Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Toolbox of Faith: A Program That Helps Children Discover the Uses of Faith

Activity 2: Games - The Strength Of Cooperation

Activity time: 10 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • For Tug of Friendship. Optional: A thick rope of appropriate length for the group (or, children use hands for Yurt Circle variation)
  • For Crossing the Line. A roll of masking tape or string, or toilet paper -anything to mark a two-foot long line - and scissors to cut sections, if needed

Preparation for Activity

  • Read the Description of Activity section and choose games. Gather the materials you will need and identify the spaces you will use. If the group is large and/or two or more leaders are present, you may want to form small groups and conduct several games simultaneously.

Description of Activity

Each game demonstrates how the strength of love, cooperation, and dialogue is greater than the strength of force. Keep each game short and lively. End this activity well before the children lose interest in the games.

Arm Wrestling

Try this old wrestling game in pairs. Participants will feel in their bodies the strength in giving way and the difficulty in forcing.

Two opponents stand facing each other with right hands interlocked and the outsides of their corresponding feet set together and attempt to unbalance each other. Let willing participants try it. Ask participants to notice that it is very hard to force a person out of their stance. Then model or suggest a "giving way" move, where instead of pulling or pushing, one wrestler relaxes their arm into their opponent. A sudden relaxation of force is often the best way to throw an opponent off balance.

Tug of Friendship

We know about Tug of War. How about a Tug of Friendship? Participants will feel how strong we can be when we support each other as they try, together, to stand up from a sitting position.

Have the group sit in a circle. Tie the rope together to make a loop, slightly smaller than the circle of people. Place the rope inside the circle in front of everyone's feet, and have them hold on with their hands. Challenge the group to get everybody to a standing position by pulling on the rope, and without touching the floor with their hands.

Variation: The Yurt Circle

Have participants stand in a tight circle. Each person holds on to a looped rope or all clasp hands. Invite everyone to keep their feet planted and lean their bodies out from the circle. Notice how each individual's movement affects the whole group's effort.

Crossing the Line

The surprise participants get with this game is seeing how cooperation can accomplish more than force. See if pairs can figure out that a quick dialogue accomplishes the win for both of them. If no pair seems to be figuring it out, stop and give the group some strategic hints.

Form Pairs.

Use the masking tape to mark a two-foot long boundary line between the members of each pair. Leave enough room around each pair for wrestling and wiggling. Tell the pairs that the person who gets their opponent across the line the fastest wins, and that they will play two rounds.

Although the fastest way to a win/win situation is for a pair to divvy up the wins - one apiece - and simply take turns, each stepping across (earning the other a point) after negotiation by discussion. However, pairs will often start wrestling immediately. Give them a moment to figure out the strategy, but do not let the wrestling drag on. Stop the play and give a tip, such as "Did I say you had to force your partner across the line?" or "What other ways can you think of to get him/her to cross the line?"

Debrief the exercise with a discussion of how it felt trying to force someone vs. making an agreement. Compare with the use of diplomacy between nations.


Have pairs clasp their hands together and challenge one partner to get them apart. Give a very short time frame, perhaps five seconds, with a loud countdown to increase the sense of pressure. After the exercise - in which many will experience the unpleasantness of pressure or the failure of using force - lead a brief discussion. Then discuss how participants have felt the sense of pressure, physical or otherwise, in other tasks and whether that pressure was real or arbitrary.