Knots on a Rope – Bay Area Discovery Museum

Knots on a Rope

Work as a team to get knots out of a rope without anyone ever taking one hand off the rope. This group activity helps children develop problem-solving, collaboration, and strategic thinking skills.

Materials Required

  • Rope
  • Open area for a large group

Instructions

  1. Take a long rope and tie several evenly spaced knots into the rope.
  2. Each person in the group grasps the rope (between the knots) with one hand. Everyone should space out evenly along the length of the rope.
  3. Without ever moving or taking the one hand off of the rope, work as a team to get the knots out of the rope using only everyone’s “other” hand.

Additional Tips

Try these activity variations:

  • Add a time limit to the activity. See how many knots can be successfully untied before time is up.
  • Blindfold a few members of the group to enhance verbal communication and teamwork.

Links to Creativity

This activity is a great example of how constraints can actually help us become more creative. As we are limited in our physical movements, our problem-solving abilities can make up for them by persisting and re-thinking the bind we are in. Problem-solving and strategic planning are important for creative efforts, especially during collaboration.

Supporting research includes:
Isaksen, S. G., & Treffinger, D. J. (1985). Creative problem solving. The Basic Course. New York: Bearly Limited.

Parnes, S. J. (1961). Effects of extended effort in creative problem solving. Journal of Educational psychology52(3), 117-122.

Runco, M. A. (Ed.). (1994). Problem finding, problem solving, and creativity. Norwood, NJ: Greenwood Publishing Group.

Stokes, P. D. (2007). Using constraints to generate and sustain novelty. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts1(2), 107-113.

Stokes, P. D. (2009). Using constraints to create novelty: A case study. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts3(3), 174-180.

Contributor

This activity was contributed by Playworks. For more information and resources please visit Playworks.org. ©Playworks.

Knots on a Rope

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