Activity time: 15 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Embroidery floss or hemp cord in a variety of colors, masking tape, and scissors
- Chairs, tables, or other sturdy objects to which strands of floss or cord can be taped
- Timepiece (minutes)
- A bell or chime
- Optional: Beads, shells, or other decorative items with small holes in them
Preparation for Activity
- Obtain floss or cord. Cut strands to about 25 inches long-enough to give each participant three, different color strands.
- Decide in advance what you will do with the finished friendship bracelets. You might like to attach one, or a few, to the group's wall hanging, but first, choose how you will distribute them so each individual can own one of the bracelets the group has made. For example, you might assign each bracelet to the person who started it or the person who completed it, or invite participants to select the ones they want. Then, be ready to seek volunteers to tie their bracelets to the wall hanging during the Closing (or, make a few extra bracelets for this purpose).
- Optional: Set out decorative items where all participants will be able to reach them.
Description of Activity
This activity provides a symbolic way to build on our heritage of love by sharing its meaning to us with others.
Gather participants at work tables, with the group forming a circle, if possible. Give each participant three, different color strands of embroidery floss or hemp cord. Help them knot each set of three strands together at one end and tape the knotted end to a chair or table so they can pull it gently to braid the strands.
Demonstrate as needed how to braid the three strands together. Indicate any decorative items with holes in them you may have brought, and explain how you would like participants to braid them into their bracelets.
If you plan to hang some or all of the bracelets on the group's wall hanging, tell participants before they begin braiding. Give them a heads-up if you will be seeking some volunteers to contribute bracelets rather than take them home.
Encourage participants to start braiding their bracelets. After two minutes, ring the bell or chime and tell them loudly to "freeze." Invite participants to reach for the next person's bracelet on the right with one hand while holding their own bracelet together with their other. Say "switch" and tell all participants to let go of the bracelet they had just been braiding, take the new one in their hands, and start braiding it. After two more minutes, ring the bell or chime again and tell them loudly to "freeze." This time, they will probably know what to do, but coach them again on how to move on to the next bracelet. Continue the process of braiding, freezing, switching, and braiding, either until the bracelets are completed or your time for this activity has nearly run out.
Take a moment to encourage reflection on the activity, using these questions:
- How did it feel to switch and work on bracelets other participants had started?
- Were you able to easily freeze, switch, and begin working on the next bracelet? Or did you have strong feelings of not wanting to stop what you were doing, not wanting to hand it to someone else, not wanting to change someone else's braid, or another feeling that made it hard to switch?
- How did the way others had begun braiding dictate how you continued work on a bracelet? Did you follow the same style of knotting, or did you add your own?
Say in your own words:
The session is almost over and we will now work together as a community to clean the meeting space.
Ask everyone to first clean up their own area and the materials they were using, and then to clean another area or help someone else. No one should sit in the circle until the meeting space is clean.
As part of clean-up, the friendship bracelets will need to be tied off with a final square knot (if they are complete) or simply removed from the objects to which they were taped.
You might give each bracelet to whomever started it or to the person who completed it. Or, you can hold them up and pass them out "auction-style," by asking participants to raise their hand if they want the one you are holding. Make sure everyone who wants to take one home gets one.
If you plan to hang some or all of the bracelets on the group wall hanging, ask for volunteers if needed to contribute and hang their bracelets. Or, you may prefer to wait and do this during the Closing.
Including All Participants
Children who lack the dexterity to braid the floss can hold a bracelet or two steady for other participants (rather than having the braider use tape). If some children have mobility issues, the switching may happen more slowly than it would otherwise. If it will be simpler or save time, participants can shift by scuttling their chairs over to the next station each time they freeze and switch.