Bandanna, Cup, Marble

Type of strategy: CollaborationEnergizers and State ChangersGamesHumor and CelebrationMetaphors, Analogies, and SimilesOpeners & Get to Know You

Learning styles: EN: Extraversion and IntuitionES: Extraversion and Sensing

The Bandanna, Cup, Marble teambuilding game requires a group of 4 to 8 people to transport a marble sitting atop a cup (upside down) from point A to point B.


Leading this teambuilding game

  • Group Size: 4 to 10 people per bandana
  • Age Range: Elementary – adult
  • Intensity:  Mental=1, Physical=1
  • Time: 5 – 15  minutes
  • Space: Minimal – Medium – Lots
  • Set Up Time: 60 seconds
  • Props: For each team of 6-10 people: One plastic cup, one bandana, one marble


Transport a marble balanced on a cup from one point to another.

Set Up / Preparation

Create groups of about 8 people and supply each group with one bandana, one marble and one plastic cup (the plastic cup should have some kind of lip on the bottom of it).  The group surrounds the bandana and holds on to it with both hands along the edges creating a tabletop effective.  The cup is now placed up side down on the bandana then the marble is placed on top of / balanced on the cup.  The group is now asked to transport the bandana-cup-marble from one point to another.


  1. If the marble falls off the group must start again.
  2. Everyone must hold on to the edge of the bandana with both hands.
  3. The bandana must be kept tight and flat.
  4. The supplied equipment (props) may not be altered.
  5. No other supplies may be used.


This is a great activity to do with a small group (6 people) or with large groups (200+ people).  It is versatile, inexpensive and easily transported.


I once led this activity at a retreat for a group of school system volunteers (adults).  There were about 30 people so I had them form into 3 groups in one of the meeting rooms.  After everyone was set to go with the activity, I asked them to place their bandana-cup-marble assembly on a small table in an adjacent room SIMULTANEOUSLY.  There was only one doorway and to the other room so the teams were forced to wait on each other.  The table was small which forced the groups to communicate and create a plan.  I had everyone circle up in their small groups and answer the following questions:  What metaphorically is the bandana, cup, marble, and table relative to your job in this organization?  I gave the groups 15 minutes to create a presentation, which they would be giving to the other groups.  The group loved the activity and loved the discussion as well as the presentations from the other small groups.


  1. Place obstacles in the path of the group such as a tables or chairs.  Consider having the group go up a flight of stairs.
  2. Use a taller cup and a larger, denser ball (like a baseball) to make this lots harder.
  3. Fill a cup of water and balance it on the bandana.  If you want to get folks really wet, have them transport the cup by holding the bandana above their heads.


I learned this activity from Sam Sikes, author of “Executive Marbles” and “Feeding the Zircon Gorilla”.


Video Example on their website


International Association of Teamwork Facilitators

Related strategies: 

Focus Ring

Submitted by: Jennifer Arns