Knot Exchange

Do you work with a team that relies on strong communication and collaboration? The knot exchange is a great way to simulate the challenges of collaborating on tasks and projects, and develop strategies for success!

Time: 30 Minutes
Materials: One 3-4′ string for each participant (silky cord works best for this activity)*
Good for: Teambuilding, Communication, Creativity
Works well for: Groups, Teams of at least 5-10

Activity Instructions

  1. Divide participants into groups of 5-6.
  2. Set up a knot “star” for each group with the same number of strings as participants in that group.img_4804
  3. Once the group is standing around the star, each participant picks up the ends of two neighboring strings, one in each hand.
  4. Each group is given three minutes to create a knot with their strings by moving around each other but never letting go of the string ends.
  5. When time is called, each group carefully sets down their knot in the same way it was picked up, with the string ends towards the outside.
  6. The groups then switch places and pick up two neighboring string ends on a different knot. (If your group is smaller, they can create one knot together, and then switch places to grab different strings than they were originally holding)
  7. Each group is then given five minutes to untangle the new knot by moving around each other but never letting go of the string ends.
  8. Once time is called, the groups come together and place their knots (untangled or still tangled) in the center of the large circle to debrief the activity.

Potential Debrief Questions

  • What did it feel like to make the knot?
  • How did it feel to try to untangle someone else’s knot?
  • What might have made this activity easier?
  • How might this activity relate to work between individuals and teams?

*The Middlebury Institute has a set of silky cord strings that can be used by faculty, staff, or students to try this activity. Please contact Melissa Sorenson to borrow the materials.