A great activity for everyone

Cup Condo

Build Towers and Foster Teamwork with Cup Condo!

Cup Condo
By Jon Zajac

What is Cup Condo?

The Cup Condo icebreaker is an engaging and interactive team-building activity designed to promote collaboration, communication, and problem-solving skills among participants. At its core, the goal of this exercise is to construct a pre-determined structure using plastic cups, a rubber band with strings, without directly touching the cups with hands or any body parts (Ibrams, 2021). This activity fosters teamwork by requiring each participant to hold onto their assigned string and carefully maneuver the rubber band to pick up, move, and stack the cups.

Throughout the Cup Condo icebreaker, teams will need to strategize, communicate effectively, and adapt to challenges in order to successfully build the structure. This activity can be modified to fit various settings, such as educational institutions, corporations, or recreational gatherings, making it a versatile and valuable tool for promoting teamwork and collaboration (Ibrams, 2021).

Incorporating elements of competition, time constraints, or complex structures can add an extra layer of difficulty to the Cup Condo icebreaker, further emphasizing the importance of adaptive strategies, clear communication, and strategic planning. The debrief session following the activity provides an opportunity for participants to reflect on their experiences, discuss successful strategies, and identify areas for improvement (Ibrams, 2021). Overall, the Cup Condo icebreaker is an effective and enjoyable way to enhance teamwork, improve communication skills, and encourage adaptability in various settings.

References: Ibrams, J. (2021). The Cup Condo Icebreaker Activity. Team Building Directory. https://www.teambuildingdirectory.com/cup-condo-icebreaker-activity/

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Rules for Cup Condo

  1. Participants can only hold onto their assigned string.
  2. Communicating verbally is allowed unless the variation requires silence for added difficulty.
  3. The structure must be completed within a set time limit (optional).
  4. No touching of cups with hands or any body parts; use only the rubber band/string apparatus to pick up, move, and stack the cups.

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Materials needed for Cup Condo

  • Durable plastic cups:` A set of plastic cups that are lightweight yet durable, usually 6 to 24 in number, depending on the team size and desired difficulty level. These cups serve as the building blocks for the structure.

  • Rubber band: One rubber band is required to tie the ends of the strings evenly around it, creating an apparatus that allows all participants to control the rubber band via their assigned string. The rubber band should be able to stretch enough to grip a cup when the strings are pulled outward.

  • Strings: Multiple strings, equal in number to the participants, are needed for this activity. These strings, usually 3 to 5 feet long, are connected to the rubber band and allow participants to manipulate the cups without touching them with their hands or any body parts.

  • Optional “build area”: A designated build area marked by tape or a marker can be used to indicate where the structure must be erected. This area helps contain the building process within a specific zone, making it easier for participants to focus on the task at hand.

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Setting up for Cup Condo

To set up for the Cup Condo icebreaker activity, you need to:

  1. Find a spacious area free from obstructions where all participants can comfortably gather around. This location should preferably have a flat surface to ensure stability during the construction process.

  2. Clearly mark the “build area” if you choose to include this rule in your version of the activity. The build area indicates where teams must erect their cup structures, adding an extra layer of challenge and precision.

  3. Before gathering participants, prepare the required materials by assembling the rubber band/string apparatus. Attach the ends of the strings evenly around a rubber band so that each participant will have a string to control. Ensure the rubber band can stretch enough to grip a cup when the strings are pulled outward.

  4. Divide participants into equal teams if there are too many people for a single group or if team competition is desired. Make sure to provide clear instructions and communicate the rules and objectives of the activity to all participants before beginning.

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How to play Cup Condo

  1. Prepare the Activity Area Start by setting up a clear, spacious area where your team can gather around. If you want to designate a “build area” for stacking the cups, mark it clearly on the floor using tape or another marker.

  2. Assemble the Rubber Band and String Apparatus Using a rubber band, tie the ends of the strings around it at even intervals, ensuring there is one string per participant. The apparatus should be able to stretch enough to grip a cup when the strings are pulled taut.

  3. Divide Participants into Teams (optional) If your group is large or if you want to create a competitive atmosphere, divide participants into equal teams.

  4. Understand the Objective The objective of the activity is for the team to work together to stack all the cups into a pre-determined structure without touching the cups with their hands or any body parts. This must be achieved using only the rubber band/string apparatus to pick up, move, and stack the cups.

  5. Follow the Rules
    • Each participant can only hold onto their assigned string.
    • Verbal communication is allowed unless you opt for a variation that requires silence for added difficulty.
    • A time limit may be set to add urgency.
  6. Begin Stacking the Cups At your signal, participants will stretch the rubber band around a cup using their string and carefully maneuver it to build the structure by coordinating the slack/tension of their strings.

  7. Collaborate and Communicate Team members need to work together, discuss strategies, and communicate effectively to successfully stack the cups.

  8. Adjust Strategies and Roles Throughout the activity, team members will naturally adjust their strategies, improve communication, and may even assign roles spontaneously to optimize the process.

  9. Try Variations You can introduce variations like time constraints, silence, or complex structures to increase the challenge and focus on specific skills.

  10. Hold a Debrief Session After completing the exercise, discuss strategies that worked, what didn’t, how the team communicated, and what could be improved. Highlight the importance of strategic planning, adaptation, and effective communication in teamwork.

The Cup Condo icebreaker activity offers numerous benefits, such as enhancing teamwork, improving communication skills, and encouraging strategic thinking. Its versatile nature allows it to be adapted for various settings, making it an excellent choice for educational, corporate, or recreational activities.

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Benefits of Cup Condo

  • Fosters Teamwork and Collaboration: By requiring participants to work together towards a common goal without physically touching the cups, the Cup Condo icebreaker promotes collaboration and cooperation. It emphasizes the importance of relying on one another’s strengths and abilities to achieve success.
  • Improves Communication Skills: The exercise necessitates clear verbal communication among team members to effectively coordinate their movements and strategies. This helps participants hone their listening skills, empathy, and ability to convey instructions clearly.
  • Encourages Strategic Thinking and Problem Solving: As the task progresses, teams will need to constantly assess their methods and make adjustments for improvement. Developing this adaptive mindset is crucial in both professional and personal settings.
  • Boosts Self-Confidence and Morale: Successfully completing a challenging task as part of a team can significantly enhance individual self-esteem and contribute to an overall positive group dynamic.
  • Cultivates Patience and Perseverance: The Cup Condo icebreaker demands focus, patience, and persistence from participants, teaching them the value of sticking with a problem until it is resolved.
  • Promotes Critical Thinking: Participants must analyze their actions and adjust their strategies accordingly in order to complete the task. This fosters critical thinking skills that are valuable in various aspects of life.
  • Enhances Non-Verbal Communication: Opting for a silent variation of the activity can help participants develop non-verbal communication skills, further emphasizing the importance of body language and eye contact.
  • Increases Creativity and Innovation: The challenge of constructing complex geometric shapes encourages teams to think outside the box and explore innovative solutions, boosting their creative thinking abilities.

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Skills built with Cup Condo

  • Teamwork: The primary skill built during the Cup Condo icebreaker is teamwork. Participants must collaborate to achieve a common goal, learning to trust and rely on one another. They assign roles spontaneously, adapt their strategies, and communicate effectively, all of which are essential components of successful teamwork.

  • Communication: Clear and effective communication is vital for success in the Cup Condo activity. Participants need to articulate their ideas, listen to others, and provide constructive feedback. This process enhances active listening skills, empathy, and patience, making it an excellent exercise for improving overall communication within a group.

  • Problem-solving: The Cup Condo icebreaker presents a unique challenge that requires participants to think critically and strategically. They must analyze the situation, identify potential solutions, and execute their plan while being ready to adjust their approach as needed. This process strengthens problem-solving skills and strategic thinking.

  • Patience and Persistence: Working together to build a delicate structure made of plastic cups can be frustrating at times, especially when initial attempts fail. The Cup Condo icebreaker encourages participants to remain patient, persistent, and resilient in the face of setbacks, teaching them valuable lessons about perseverance and determination.

  • Non-verbal Communication: In the silent variation of this activity, players must rely on non-verbal cues such as gestures, facial expressions, and body language to communicate effectively. Developing these skills can be beneficial in many real-world situations where verbal communication may not be possible or appropriate.

  • Leadership: The Cup Condo icebreaker often brings out natural leaders who take charge of coordinating the group’s efforts and guiding them towards success. By observing how others lead, participants can learn valuable leadership skills such as delegation, motivation, and adaptability.

  • Adaptability: Flexibility is crucial for success in the Cup Condo icebreaker. As participants encounter challenges or setbacks, they must be willing to adjust their strategies and approaches. This adaptability is an essential skill for navigating both professional and personal life successfully.

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Why I like Cup Condo

As someone who appreciates team-building activities, I find the Cup Condo icebreaker to be incredibly effective and engaging. There are several reasons why this activity stands out for me.

First, I enjoy how the Cup Condo icebreaker encourages collaboration and communication among participants. By requiring team members to work together to achieve a common goal without physically touching the cups, it fosters a strong sense of interdependence and cooperation. This dynamic mirrors real-life situations where colleagues must rely on one another’s expertise, ideas, and support to overcome challenges and accomplish tasks.

The physical aspect of the Cup Condo icebreaker also adds an element of fun and excitement. Manipulating cups using a rubber band and string apparatus creates a unique challenge that keeps participants engaged and focused throughout the activity. This hands-on experience helps break down barriers between team members, making it easier for them to connect on both personal and professional levels.

Moreover, I admire how the Cup Condo icebreaker promotes problem-solving and strategic thinking. As teams work together to build their structures, they will inevitably encounter obstacles that require creative solutions and adaptive strategies. By practicing these skills in a low-stakes environment, participants become better equipped to tackle complex challenges in their personal and professional lives.

Lastly, I appreciate the opportunity for reflection and debriefing after the activity. Discussing what worked, what didn’t, and how team members can improve their communication and collaboration processes is invaluable for building stronger relationships and more effective teams. The insights gained from this discussion can also be applied to other areas of life, emphasizing the transferability of skills learned during the Cup Condo icebreaker.

In conclusion, I like the Cup Condo icebreaker because it effectively promotes teamwork, communication, problem-solving, and strategic thinking while providing a fun and engaging experience for participants. Its versatility and adaptability make it an excellent choice for various settings, further highlighting its value as a powerful team-building tool.

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Tips for making Cup Condo more inclusive

  • Tip: Provide Accommodations for Different Abilities: Before starting the activity, ensure that everyone understands the rules and can participate comfortably. For example, you could provide strings of different lengths to accommodate participants with varying heights or mobility limitations.
  • Tip: Offer Visual Aids: If some team members are visual learners, consider using diagrams or pictures to illustrate how the cup structure should look. This can help ensure that everyone is on the same page and working together effectively.
  • Tip: Encourage Active Listening: To make sure everyone’s voice is heard, remind participants to listen carefully to each other’s ideas and build on them. This can help create a more inclusive environment where all team members feel valued and respected.
  • Tip: Use Simple Language: When explaining the rules and objectives of the activity, use simple language that everyone can understand. Avoid jargon or technical terms that may exclude some participants.
  • Tip: Be Patient and Flexible: Recognize that it may take some participants longer to grasp the concepts or strategies involved in the activity. Be patient and flexible, offering additional support or clarification as needed.
  • Tip: Foster a Positive Environment: Encourage a positive and supportive atmosphere by acknowledging everyone’s contributions and highlighting the importance of teamwork. This can help create an inclusive environment where all team members feel comfortable participating.
  • Tip: Consider Cultural Differences: Be aware of cultural differences that may affect communication styles or expectations around teamwork. For example, some cultures may place a higher value on hierarchy or respect for authority, while others prioritize egalitarianism and collaboration. Adapt your facilitation style accordingly to ensure everyone feels included and valued.

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Reflection questions for Cup Condo

  1. What specific communication strategies did you use during the activity? Understanding the types of verbal and non-verbal communication that were helpful in this task can provide insight into effective communication in other situations.
  2. How did you handle setbacks or failures during the building process? This question encourages participants to reflect on their adaptability and problem-solving skills when facing challenges.
  3. Did you find yourself taking on a particular role within your team? If so, what was it and why do you think you assumed that role? Exploring individual roles and contributions can shed light on natural tendencies and preferences, which can be valuable information for future teamwork and collaboration.
  4. What was the most difficult part of the activity for you, and how did you address that challenge? This question encourages self-awareness and resilience, highlighting the importance of recognizing one’s own struggles and working through them.
  5. How can the strategies and skills you used during this activity be applied to real-world situations, such as your workplace or personal life? Connecting the activity to real-life scenarios helps participants recognize the relevance and applicability of teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills.
  6. What did you learn about yourself and your teammates during this activity? This question fosters self-awareness and empathy, allowing participants to understand their own strengths and weaknesses as well as those of their colleagues.
  7. If you were to do this activity again, what changes would you make to improve the process and outcome? Encouraging forward-thinking and continuous improvement is essential for personal and team growth.

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About the author

Jon Zajac

Jon Zajac

Founder & Chief Icebreaker

I started Icebreaker Spot because I truly believe that strong connections are the foundation of successful teams. I wanted to create a platform that would make it easy for people to find and share icebreakers and team building activities, empowering them to build trust, foster collaboration, and ultimately, achieve greatness together.

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