Spatial Requirements: Classroom with moderate space required
Activity Type: Movement/group
Grades: 3-12
Group Size: 2 or more
Time: 30-40 minutes

Introduction: Desire, time, and effort are the keys to achieving goals and getting satisfying results out of life.  In this activity, students will use this formula to build a swing suspended from a doorway. They will work as a team and be able to enjoy the rewards of their efforts. This activity also ties in to “Desire, Time, and Effort.”

Materials (per team of 5): 

  • 50 pennies per swing
  • 1 paper cup
  • 4 licorice sticks
  • 4 small paper clips
  • 1 piece of paper (8 ½ x 11)
  • 4 rubber bands
  • 12 toothpicks
  • 15 large marshmallows
  • 1 bag 

Group Materials:

  • 1 measuring tape or yardstick (to be used for measuring only)
  • 1 roll of tape to adhere the swing to the doorway (not to build the swing)


The object of this game is to build the longest structure that will support the most pennies while suspended in a doorway.  To set up, place all the materials into bags for each team.  Let the teams know the bags are not to be used as a resource for building their structure.

After distributing the bags, explain to the teams that the cup will be attached to the bottom of the swing to hold the pennies.  At least one of everything must be used, and the swing must be completed within the time limit.  All items must be accounted for before scoring begins.  Any missing item disqualifies the team (and yes, a marshmallow in your stomach counts as missing).

Once the swings are completed, tape them to the door jam with 15 pennies in the cup.  They must make one full swing (1 yard, in an arc, from the starting point) and stay intact.  If this is successful, the team wins 30 points.  When the swing comes to rest, don’t allow the students to alter or repair it.

The longest swing receives points in multiples of five as measured from the top of the cup.  This means the shortest swing would receive five points, the next longest would receive ten, etc. For each penny added in a two-second interval, the team receives two points. Once the swing breaks, the team tallies its points.  The team with the most points at the end of the activity is the winner.

Processing the Experience:

  • What worked for you in this activity? What didn’t work?
  • What made the winning swing successful?
  • What were some of your feelings during this activity?  What frustrated you? What motivated you?
  • When you are in a stressful situation, do you fall apart or “hang in there?” Why?
  • If each penny represents a stressor or challenge in your life. What do you do when you reach your breaking point?
  • What motivates you to keep going?
  • How do you get out of the flood zone when your stressors build up?
  • What support systems do you use?
  • What kind of self-talk do you use?
  • How does passion or purpose help you?
Scroll to Top