Partnership Cultivation and Facilitation Activities

Building Community


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Another tool I like to introduce into conversations is “Give/Get.” Look for opportunities when your partners are gathered to ask them “What do you (or your organization) need to get right now?” followed by “What can you or your organization give to this community.” It takes practice for people to get into this mindset, but it can spark some conversations and some commitments to each other. Once commitments are made, then you have something to hold people accountable.


Chairs in a Circle – This activity is similar to Musical Chairs or the PBS Kids Musical Hoops activity. Create a circle of chairs and have participants sit in the chairs. Ask one participant to stand in the middle and remove their chair so there is one less chair than group participants. This can also be done by having the facilitator serve as a model and removing their chair. The person in the middle then shares something about themselves that others could potentially relate to. If the other participants agree with the remark or have experienced the same thing, they stand up and all standing (including the person in the middle) attempt to be seated in the remaining open chairs. The last person without a chair then becomes the next leader in the middle. Example sharing statements may include: “My name is Jan, I have a pet hedgehog” (all those with pet hedgehogs switch seats)…. “My name is Sara; I’ve been to the Mackinaw Island.” (all those who have been to Mackinaw Island switch seats), etc.. This often works well with a theme related to the topic, such as leadership (i.e. “My name is Jake and I’ve been the president of my 4-H club.”). (1)

Common Ground – Divide the participants into small groups and have them discuss things they have in common, such as gender or eye color. They must also seek unusual things they have in common for example; being a twin or having an unusual pet, like a snake. Explain to participants they have 15 minutes to find as many common facts as they can. The team who comes up with the most items in common wins the game.

Tower of Trust – Divide participants into groups appropriate for the activity goals. Give each group two newspaper sheets, one foot of tape, five paper clips, one foot of string and a pair of scissors. You could also modify this activity with 50-100 plastic cups or 10-25 pipe cleaners. Challenges can also be added, such as completing it with one hand or without speaking. Give each group 15 minutes to build the tallest tower before measuring each tower to determine who built the tallest one. Ask the groups to describe their approach to building their tower, challenges they faced, and what they learned about working together as a trusting team.

Fear in a Hat – This activity builds empathy and can be performed when one feels a safe and trusting environment is in place. The only supplies needed are a hat, pieces of paper and writing materials. Ask each participant to write down their personal fears anonymously on the pieces of paper before placing them into a hat. Circulate the hat and have each participant take out a piece of paper. The participants in turn read the fear aloud to the group and explain how the person may feel. Reflective discussion can follow on how feeling empathetic and having common fears may build trust within a team. (1)

The One Question Ice Breaker Activity Time Required: 15-20 minutes
This icebreaker not only gets coworkers talking to each other, but it also gets them working with one another. It’s quite simple: the leader gets to decide the situation the question will pertain to. Example situations include babysitting, leading the company, or being married. After pairing participants into teams, the leader will pose this question: If you could ask just one question to discover a person’s suitability for (insert topic here), what would your question be? Say the leader chose to go with a marriage situation. That means each person in a two-person team would come up with one question that would help them discover whether or not their partner was suitable to be married to them. If the topic was babysitting, each team member would have to come up with just one question whose answer would help them determine whether or not the person was suitable to babysit their child. This icebreaking activity can also get mixed up by issuing one situation for the entire group or allocating a different situation to each team member or pair to work on. Depending on the situation chosen, the activity can be very fun, but it can also demonstrate that crucial questions should be developed properly. (2)




(1) Michigan State University

Last updated byLeena Waite