Thinking Outside the Box Team-Building Activities

Instructor: Shanna Fox

Shanna has been part of the whirlwind world of teaching middle school for 20 years. She has a Master of Education degree in instructional design.

Thinking outside the box is an essential skill in both the classroom and the workplace. Use these activities with your high school students to help them practice the skills of innovation, creativity, and originality in lively team exercises.

Thinking Outside the Box Teambuilding Activities

Thinking outside the box can also be termed innovation or creativity and is an important skill in today's workforce. Having its place in the academic world as well, this concept can help your high school students break out of traditional thinking by inculcating innovation. These activities are designed to build team rapport, apply innovative thinking skills, and generate lively discussion. Each activity includes a detailed description and a list of materials.

Beyond the Status Quo

  • Materials: example problem-solution scenario, problem scenario for each team (optional - may have students brainstorm scenarios).

In this activity, students will receive a basic problem scenario that is relatively easy to solve. Begin the activity by combining students into teams and providing them with a scenario. Try to create scenarios that are related to student lives. Alternatively, ask the class to brainstorm some problems they've recently faced and select one from the list. Next, have teams come up with a few ideas that are often used to solve such a problem. In other words, they should brainstorm ideas that fit with the status quo. You may want to use a classroom example, such as solving the problem of excessive tardies. The status quo idea may be to follow the discipline plan for unexcused tardies by calling parents.

Then, teams will choose one of the status quo solutions and brainstorm ways to build some outside-the-box thinking into that solution. They should generate multiple solutions. Remind students that when brainstorming for innovative solutions, the ''bad ideas'' should be written down, as well. This list can serve as a reference. They may want to extend or combine ideas to build a creative solution. Lastly, have teams share their best 2 - 3 ideas to the class. Consider having classmates vote on the most outside-the-box idea provided by each team or on a winning class idea.

Sketch It Thinking

  • Materials: advertising scenario(s), markers, poster paper

In this activity, students will sketch out solution ideas on poster paper. Provide each team with a scenario in which an advertising agency needs to reach a specific target audience but isn't sure how to do it. Provide student teams with the poster paper and markers. Have students draw a simple box in the middle of the poster. They should use a black, brown, or gray marker to write a few words inside the box representing linear thinking, rather than innovative, outside-the-box ideas.

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