Team Building With MousetrapsEvery fall grades 9 and 12 work together for four sessions of games and activities that build community and friendship and support the learning of trust, empathy, communication, and healthy risk-taking.

One activity involves mousetraps. In this activity, students encounter incrementally more challenging tasks such as setting and tripping the traps, being blindfolded and guided verbally by others to fetch small items located among several set traps, and more. Keep in mind, the power of this activity comes from the students perceiving a high risk – not actual risk.

By design, students develop a very real sense of what it feels like to be vulnerable by wearing blindfolds and handing their safety over to others. Students then switch roles. Having taken the perspective of powerlessness, they in turn guide others with heightened perception and sensitivity to the needs of others.
The primary intended outcome is to build empathy and the capacity to have perspective especially in situations involving a differential in power. Communication skills are also developed. Commonly heard expressions demand clarity of what to expect next, requests for encouragement and validation, and the voicing of strong emotions. Ancillary benefits include fun, shared accomplishment, cheering each other on, and healthy risk-taking.