Index Cards and Castles - A Design Challenge and Team Building Activity

Rated 4.92 out of 5, based on 481 reviews
481 Ratings
Grade Levels
Not Grade Specific
Resource Type
Formats Included
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58 pages
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During this design challenge & team building activity, students will work together to build castles using only index cards. As they design their castle, they are not allowed to use verbal communication, move about the room, or use any additional supplies to help stabilize or attach the cards together.

If the students break any of these, the troll (the teacher) will come knock their castle down, and they must begin again. The first team to complete their castle successfully wins. Introducing 1-2 challenges per day is typically appropriate as each challenge lasts about 15-20 minutes.

Topics of discussion that arise from this activity may include: teamwork, sportsmanship, non verbal communication, collaboration, strategy, recovery from disappointment, patience, and empathy.



Background Information Slides

Details about the premise of the challenge (which are provided in the overview text above), challenge rules, and tips for setup are included. In addition to this digital resource, you will need approximately 200 3”x5” index cards for each team.

12 Pre-Written Design Challenge Slides

A variety of 12 challenges that vary in difficulty are provided. Each challenge allows students the opportunity to use index cards to design castles that display their creativity, boost problem solving skills, and foster collaboration. Due to the fact that an editable PowerPoint version of the resource is included, these challenges can be modified to meet the needs of your classroom, or supplemented with challenges of your own.

8 Reflection Prompts

These discussion prompts help students reflect on the lessons learned after each challenge. The practice of reflecting can promote stronger collaboration skills, strengthen the classroom community, and help students make personal growth. It’s possible you may want to ask all questions after each challenge, or pick and choose those you find appropriate for your class. Keep in mind, the editable version of the resource allows you to modify the questions or supplement with your own.

Using these prompts is especially helpful if you plan to use this activity at the beginning of the school year when you are establishing routines, and expectations for respectful behavior.



♥ “This is absolutely one of the most FUN team-building activities I have done! The kids were SO engaged and loved every minute of it! Absolutely worth it! “ - Karen L.

♥ “We used this resource as we were getting to know each other at the start of the year. Then, throughout the year, the students would earn "Castle" time to complete a new challenge. Perfect classroom resource year round!” - Laura R.

♥ “We love this activity! We come back to it every few weeks. My kids love that I’m the mean “troll” and their team skills have improved.” - Sharon D.

♥ “Perfect team building, end of the year, QUIET activity! Did I mention it's a quiet activity? LOL. Also, it's SO fun being the teacher troll. The kids thought it was HILARIOUS. I did this with my kids and then I also had a sub do it. It's easy/low prep and fun! Worth the money.” - Alyssa L.

♥ “My students LOVE these design challenges. They really get into it, and it is helping my students pay more attention to what the prompt is actually asking them for as well. We did a few at the beginning of the year, and they are still asking to do another one well into the school year! It is so fun being "the troll" and walking around the silent classroom. :)” - Jennifer W.

♥ “I did this at the end of the year after we had established a classroom community. It was such a fun way to end the year. I think this would be a great classroom building activity to do throughout the year and show how they have grown!!” - Sara S.


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Total Pages
58 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
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