A great activity for everyone

Make a Shape

Level Up Your Team-Building Skills with Make a Shape!

Make a Shape
By Jon Zajac

What is Make a Shape?

The “Make a Shape” icebreaker activity is an engaging and dynamic way to promote team building, spatial awareness, and creativity. In this activity, participants work together to form specific shapes, letters, numbers, or even complex images based on given prompts. This exercise can be done individually or in groups, making it suitable for small and large groups ranging from children in educational settings to adults in corporate workshops.

As a facilitator, I find this activity particularly effective because it encourages communication, collaboration, problem-solving, and thinking outside the box. It also offers an opportunity to reflect on how each participant’s contribution is essential to achieving the overall goal – a powerful metaphor for successful teamwork.

One of the reasons I enjoy leading this activity is its versatility. You don’t need any specific materials for the basic version; however, props or visual aids can enhance complex iterations. Additionally, it can be easily adapted for virtual meetings by using online meeting platforms and encouraging participants to use objects at home, crafting items, or digital collaboration tools.

However, inclusivity and accessibility are crucial considerations when planning this activity. Ensuring that the shapes or concepts chosen are inclusive and accessible to all participants is paramount. Adaptations or alternative modes of participation should be readily available for those who might have limitations restricting movements or spatial arrangements.

In conclusion, the “Make a Shape” icebreaker is an excellent tool for fostering creativity, communication, and problem-solving skills while promoting a deeper understanding of diverse perspectives within a group.

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Rules for Make a Shape

  1. The goal of the “Make a Shape” icebreaker is to foster teamwork, creativity, communication, and problem-solving skills.
  2. Participants must arrange themselves individually or in groups to replicate a specified shape or concept based on given prompts.
  3. Clear a large open space for movement and divide participants into teams.
  4. Communication, teamwork, and thinking outside the box are essential for success in this activity.
  5. Warm-up with basic shapes like circle, square, or triangle before introducing more complex challenges.
  6. Challenge teams to form letters of the alphabet, numbers, animals, or emblematic symbols.
  7. Allocate time for participants or teams to plan their strategy and work together.
  8. Encourage viewing formations from different perspectives, including an aerial view.
  9. Once shapes are formed, have each team present their shape and facilitate reflection on the process.
  10. Adapt the activity for virtual meetings by using objects found at home or digital collaboration tools.
  11. Ensure inclusivity and accessibility by considering participants’ physical abilities and providing alternatives if needed.

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Materials needed for Make a Shape

  • Large open space: This area should be cleared of any obstacles to allow participants to move around freely.
  • Teams (optional): Depending on the group size and complexity of tasks, you may choose to split participants into teams. Teams can range in size from 2 to 10 or more individuals.
  • Props or visual aids (optional): For complex iterations, consider using props or visual aids such as ropes, fabric, or objects found in an office to assist with shape formation.
  • Slips of paper (optional): If you plan to add an element of surprise by having teams draw challenges at random, have slips of paper prepared for this purpose.

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Setting up for Make a Shape

To set up for the Make a Shape icebreaker activity, you need to:

  1. Find or create an open space large enough to accommodate all participants comfortably. This area should be free from obstructions to allow smooth movement and clear visibility of each team’s shape formation.

  2. Divide the participants into teams if you are planning a group format. Ensure that teams are small enough for effective communication and collaboration, typically ranging from 2 to 10 or more members depending on the total number of participants and the complexity of shapes to be created.

  3. Prepare any necessary visual aids or props to assist in explaining the challenges. These can include ropes, fabric, or even office supplies if required for complex iterations of the activity.

  4. Set up seating arrangements around the perimeter of the open space for observers during the execution phase. This is optional but encourages active engagement and peer feedback throughout the activity.

Remember, the key to a successful Make a Shape icebreaker activity setup is ensuring adequate space, clear instructions, and an inclusive environment for all participants.

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How to play Make a Shape

1. Prepare the Space - Clear a large open space to allow participants to move around freely.

2. Divide Participants into Teams - Split participants into teams, if playing in a group format.

3. Explain Rules and Objectives - Present the rules of the activity and emphasize communication, teamwork, and creativity.

4. Warm-Up (Optional) - Start with a simple task as a warm-up. For example, ask participants to form basic shapes.

5. Introduce Challenges - Present the challenges for teams or individuals to create specific shapes or concepts.

6. Plan Strategies - Allocate time for participants or teams to plan their strategy and discuss communication.

7. Execute Shape Formation - Signal teams to start forming their shapes, encouraging them to view the formation from different perspectives.

8. Review and Reflect - Have each team present their shape and facilitate a discussion on successes, challenges, and communication.

Virtual Implementation Variations:

  • Utilize online meeting platforms where participants can turn their cameras on.
  • Shapes can be formed through the arrangement of objects found at home, crafting items depicted, or digital collaboration tools.

Inclusivity and Accessibility Considerations:

  • Ensure that shapes or concepts chosen are inclusive and accessible to all participants.
  • Provide adaptations or alternative modes of participation for those who might have limitations restricting movements or spatial arrangements.

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Benefits of Make a Shape

  • Fosters Teamwork: By requiring participants to collaborate on creating shapes, this icebreaker helps improve their ability to work together towards a common goal. This promotes trust and collaboration in the team.
  • Boosts Creativity: Encouraging participants to think outside the box and find innovative ways to form shapes, letters, or numbers can significantly enhance their creative thinking skills.
  • Enhances Communication Skills: Clear and effective communication is essential for success in this activity. Participants learn to express their ideas clearly and actively listen to others’ suggestions, leading to better overall communication within the team.
  • Improves Problem-Solving Abilities: Making a shape often requires finding creative solutions to spatial challenges or other obstacles that arise during the process. This encourages participants to develop and apply problem-solving strategies in real-time.
  • Encourages Adaptability: As participants work together, they may need to adjust their plans based on unexpected circumstances or limitations. This experience helps them become more adaptable and flexible in their approach to group tasks.
  • Promotes Leadership Skills: In team-based versions of the activity, identifying natural leaders and empowering them to guide the group can help build leadership confidence and abilities among participants.
  • Increases Spatial Awareness: By physically arranging themselves in various formations, participants enhance their spatial awareness and understanding of how individual components contribute to the overall picture or concept.
  • Builds Morale and Enthusiasm: The fun and engaging nature of this icebreaker can create a positive atmosphere, boosting team morale and enthusiasm for future group activities or projects.

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Skills built with Make a Shape

  • Teamwork: The Make a Shape icebreaker encourages participants to work together to achieve a common goal, promoting collaboration and cooperation among team members.
  • Creativity: By challenging individuals or groups to form various shapes, letters, numbers, or images, this activity stimulates imagination and inventiveness.
  • Communication: Effective communication is crucial in planning the strategy and executing the shape formation, helping participants learn how to express their ideas clearly and listen actively.
  • Problem-Solving: The Make a Shape icebreaker prompts participants to think critically and creatively to overcome challenges and find solutions that satisfy the given prompt.
  • Leadership: By encouraging individuals to take charge of their teams, this activity fosters leadership skills such as decision-making, delegation, and motivation.
  • Empathy: Seeing a challenge from different perspectives enables participants to develop empathy towards others’ viewpoints and experiences.
  • Adaptability: This icebreaker teaches participants to be flexible and adapt quickly to new situations by modifying their strategies as needed.
  • Confidence: Successfully completing the Make a Shape activity can increase participants’ self-assurance, helping them feel more comfortable contributing ideas in group settings.
  • Spatial Awareness: Forming shapes requires participants to consider their positioning and movement in space, which enhances spatial reasoning and coordination skills.

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Why I like Make a Shape

As an advocate for team-building activities, I find the “Make a Shape” icebreaker to be incredibly effective and engaging. There are several reasons why this activity stands out to me:

  1. Fostering Creativity and Problem-Solving: The Make a Shape icebreaker encourages participants to think creatively and work together to solve a problem, which is an invaluable skill in both personal and professional settings. By requiring teams to form specific shapes or images, this activity challenges individuals to approach tasks from unique perspectives and collaborate on solutions that might not have been initially apparent.

  2. Promoting Communication and Collaboration: The success of the Make a Shape icebreaker hinges on clear communication and collaboration among team members. This activity offers an excellent opportunity for participants to practice active listening, articulating their ideas, and working together towards a common goal – skills that are crucial in any group setting.

  3. Inclusivity and Adaptability: The Make a Shape icebreaker can be easily adapted to accommodate various skill levels, ages, and physical abilities, making it an inclusive activity for all participants. By offering alternative modes of participation or adapting the challenges to suit individual needs, this icebreaker ensures that everyone can contribute meaningfully and feel valued.

  4. Encouraging Spatial Awareness: The Make a Shape icebreaker promotes spatial awareness and visualization skills as participants must consider their positioning in relation to others and the overall shape they are forming. This aspect of the activity can be particularly beneficial for children or adults looking to develop their spatial reasoning abilities.

  5. Versatility and Scalability: Whether conducted in-person or virtually, the Make a Shape icebreaker remains an engaging and dynamic team-building activity. The simplicity of its concept allows for easy adaptation across various platforms and contexts, making it a versatile choice for educators, facilitators, and team leaders alike.

In conclusion, I appreciate the Make a Shape icebreaker for its ability to foster creativity, communication, and collaboration while being inclusive and adaptable to diverse groups of participants. This activity offers a fun and engaging way to build essential skills and strengthen relationships within teams, making it an invaluable addition to any group facilitation toolkit.

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Tips for making Make a Shape more inclusive

  • Tip: Choose inclusive shapes and concepts Make sure the shapes or concepts chosen are accessible and relevant to all participants, regardless of their physical abilities. This includes avoiding shapes that require extreme flexibility or strength.
  • Tip: Provide alternatives for participation Offer alternative ways for individuals with mobility limitations to participate in the activity. For instance, they could use objects around them to form shapes or contribute to the planning and strategy phase.
  • Tip: Use descriptive language Encourage team members to use clear and descriptive language when communicating their ideas during the planning phase. This helps ensure that everyone understands what is expected of them, regardless of their spatial awareness abilities.
  • Tip: Consider cultural relevance Be mindful of cultural differences in body language and non-verbal communication when facilitating this activity, especially if working with a diverse group. This can help prevent misunderstandings or misinterpretations of participants’ intentions.
  • Tip: Foster an open and supportive environment Create a welcoming atmosphere where all participants feel comfortable sharing their ideas and suggestions. Encourage active listening and validate each contribution to foster a sense of belonging among team members.

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Reflection questions for Make a Shape

  1. What was your experience forming shapes or objects as a team? Understanding how individuals perceive their collective experience can provide insights into the group’s communication and collaboration strengths.
  2. How did you handle challenges during the activity, and what did you learn from them? This question encourages participants to reflect on problem-solving strategies and lessons learned during the icebreaker, which can be applied in real-life scenarios.
  3. Did you feel that your contributions were valued by the team? Why or why not? Exploring feelings of inclusivity and value within a group setting is essential for fostering a positive team environment and promoting individual engagement.
  4. How did spatial awareness play a role in this activity, and how can these insights be applied to your work or personal life? Encouraging participants to think about the broader applications of skills they’ve practiced during the icebreaker helps reinforce learning and promote cross-functional thinking.
  5. What strategies did you use to communicate effectively with your teammates, and how can these be improved in future collaborations? This question allows participants to reflect on their communication skills and identify areas for growth and improvement.
  6. Did the “Make a Shape” icebreaker shift or challenge any of your perspectives on teamwork? If so, how? Prompting reflection on personal growth and new insights gained during the activity can lead to increased self-awareness and empathy among participants.

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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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