Saturday, June 15, 2024

Untying The Knot

by Mark Warner
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Ages: 5-11

This is a very simple (but fun) activity, and although it is not particularly physical, it encourages the children to work together to solve the problem that they have been set.

1) Arrange the children into groups (an even number of children – between 8 and 12 – in each group)

2) Tell the children to stand in a tight circle (facing inwards). Everyone should put their left hand in the circle and hold someone else’s left hand.

3) Now, everyone should put their right hand in and hold someone else’s right hand.

4) WITHOUT letting go of each other’s hands, the children should untangle themselves! It is possible if they work as a team.


A visitor has suggested this variation:

A way of simplifying this, if necessary, is to use the version I played as a child – we called it Doctor, Doctor! The idea is all but one child (who goes away or turns their back) stands in a circle and holds hands. They then tangle themselves without letting go of their hands. This can be done by going under or over a pair of linked hands, turning round in your place, sitting down and having people climb over, etc. The group then shout, “Doctor, doctor!” (obviously optional), and the child has to return to the group and untangle them. It should have a good success rate as what has been done should be able to be undone! The group will encourage solving the problem as they are often rather uncomfortable! Hope this helps.


Here’s a suggestion from Bob:

Give each student a 12″ length of rope knotted at each end. This prevents some hand and wrist twisting and gives them a little slack in untangling their human knot.

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