Pencil Plunge – Team Building Activity


Overview: This hilarious challenge is a great way to break the ice at your next meeting while you encourage your team to share some laughs and achieve a common goal. Teams must work together to lower a pencil into a bottle of water. Communication is key as teams will be tied together, back to back, and unable to use their hands!

Equipment Required: Pencils (1 per team), String (2 per team), Bottles of Water  (1 per team).

Space Required: Medium. Indoors or Outdoors.

Group Size: 8 to 80 people.

Total Time: 20 Minutes.

  • 5 minutes to brief the activity.
  • 10-15 Minutes for pairs to complete the challenge.
  • 5 minutes to debrief the activity.


  1. Pre-tie your strings and pencils. Each team will need 2 strings and 1 pencil. Tie one end of each of the strings to the eraser-side of the pencil. The pencil should be securely held in place by each of the strings. Each string should then have a free end that is not yet in use. These ends will soon be tied to each team member.
  2. Divide the group into teams of 2 and give each team a pre-tied pencil and string set.
  3. Have the team members position themselves standing back to back. Tie one of the remaining string ends around the waist of one of the team members. Tie the final string end around the waist of the other team member.
  4. Remove the water bottle cap and place the bottle on the floor next to each team.
  5. Instruct the teams that they must remain in a back to back position and work together to lower the pencil into the water bottle without using their hands. Teams that break position or use their hands will be disqualified. The team to submerge the entire pencil first wins the activity.
  6. Have each of the teams start at the same time. You can use a stopwatch to time the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners.
  7. Debrief the activity.

Learning Outcomes

  • Communication
  • Problem Solving
  • Cooperation
  • Trust

Suggested Review Questions

  • What was the most challenging part of this activity?
  • Did you come up with a strategy before starting the activity?
  • Did you adapt your strategy as time progressed? How so?
  • How well did you work as a team? How could you have improved?
  • How well did you communicate? Did you trust your partner?
  • What is one thing that you can take away from this activity?