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Origami Obelisks

Get Creative with Origami Obelisks: The Perfect Icebreaker Activity

Origami Obelisks
By Jon Zajac

What is Origami Obelisks?

The “Origami Obelisks” icebreaker is a creative and interactive activity designed to promote communication, collaboration, and problem-solving among participants. This engaging exercise involves folding square origami paper into obelisk shapes, encouraging teamwork and friendly competition. The goal of this activity is to facilitate interaction, creativity, and cooperation among group members while teaching a basic origami skill.

To set up the Origami Obelisks icebreaker, you’ll need square origami paper, instruction sheets or digital presentations displaying step-by-step instructions, tables or flat surfaces for participants to work on, and optional prizes for the winning team or individual. Begin by dividing participants into small groups (ideally 3-5 people per group) and providing each group with enough origami paper and instruction sheets. Explain the objective, rules, and the process of creating an origami obelisk, ensuring everyone understands what constitutes a successful attempt.

The activity consists of four main steps: 1. Learning Phase: Participants practice folding their origami paper into obelisk shapes, collaborating with team members to share tips, tricks, and corrections as needed. 2. Mini Challenges (Optional): Before the final challenge, introduce optional mini-competitions such as creating the smallest or most creative obelisks or team speed folding for additional practice and enjoyment. 3. Official Construction: Within a designated timeframe, each group works together to create an origami obelisk using connected folds from multiple papers, demonstrating effective teamwork. 4. Presentation & Judging: Teams present their finished masterpieces, which are then judged based on predetermined criteria such as height, creativity, structural stability, and aesthetics. The winning team or individual is determined through an impartial judge’s decision or democratic voting process among participants.

After completing the activity, lead a group discussion to encourage reflection and connection of the activity to collaboration and creativity themes. Ask participants about their experiences, challenges faced, solutions developed, and contributions to the team’s effort. Highlight the importance of listening, sharing knowledge, and flexibility in team settings. The Origami Obelisks icebreaker can help foster a creative mindset, inclusive collaboration, and essential soft skills for effective teamwork, making it an excellent choice for workshops, meetings, or class exercises.

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Rules for Origami Obelisks

  1. Divide participants into small groups (3-5 people per group).
  2. Provide each group with enough square origami paper, instruction sheets or digital presentation of step-by-step origami obelisk instructions, and a flat surface to work on.
  3. Explain the aim, rules, and steps necessary to create an origami obelisk.
  4. In the learning phase, participants practice folding their origami paper into an obelisk shape while encouraged to interact with team members.
  5. Optional: Conduct mini challenges before the final challenge for practice and fun diversions.
  6. Within a set timeframe, each group works collectively to create an origami obelisk using connected folds from individual papers.
  7. After construction, each team presents their masterpiece, and an impartial judge or democratic voting process determines the winner based on predetermined criteria.
  8. Lead a debrief discussion that encourages reflection and connection of the activity to key themes of collaboration and creativity.

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Materials needed for Origami Obelisks

  • *Square origami paper: I recommend using papers of various colors to make the activity visually stimulating. Each participant should have 3-4 sheets for practice runs and the final competition.

  • *Instruction sheets or a digital presentation: These should display step-by-step origami obelisk instructions so everyone can have a clear view of the steps.

  • *Tables or ample flat surfaces: Participants need a place to work on, ideally large enough for each group member to comfortably fold their papers.

  • *Prizes (optional): If you plan to introduce a competitive element, consider having prizes for the winning team or individual. These can serve as an extra motivation for participants.

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Setting up for Origami Obelisks

The setup for the Origami Obelisks icebreaker activity involves several steps to ensure a smooth and engaging experience for participants. First, divide the group into smaller teams of 3-5 people, ensuring that members in each team are not overly familiar with one another. This encourages interaction between individuals who may not know each other well.

Next, provide each group with enough square origami paper, along with instruction sheets or digital presentations displaying step-by-step instructions on creating an origami obelisk. Set up tables or flat surfaces to accommodate participants as they work through the activity. Optionally, prepare prizes for the winning team or individual to add a competitive element to the icebreaker.

Before starting the Origami Obelisks icebreaker, clearly explain the objective, rules, and steps required to create an origami obelisk. Encourage collaboration within teams, and define how a winning obelisk will be judged, whether based on height, creativity, or accuracy in reproduction of the intended design.

These preparations ensure that participants have the necessary resources, guidelines, and atmosphere to engage in a fun, interactive, and collaborative icebreaker experience.

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How to play Origami Obelisks

1. Divide Participants into Small Groups - Evenly distribute participants into smaller groups of 3-5 people each. This encourages interaction between members who may not know each other well.

2. Provide Materials and Instructions - Hand out several sheets of square origami paper to each group. Also, give them instruction sheets or display instructions via a projector or screen for easy viewing.

3. Explain the Rules and Objective - Clearly communicate the goal of creating an origami obelisk as a team, the rules of collaboration, timed elements, and how winning obelisks will be judged (for example, by height, creativity, or accuracy).

4. Practice Folding Origami Obelisks - Allow participants to practice folding their origami paper into an obelisk shape while encouraging teamwork and knowledge sharing.

5. Introduce Mini Challenges (Optional) - Offer optional mini challenges before the final construction, such as creating the smallest possible obelisk or the most creative adaptation, to provide practice and add fun.

6. Construct Final Origami Obelisks - Within a set timeframe, have each group collaborate to create an origami obelisk using their papers, demonstrating teamwork and flexibility.

7. Present and Judge the Origami Obelisks - Have each team present their masterpiece, and determine the winner based on pre-determined criteria such as height, creativity, or structural stability.

8. Facilitate a Debrief Discussion - Lead a group discussion that encourages reflection on collaboration and creativity during the activity. Ask participants about challenges faced, solutions found, and individual contributions to their team’s effort. Highlight the importance of listening, sharing knowledge, and flexibility in team settings.

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Benefits of Origami Obelisks

  • Fosters Collaboration: By working together in small groups to create the origami obelisk, participants learn the importance of collaboration and how individual contributions can come together to achieve a common goal. This activity encourages active listening, sharing knowledge, and flexibility, all essential skills for effective teamwork.

  • Boosts Creativity: Engaging in an artistic activity like origami promotes creative thinking and problem-solving. Participants are challenged to think outside the box when designing their obelisks, incorporating unique shapes, patterns, or sizes while adhering to specific criteria.

  • Encourages Communication: The Origami Obelisk icebreaker creates opportunities for meaningful interaction among group members as they discuss strategies, share insights, and provide constructive feedback during the learning phase and the final construction. This open communication strengthens relationships and builds trust within teams.

  • Promotes Active Learning: As participants follow step-by-step instructions to create their origami obelisks, they engage in active learning, which is more effective than passive consumption of information. They practice a new skill, make mistakes, learn from them, and apply their knowledge in a practical context—all hallmarks of successful learning.

  • Increases Engagement: By offering a hands-on, interactive icebreaker activity like Origami Obelisk, you can capture participants’ attention and keep them engaged throughout the event or workshop session. This creative exercise serves as a welcome break from traditional lecture-style presentations, increasing overall satisfaction and retention of key themes.

  • Enhances Problem-Solving Skills: The Origami Obelisk icebreaker encourages participants to identify challenges, brainstorm solutions, and implement their ideas collectively. These problem-solving skills are transferable to real-world situations, making this activity a valuable learning experience for professional and personal growth.

  • Cultivates Patience and Persistence: Origami is a meticulous art form that requires patience and persistence. As participants navigate the learning curve of creating an obelisk, they develop these essential traits—valuable assets in both their personal and professional lives.

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Skills built with Origami Obelisks

  • Communication: I found that the Origami Obelisks icebreaker significantly enhanced communication skills among participants. Through collaboration and problem-solving, individuals were encouraged to share ideas, offer constructive feedback, and listen actively to their teammates’ suggestions, fostering a cohesive working environment.

  • Creativity: This activity sparked creativity in participants as they transformed simple pieces of paper into intricate obelisk structures. The optional mini challenges further inspired imaginative thinking, enabling individuals to explore diverse designs while honing their origami skills.

  • Teamwork: Working together to create a single obelisk from multiple folds required efficient collaboration and coordination among team members. By combining individual contributions into a unified structure, participants experienced the power of collective effort and the importance of trust in achieving shared goals.

  • Problem-solving: Origami Obelisks presented various challenges that required participants to think critically and strategically. Identifying issues, brainstorming solutions, and adjusting techniques on the fly helped build resilience and adaptability in problem-solving, making it an essential skill for success in both personal and professional settings.

  • Patience and Persistence: The iterative nature of origami required participants to remain patient throughout the process. By persisting through multiple attempts and learning from mistakes, individuals developed a growth mindset that will serve them well in overcoming future challenges.

  • Active Listening and Empathy: Engaging in open dialogue with team members called for active listening skills. By genuinely understanding and acknowledging others’ perspectives, participants not only improved their ability to work together but also fostered empathy and emotional intelligence, which are vital in building strong relationships and effective teams.

Overall, the Origami Obelisks icebreaker offers a fun and interactive way to cultivate essential soft skills while promoting collaboration, creativity, and friendly competition among participants. By engaging in this activity, individuals can enhance their problem-solving abilities, strengthen communication and teamwork, and develop resilience and adaptability – all of which are crucial for success in today’s rapidly changing world.

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Why I like Origami Obelisks

I appreciate the Origami Obelisks icebreaker because it promotes interaction, creativity, and collaboration in a light-hearted yet engaging manner. The beauty of this activity lies in its simplicity and versatility, making it suitable for various group settings, whether team building events, class exercises, or workshop sessions.

The use of origami as a medium adds an artistic touch that appeals to participants’ creativity while also teaching them a new skill. As each person brings their own perspective to the activity, there is ample room for learning and growth in a fun and interactive way. Additionally, incorporating a competitive element can further motivate participants and create a lively atmosphere.

I particularly enjoy designing activities that encourage communication and problem-solving among team members, as these skills are crucial in both personal and professional settings. Origami Obelisks excels at this by requiring individuals to collaborate on constructing the final piece, relying on each other’s input, and overcoming challenges together.

The debrief discussion is an essential part of the experience because it allows participants to reflect on their actions and connect them to broader themes of collaboration and creativity. This opportunity for introspection not only enriches the overall learning experience but also fosters a more cohesive group dynamic as individuals understand each other’s strengths, weaknesses, and working styles better.

Overall, I find Origami Obelisks to be an effective icebreaker that can spark energy, interaction, and collaboration among participants while cultivating essential soft skills in a relaxed and enjoyable context.

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Tips for making Origami Obelisks more inclusive

  • Tip: Provide diverse origami paper options Ensure that the provided origami paper includes various colors, patterns, and themes that cater to different cultural backgrounds, interests, and accessibility needs. This can help participants feel more included and comfortable during the activity.

  • Tip: Use clear and concise instructions Use simple language and visual aids to provide step-by-step instructions for creating origami obelisks. Clear instructions will enable all participants, regardless of their language proficiency or familiarity with origami, to actively engage in the activity.

  • Tip: Encourage teamwork throughout the process Emphasize the importance of collaboration and collective problem-solving during each phase of the Origami Obelisks icebreaker. This can foster an inclusive environment where everyone’s ideas are valued, regardless of their origami skills or backgrounds.

  • Tip: Incorporate a variety of assessment criteria When judging the final products, include criteria that value different aspects of creativity and collaboration, such as teamwork, innovation, storytelling, and effective communication. This can help ensure that all participants feel recognized for their contributions and strengths during the activity.

  • Tip: Allow flexibility in the rules Offer alternatives or adjustments to the activity rules and expectations based on the needs and abilities of each participant. For example, provide additional time or assistance for those who may require more support, or allow participants to create obelisks using alternative materials if they struggle with origami paper.

  • Tip: Foster a positive and supportive atmosphere Encourage a growth mindset by celebrating learning moments, constructive feedback, and individual progress throughout the Origami Obelisks icebreaker. This can help participants feel more comfortable sharing their ideas, taking risks, and learning from one another.

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Reflection questions for Origami Obelisks

  1. How did you feel during the Origami Obelisk icebreaker activity? Understanding participants’ emotions can provide insights into their comfort levels when engaging in team-building and collaborative tasks.
  2. What challenges did you face while creating your origami obelisk? How did you overcome them? This question encourages reflection on problem-solving strategies and resilience, as well as sharing useful techniques with others.
  3. How did collaboration contribute to your team’s success in building the origami obelisk? By highlighting the importance of teamwork, facilitators can emphasize its significance in both simple and complex tasks.
  4. What parallels can you draw between constructing an origami obelisk and working towards a common goal in a professional setting? This question allows participants to make connections between the icebreaker and real-life situations, reinforcing key themes of collaboration and creativity.
  5. Did you learn anything new from your teammates during this activity? If so, what were they? Encouraging participants to recognize shared learning moments can promote an appreciation for diverse perspectives and knowledge exchange within a group.
  6. How can you apply the communication and problem-solving skills honed during this icebreaker to your personal or professional life? This question helps participants draw actionable insights from their experience, fostering continuous growth and development.

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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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