How to play Toxic Waste Dump, a team building challenge.

When working to build community, games can bring fun and exciting challenges to a team. This week's game uses an exciting story and team problem solving. The Game of the Week is Toxic Waste Dump.

Group Size:  Large group (10 or more)

Age Group:  Grades 3+
Length of Activity:  10 minutes or more
Developmental Goal:  To develop communication, teamwork and leadership skills.
Equipment Needed: Potato sacks, cardboard, carpet squares or anything that players can easily stand on and carry. 

Before You Start: 

  • Divide players into two teams. 
  • Each team receives an equal number of potato sacks, one less than the number of people in the group.
  • Brainstorm strategies and give examples if needed.
  • Make sure the teams have all their supplies and can repeat the rules.

Set Up: 

A clearly marked start and finish line.

How To Play: 

  • The object of the game is to get all team members from one side of town to the other without touching the toxic sludge. 
  • Players can only be in the toxic zone if they are standing on a potato sack. 
  • If players step off the potato sack and into the toxic sludge, they must return back to the other side of town. 
  • If a potato sack is placed into the toxic sludge without being constantly touched by a player, it is lost and the whole team must return back to the other side of town. 
  • Each team should come up with a strategy on how to get all of their teammates across safely. 


  • Everyone everyone work together to race against a clock (instead of placing on teams.) Inform them that their side of town is going to explode in ten minutes and they must have everyone across by that time.
  • Choose the amount of potato sacks based on the experience level of the group. Less potato sacks makes the game harder. 
  • Have players figure out their plan before they start and then remain silent during the game. 
  • Randomly blindfold or silence a few members of the group.
  • Rename the game and tell a different story with the same goals, such as Alligator Swamp.


Find more new and exciting games in our games library!


More Resources

woman and child smiling
woman and child smiling

August 17, 2022

How Adults Best Create Supportive Play Communities ›

With over 25 years of experience working with kids in schools, our staff and coaches have learned many things about how to set up the most positive, inviting, engaging play experiences. The lessons they’ve learned can be applied on the playground, in the virtual classroom, and at home. When you are setting up play environments…

students in circle playing game with ball
students in circle playing game with ball

August 17, 2022

Helping kids to find new friends and feel included ›

Play is a natural, safe way that kids can interact with people who are different and rejoice by achieving shared goals. Interacting with people who are different at a young age is good for kids. To make sure that kids have the opportunity to play with peers outside of their normal groups, adults or youth…

two girls playing rock paper scissors
two girls playing rock paper scissors

August 17, 2022

Empowering Kids to Create Their Own Happiness ›

By Playworks and UNICEF Kid Power® When kids’ minds and bodies get active, either while playing or participating in service learning, they experience physical and mental benefits (and support positive academic behaviors). One of the most important social-emotional outcomes is experiencing joy. Educators and families have risen to the challenge of ensuring kids get social-emotional…