Paper Plate Team Building Exercise

Doug Staneart  |  April 19, 2017
last updated

Paper Plate Team Building Exercise: The following is a fun team building icebreaker or team exercise to get a group of people to problem solve and work together. Set up 64 numbered paper plates in the following pattern on the floor. (You can use more or fewer numbered plates, but 64 seems optimal.)

Any type of plate or disk will do as long as you can put a big number on the front. Places like Party City or Dollar Tree typically have a wide selection. If you will be doing this activity more than once and want a better type of placeholder, Flaghouse has a number of options.

Paper Plate Team Building

The rules of the paper plate team building exercise.

  1. The exercise is completed when all plates are touched in numerical order.
  2. If any plate is touched out of order, then the participants must begin again at one.
  3. Only one plate can be touched at a time.
  4. Coaching from the team is encouraged.
  5. The exercise will be timed.

The facilitator’s main job is to encourage participants to think outside of the box and look for patterns, but don’t give the solution away. Ask questions such as “Is there any way to cut your time in half? Is there any way to be more efficient?” Challenge the group by giving them a time to beat. Make every new time limit quite a bit shorter than the last. The group will usually live up to the challenge. Eventually, get them to a point where they can complete the entire exercise in less than 60-seconds.

Simple Solutions to this Activity.

  1. Solution #1: Identify the Pattern – After a few times through the exercise, this pattern will begin to develop.
  2. Solution 1    Solution 2

  3. Solution #2: Rearrange the Paper Plates – Creative teams may decide to rearrange the plate into an easier order. As the facilitator, you must tell them to restart the exercise every time they touch a plate out of order. Teams really thinking outside the box will ignore this distraction and continue putting plates in an easier order.
  4. Your team may get creative and invent other solutions to the Paper Plate Team Building Activity.

This can be used as a warm-up or icebreaker before a larger team building activity. It can also be used as a fun way to get your team interacting during a meeting.

author Doug Staneart
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Doug Staneart is president of The Leader's Institute ®. He is based in the Dallas, Texas Region. He is a specialist in corporate team building activities and custom presentation skills seminars.
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