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Doughnut Percents

This is one of a series of problems designed to develop learners' team working skills. Other tasks in the series can be found by going to this article.

Cards image

What are you aiming to do?

For the task:

Every member of the team must end up with a set of four dominoes which join together to form a "doughnut" where touching ends have equal value. For example:
Doughnut e.g.
The task is only successfully completed when everyone on the team has completed their domino doughnut.

As a team:

  • Responding to the needs of others
  • Helping others to do things for themselves.

Getting started

You will need to work in a team of four. If you have a fifth person available - use them as an observer (see guidance below).
In silence:
Distribute the 16 domino cards randomly amongst the team (four cards each).

Tackling the problem

How to play

Players pass dominoes to other team members in order to help one another complete their doughnut.


  • No one can talk or give non-verbal signals to other members of the team.
  • Each member of the team starts with four dominoes in front of them.
  • The dominoes in front of each person should be visible to everyone.
  • Team members can only give dominoes; they cannot take dominoes from someone else.
  • Each team member must have at least two dominoes in front of them at all times.

Use an observer to check that the team obeys the rules and to keep a record of when members of the team help someone else (rather than, for example, when they just pass a piece on without looking at what the other person or team actually needs).

Observers can place one of the hint cards in the middle, if after a period of five minutes the team is not making any progress.

Why do this problem?

This team-building task is designed to develop learners' team-working skills. If you wish to learn more about these skills and find other team-builder tasks look at this article.
This task depends upon members of the group noticing the needs of others and responding. It requires learners to:
  • respond to the needs of others
  • consider the needs of the whole group
  • help others to do things for themselves.

Possible approach

Share the purposes of the activity and the rules with the group.
Ask team leaders to hand the cards (wordpdfout randomly - four dominoes to each group member.
If you have more than four people in a group then use an observer to ensure the team obeys the rules and notes when there is evidence of members of the team responding to the needs of others, as well as to place a hint card in the middle if one is needed.
  • Here are the rule cards: wordpdf.
  • You can find the hint cards here: wordpdf.
As teams finish, ask them to discuss the key things they have learnt about working together. Use observers to feed into the discussions. Then spend some time discussing observations you have made or teams have made as a whole class activity, talking about how they might work more effectively next time.

Key questions

As this task is designed to be carried out in silence, the use of key questions is inappropriate during the task but can inform discussion of team behaviours when the task is complete.
  • Can you give any good examples of when someone noticed what you needed and tried to help?

Possible extension

The dominoes can also be arranged into a pair of doughnuts or one large doughnut. Ask the team to create these shapes.
Other skill-building tasks can be found by going to this article.

Possible support

Other skill-building tasks can be found by going to this article.