Birch School : Maker Rings

Sharing the Story of "Students supporting Students to MAKE their best work"


Group Juggling

This activity is from the Systems-Thinking Playbook


Participants must throw a ball or object in a particular order until it has been

passed to every person. In this activity, page
the goal is not to improve the time, find but rather to increase the number of objects being tossed at the same time. Debrief can include concepts such as exponential growth, overshoot and collapse, and shifting dominance


Simple soft objects that can be tossed around among students. Soft balls such as Koosh, Fleece, or Foam, small stuffed animals like beanie babies, juggling balls, tennis balls in socks, just about anything that can be easily caught in a single hand will work.


Explain to students that they are tasked with this Group Challenge.

Pass the ball around the circle until each participant has gotten it just once, and then return the ball to the leader.

Each person must get it just once, and you cannot pass it to the person next to you.

You must call out the name of the person who you are tossing the ball or object to.

After the first round, time the group from start to finish.

Challenge them to repeat the process, and beat their time.

You can allow them a few rounds to beat their best time.

When you feel the group has begun to feel confident at this task, introduce a second ball or object to toss.

You can continue to introduce additional objects as the groups improves their time and skill with one or more balls or object.

The systems thinking playbook: Exercises to stretch and build learning and systems thinking capabilities (1996)

by Booth Sweeney, L, D Meadows