Monday, November 1, 2010

building a rope bridge

Juliet from I'm a Teacher Get Me Outside of Here gave me a great tip a while back:  give the children a 30m length of rope and then stand back.

Well, this rope has been knotted and wrapped around various objects - both human and inanimate - to test out friction and resistance as they pull, climb, stretch or wrap their bodies around the rope.

It has been combined with tyres, tubes and the plastic slide to experiment with knots, slopes, angles, ideas and different ways of balancing.

It has been used to make traps, webs and pulleys.  It has become a way of learning to negotiate conflict as 10 different children grasp one length of rope, each with different ideas on how to use it.

And most recently, inspired by this post at the wonderful Kindling blog, it has been used to make a rope bridge. 

Rope was twisted, pulled, tangled, untangled and knotted. 

There was a (not entirely friendly) tug of war. Voices were raised:

"Get off the rope, I'm trying to tie it"
"I'm doing the knot"
"Not there, here":

As those less interested in the task at hand drifted away and a level of co-operation was reached, the tension in the rope was increased, heights and angles were negotiated and knots were tied tighter.

And then it was time to test out our rope bridge. 

Tentatively and gingerly at first;

Then with more vigor.

Height and tension needed adjusting.

 And then feet and legs curl around to suspend themselves in mid air.

Fun, movement, experimentation, negotiation, communication, testing, measuring, balancing. co-operating and joy: all from a length of rope!


  1. Now I'm REALLY serious Jenny ... I really DO want to be five years old again!
    Donna :) :)

  2. How fun! And they did it themselves!

  3. What fun...! Thanks for the ref to my little old blog. By sheer chance I'd also reffed you too!

    Oh yes...I'd like to try the old knotting of bin liners and plastic bags to make bridges. I saw it on a YouTube video clip of the Tinkering School a while just looks like an interesting twist.

    Nearby me, an outdoor ed centre is putting together a wee course for pre-schools. Sadly I think they've not opted for ropes but I must pop by and see how it's all going.

  4. I hadn't thought about letting my kids loose with a long length of rope. Fab idea!

  5. So amazing to see what they can do on their own! And so much amusement from just a simple rope. Great idea. Love that Juliet!

  6. That looks fab Jenny. I met up with some children this week who I hadn't seen since May and they were telling me all about the rope bridges. Yours look fab!

  7. Hey Jenny! I'm featuring this fun post on my Ways to Move roundup on Friday :)


  8. I too have ropes my kids play with...they fashion pulleys, climbing ropes, etc.. and I love them but I must say we must always be very watchful because even in older children accidents can happen unexpectedly with ropes around the neck!!! Please everyone care for the ropes and the kids!