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Budget building

Work together to make the best budget and build the biggest tower in this team challenge.

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You’ll need

  • Scrap paper
  • Pens or pencils
  • Coloured tokens
  • Craft materials from the ‘materials list’
Materials list
PDF – 91.9KB

Activity summary

In this activity, everyone will play a game to earn some different coloured tokens. Then they’ll get into teams, and spend their tokens to buy resources. Finally, they’ll use their resources to build the tallest tower they can.

Before you begin

  • Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Additional help to carry out your risk assessment, including examples can be found here. Don’t forget to make sure all young people and adults involved in the activity know how to take part safely.
  • Make sure you’ll have enough adult helpers. You may need some parents and carers to help if you’re short on helpers.

Getting ready for this activity

  • Create some different coloured tokens – we’ve suggested using some scrap card to make pieces that are blue, green, yellow, orange and red. You could use different coloured items, such as buttons, or even some board game money. You can simply adjust the materials list for whatever you use.
  • Decide which game you’ll play and work out how you’ll award the tokens. We’ve included some suggestions below.

Step 1: play your game

For the first part of this activity, everyone should play a game (or do an activity) to earn coloured tokens. 

There are loads of games and activities you could use here, including:

  • The group’s favourite team game. Ask them to choose a game and award a different number of tokens for the teams that come first, second, and third.
  • A scavenger hunt. Hide the tokens around your meeting space and ask everyone to find them.
  • Dodgeball. Award tokens for the winning teams, or give some out each time a player gets a hit or catches the ball.
  • Relay races. Take part in some different races in teams, and award tokens for each race.
  • A quiz. Award tokens for correct answers.
  • Captains coming. Award tokens for correct actions.
  • Something else. You can find ideas on our activity finder.

Step 2: spend your tokens

  1. Everyone should get into their teams and see how many coloured tokens they have.
  2. The person leading the activity should explain that the challenge is to make the tallest tower. The teams have to use their tokens to buy all the materials they need.
  3. The person leading the activity should give each team a materials price list.
  4. Everyone should spend some time chatting and designing their tower. They should make a list of the materials they’ll need.
  5. Each team should separate their list into things that they need, and things they just want.

What’s essential to the structure? Could they manage with fewer sheets of card, for example? Could they start small, then build on their idea?

  1. Each team should see how many tokens they have. Can they buy all the things they need and all of the things they want? They should work together to decide what to prioritise and spend their tokens on.
  2. The person leading the activity should give everyone the chance to trade (or share) tokens with another team.

Step 3: build your tower

  1. Each team should use their tokens to buy materials. They can come back for more materials later, so they don’t have to spend all of their tokens at once.
  2. Everyone should start building their towers.

You could award more tokens during the activity for teams that are working well together or for other challenges.

  1. Once all of the group have finished their towers, come together as a larger group and see how everyone got on.

As well as the tallest, you could look for the widest, the one that can hold the most weight, or just the most impressive architecture!

  1. The person leading the activity should congratulate everyone.
  2. Everyone should finish the session by chatting about some of the things they’ve learned.

We’ve added some ideas in the reflection below to get you started.


This activity needed people to make decisions about what they wanted, needed, or could share. Was it difficult to decide what to buy? Did people have enough tokens for all of their materials? How did they work out whether something was a want or a need? How did they feel when they couldn’t have everything they wanted?

Before they bought their materials, teams had the chance to trade tokens or share them with another team. How did sharing make a difference?


All activities must be safely managed. You must complete a thorough risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Always get approval for the activity, and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

  • We’ve talked about teams trying to build the tallest tower they can. It’s up to you to choose the challenge – people could create an egg parachute or build a boat, for example.
  • Instead of playing a game to start, you could make it simpler by hiding the coloured tokens around your meeting space for people to find.
  • Think about how the group will earn their tokens in your game. It doesn’t have to be about being the fastest or ‘winning’ in the usual way – everyone should have the chance to earn some tokens. 
  • If anyone’s likely to struggle with building a structure, you could use the tokens to buy different craft materials for something else, such as making a picture.

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

Check out How much munch for a food-based challenge.

Take a look at more money skills activities.

Young people should have the chance to make their own choices about what they choose to exchange.