Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Knot So Fun

Square Knot
I hate knots. There, I said it.

Actually, I don't hate knots so much as I hate teaching knot-tying. I have a hard time remembering the various knots (no matter that I've been doing some of them since I was a Brownie myself) and I tend to lose my patience. RIGHT over left ... no, your RIGHT ... your OTHER right ...

But I think knot-tying is an important skill for the girls to learn, so we continue to look for ways to make them fun for the girls.

The first key is making sure you know how to tie them yourself. If you need a refresher course, here are some great sites:

For our Outdoor Skills bracelet, we're requiring that each girl be able to demonstrate an overhand knot, square knt and clove hitch. We've also taught the bowline before and might try to throw in a couple others. Here are some things we've tried over the years to make teaching and learning knots a bit easier.

1) Keep rope handy. Knot tying practice can be a good way to fill a few empty minutes. One of our best knot-tying lessons happened spontaneously while we were cooling our heels waiting for a horseback riding workshop to start. I just happened to have some rope in my bag, so I cut it into smaller lengths and the girls went to town.

2) Trust Knot: Once we teach the square knot, we ask the girls to stand in a circle and their ropes together with their neighbor. Then we have them step inside the circle and tell them we're all going to lean back against the rope circle. If they've tie their knot correctly, it should hold (but it always makes them double-check their knots.)

3) Tie Up the Leader: This could have gone horribly wrong but they thought it was a fun way to practice when they were younger. My co-leader and I each sat in a chair and split the girls into two teams. Each team had to use their rope to tie our feet to the chair legs and our arms behind our back - whoever successfully finished first won. (We also made them compete to untie us!)

4) Knot-tying Relay: Split the girls into two or more teams and have them line up at the back of the room. On the count of three, the first team member must run up to the leader at the front of the room, tie a specified knot and run back to hand it off to their 2nd member. The 2nd person must untie it, run up to the front and tie the knot to the satisfaction of the leader. This continues until all team members have gone.

5) Rescue: This can be done as a group or in teams. Have the girls stand on one side of the room and a volunteer/leader on the other. Each girl or team should have a short piece of rope. The object is to tie their ropes together correctly so as to make a long enough rope to reach the person on the other side of the room.

6) Cats Tails: We haven't tried this one yet - but could be fun. Split the girls into a few teams and have each team choose a "cat." Hide 20-30 smaller pieces of rope/string around the room - give one piece to each of the cats. On the word go, all players except the cats search for the hidden strings. As a girl finds one, she takes it back and ties it to her cat's string with a square knot. The team with the longest tail (correctly tied) wins. 

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