K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education


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  • Creating community in the classroom: Part 2 (cooperative planning): This series of lessons is designed to help develop a sense of classroom community through use of group goal-setting, decision-making, brainstorming, peer feedback, positive reinforcement, and positive peer pressure. The lessons will help students create and maintain a supportive environment for learning. Part 1 focused on goal-setting process and practice. In Part 2, students will apply knowledge of the goal-setting process by cooperatively creating a plan to work on group goals.

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Learning outcomes

Students will

  • experience what it is like to depend on a group for their safety and to accomplish a goal.
  • increase their understanding of the need for interdependence and cooperation in building relationships.
  • learn the need for effective communication in problem solving situations.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

90 minutes


  • Two chairs and approximately 30 feet of heavy twine or nylon cord
  • Two or three small bells
  • At least one other adult to monitor activity to ensure student’s safety.


A modified web is made by using 2 chairs about 8ft apart. Connect the 2 chairs with 1 piece of rope about 9 ft long tied at the top. Another 9 ft piece is tied between the chairs near the seat. Tie a third and fourth piece between these 2 ropes at 45 degree angles. Hang the small bells at both ends and in the middle. (See web attachment.)


Below, you will find 2 group initiatives followed by discussion questions. You may choose to use one or both initiatives. The first one is less challenging and requires less trust and cooperation. Your choice should depend on the amount of group/team work students have had previously.

Before any initiative, review the rules for safety. Always include:

  1. Follow directions the first time.
  2. Ask questions if you don’t understand.
  3. Respect each other.
  4. Have fun!

Initiative #1

Goal: For group members to work together to safely lean in or out while standing in a circle.

Equipment: none

Group size: Best with 10-14 people (must have an even number)

Procedure: Stand in a circle and count off 1-2, 1-2, etc. Participants hold hands (they may want to hold each others wrist for better security) around the circle and spread out comfortably. Feet are spread comfortably apart. All “ones” are instructed to lean in towards the middle without bending at the waist. All the “twos” lean out from the middle without bending the waist. The group tries to balance itself so that all “ones ” are leaning in as far as they can and all “twos” are leaning out. When successfully balanced, have “ones” lean out and “twos” lean in.

Initiative #2

Goal: For all students to pass through the web without touching it.

Equipment: See Pre-Activities

Group Size: 8-10 is best. If you have more you can set up a second web with adults to monitor the students.

Procedure: The group starts on one side of the web and figures out a way to get everyone to the other side following rules for challenge and safety.

  1. No one is allowed to dive through the web.
  2. With the modified web, going over the top can be allowed depending on the height. You will need to determine this depending on the size of the chairs.
  3. Limit the number of people that can go through each space doing some basic math based on the number in the group.

Discussion questions for both activities:

  1. What do you think of this challenge?
  2. Was it hard to trust the other participants?
  3. How did you have to interact with each other?
  4. What did you learn about other people in the group?
  5. What characteristics did you see that you like/do not like in a friend?

If group size permits a oral discussion is best done in a circle to facilitate communication.


Students will answer the following questions in writing:

  • Explain why good communication is important in problem solving. Give an example from your own life when a problem was helped or hindered by the communication.
  • Define interdependence and why it is important in relationships and in society.
  • Explain the difference between relying on yourself to solve a problem and depending on a group for a solution. What is easier for you and why?

For guidelines to the responses see the Assessment attachment.

Supplemental information

Additional books:


These activities can be used for more than one purpose. They work very well with all ages to do team building. Be creative and don’t forget to have fun!

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Guidance (2010)
      • Early Independent

        • EI.SE.2 Understand the relationship between self and others in the broader world. EI.SE.2.1 Exemplify respect for individual and cultural differences. EI.SE.2.2 Understand the importance of dependability, productivity, and initiative when working with others....
      • Independent

        • I.SE.2 Understand the relationship between self and others in the broader world. I.SE.2.1 Exemplify how peer pressure can be both a negative and positive influence. I.SE.2.2 Evaluate one's own behaviors in a variety of situations, making adjustments as needed...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Guidance (2001)

Grade 9–12

  • Goal 7: Acquire the attitudes, knowledge and interpersonal skills to help understand and respect self and others.
    • Objective 7.09: Demonstrate cooperative behavior in groups.