Classroom Activity: Tied Up


Tied Up is a simple but fun activity that is played in pairs. The game requires two people, who have their one hand tied together, to build a house of cards. The activity looks simple, but can be quite challenging to accomplish. Participants need to display good teamwork, understanding, compatibility and communication to accomplish the task.
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When to Use

Use this game when the learning objective is or addresses any of the following:

  • Explore how to overcome constraints and accomplish tasks that have high dependence on others
  • Be agile to varying your pace and style while working on tasks that have high dependence on others
  • Build rapport and compatibility to achieve group tasks


Minimum: 8
Maximum: 20


10 – 15 Minutes


  • Deck of cards
  • Small ropes, strings, or bandannas to tie hands
  • Whistle and timer

Preparation and Flow

  • Divide the audience into pairs
  • Tie one arm of each pair using a rope
  • Ask each pair to sit/stand in front of a table
  • Keep one deck of cards on each table
  • Blow the whistle and ask teams to start building their houses together
  • Allow teams to work for 5-10 minutes
  • Ask teams to stop and then identify the team which has created the tallest structure

Additional Complexity

  • To increase the complexity of the game, another round can be introduced where the house of cards has to be built by two pairs.


  • Players cannot use their tied hands.
  • The cards should not take support from anything but other cards.

Learning Connection

Once the game is over, the facilitator can lead a discussion by asking the following reflective questions:

  • What went well, what did not?
  • Were you able to work as fast as you would have if you were working alone? How did this impact your performance?
  • Did the difference in your heights affect your team’s performance? What were the other constraints? How did you overcome these constraints?
  • What strategies did you develop to work together? What worked?
Have fun playing this game in your class and let us know how it went.
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Ajay Dasgupta

Ajay Dasgupta is the co-founder and VP, Global Sales at Epiphany Learning. In a career spanning over 18 years he has worked with several large organisations and implemented learning strategy and learning programs. While he focuses on learning strategy, technology and marketing, he his still an instructional designer at heart. He can be reached at -

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