A playmeo member recently asked:
I’m designing a leadership program of games & team-building exercises for small groups of only 4-5 students. I find it challenging to do activities with such a small number. Do you have any brilliant ideas for small group games?
Here’s my response:
Your question is a common one among many of our members and users. While I love working with large groups, I have developed a long and reliable list of activities that I pull out when I’m working with very small groups of 6 or fewer people.
I have delivered almost all of the activities I list below to young people and expect that they will form part of a well-sequenced and facilitated program. Naturally, I’m drawing from playmeo’s activity database so there’s plenty more to learn from all of the links I share below.
Top 24 Small Group Games & Activities
Here they are, in no particular order:
- Numbers Game – ideal for 2, 3 or 4 participants
- Mimeograph – one of my most recent small group favourites
- Blind Portraits – classic go-to exercise for 2 or 3 people
- Flip Over Ten – simple, understated group initiative for 4 or more participants
- Over There – same as above, but different
- Take Two – groups love playing this, ideal for individual players or groups of pairs
- Connectiles – the downloadable version is possibly best suited to older students
- Tic Tac Toe – highly energetic and competitive exercise
- Prediction – you can play this one on your own if you want
- RPS Five Lives – this is rocks, paper, scissors with longevity
- Double Dice Game – ideal for groups of 2 or more, highly engaging
- Any What’s the Key? type activity such as Man in the Moon, Crossed or Uncrossed, Johnny Oops, Come to My Party, etc
- Toe Tag – one of the simplest and most effective energisers
- Stick Around – I love this exercise, but it’s not for every group, ie the illustration will give it away
- The Maze – terrific problem-solving exercise that’s built for small groups
- Helium Stick – so easy yet so hard for any size group
- Word Circles – great passive form of problem-solving game
- Story of Your Name – one of my all-time favourites for 2 to 2,000 people
- The Passing Game – ideal for small groups that like to think
- One Two Three – another almost fail-proof activity for pairs, with many variations
Useful Advice Working with Small Groups
Honestly, this is just a short list. There are many dozens of more activities that are ideal for small groups.
Keep in mind, that while small groups are awesome for building intimacy and connection, they often suffer from a lack of energy (which large groups offer in abundance.)
To this end, start with activities that are more likely to encourage your group to generate their own energy rather than relying on you in the beginning. With a good head of steam built up, you can then progress onto some of the more passive forms of team-based activities.
You may also want to check out these blog posts for more advice and ideas: