Whether you’re working with your own daughters or a group of girls, it’s important for a young person to feel she belongs to a group. Team-building exercises for girls help participants learn more about themselves and one another, build trust and learn to cooperate in different ways. Because there are no boys involved, the girls may feel more comfortable opening up about themselves and participating in the activities.
Team-building exercises that use leadership games require girls to get the confidence to step up, take charge and act. A simple exercise is to have the girls form a circle, hold hands and figure out a way to turn the circle inside out so their backs face the inside of the circle. The girls can accomplish this by having two players raise their arms so the others can pass through the arch formed. Increase the difficulty level by blindfolding the girls. The “Blind Square” activity, from the Becoming program website, starts with blindfolding the girls in a group, giving them a rope that’s at least 40 feet long and telling them to form a square with the rope. This exercise requires all the girls to take charge, help organize the corners and accomplish a common goal.
Competitive team-building exercises break larger groups of girls into small teams that must work together to accomplish an objective. The “Building Model” activity has girls divide into teams of three. Using toothpicks and marshmallows of different sizes and colors, each team builds a creative structure in an isolated area in five minutes. The teams then assign the roles of messenger, builder or explainer to each girl. After covering the structures with a cardboard box, the teams move to a new building station. The explainer studies the model under the box that a different team built, re-covers the structure and tells the messenger how the structure looks, including the colors and size of the marshmallows. The messenger tells the builder how to copy the other team’s structure. The explainer and builder can only talk to the messenger, but not each other. The team that builds the best replica model in 10 minutes wins. The “Big Bad Wolf” game divides a group of girls into two or more teams with four to six girls. Using newspaper and packing tape, each team constructs a girls-only fort that the group leader should not be able to collapse by blowing on it. The group of girls that makes the strongest structures win.
Strength- and Talent-Recognition Games
Team-building games that help girls learn about each other’s strengths and talents aren’t always competitive. In the “Party” game, the girls write down their strengths and talents on strips of paper. The girls place a strip in a balloon and inflate it. One by one, each girl pops a random balloon and the group identifies the person who wrote on the strip of paper. The person who popped the balloon secures the paper to a large banner. This exercise reveals the strengths that each girl offers the group and lets the girls see their collective strengths. A similar activity is like musical chairs. Like in the classic game, there is one chair less than the number of girls in the group. To begin the game, all but one of the girls sit. The girl left standing is the leader who calls out a strength or talent. The girls who possess the quality stand up and find a new place to sit. The leader automatically gets to sit. The person who doesn’t take a seat fast enough is the new leader.
Communication games help girls develop a life skill as they work in teams of two or more. A simple game from the Girl Scouts of Southern Appalachians requires the girls to form teams of two. Each girl receives an envelope. All the envelopes have the same contents: shapes of various sizes cut out of different colors of paper. The girls in a team sit back to back. One girl is the designer and the other is the copier. The designer makes an image using the shapes and describes the creation to her partner, who attempts to make an identical image. After the first round, the girls switch roles. If the girls are older, they can do a similar game that is more difficult. Instead of using shapes, the designer draws a simple diagram on a piece of paper and gives instructions to the copier about how to duplicate it. In the first stage, the copier can’t ask questions. In the second stage, the copier can only ask questions that have “Yes” or “No” answers. In the final stage, the two girls can talk freely about the design before comparing the results.