Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Love Connects Us: A Program on Living in Unitarian Universalist Covenant for Grades 4-5

Activity 1: Center Knot

Activity time: 20 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Clothesline or other strong rope, and a knife

Preparation for Activity

  • Cut rope into pieces about four feet long. You will need one fewer than the total number of participants.
  • Arrange to make a space is large enough for this activity. If necessary, the group may need to do this activity outdoors or in a larger room.
  • If the group will have fewer than eight participants, consider substituting Alternate Activity 3, What's in the Boxes? for this activity.

Description of Activity

Divide participants into two teams and invite each team to form a line. Then pass out the lengths of rope, asking participants to stay in the line formation and take one end of a length of rope in each hand. When you are done, each team will form a long chain of people and ropes. Only the two participants at the ends of each line will have a hand free; all the others will have both hands on a rope.

Note: This works best for teams with an even number of members, so the number of ropes will be odd, creating a center rope for the knot. You may wish to make unequal teams (for example, divide 14 children into a team of eight and a team of six, rather than two teams of seven). If one team has an odd number of members, a co-leader can participate.

Say, in your own words:

Each team's task is to create one knot in the center of your rope-and-people chain without letting go of the ropes you are holding.

Help teams identify the center of their chain if they are not sure where it is.

Eventually they will discover that the trick is to have all the team members act as one large rope and manipulate their bodies like a train so the knot can be tied in the center. After the teams manage to tie the center knot by working together, reflect on the activity with questions such as:

  • How did you figure out how to work together to tie the knot?
  • After you realized what you needed to do, how easy or difficult was it?
  • Did anyone feel uncomfortable going along with the group to create the knot?
  • Did anyone do something to make that person feel better about the process? Why or why not? What did they do, or what might they have done?
  • What would have happened if someone had actively resisted the rest of the group's efforts?

Including All Participants

Position a participant in a wheelchair, on crutches, or with other mobility challenges at either end of their team's line, so they will have one hand free to assist their movement. If a participant cannot grasp the rope or move freely and safely enough to participate on their own, you could pair that person with a volunteer who will partner with them to act as a single team member.