Virtual Team Building Events

Activity Description

Bean Counter Game Team Building Activity

The Bean Counter Team Building Activity is based upon the ‘fete’ styled ‘how many sweets are in the jar’ game with an interesting group dynamic spin that illustrates critical-thinking and creativity.

Benefits of Bean Counter Team Building Activity

  • Easy and simple
  • Strong metaphor
  • Encourages critical-thinking
  • Promotes creativity

Required Props

  • Large glass jar with lid
  • Hundreds of jelly beans

How to Play Bean Counter Team Building Activity

Everyone is familiar with the traditional game of “counting the beans”. This was always a draw-card at fêtes, fund-raising occasions and carnivals. However, it has very seldom been employed as a group team building activity.

Before you start, you will have to fill a large bottle or jar with various dry coloured beans, jelly beans or some other type of multicoloured candy. You need to make sure that the container is filled to the brim with the lid on tight. 

Place the jar in the centre of the floor and have the group gather around so that they can all see the jar clearly. Then issue them with a succession of challenges. The first challenge will be, each individual member of the group must guess how many beans are in the jar. Then get them to write down their answer on a piece of paper you provided.  

Now, get the group to pair off and have each one try and explain to their partner how they decided on the number of beans in the jar. After a short space of time, let them settle on a new figure, and record this on the piece of paper.

If you have a very large group, you can still continue this activity by getting members to form pairs and settle on a number. But now, have these pairs move to join with other pairs forming new groups of 4 and then 8 members. Each new group formed, must then compare notes and record their new figure on a piece of paper.   

When the game has gone on for a long enough, get the group as a whole to compare notes and come up with one final figure. This number will then be compared with the correct answer. You will invariably find that this final answer proves to be the closest to the correct figure.

Spend some time with the group and compare the results recorded each time, observe how many times the figure comes close to the correct answer. Discuss your findings with the group and use the questions in “Reflections and Tips”, this will show them that even this simple game can teach us some important lessons on interaction and co-operation.     

Contextual Framing Ideas

Many of us have experienced the old traditional game of “counting the beans” when attending local fetes, fundraising occasions and carnivals. However, we are now going to use this same idea and make it a challenge for the group.

There are a number of individuals who brag about how they can work out exactly how many articles or items are set before them. This is not a talent that I have, I will have to examine the items very closely and just hope that my guess is close enough to the correct answer. With that said, I welcome you to today’s challenge.  

Step-by-Step Instructions for Bean Counter Team Building Activity

  • Long before the exercise, you need to fill a bottle or jar with lots of dry coloured beans, jelly beans or other coloured candy. Ensure that the jar is full to the brim then fix the lid and tighten securely.
  • Place the jar on the floor and get the group to gather around, making sure that everyone can see the jar properly. Now you can begin with a succession of challenges.
  • Each individual member of the group needs to guess how many beans are in the jar, and then write their answer on a piece of paper given to them.
  • Now, get them all to form pairs and then get them to compare and discuss how they arrived at their answer. They must then write down a new figure on the paper.
  • You can continue with this process, depending on the size of your group, until you end up with smaller groups of say 4, 8 or even 16 members. Each time they must compare and discuss their previous answers and then record the new figure on the paper.
  • At the end of the game, get the group as a whole to compare and discuss their answers, and come up with one final estimate. You can now compare this final figure with the correct answer.
  • In discussion with the group, show them that this same process can be seen and evident when making real-life

Facilitator and Leaders Tips

Before you start the game, you need to be absolutely certain, no guessing, of the correct number of beans in the jar. You need to personally count them yourself.

There is no fixed requirement of the type of beans you use to fill the jar. You don’t have to use beans but can also use candy, nuts, bolts, or any type of small object. There is an occasion when someone filled a jar with a rope and the group needed to guess how long it was, which was even more difficult. 

You can permit each individual to hold the jar in order to get some idea of its weight. But it is always more of a challenge for them to guess without touching or handling it in any way. 

Debriefing and Reflection Strategies

Here are some questions to ask the group, which will help them to process their experience of playing ‘Count the Beans’

  • Did you notice anything about the numbers chosen during the exercise?
  • Was it hard for you to agree with someone else’s number and ignore your own?
  • Does this exercise teach us anything on how to work together with others?
  • Is it not true with the old proverb “Two heads are better the one”. If it is not true, then why not?

Popular Variations of Bean Counter Team Building Activity

  • Jar Half Full: Don’t fill the jar to the brim. This will give the group a better chance to see and estimate the correct amount.
  • Variety: Fill the jar with items of various sizes and shapes. Now the challenge becomes even more difficult, as nobody is sure what is hidden from view in the centre of the container.

Bean Counter Team Building Group Game

Basic Details
Property Type : Team Building
Listing Type : Placeholder
Activity Type : Team Building
Focus On : Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, Leadership, Problem Solving
Outcome Based : Yes
Facilities : Indoor, Outdoor
Props Required : Minor
Duration : 6 - 15 minutes
Exertion Level : Low
Group Size : 1 - 8, 9 - 16, 17 - 30, 31+
Age : Children, Youth, Adults