Activity 12: Maze


  • Brainstorm and share problem-solving strategies to move participants through the maze
  • Find ways to communicate to move through the maze
  • Rely on others to get through the maze
  • Discuss the experience and their feelings

Character Focus

Trust & Communication


Time: 5 minutes
1 Toobeez set
Selected Maze Map
1 envelope
chart paper (optional)

  1. Place the Risk Taking Note into an envelope.
  2. Select the “Maze Map” (answer key) you plan to use with the group (samples are provided below).
  3. Build a Toobeez Maze. Use the photo or Activity CD as a guide.

The Challenge

The team must successfully solve the established (yet hidden) maze route and get as many team members through the maze before time runs out.

Safety Reminders!

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

  • Follow general safety procedures

Helpful hints

  • When presenting this activity, you can choose to read the directions to the group OR you can supply them with a copy of the written directions. Older teens do well with the latter option
  • With younger participants you may need to help them work through the directions rule by rule so they have a clear understanding. This may take 10 - 15 minutes
  • The best place for the facilitator during this activity is at the end of the Maze, opposite to where the participants started
  • Consider having an assistant whose job it is to operate the Maze Map (answer key) which frees up the facilitator to observe group dynamics

Activity Instructions

  1. Circle up the group. Distribute or display the appropriate “Risk Taking Note” for the activity. Have one participant read it aloud twice. Provide a few moments for the participants to think about the message:
    “Travelers, there is no path. Paths are made by walking.” - Antonio Machado
  2. Share the following storyline with group.
    You are all lab scientists. Through a mistake in an experiment, you have created a huge maze in which you are now stuck. The only way to tell others not to make the same mistake is to work together and get out!
  3. Read aloud the following Activity Challenge Box to the group.
    Challenge: The team must successfully solve the established (yet hidden) maze route and get as many team members through the maze before time runs out. Follow the guidelines below:
    • The group may talk during the planning phases, but once people enter the maze, only non-verbal communication (such as pointing) is allowed
    • Only one person is allowed in the maze at a time
    • Team members may keep mental records of the route (but no marking of the route or maps)
    • The team has 25 minutes to complete the activity
    • If any guidelines are broken, the group may be given a penalty
  4. Before the participants attempt an activity challenge, have the group work through the following six steps:
  5. Problem Solving Sequence:

    1. Circle up
    2. Know and understand the challenge and the guidelines
    3. Brainstorm
    4. Make a plan
    5. Do the plan
    6. Evaluate results and adjust as necessary
  6. Have the group gather at one end of the maze. Explain that there is one route through the maze and the facilitator has a “map” of the route.
  7. Everyone must begin and end the maze at the areas specified by the facilitator. The group must establish a sequence, and each person must attempt the route in the established order. After each person has made an attempt, the order starts over.
  8. As team members move through the maze, the facilitator will match your movements with those of the answer key. If a participant steps in the wrong space, the facilitator will “BEEP” that person. The person who was “beeped” must get off the maze and let the next person go. The beeped person goes again when it’s their turn.
  9. Once someone makes it through the maze successfully, they should focus on helping everyone else get through.
  10. If participants get stuck, have the students circle up again. Here are some suggested questions to help guide the group back on track*:
    • What is working?
    • What ideas have you not tried yet that someone suggested?
  11. If your group is still struggling OR if you feel your group would benefit from an additional challenge, present a variation provided on the next page.
  12. After the activity, move to the debriefing questions for discussion.

Activity Variations

  1. Make the activity easier.
    One way to make this activity easier is to allow the group to talk freely if they all move away from the maze and meet in a “special” meeting area (for example, inside a rope circle) while the clock is stopped. Doing this encourages problem solving and sharing of ideas.
  2. Make the activity more challenging
    You can vary the difficulty by decreasing the amount of time (less time = harder).

A Note about Selecting Your Map

You can increase difficulty by using a higher number “Maze Answer Key Map” (higher the map number = harder). As a point of reference, a group of ten-year-olds can solve the maze in 25 minutes if the instructor uses Maze Map #1. Use the blank Maze Map to create your own maps.

Debriefing the Activity

Use these debriefing questions as a guide for your discussion. Select the questions you feel will best benefit your group. It is not mandatory to cover every question. If possible, record the group’s responses on flip chart paper so all comments are displayed. Make sure to let everyone share their ideas, and remind participants that everyone’s opinions and feelings are important!

Base questions for debriefing:

  • How did you feel while you did the activity?
  • What was one of the challenges of doing this activity?
  • What was one positive thing that happened during the challenge?
  • How did it feel to get beeped?
  • What advice would you give to another group working on this activity?
  • How did restrictions on communication challenge the group in this activity?
  • How can you apply what you just learned to other challenges you face?
  • What surprised you about this activity?

If the group was unable to complete the task in the given time:

  • Why do you think it was so difficult to make it through the maze?
  • What changes would you make in how you communicated?

Additional questions: Choose which ones are the most appropriate:

  • How do you work to keep improving your work with others?
  • Did you try different ideas? If so, why did you change your approach?

Additional Debriefing Discussion for “The Maze”

  • Who did you trust to give you information and advice during this activity?
  • Who solved the maze? (Note: The reality is it took everyone’s effort to get the first person through.)
  • Discussion point: Trust. Who received help from others during the activity? Who gave help? Some students are reluctant to either give or receive help. These questions can start a great conversation around the topic of helping others. It can also lead into a conversation about trust. Who did you trust to give you information and advice during this activity? Did anyone receive advice (directions) that led him or her to make an incorrect move? How do you know who to trust in the real world?
  • Who made a mistake during this activity? Everyone will make a mistake at some point during this activity. When everyone acknowledges that they all made mistakes, point out that they were still able to solve the challenge (if in fact they were able to). Then ask the group to whether mistakes are “good” or “bad” for people to make. Generally groups will say that mistakes are good when you pay attention to them and don’t repeat them, and they are bad when the same mistake is repeated over and over again

Close on a Positive Note

Sum up the different ideas and feelings that you heard expressed, and restate ideas and learning moments the participants shared. Then, read the Risk Taking Note out loud again, and ask people to discuss what they think this note means. Discuss what they thought it meant at the beginning and what they think it means now.

* (ˆ) Do not provide the participants with answers. Allow them to work together.