If you are quite often in the hotseat when it comes to providing team-building games, this is one to have up your sleeve. The game is a test of ingenuity and problem-solving skills and so has very few rules. The aim is to get people to think, rather than be a set-piece game.
What You will Need
Very little equipment is required. A supply of some sheets of paper will do but more durable material like small carpet samples or carpet tiles are better.
Tip: The size of the carpeting (stepping-stones) is crucial. The bigger they are, the easier it'll be.
How to Play
You will need to divide your group into two unequal teams. The majority are the bold explorers trying to cross the peanut butter river while the two-or-three-person minority are the crocodiles which live in the river. You are the umpire and what you say goes.
The river to be crossed is defined by the umpire - normally from one side of a room to the other - and the banks of the river must be easily identified. Each explorer is given a piece of paper/material/tile (from now on referred to as a stepping-stone). Crocodiles must stay in the river.
The first explorer places his or her stepping-stone into the river, close enough for him or her to immediately step on it. An untouched stepping-stone can be grabbed by a crocodile and disappears from the game. Any explorers that fall in the river have to go back to the starting bank.
The explorer team has to work out how they will use the stepping-stones to get from one side to the other. Stepping-stones can be picked up and moved to another part of the river as necessary. Remember: any unattended stone can be snatched away by a crocodile.
The End of the Game
The game ends when the last explorer gets across the river, or time runs out, or the explorers give up due to a lack of stepping stones.
Mix up the teams over the course of the session and see who makes the fastest crossing.
When children play this for the first time they tend to be very disorganised and may lose a few stepping stones before they realise that they have to use caution. It soon becomes apparent that more than one person will have to stand on a stepping stone from time to time. Stepping-stones can become very vulnerable to crocodile attack when the explorers are sharing one while trying to pick another one up.
You can add a rule that if anyone steps into the Peanut Butter1 river then the crocodiles can remove one stepping stone. People on that stepping stone have five seconds to get onto another stone or the bank, without touching the river.
Working with Children
If you are working with a young group you can introduce the game in stages:
- Stage One: Play it without crocodiles or forfeits
- Stage Two: Play it with crocodiles but no forfeits
- Stage Three: Play it with crocodiles and forfeits.