for adults that nurtures problem-solving and communication skills. Your team will enjoy this fun and straightforward exercise.

Required: Divide your group into smaller teams. Each team receives a sealed written problem. These problems should be possible case scenarios at work, home, or school. Before reading, the team will select one member to temporarily exclude from the group. You shall refer to this member as ‘the clueless,’ This member will need to decipher and solve the problem.

The team building leader will assess the activity on a scale of five points.

Here are the rules:

  1. The groups will have five minutes to read and discuss the main issues. The leader can give more time to younger students.
  2. The groups should develop up to three keywords that best describe the issue. Once done, the clueless rejoin the groups.
  3. The clueless have three minutes to figure out the issue using the keywords as clues. Then, the clueless can only ask two follow-up questions to clarify.
  4. The rest of the members must remain mute and only communicate through facial expressions and cues. It is up to the members to guide their teammates without speaking or writing.
  5. The clueless members will then identify the problem and describe the method for tackling the scenario.
  6. The leader awards points based on the problem’s accuracy and the solution’s relevance. The leader may award up to two points for the problem and three for the solution.

This activity helps members to identify and appreciate nonverbal cues. These signals include reading moods and unexpressed concerns from customers, colleagues, and fellow students in real life.

3. The Tower of Babel

This activity is one of small group team building ideas drawn from ancient history. The idea mocks the Babylonian tower story and seeks to build the tallest, longest-standing tower.

Required: Divide members into smaller groups of three or four. Each group should make a tower by stacking provided supplies.

Here are the rules:

  1. Each group will use similar building materials. Some good ideas for the materials include pens, toothpicks, and toy building blocks.
  2. Each mini-group will get an equal amount of building supplies.
  3. There is no restriction on arranging the building materials. Team creativity is of the essence.
  4. The towers must remain standing for the duration of the judging.
  5. The members should use all the building materials.

At the end of a session, group members will measure the tower’s height and compare notes with other groups. The idea is to promote creative thinking and collaboration.

4. The Swallowship

The Swallowship is a fellowship exercise that promotes bonding. Members help each other identify secret ingredients in food. Among the best quick small group team building activities, The Swallowship tests memory and discussion skills.

Required: The leaders assign each team a main ingredient. The members will then develop a secret recipe using the core ingredient. For example, the secret ingredient could include spices, essence, or herbs. Depending on the setup, participants may cook on-site or prepare the food before the activity.

Here are the rules:

  1. Different teams should taste each other’s food.
  2. Each member is only allowed one bite-size sample.
  3. Members may use other senses like sight and smell to identify the ingredients.
  4. After swallowing the sample, the teams will discuss the ingredients and list possibilities. The members may list as many ingredients as they can identify or remember.
  5. The correct secret ingredient earns the team one point. Yet, for every wrong ingredient, teams lose a point.

The goal of the game is to collect as many points as possible.

Note: Ask if members have food allergies before starting the exercise. Common allergens to watch out for include gluten, egg, milk, and nuts.

5. Back-to-school PE

Physical activities provide a great way to bond. In Back-to-school PE, members will engage in a series of cardiovascular exercises.

Based on the needs of the group members, the team-building leader will select appropriate exercises. Examples of small group team building activities for students may include relay running, frog jumping, star jumps, and push-ups. Older people can do stretches and other suitable exercises. The important thing is to select and balance appropriate high to low energy options.

Physical exercises improve mood and mental health, promoting morale and productivity in teams.

For similar ideas, here is a list of team workouts.

6. The Broken Telephone

The Broken Telephone is a communication exercise. The aim of the game is to pass a message without altering its meaning.

Required: Members will line up in a circle, keeping a distance of at least one and a half meters from each other. The first player will share a message by whispering the phrase into the second person’s ear. Next, the second person will do the same to the third. The pattern repeats until the message reaches the last person in line.

Here are the rules:

  1. Team members must whisper the message.
  2. Members should cover their mouths while speaking to prevent lip reading.
  3. The last person will speak the phrase out loud, and the first member will reveal how closely the statement matches the original message.
  4. If the message is wildly incorrect, the group will have to diagnose the problem with the telephone line. Each member will say the message they passed. The member who distorts a message moves to the end of the line.

The goal of the exercise is to encourage attentive listening.

7. Tell My Story

This creativity exercise engages all team members. If you need small group team building ideas for introverted and shy members, then Tell My Story is a good option. The game grants silent group members a chance to speak.

Required: Have all group members sit or stand in a circle. The facilitator will have a pre-written short story. The leader reads the first sentence of the script, and the members will continue the story.

Here are the rules:

  1. Each member will input one sentence at a time.
  2. You cannot pass your turn.
  3. You cannot skip a member before they speak.
  4. You cannot start a new story unless it continues the original. The story must flow and relate to the previous sentences.
  5. The story ends only when the facilitator says, “The end.” After that, he will read the original script.

It is interesting how a story can deviate. Since everyone is narrating from their imagination, the story is entirely unpredictable. Therefore, members end up practicing attentiveness and creativity.

8. Office Thief

The Office Thief is a fun small group activity that promotes conversation and socialization among team members.

Required: The facilitator will organize a heist and remove personal items from each member’s desk or locker. The leader will disguise these items in similar boxes. Finally, members will pick the items, make their guesses, and write on sticky notes.

Here are the rules:

  1. The leader will put the disguised items in a central place.
  2. Each member should select one item. Once selected, you cannot change your mind.
  3. Members may use senses like weight and sound to determine the item.
  4. Each member will guess the item and write the guess on a sticky note alongside their names.
  5. Without opening the boxes, members will interact. The goal is to find the owner of the item.
  6. Members will reassemble and write the name of the suspected owner without opening the boxes.
  7. In pairs, players will exchange the boxes. One by one, members will read the written guesses and finally unveil the items.
  8. Finally, owners will confirm possession and claim their items

The game’s goal is to guess the item and return the object to its rightful owner. This activity uses conversations to solve problems, and members will learn more about each other.

Check out more get to know you games.

9. Water Balloon

This water balloon exercise involves carrying a balloon filled with water to a designated place without using hands.

Required: Have smaller teams of 3 to 5 members each. Each subgroup will fill a large balloon with water and place the balloon on a marked starting point.

Here are the rules:

  1. Each team must carry the balloon to the designated place.
  2. You cannot touch the balloon with your hands. The team should figure out how to carry the balloon.
  3. You must lift the balloon to move it.
  4. The water balloon must not touch the floor between the starting and finish points.
  5. Ensure that the balloon does not burst.
  6. The team that violates the rules must return to the starting point. The exercise stops when the last team arrives at the finish line.

Water Balloon is one of the most practical games for sharpening critical thinking and problem-solving skills and is one of the best small group team building activities for students.

10. The Diplomat

The Diplomat is an activity that helps team members identify and appreciate each others’ strengths and weaknesses.

Required: Divide the team into groups of three members. The members will share their interests and fears in their mini-groups.

Here are the rules:

  1. Team members should be at least one meter apart and must not face each other.
  2. The facilitator will provide case scenarios. He will then ask the team, “Choose your most suitable diplomat for this mission.”
  3. The three team members cannot discuss their answers. Instead, they will write the answers on whiteboards.
  4. When signaled, each person will display the member’s name they chose as the diplomat. At this point, group members may look at each other’s answers.

The goal of the game is to agree on a unanimous answer. The diplomat is one of the quick small group team building activities where teams interact more personally.

12. Back-to-back Drawing

The Back-to-back Drawing exercise is a communication activity that tests members’ speaking and listening skills.

Required: Members will work in pairs. The team building leader will give each duo a picture and writing materials like paper and marker pens. Then, one team member will hold a picture and describe the image, and the other player must draw the object exactly as described.

Here are the rules:

  1. The partners must remain back-to-back throughout the exercise.
  2. Neither partner should peek at the other’s picture.

The game aims for each pair to draw similar or identical pictures.

Example objects might include cartoon characters, emojis, landscapes, or other fun shapes.

Back-to-back Drawing is an in-person version of Can You Hear Me Now.

13. Guess the Logo

Guess the Logo is an exercise that helps eye-brain coordination.

Required: The coordinator will subdivide the team and display a part of a logo. Each team should identify the logo using the given clue.

Here are the rules:

  1. The logo should refer to familiar brands, for example, popular eateries, institutions, and superstores.
  2. The leader will display part of the logo. For example, part of text, colors, or images with the rest of the background blocked.
  3. Members can discuss and figure out the brand’s name in the least time possible.

The activity’s goal is to match the logos to their brands. This exercise will give great insights into branding for workplace teams and marketing students.

14. Blind Snake and Apples

Blind Snake and Apples is a memory-sharpening exercise.

Required: Team members will have a chance to see the position of each apple before they start the activity. Players will then put on blindfolds and pick as many apples as possible.

Here are the rules:

  1. Each member moves one step at a time. The coordinator will signal the members when it is time to move, and each player will take a step.
  2. Upon each step, players may bend, sit or kneel to pick apples. The feet must remain on the same spot.
  3. The players can pick fruit from any part and move in any direction.
  4. Players decide whether to take a big or small step.
  5. Each member is allowed an equal number of steps.

At the end of the activity, members can check each other’s performance. The group with the most fruits becomes the memory champion.

15. The Collection Board

This exercise seeks to find qualities members have in common. The game also helps members to get comfortable with each other.

How to conduct: The team-building leader will ask the members to bring items from the office, class, or home. The items can be everyday objects, yet each object should have a remarkable story. The leader will provide glue and Manila papers, and members will stick their items onto the paper.

The group makes a collage with the assorted items. The collection may involve items similar in color, shape, texture. During the activity, members need to find out the story attached to each item. At the end of the session, the members can share lessons they learned from each other’s stories.

Conclusion

Small group team building activities are fun ways to empowering teams. These exercises range widely in energy level, variety and application. There are indoor or outdoor activities suitable for every small group. When choosing an activity, it helps to consider participants’ demographics like age and physical capability before selecting the most appropriate one.

Team building activities and exercises are essential to your team. Apart from breaking the monotony of work and strengthening the team spirit, these exercises enhance physical and mental health. In addition, problem-solving techniques, collaboration, and communication are skills you can obtain from such activities and exercises.

Next, check out these lists of get to know you games and relationship-building activities.

FAQ: Small Group Team Building

Here are answers to common questions about small group team building activities.

What are small group team building activities?

Team building activities are playful indoor or outdoor exercises that small teams use to promote team spirit. These can range from high to low energy activities like back-to-school PE and the collection board, respectively.

What are some good small group team building activities for work?

A good team building activity allows each employee to participate enthusiastically. In choosing the most appropriate activity for work,  it is important to consider your team’s demographics,  such as age and health status.  This mindfulness will enhance the effectiveness of the team building activities you select.

Some of the most  all-around options include,

  • quick-fire trivia
  • the broken telephone
  • the diplomat
  • the water balloon

How do you improve teamwork on small teams?

To achieve a productive team, you need to influence the members to collaborate and make tasks interesting.  Some of the tips that work  effectively for small teams include:

  1. Enhancing bonding through social activities like swallowship
  2. promoting conversations through activities like Tell my story
  3. Promoting creativity and problem-solving through activities like the water balloon
  4. Acknowledging and appreciating leadership skills through exercises like The Diplomat
  5. Enhancing staff motivation and morale through participation in ice breakers

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