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Activity: Mission Improbable

In this activity, learners will explore collaborative values such as compromise and conflict resolution.
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In mission improbable, children will be challenged to work together to build any model they like. This activity is great for exploring compromise and conflict, and learning how to work together even when each person has a different agenda. All you need for the activity is a bunch of wooden blocks or other construction material like LEGO bricks or lolli sticks. To get started organize the children into groups of three to four and give each group a set of building blocks. The task is now for them to agree on a model that they would like to build. They can build any model they please in the group. But there are some rules for building.
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Only one person can place a block at a time. They must take it in turns to place their block. The next person is allowed to remove the block the previous person placed before adding their block. While they are building, the teacher can help the children get started or handle frustrations by asking questions like how it felt when one of the children took your blocks away, or what happened when they started building before talking to each other. The game is complete when the children agree that their model is finished. If the activity was too easy, you can add a secret goal like deconstructing the model that only one of the children knows.
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Be mindful that it takes some self-confidence to be the student with a secret goal. On the other hand, this activity can be made easier by telling the children what they must create. For example, a house or a tower, or let them split up into smaller groups to do separate builds. Now it’s your turn. Have fun. Solving the mission improbable.

In this activity, learners will explore collaborative values such as compromise and conflict resolution. Learners can work together even when each has a different agenda.

What you need:

Wooden blocks, LEGO® bricks or other construction material.

How to play:

Organise the learners into groups of three to four and give each a set of building blocks.

The task is for them to agree on a model that they would like to build. They can build any model they choose in the group. However, there are rules for building:

  1. Only one person can place a block at a time.

  2. They must take it in turns to place their block.

  3. The next person is allowed to remove the block the previous person placed before adding their block. Be mindful that this can cause conflicts among learners who are not managing conflicts well, so you may need to be ready to step in and address these feelings of feeling hurt or frustrated and help resolve disagreements.

The game is complete when the learners agree that their model is finished.

Key questions/reflections:

  • Were you a good team? Why, and if not, why not? What makes a good team?

  • Was it easy or hard to take turns placing blocks? Why?

  • How did you feel when a member of your team took your blocks away?

  • If you started building before talking to each other, what happened? If you talked a lot first, how did that help or hinder actually building the model?

  • How could you have made your model more efficiently as a team?

  • Whose ideas were used most and why? How could you have used your ideas more? What have you learned about being in a team?

To support equity and inclusion you may need to support some learners to ensure that all get a chance to share and have their voices heard.

Scale up/down:

This can be scaled up by adding in a secret goal – where one of the group acts as a saboteur (for example, their goal is to deconstruct the model). Be mindful that it takes some self-confidence to be the learner with a secret goal. Using alternative materials such as pipe cleaners or lolly sticks can make the physical task more challenging as well.

This activity can be made easier by telling the learners what they must create, for example, a house or a tower.

Want to try this in your classroom?

Download the instructions for facilitating this activity below.

Want to try a similar activity?

Tower of Collaboration allows learners to learn about the value of collaboration by effectively taking turns, sharing resources and coming up with ideas and rules. Download facilitation instructions below.

Ready to try?

Are you ready to try this activity in your classroom?

What are some of the benefits and maybe challenges you foresee if so?

Please share in the Discussion Board below.

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Social Learning and Collaboration in School: Learning to Thrive through Play

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