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Making Rectangles

Age 7 to 14
Challenge Level

Making Rectangles

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.

What are you aiming to do?

For the task:

Every member of the team has to end up with the same rectangle in front of them. The task is only successfully completed when everyone on the team has completed their rectangle.

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 pieces randomly amongst the team (four pieces each).

Tackling the Problem

How to play

Players pass pieces to other team members in order to help one another complete their rectangle.


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

Use an observer to check that the team obeys the rules and offer one of the hint cards 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 rectangle pieces (wordpdf) out randomly - four pieces 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 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.
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 examples of when someone noticed what you needed and tried to help?

Possible extension

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.