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Group Critical Thinking Activities For Teens

A Complete Guide To Team Building Activities For Teens

We usually associate team building activities with the workplace, as a method of strengthening teamwork and improving work performance. However, team building activities can also be beneficial for other groups. One such group is teens. Whether it’s for a group of students, athletes or teenage members of a club, group games for teenagers are a fun way to help them build relationships with each other and learn new life skills.

In this guide, we’ll explain how team building games for teens can be beneficial and provide ideas for activities suitable for this age group.

You will learn:

  • How team building activities can benefit teens
  • Types of team building activities suitable for teens
  • Tips for delivering team building games for teens
  • The 10 best team building activities for teens

How Team Building Can Benefit Teens

The teenage years can be a tumultuous time filled with self-doubt, ‘teen angst’ and the process of self-discovery. Team building games for teens can be a great way to build self-confidence and develop life skills that can be useful as they mature into young adults.

By working with their peers to achieve a goal in a fun, non-classroom setting, teens can learn how to work better with others, improve their communication skills and exercise their creative thinking muscles. The positive experience of completing a group game helps to bolster the self-esteem of teens by giving them an experience of success.

Team building can be especially beneficial for ‘difficult’ teens. Whether it’s developing their social skills, providing opportunities for them to cooperate with their peers to accomplish a task or learning how to create connections and build trust, team building games can help teens strengthen their sense of self through positive shared experiences.

Types of Team Building Activities Suitable For Teens

While team building activities for adults tend to be very results-oriented (that is, focused on creating a learning outcome that contributes to work efficiency),  group games for teenagers can take a more casual approach. With teens, an approach that focuses on fun and overcoming challenges can make it easier to elicit their participation in the activity.

You may think that designing a programme of fun team building games for teens means that they won’t learn anything. That’s not true! Learning through fun shared experiences can be powerful and have a more lasting impact.

Whether you’re planning activities for high school students, teenage athletes or any other group of teenagers, here are 4 types of team building games that are well-suited for teens:

Activities that focus on teamwork help teenagers to develop their social skills. They learn how to communicate their ideas and point of view, and how to cooperate with others to reach a goal.

Team building games that develop leadership qualities allow teens to take ownership of a task and see it through from start to finish. They learn how to manage resources, listen to input from other team members, and exercise their problem-solving skills.

Team building activities that build trust are great for providing a channel for teenagers to connect with each other. It develops their interpersonal and communication skills.

Group games that encourage creative thinking are great fun and perfect for teens. Give your group of teenagers an opportunity to imagine possibilities, execute their ideas and refine those ideas if they don’t work.

Tips for Delivering Team Building Games For Teens

When delivering team building activities for teens, it is common to encounter reluctance and rebelliousness when it comes to completing a task. By framing a group game as a competition or challenge, you ignite their competitive spirit. Ensure that the goal is difficult but attainable; having a goal that seems impossible to reach can demotivate your group of teens and lead to a lack of active participation.

The role of the facilitator/trainer is key when it comes to team building games for teens. It is crucial to create an environment of support and trust so that your group of teenagers do not fear failure. Give them the encouragement and space to explore and experiment during the activity, and provide a guiding hand when necessary.  You may also need a higher ratio of facilitators/trainers to participants to ensure that the activity goes smoothly.

If you are conducting a competitive team building activity, be sure to clearly communicate the rules, boundaries and safety considerations of the activity. Be vigilant during the game and watch out for the safety of the participants. Some may cheat or try to push the boundaries of the activity in order to win so be willing to penalize rule-breaking or disqualify cheating participants from the game.

10 Best Team Building Activities For Teens

We recommend using active team building activities for teens to get them moving and harness their high energy levels. The following 10 activities are engaging, fun and creative – perfect for a teenage audience.

1. Minefield

Total time: 60 minutes

Group size: 2 to 30. Works better with larger groups.

What it is: One at a time, participants have to navigate a minefield and cross safely without stepping on a ‘mine’. If they step on a ‘mine’, they have to return to the starting point. The team is allowed to plan and strategize, but have to remain silent once a team member starts their turn.

Why it’s great for teens: This is a great problem-solving activity that pushes teens to work together to solve the puzzle of the minefield. Typically, what happens is that each individual memorizes the location of each known mine, and what they will soon realize is that it is easier and more efficient if they all work together to memorize certain sections of the minefield. This activity is excellent for encouraging teamwork, cooperation and communication.

2. Robots

Total time: 30 minutes

Group size: 6 to 12

What it is: In this fun blindfold activity, sub-teams compete against each other by guiding their blindfolded teammate to retrieve a ‘bomb’. The first sub-team to retrieve the ‘bomb’ wins the game.

Why it’s great for teens: This activity encourages trust between team members and helps teenagers to develop their communication skills (verbal and non-verbal). It also highlights the power of cooperation and how working together can help achieve a goal. Robots can be a frustrating activity for teams that do not communicate well, so it can also teach teens how to better manage their feelings.

3. Jigsaw Puzzle Pieces

Total time: 30 – 45  minutes

Group size: 8 to 16

What it is: In this activity, each sub-team is given a bag with puzzle pieces and they’re tasked with piecing together the puzzle as quickly as possible. What they don’t know is that each sub-team has only been given one section of a larger puzzle and that they have to communicate and work together to complete it.

Why it’s great for teens: This activity tests the problem-solving skills of teens and highlights how cooperation and teamwork help to complete a task. Often, a leader will emerge in the group; they will lead the planning process and coordinate the interaction with other teams so that the group can complete the entire puzzle. This activity is also great for emphasizing that more can be achieved as a group than as individuals.

4. Electric Fence

Total time: 30 minutes

Group size: 5 to 15

What it is: All team members have to cross the ‘electric fence’ without touching the fence line.

Why it’s great for teens: This activity is fantastic for building trust and teamwork, as the team members have to rely on each other so that everyone crosses the ‘electric fence’ safely.

5. Incoming Tide Survival

Total time: 45 minutes

Group size: 8 to 16

What it is: The team is ‘stranded’ on a beach and they have to build a structure with the materials provided that will get the entire team off the ground.

Why it’s great for teens: This activity promotes creative thinking and problem-solving. It allows teenagers to work together to reach a goal in a fun scenario that captures their imagination.

6. Missile Launch

Total time: 70 minutes

Group size: 12 to 20

What it is: The team is tasked with building two ‘missile launchers’ that can propel a ‘missile’ to a target located over 10 metres away. Once they’ve constructed their launchers, they are given one test run to see if it works, and then they are given some time to further refine their idea before the final launch.

Why it’s great for teens: This activity is fun and gets teens to think creatively in order to reach their goal. It also helps build mental resilience and encourages adaptability when plans go wrong.

7. Towers of Hanoi

Total time: 20 minutes

Group size: Ideally 8 to 12, but can be done with 5 – 20 participants

What it is: The team is tasked with moving a set of tyres (or any other group of similar objects) from one post to another. They can only move one tyre at a time, and at the end of the activity, the order of the tyres on the second post must be the same as the original stack.

Why it’s great for teens: This activity focuses on organization and planning, and teaches teens the value of creating a plan before moving into action. The group discussion during the activity also encourages leadership qualities to emerge and helps teenagers learn how to better communicate and compromise.

8. Infinite Loops/Rope Handcuffs

Total time: 15 minutes

Group size: 4 to 120. The activity is done in pairs.

What it is: Each pair is connected to each other via rope loops attached to their wrists. The objective of the activity is to separate themselves from their partner without removing the ropes from their wrists.

Why it’s great for teens: This is a challenging activity that will have teens working closely with their partners. It helps to improve their communication and problem-solving skills.

9. Video Scavenger Hunt

Total time: 2 – 3 hours

Group size: 4 to 8 in each sub-team

What it is: In this scavenger hunt, each sub-team is tasked with completing a list of tasks by video-recording themselves doing the activity. The team earns points for each completed task and the team with the most points at the end of the activity wins.

Why it’s great for teens: In today’s world where every teenager has their own smartphone, this activity is fun and taps into their familiarity with such devices. During the activity, teens learn how to plan, manage their resources and time, and how to work with each other. The nature of the scavenger hunt also encourages those with leadership qualities to step up to direct the team.

10. Triangle of Life

Total time: 40 minute

Group size: 8 to 18

What it is: Participants are ‘stranded’ on 3 separate islands and in order to survive, they must figure out how to get essential items to each island with only limited equipment.

Why it’s great for teens: This activity unleashes creativity and allows teens to be experimental in their approach to problem-solving. It also highlights the importance of working with others to achieve common goals.

Conclusion: Make it fun for teens!

The most successful team building games for teenagers are fun, challenging and allow them to learn through doing. Team building games and activities are a fantastic way to get teens engaged and connecting with each other while also developing their life skills.

For more great activities, check out our eBook, The Team Building Activity Book. The eBook provides easy to follow, step by step instructions for leading the activity including activity notes, challenge rules, variations and review questions. The book also features 29 other team activities that guaranteed to inspire and motivate your team. Click here to check it out.

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Critical thinking is the process of analyzing information and facts to solve a problem. Teens can benefit from a few simple critical thinking exercises that will get the mind thinking outside of the box. A teen can benefit from critical thinking activities by learning to think for herself. Critical thinking exercises can help a teen better analyze information without falling prey to peer pressure, media hype and group-think.

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To properly analyze data, which is the first step of critical thinking, a teen must be able to ask and answer questions about the object in question. Professor Barbara Penington from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater suggests asking questions that require something to be broken down into smaller parts. For example, tell the teen that they must choose between going without a vehicle or computer for one week. Have them choose an option and describe why. This will require them to analyze the pros and cons of each scenario and break it down into sections.

Teens can learn critical thinking skills by playing a few games. EducationWorld suggests playing Rock or Feather? Ask the teens whether they are more similar to a rock or a feather. Have all the rocks stand in one corner of the room and all the feathers in the other. Next have each teen explain why they chose that particular item. This requires them to analyze both objects and themselves to come to a conclusion.

Critical thinking is a skill that is used in daily activities. Teens can learn these skills by role playing routine worldly encounters. Write down a scenario on a piece of paper such as a construction worker who is afraid of heights. Allow only the lead player see the paper. The other teens must then guess who this person is through interaction. Teens can take turns interacting with the player until they have figured out his scenario.

Seemingly simple questions can be the most difficult to answer critically. Write down five to 10 questions on a piece of paper and have the teen briefly write a response. Questions should be obviously simple such as "describe a cell phone to someone who has never seen or heard of one" or "how would you celebrate yellow appreciation day." These simple and absurd questions will require deep thought and consideration on the teen's part. The answers might vary significantly and can open up discussion among the teens.

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