Type of Activity: Problem-Solving

Props Needed: 5 Webbing Circles, Bag of Balls or other fun items, approximately 2-3 times the number of participants.

Set Up: Arrange the hoops with several feet between them (the greater number of participants, the more space between the hula hoops). Place one hoop in the middle, the others t the compass points from the center hoop.  Divide the group into four groups.

Process: Have each group go to one of the outside hoops.  Place all the balls/items into the center hoop.  Give the participants the following instructions:

  1. The object is to get all the items you see in the center hoop into your own hoop.
  2. Each person may carry only one item at a time.
  3. You may not throw items.
  4. Once the center hoop is empty, you may take items from any other hoops.
  5. You may NOT guard any of the hoops.  If you are on the bottom of a pile of people, you are doing it wrong.
  6. You win when ALL items are in your hoop.

Then without giving the participants any time to strategize, yell "GO!"  Allow the resulting frenzy to go on about 1-2 minutes, then stop the activity.  Tell the group that you will give them 2 minutes to strategize, then you will start round 2.  At the end of the 2 minutes, start the next round.  If more rounds are necessary for the participants to make the shift from competition to cooperation, continue the sequence of 1-2 minutes of activity and then 2 minutes of strategy.

Most groups "win" by everyone placing their hoops on top of each other and putting all the objects in them.  Everyone wins!!

There are other ways a group can "win".  One group can intimidate the others or out last them.  I have seen an alliance from between two groups who won working together against the other two groups, although this scenario is vary rare.

Debriefing Topics:

Various issues may be the focus of your debrief.  The specific goals of the group may determine the direction of your discussion, or the dynamics present during the activity may suggest the direction.  Nevertheless, here are a few issues that typically surface from this experience:

  1. Futility of the work--impossible task.
  2. Competition vs. Cooperation--shifting paradigms
  3. Who is the "team."
  4. Sabotage (someone holds back an item so no one wins)
  5. Communication processes
  6. Trust

Certainly, this is not a comprehensive list of topics, only the more common ones.  So, as always, when facilitating these activities, be prepared for anything!!

  • At what point did the group realize a paradigm shift had taken place?
  • Why did the group immediately think it was a competition?
  • How is this activity like everyday life?
  • What were some feelings you experienced?


For original write up purchase “Executive Marbles.”  

Material in this Online Games Database is copyrighted.  Copyright ©  Training Wheels or by the author who submitted the activity.  Permission needed to copy or reproduce.