Group size: 8 – 40 people
Level of physical activity: High
Estimated time: 15-20 minutes
Resources: One 50-piece puzzle and 4 small bags per group of four people.
Participants enjoy this activity because it engages them in cooperation quickly. Use it at any time to make a point about interdependence, the necessity of having everyone’s input, or the importance of regular communication.
1. Divide the pieces from each puzzle into four small bags.
2. Put one complete puzzle divided up into four bags on each table.
3. Organize participants into groups of four
4. Tell each participant to take a bag.
5. Explain that they are going to put a puzzle together with their table mates, but they have to follow your instructions closely.
- a) For the first 2 minutes, they should begin putting the puzzle pieces together by alternating turns. One person should put down a piece, and then the next person should down a piece, and so one. They should do this without talking or touching one another’s pieces.
- b) When the leader indicated that 2 minutes have passed, they should continue taking turns putting down pieces in silence, but they may begin touching one another’s pieces. Continue for 2 minutes.
- c) Finally, they will have 5 minutes to finish putting the puzzle together in any way they would like. Talking will be permitted during the last 5 minutes.
6. Begin the activity and monitor its timing by letting the group know when the first 2-minute period and second 2-minute period are up.
7. After the final 5 minutes, stop the puzzle making.
8. Ask participants for observations and insights they gained from the activity.
After asking for participant insights, include these points if they’ve been left out:
- We often do our own thing in isolation, without involving others whose pieces need to fit with ours.
- We often use only one mode of communications to get something done.
- When we involve one another, using all of the pieces and communicating in many different ways, we have a greater change for successful completion of a project.
Choose puzzles that have messages or picture that relate in some way to the content of the program if possible.
Source: Eddie West — The big book of icebreakers