Collaboration Lesson 2: Clay Olympics & Game Design

Collaborative Learning Experiences
Students building their tallest structure in the Clay Olympics

This lesson offers two collaborative learning activities for students to exercise creative problem solving in groups. Clay Olympics is a small group competition where students work together to build the tallest clay structure in a defined time frame. The Game Design activity asks small groups to start with the same set of materials to design their own game. Groups then play the various games. Both activities allow rounds for revision and improvements.

Suggested Time Frame:

Introduction to Collaboration: 15 minutes
Activity 1: Clay Olympics: 45 minutes
Activity 2: Game Design: 2 ½ days
Discussion/Assessment:  15-20 minutes

Total Time: 2-3 class periods over 1 week 


  • In small groups, students use strategic and analytical skills to develop a plan of action to achieve a common goal
  • Through collaboration and teamwork, students collectively hypothesize and test their ideas
  • Students analyze their test results and revise their initial plan for improvements
Students brainstorm ideas about collaboration
Students brainstorm ideas about collaboration


  1. Review key factors and benefits of collaboration from Step 1.
  2. Write the following terms on the board: Improvisation, Planning, Motivation
  3. Define and discuss these terms with the class.
Clay Olympics in action!
Clay Olympics in action!

Clay Olympics


25 pounds of clay for each groupTape measure
Tools (optional) Handout 1:Collaboration Survey 


  1. Break class into groups of 4-5 students.
  2. Give each group 25 pounds of clay (different amounts can be used as long as each group has the same amount).
  3. Relay the following instructions to the students:
  4. - The goal is to build the tallest free-standing structure in 10 minutes.
    Only students’ hands can be used.
    - The structure must stand on its own at the end of 10 minutes; if the structure falls before it is measured, it will be measured at its highest fallen point.
    - Every person in the group must participate.

  5. At the end of 10 minutes, call time and instruct all students to take their hands off the clay and step back from the structure.
  6. Measure each structure and write the height of each on the board.
  7. Ask each group to briefly explain its process:
  8. - Did you discuss your plan before starting?
    - What specific job did each person in the group take on?
    - What problems did you encounter? How did you remedy them?
    What was difficult about working in a group?

  9. Give students a second opportunity to build the tallest free-standing structure using their experience and newfound information from other groups (additional elements may be added i.e., more clay, tools). This time give students 15 minutes instead of 10.
  10. At the end of 15 minutes, repeat steps 4 and 5.
  11. Have students fill out the Handout 1:Collaboration Survey, then discuss the results as a class.

Class Discussion:

  1. How did your group change its strategy from round one to round two?
  2. Was working in a group harder or easier in the second round? Why?
  3. If you were to have a third round, what would you do differently?
Supplies for game creation

Supplies for game creation

Game Design

This activity was adapted from Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration by Keith Sawyer 


One game pack for each group: Pair of dice
8 game pieces of the same color (checkers, Othello pieces, etc.)Deck of cards
Lego blocks (6 red, 6 blue, 6 yellow, 6 green, 6 orange)Pencils/paper
Handout 2:Game Review Sheet Handout 1:Collaboration Survey 

**Pieces can be substituted, just make sure each pack has the same contents 

A student designing his own game
A student designing his own game


  1. Make two columns on the board and asks students to name their favorite game and least favorite game.
  2. Discuss with students their likes and dislikes:
  3. - What elements do you tend to like in a game?

    - What makes a game boring? Why?

  4. Break the class into groups of 4-5 and give each group a pack of game pieces.
  5. Give students 20 minutes to design a new game.
  6. At the end of 20 minutes, give students another 15 minutes to play the game and make any modifications to the rules.
  7. Next class period, have students exchange games with the other groups.
  8. Have each group fill out the Handout 2:Game Review Sheet as they try to figure out and play another group's game for 20 minutes.
  9. Have students fill out the Handout 1:Collaboration Survey , then discuss the results as a class.
Student game "Snap and Roll"
Student game "Snap and Roll"

Class Discussion:

  1. What knowledge or experiences from other games did you use to design your game?
  2. How long did you spend on planning? On playing?
  3. Did you improvise when designing or playing? How?
  4. What specific job did each person in your group take on?
  5. What problems did you encounter? How did you remedy them?
  6. Was it difficult working in a group? Explain.
  7. Write the following statement on the board and discuss how it relates to the students’ experiences:
    Improvisation interwoven with planning equals successful innovations and collaborations.  

Warhol Education Rubrics

Click the Warhol Rubric headers below to reveal associated rubrics to which this lesson applies.

Creative Process