All Aboard

Type of strategy: Closings and Wrap UpCollaborationEnergizers and State ChangersGamesHumor and CelebrationMovement

Learning styles: ES: Extraversion and SensingIS: Introversion and Sensing

Activity Source:  International Association of Teamwork Facilitators

Objective: The entire group must fit inside the circle on the ground formed by the two shoestrings.


Group Size: 6-15
Age Range: elementary school – adult
Intensity: Mental=1, Physical=1
Time: 5-10 minutes without debrief
Space: Minimal – Medium -- Lots
Set Up Time: 60 seconds
PropsTwo shoestrings

Set Up / Preparation

  1. Tie the two shoestrings into a circle shape.
  2. Lay the circle on the ground and ask the group to stand inside the circle.
  3. Once the group completes this, make the loop smaller and smaller with each consecutive attempt.


  1. Everyone must be touching the ground inside the circle in some way.
  2. The group must stay inside the circle for the length of time it takes them to sing one round of the song “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”
  3. During the song, no one can touch the the ground outside the circle. Should anyone violate this rule, the group must retry that attempt.


This activity will require the group to be calm, responsible and mature. Do not allow the group to fall over in such a way as to injure a group member. If your group is not ready for this activity, don’t do it.


As the size of the loop gets smaller, the group usually goes through a period where they don’t believe they can fit in such a small area (“This is impossible!” you’ll hear them exclaiim). It’s only through creative thinking and hard work that the group is able to solve this challenge.


  1. I like to use this activity to lead into a discussion about what’s “impossible”. When something is viewed as impossible, it’s usually because of the limiting beliefs someone holds. An example of this might include beliefs from several centuries ago that held that the world is flat. Another might include the old belief that the earth is the center of the universe. If you were to tell someone during the early 1800’s that people would be able to communicate with each other around the world instantaneously (by telephone) or that we will fly to the moon and come back, you would have been laughed at.
  2. Often times, the only thing that limits us is our beliefs. If a person believes something is possible, they will take different action than if they believe it’s impossible.
  3. What did the group have to believe in order to be successful?
  4. This is a great activity to discuss the concept of failure. As the group solves each challenge, I will oftentimes make the circle even smaller AND I will give them a time limit in which to complete the activity successfully (ex. 5 minutes). The group will get to a point where the challenge is greater than their ability to solve it in the given amount of time. I will ask them if their inability to solve it means they’re a failure. From this point, we can discuss the definition of failure.
  5. You’ll likely find that some people in the group have rules for themselves that make failure easy to achieve (“In order for me to fail, all I have to know is that I didn’t complete a task.”). Others in the group will have rules that make failure hard to achieve (“In order for me to fail, I must not learn anything. As long as I learn something, I have succeeded.”). Which rules around failure serve you best?
  6. Interesting point: Babe Ruth, the famous baseball home run hitter and hall of famer also held a record for having the most strike outs in a season.


  1. Instead of providing the group with a large circle area in which to stand that progressively becomes smaller and smaller, provide the group with a small area from the beginning.
  2. While the group is in one of the smaller spaces, provide the group with a snack to eat that requires some preparation (crackers with peanut butter and jelly works well).

Copyright Permission

The above teambuilding game description was provided by the International Association of Teamwork Facilitators.

The IATF has members in 34 countries and represents a dynamic community of supervisors, managers, coaches, trainers, facilitators, and educators who are actively working to grow and leverage the most important energy source of our time - -  the power of inspired teamwork.

The IATF provides free teambuilding games, free and engaging leadership development TeleSeminars, free and interactive interviews with team development thought leaders (authors, speakers, etc.), webinars, group and one-on-one coaching, workshops, presentations, books, and multimedia training materials.

We love what the IATF is doing and we urge you to visit the site and access all their great resources.  Just click on the following link:



Submitted by: Jennifer Arns