Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Friendships Tied in Knots

Sherry Spencer


This initiative emphasizes what participants perceive as characteristics of healthy friendships and how these characteristics can be utilized to solve the knots in the rope representing an unhappy friend relationship.


The student knows various ways to communicate care, consideration, and acceptance of self and others (eg., respect, trust, kindness, and sexual abstinence as an expression of love).

The student knows techniques for communicating care, consideration, and respect of self and others (eg., encouragement, trust, and sexual abstinence).


-1 Rope 1-2 feet per student
-1 Rope tied in knots (allow about 3 feet of rope per student.... tightness of the knots depends on age of students. I prefer to have loose knots so not to frustrate students too much)
-Hand-held soft toys


1. Read the entire lesson before begining. This will give you an overall understanding of the objectives and how the session should progress.
2. Check the physical arrangement of the room before starting and make certain that it is favorable for making the plan work.
3. Gather necessary materials.


1. OBJECTIVES include
--Helping students learn to identify the barriers in their relationships.
--Helping students see the value of working together (cooperation) to break down the barriers hindering friendships demonstrating care, encouragement, respect, and kindness.
--Helping students practice listening skills, practice group work, and to reflect.
Begin by having the participants count off by two's (one, two, one, two, etc.)

2. Ask all number one participants to sit in a row and hold the rope that is free of knots. Ask the number two participants to stand in a straight row facing the number one participants.

3. NOW SAY TO THE NUMBER ONE PARTICIPANTS...To me this rope represents a happy, healthy friend relationship.

4. NEXT ASK THE NUMBER ONE PARTICIPANTS...Why do you think I say that? What is healthy about this friendship? (Typical responses might include: We are all connected. Everyone is equal. No single person is in charge. Communication lines are open and direct. There is support. There is freedom to move even though we're all connected. No one is left out.)

5. THEN ASK ALL THE PARTICIPANTS...What do you feel is important in healthy friendships? After students have discussed this, continue with the following activity: TIED IN KNOTS

--FIRST SAY...-Number one team members are observers. Your job is to watch the number two team members as they work through this activity. You must not say anthing at all. You may be tempted to help, but please refrain from talking or assisting. You will be asked for your input after the activity is complete.

--NEXT...present the number two team with the rope that has been tied in knots. Each participant is placed between knots except the two end participants. They only have a knot on one side of them.

--THEN SAY...This is my idea of an unhealthy friendship. In this situration communication lines are cut off or have barriers. There is less freedom to move and support seems less possible. Now what you need to do is untie the knots without letting go of the rope. Your goal is to become a healthy friend relationship.

-You must not let go of the rope at any time.
-You may use any part of your body you wish to use except your fingers and thumbs. Your fingers and thumbs must not be raised from the rope.
-If you take a hand off the rope or if you lift your fingers or thumbs, you will lose the ability to use that hand by holding a toy for a period of time. (only restrict the use of the hand for a short time.)
-You may slide your hands across the rope, but you must not cross over any knot.
-Remember to listen to each other.

--NOW allow time for the participants to work together to untie the knots in the rope.

(IF the friends seem to be taking too long to get started or if they are having great difficulty, give minor hints or assistance.)
HINTS: (Facilitator may loosen knots a little. Hint that their hands need to go through the knots. If they don't figure it out, tell one student that their whole bodies need to go through the knots and that every person must go through every knot.)

6. AFTER the participants have untied all the knots, ask the number two participants to look at the directions they are facing. Some may or may not be facing the opposite direction of when they started the activity.

7. ASK number two participants to sit facing numer one participants.

8. NUMBER TWO PARTICIPANTS: Ask number two participants the following questions.
1. What did you feel when you were not allowed to use your fingers?
2. What kind of problems did you run into?
3. How did it feel when you felt someone was not cooperating?
4. Did you feel frustrated? How did you handle it?
5. Did you have ideas to share, but was not being listened to? How did it make you feel?
6. How did you feel when your ideas were accepted by the team?
7. What healthy behaviors did you use to accomplish the task?
8. (If some of the participants were facing the opposite direction from when they began the activity ask...-What do you think facing the opposite direction could represent?-

9. NUMBER ONE PARTICIPANTS: Ask number one participants the following questions.
1. What did you observe about the group?
2. How well did they work together to solve their differences (knots)?
3. Who became the leader? Encourager? Helper?
4. Were the other members cooperative?
5. What do you think the facilitators' role in the activity was to show?

10. CLOSURE: Lead a brief discussion on the following quesitons.
1. Tell about a time when you cooperated with someone in class, with a family member, or with a friend.
2. What happens when we do not cooperate with each other?
3. How do you feel when you cooperate with others or when others cooperate with you?


Ask students to write a quick essay based on the following: (Possible criteria for each question are in the parenthesis.)
1. What are the qualities of a healthy friend relationship? (Giving, sharing, discussing, helping, working together)
2. What possible barriers might a friend relationship experience? (Distance, won't communicate, misunderstand, pride, rumors)
3. How might friends work through the barriers to develop a healthy friendship? (discussion, mediator, working together, apologizing, being honest)
4. Explain how you have learned from the activity to be a friend and to experience healthy friendships. (Accept any answer that shows learning.)
Be sure to write feedback comments that will help students determine the answers in a deeper way.
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