The Tunnel
Primary Market
Health, Seniors Therapy
Items Needed
1 or more Toobeez set(s), 6’ or 8’ tables, chairs (optional)
The Activity Time
30-60 Minutes


  • Improve fine-motor skills
  • Stimulate cognitive functioning
  • Promote problem-solving skills
  • Provide connectedness within a group
  • Increase affiliation with others
  • Increase verbal interaction
  • Improve sitting and/or standing balance
Activity Focus
The Challenge

The group must construct a tunnel made from Toobeez.

Time 5 minutes


  • 1 or more Toobeez set(s)
  • 6’ or 8’ tables
  • chairs (optional)


  • Set up tables and chairs for participants’ use.
  • Have the Toobeez ready.
Activity Plan

Group Size: 4 to 8

Time: 30-60 minutes

Space: Medium

Activity Instructions

1. Arrange the participants so half are on each side of the table(s).

2. Orient the participants to each other and open with a brief discussion about the importance of needing other people in our lives to help meet our goals. Have participants give examples of how they currently help each other.

3. When they are ready, introduce the storyline:
Your group is on a trip to Rocky Caverns, a popular vacation resort when a rockslide occurs blocking the opening to the outside. Help is on the way, but the rescue team is not sure where you are located. If you could build a small tunnel out of the materials you have, you could yell to the outside so the rescue team could find you. You are in close quarters, and you do not have much time! When completed, yell, “We did it!” so the rescue workers will know where to find you!

4. Read the Activity Challenge Box to the group.
Activity Challenge: The group must construct a tunnel made from Toobeez.

5. Allow participants to plan and problem solve together while constructing their tunnel. Participants can build any tunnel structure that solves their problem. They do not have to build the exact structure in the pictures.

6. Hand-over-hand intervention may be necessary for some participants. Assist participants who may have difficulty with handling the Toobeez.

7. Encourage the group with verbal suggestions (if necessary) to keep the group engaged.

8. If your group is struggling, or if you feel your group would benefit from an additional challenge, present a variation provided below.

9. After the activity, move to the “Activity Discussion and Processing” section.

Here are the available Teambuilding Training Options.

The tunnel1

Activity Variations

1. Solve the challenge without communication.
If this seems too easy, try having the group attempt their tunnel construction without verbal and/or written communication.

2. Have participants use one hand each.
This really demands teamwork and teaches humility. This variation is challenging, but perfect, when working with someone who may have lost the use of an arm or hand, making it an even playing surface.

3. Have one person give directions.
Have the group select a leader to give directions to the team to construct the tunnel. The leader is the only group member who can speak.

4. Blindfold the group.
For a real challenge, blindfold the group while they attempt the activity.

5. Compete with teams.
Divide a set of Toobeez in half and have the two teams compete.

6. Limit the Toobeez.
Provide only certain Toobeez pieces to the participants.

7. Build big!
Use the larger Toobeez from two sets of Toobeez to build a tunnel large enough for the group to travel through and “escape.” Safety Note: Be sure the tunnel is secure if people are going to travel through it. To be safe, have therapists or able participants hold the tunnel to brace it.

8. Have a time limit.
Determine the number of Toobeez and have a time limit within which participants must work.

Safety Reminders!

Appropriate caution is important to conduct activities in a safe manner. Be sure to review these reminders prior to beginning the activity, and share reminders with the group if necessary.

  • This is an activity that can promote standing or sitting balance
  • Apply the “no discount” rule; all suggestions in the group are counted and are not put down, reduced or “discounted” in any way, as all group members’ comments are valued.
  • Remind participants to be mindful of their neighbors when swinging
    Toobeez into place so they do not hit each other in the head

Helpful Hints

  • This is also a great challenge for group interaction or for the participant that is looking for something new
  • The number of tables will determine how long the tunnel can be

Activity Discussion and Processing

The effectiveness of the group process will often determine the outcome for the participant. These are only suggested questions to begin the discussion. Select the ones you feel will best benefit your group. Make sure to let everyone share their ideas, and remind participants that everyone’s feelings are important!

Suggested questions for processing:

  • How did you feel when you heard what you were going to do?
  • How did it feel to be part of a group trying to reach a goal?
  • What was the hardest part of the challenge?
  • When have there been times you were part of a team?
  • Did you need help at times from others?
  • Did anyone in the group say anything that made you keep working?
  • How does it feel to reach (or not reach) the goal?
Closing the Activity
Review the challenge of the group and summarize how the challenge was (or was not) achieved. Highlight the main contributions and resolve unfinished issues. Affirm their efforts for support and acceptance of each other’s feelings. End with the following quote:“Finding good players is easy. Getting them to play as a team is another story.”
– Casey Stengel
Vicky Pitner is the author of the Toobeez Senior Therapy Activity Workbook and the upcoming Toobeez Recreational Activity Workbook. Recreation Services provides therapeutic recreation consulting, program development, staff and respite training, inclusion training, and workshops.
All Activities of Vicky Pitner, CTRS

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