Spatial Requirements: Classroom with moderate space required
Activity Type: Group
Grades: 3-12
Group Size: 10 or more
Time: 10-15 minutes

Introduction: This large group activity will put teams in a situation where they will have to work together towards a productive outcome when faced with a challenge.   Teams will experience feelings of frustration, and they will have to channel their negative emotions and use them as fuel to achieve a productive outcome.  This should demonstrate that after you flip the switch you will see your challenges more clearly and have more productive solutions to your problem. 


  • 2 pieces of rope, long enough for half of your group to hold onto (this equals out to be about two feet for each student in the team. i.e for a team of 8 you would have an approximately 16ft length rope.)
  • A blindfold for every student in your group


You will need to tie the ends of the rope so that it makes a circle.  Begin the activity by dividing your group into two teams. Each team needs to pick a spokesperson that will represent the group and call out to the instructor as the challenge is completed.  Have each team pick up a rope and have each member hold on to it with both hands.  

Once they have the rope in their hands ask all the students to close their eyes. (you could also blindfold the students if you choose)  Explain to your students that you are going to call out a shape (such as circle, square, triangle, hexagon, heart, star, diamond, oval, trapezoid, parallelogram etc.) and they are to form that shape out of the rope as fast as they can without opening their eyes (remind them not to  peak or cheat). The goal is to be the fastest team to complete the shape, and every student must hold the rope with both hands to make the shape.  Once they think they have completed the shape have the spokesperson call out to the instructor (or make the noise of their favorite farm animal) to let them know that they have completed the shape.    The instructor will then observe the shapes and tell the groups to open their eyes to see how well they were able to make the shape. 

On the second round instruct the groups that they can pick up to three members to have their eyes open during the challenge. 

On the third round allow each member of the group to have their eyes open but they will not be allowed to talk during the activity. 

For the fourth round allow the students to have their eyes open and talk during the challenge. 

 After each round, have students move back together as they hold the rope so that there is slack in the rope and they are no longer forming the shape.

Processing the Experience:

  • How did your team work together when you had your eyes closed?
  • How did your team’s strategy change after a couple people were able to open their eyes?
  • How did having everyone’s eyes open but not being able to talk change your perspective?
  • How much easier was it when you no longer had those restrictions? (closed eyes and no talking) 
  • Did any of you feel frustrated during this activity? How did you handle your frustration?
  • In what ways was this activity like flipping the switch?  (some possible tie-ins could be: having your eyes closed is a little like not seeing the complete picture.  It can be more difficult to be productive in those situations.  Opening your eyes is like flipping the switch.  Making the decision to look for productive outcomes helps us to change our perspective, much like opening your eyes is like flipping the switch.)
  • What are some life lessons that you could take away from this activity?
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