Can You Save Fred? FREE Icebreaker Activity For Getting Brains Working

One of the most popular ClubX Blog posts is this one about a creative icebreaker challenge. Since I’m ALL ABOUT delivering what the people want, I went on the hunt for another great opening activity that would work in Boys & Girls Clubs. And GOOD NEWS! I found one!

And I managed to work in a gif from one of my favorite shows so basically I’m crushing it

This engineering challenge called Can You Save Fred? is all over the internet. It’s a classic because it is 1) easy, 2) involves candy, 3) gets the brain working, 4) works for multiple ages, and 5) is STEM related! The quinfecta!


The premise is that Fred the worm got himself capsized while boating, and can’t get to his lifesaver. Youth must get Fred into his lifesaver and back in his boat only using 4 paperclips. The challenge is that they cannot touch the cup, Fred the gummy worm, or the gummy lifesaver with their hands at all, they can’t let him fall and drown, and they can’t injure him in any way (i.e. poke him with the paperclips). They have to use and reuse the paperclips to accomplish the task.

I’m sure you can already see how this will get youth working and thinking together to solve a problem. To really make the learning sticky, have youth articulate their thought processes by writing down the steps they take and reflecting on the experience. The even better news? Lots of people on the internet have already done the work of creating the worksheets you need! A simple search for the title will bring up lots, but here’s my favorite (click for a PDF download– no signups required!):

I love this one because it gives the instructions in a clear way, gives a place for youth to write out and illustrate their steps (good for different kinds of learners), specifically asks them to write out what was challenging, asks them to reflect on how they would change the activity, and includes a simple pulse check!

This activity could be used in any area of the Club, though it might be a little harder in the Gym lol. It also could be used with several ages, and is ideal for 7-10 year olds. It would be a strong opening activity to use at the kickoff of a new multi-session program, or even to begin a new year of a leadership club like Torch Club or Junior Staff. One note- be sure you buy gummy lifesavers, not the hard ones. They need to be pliable.

I’ll keep hunting for more ideas like this, and I ask that you send me your favorites so I can share them with others. You’ll reach me directly if you email or send a message through the BGCA Youth Development Facebook page. And if you do this activity, be sure to send me the photos! Need more ideas? Search the “activities” tag here on the ClubX Blog for an every growing library.

What are your favorite opening activities? What are some ways that you get your youth’s creativity kick-started? Let us know so we can share! Comment below, email, or message us on the BGCA Youth Development Facebook page.


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