Activity 18: Sides Switch


  • Brainstorm creative problem-solving strategies to find and share space with group members
  • Physically support each other as they work together to test different strategies
  • Discuss the experience and feelings

Character Focus

Respecting Others


Time: 4 minutes
1 Toobeez set
1 envelope
chart paper (optional)

  1. Place the Risk Taking Note into an envelope.
  2. Build a long rectangle (refer to photo) with blue on one side and red on the other. The more narrow the rectangle, the more difficult the activity. In the photo shown, the shortest tube is used to set the width of the rectangle.

The Challenge

The people on the blue side must switch places with the people on the red side.

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
  • People may lose their balance in this activity. Remind people to step out of the rectangle if they lose their balance (rather than fall out)

Helpful hints

  • Changing places requires a great deal of physical contact on the part of the participants. For this reason, make sure your group is ready to work in close proximity. This may not be an appropriate activity for mixed groups of male and female
  • This activity is simple if only four people are participating. The more people you add, the harder this activity gets
  • It’s nice to have an even number of players

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:
    “Don't sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them!" - Madam C.J. Walker
  2. Share the following storyline with group.
    You are all part of special mountain-climbing teams. Your two teams need to pass each other so that some of you can continue moving up the mountain and the other team can continue moving down the mountain. You are on the edge of the mountain, and there is a 7,000 foot drop to the bottom of the cavern. If you work very carefully together, you will be able to continue on your journeys!
  3. Read aloud the following Activity Challenge Box to the group.
    Challenge: The people on the blue side must switch places with the people on the red side. Follow the guidelines below:
    • Participants may not stand on the rectangle
    • Participants may not touch the ground outside the rectangle
    • The Toobeez structure may not be altered
    • If any guidelines are broken, the group must begin again
  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 team stand inside the rectangle. Ask four people to stand in a row, one behind the other. Then ask the other four people to stand one behind the other facing the other group. Tell each group that they must switch places with the other group. Example: start = 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8, end = 5 6 7 8 1 2 3 4 (where the numbers are the people-see the picture).
  7. 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?
  8. 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.
  9. After the activity, move to the debriefing questions for discussion.

Activity Variations

  1. Changing the level of difficulty.
    Change the width of the rectangle to vary the difficulty: The more narrow the rectangle, the harder the activity.
  2. Mix up the group.
    Ask the group to stand inside the rectangle. Then ask them to arrange themselves by birth date, height or the first letter of their last name.
  3. Increase the difficulty.
    Make a giant plus sign by placing a rectangle perpendicular to the rectangle already created. You’ll have four smaller groups switching places all at the same time. This is hard.

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:

  • What did you just do together?
  • Discuss with the group the support network they have in their home and how it compares to the support just received in the activity. What do you like about your support network?
  • How did you feel while you did the activity?
  • What was one of the challenges of doing this activity?
  • What did the group have to do or believe to be successful?
  • How can you apply what you learned in this activity to your life and work?

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

  • What did a fellow team member do that was really helpful?
  • Since you were not able to solve the problem, does it mean your group is a failure? (Push the group to respond with more than a “yes” or “no” and to instead point out and discuss what they learned.)
  • Why do you think it was so difficult to make the switch happen?
  • What changes would you make in how you communicated?

Additional questions: Choose which ones are the most appropriate:

  • What was one positive thing that happened during the challenge?
  • How do you work to keep improving your work with others?
  • Did you try different ideas? If so, why did you change your approach?

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.