Activity 19: Snake


  • Brainstorm and share problem-solving strategies to pass the rope through the tower
  • Work together to pass the rope through the tower
  • Discuss the experience and feelings

Character Focus

Responsibility & Teamwork


Time: 5 minutes
1 Toobeez set
100 feet of rope
1 envelope
chart paper (optional)

  1. Place the Risk Taking Note into an envelope.
  2. Build a tower using Toobeez (refer to photo). The more holes you build into the tower, the harder the activity will be.

The Challenge

The group must pass a piece of rope through every hole in the tower.

Safety Reminders!

Appropriate caution is important to conduct these activities in a safe manner. Be sure to review these reminders prior to beginning the activity, and if necessary, share reminders with the group during the activity.

  • Follow general safety procedures
  • People may lose their balance in this activity. Remind people to step out of the rectangle if they lose their balance (rather than fall out)

Helpful hints

  • This activity is similar to Activity #7: Cube and Activity #21: Spider’s Web found in this activity guide. The big difference is the group isn’t passing a person, so it’s much safer
  • This activity requires the group to focus and can be a good lead-in activity to the Cube and the Spider’s Web activities

Activity Instructions

  1. Circle up the group. Distribute or display the appropriate “Risk Taking Note” for the activity. Have one participant read it aloud twice. Provide a few moments for the participants to think about the message:
    The snake in many traditions is thought of as a symbol for transformation, change or for a fresh start. They shed their old skin and receive a new one, ready for the next stage of their life.
  2. Share the following storyline with group.
    The snake must travel through the entire tower before it can move on to another. Help him move on by guiding him through this tower.
  3. Read aloud the following Activity Challenge Box to the group.
    Challenge: The group must pass a piece of rope through every hole in the tower. Follow the guidelines below:
    • The rope must be passed through ALL “openings” in the tower. An opening is defined as any complete geometric shape (square, rectangle, etc.) made from the Toobeez
    • Clumping, folding, cutting or other efforts to make the rope shorter are not allowed
    • The Toobeez tower may not be touched by anything
    • The tower may not be moved or altered
    • Team members must keep at least one foot on the ground at all times
    • If any guidelines are broken, the group must begin again
  4. Before the participants attempt an activity challenge, have the group work through the following six steps:
  5. Problem Solving Sequence:

    1. Circle up
    2. Know and understand the challenge and the guidelines
    3. Brainstorm
    4. Make a plan
    5. Do the plan
    6. Evaluate results and adjust as necessary
  6. The group can then begin to move the rope through the openings in a snake-like fashion.
  7. If participants get stuck, have the students circle up again. Here are some suggested questions to help guide the group back on track*:
    • What is working?
    • What ideas have you not tried yet that someone suggested?
  8. If your group is still struggling OR if you feel your group would benefit from an additional challenge, present a variation provided on the next page.
  9. After the activity, move to the debriefing questions for discussion.

Activity Variations

  1. Use a shorter rope.
    In the photos and video clip, you see a group passing 100 feet of rope through the tower. To make the task easier, provide a shorter rope (for example, 50 feet). The longer rope requires the group to focus for a longer period of time.

Debriefing the Activity

Use these debriefing questions as a guide for your discussion. Select the questions you feel will best benefit your group. It is not mandatory to cover every question. If possible, record the group’s responses on flip chart paper so all comments are displayed. Make sure to let everyone share their ideas, and remind participants that everyone’s opinions and feelings are important!

Base questions for debriefing:

  • What did you just do together?
  • How did you feel while you did the activity?
  • What was one of the challenges of doing this activity?
  • Discussion point: Willpower. This activity to bring up issues around commitment to a task or goal. It’s easy for the group to get lackadaisical when using the long rope because it takes time to pass the rope through. Sometimes a team will know HOW to do something, but they lack the willpower to see it through. What is your personal willpower on a scale of 1 to 10 (especially when you’re tired and hungry)? What is the team’s willpower on a scale from 1 to 10? What would you like it to be? Why?
  • What did the group have to do or believe to be successful?
  • How can you apply what you learned in this activity to your life and work?

If the group was unable to complete the task in the given time:

  • Since you were not able to solve the problem, does it mean your group is a failure? (Push the group to respond with more than a “yes” or “no” and to instead point out and discuss what they learned.)
  • What changes would you make in how you communicated?

Additional questions: Choose which ones are the most appropriate:

  • What was one positive thing that happened during the challenge?
  • How do you work to keep improving your work with others?
  • Did you try different ideas? If so, why did you change your approach?

Close on a Positive Note

Sum up the different ideas and feelings that you heard expressed, and restate ideas and learning moments the participants shared. Then, read the Risk Taking Note out loud again, and ask people to discuss what they think this note means. Discuss what they thought it meant at the beginning and what they think it means now.

* (ˆ) Do not provide the participants with answers. Allow them to work together.