Team Builders

Encouraging Yarn

This team builder is a little different than the rest of the ones on our site. There is no pit of crocodiles to cross over, and no burning buildings to evacuate. Just some good ol team building at the heart’s level. Here’s what you do.

If you have a group of more than 30 students, break them in half, otherwise, just seat them in a circle facing one another. (Adult leaders can, and should, be included in this!)

Hand one person a ball of yarn and tell him to throw/roll it to someone else. When the other person catches it, the “thrower” says something to that person that is encouraging in nature. (“You are a loyal friend.” “You give grace to others.” “You are a helpful person.” Etc.)

Afterwards, the person who was just encouraged grabs the yarn in one hand and tosses the ball of yarn to another person with the other hand. She then tells that person an encouraging point about his/her nature.

This process repeats until a “spider web” has been created between the students in the circle. (By the way, the same person can be encouraged more than once by more than one person.)

The group needs to be real and genuine with each other. They can have fun while doing this, but they need to be serious when they pass on encouragement to others.

Be watchful of “new” kids that very few people know. You may want to privately call on an adult leader or a great “inner circle” student to focus on him or her.

Also, don’t let the “encouragements” boil down to simple compliments (“I like the way you dress.”) Force them to reach for deeper meaning behind a person, their nature, or their actions. For instance, “I appreciate the fact that you do not dress in a provocative way.” Or “I am glad you no longer wear shirts with mean or ungodly messages on them.”

When everyone has had at least one turn, you can have a discussion about this while everyone holds onto their string (maintaining the “spider web”).

Possible Questions:
What does this tell us about the “community” that we have in our youth ministry?
How did this make you feel?
Do you feel that the people around you spoke the truth about you?
How important are we to one another?
Did you learn something about someone else? If so, what?
When the discussion dies down, take a pair of scissors and cut a few connections between students and discuss the effect it has on the group.

NOTE: Make sure only one person is talking during this exercise from start to finish! Side conversations make the exercise last too long and do not give everyone a few seconds of special encouragement.

Idea by Jonathan C.


Jonathan McKee

Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Guy's Guide to FOUR BATTLES Every Young Man Must Face; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.

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