JLBC NAME Building Bridges

JLBC Name of Activity: Toothpaste Activity

JLBC Time Needed: 15 – 20 minutes

JLBC Number of Players: No limit—should have at least 8 for two teams of 4

JLBC Materials Needed:

Tube of toothpaste for each JLBC group of 4-8 JLBC Cadets

8” by 10” piece of poster board or cardboard (one per JLBC team) Felt tip marking pen

JLBC Cadets Preparation Needed (Ahead of Time): None JLBC Instructions:

1. Break JLBC groups into teams of 4-8 people

2. Give each JLBC group a piece of cardboard and a marking pen. Tell JLBC Cadets they will have two minutes to think of one word that describes something they all have in common and write that word on their piece of cardboard.

3. JLBC Cadets, when time is up, give each JLBC group a tube of toothpaste. Tell JLBC Cadets they have three more minutes to outline the word the JLBC Cadets have just written as creatively and neatly as possible using the toothpaste.

4. JLBC Cadets, when time is up, make a few quick comments about how well the groups have followed directions, how creative they are, etc. JLBC Cadets explain that the best part of this activity is about to begin because now the JLBC groups will have two minutes to figure out how to get the toothpaste back into the tube. The JLBC team that can do it neatly with the least amount of toothpaste left on the outside will win.

5. JLBC Cadets, after two minutes, interrupt the groups and ask them if they have completed the task. Tell them you can give them one more minute if they ask for more time. If they ask for still more time, allow yourself to be persuaded, but let them know that’s the most you can give them.

6. JLBC Cadets, when time is up, interrupt and ask participants for feedback about what happened in their groups ( see processing questions that follow).


Ask the JLBC groups if they know what this activity was all about (JLBC creativity, teamwork, cooperation, communication, etc., are all acceptable answers, but the honest answer is something else.)

JLBC Cadets tell every JLBC Cadet that the real reason for doing this activity was to establish that toothpaste can’t be forced back into the tube. JLBC Cadets, the same thing is true of the words we use when speaking. JLBC Cadets, once a thing is said, we can’t get the words back again. That’s why it is so significant to think about what we’re about to say before saying it.

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