Spatial Requirements: Gym/outdoor space required
Activity Type: Movement/group
Grades: 3-12
Group Size: 3 or more
Time: 15 minutes

Introduction: By representing both positive and negative emotions in this challenging tug of war, students will begin to understand that all emotions have power and energy.


  • A large rope
  • A roll of colored tape
  • Emotion labels for each student that may be taped to students’ shirts or worn around the neck. Labels can include “happy,” “sad,” “frustrated,” “excited,” etc. Make sure that half of the emotions are negative, and half of the emotions are positive.


Before the game begins, place a long piece of tape across the center of the floor to show the boundaries of the two teams. Wrap a piece of tape around the center of the rope and align it with the tape on the floor.

Divide students into two teams. Give each student a card that has a unique emotion label. One team should have positive emotion labels and the other team should have negative emotion labels. Have students stand on each side of the boundary with their team of either positive or negative emotions. Begin the tug of war by having both sides pull as hard as they can until a team is pulled over the central line.

For the second round, mix the teams so that there are both positive and negative labels on both sides.

Processing the Experience:

  • Which team won the first round? Which team won the second round?
  • Do you feel like your strength or energy contributed to your team’s success?
  • Do you believe that all emotions can be used as energy? Why or why not?
  • How can negative emotions be used as fuel?
  • How can positive emotions be used as fuel?
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