This post first appeared on my website on 28th Aug 2010
These last few months have seen an increase in the number of rope bridges I have been making with Forest school groups. It is interesting to notice how each group takes the same basic springboard and has their way of using it.
With the younger nursery age children I have noticed how much more time they spend using the bridges if they have been involved in setting them up in the first place. Although having a group of helpful 3 and 4 year olds winding the ropes around trees has its own challenges, they soon get the idea and after a few times doing it they need me to tighten the ropes which they set up.
It is really good fun pulling together to tighten the ropes, and there is always a bag of other shorter ropes to satisfy the needs of the ones who want to wind and tie ropes around themselves, the trees or my legs.
One child, who was electively mute in nursery, couldn’t resist shouting ‘look at me’ as he swung from a bridge, repeatedly dropping off to the floor and climbing back on.
YR 5 and 6 children hadn’t been asked to queue or take turns in using the rope bridges but did it spontaneously. Crossing the bridges was part of their quest; they came up with their characters and what the bridge was built to cross. We ended up crossing rivers of fire and chocolate and a lava flow which all featured over a couple of days.
One boy in this group got the idea of how the ropes could be tied to make a bridge and was really chuffed when we used ‘his’ idea.
Building rope bridges encourages team working, problem solving and physical development; hanging, swinging, traversing etc.
But it also involves a fair amount of negotiation, turn taking and fine motor development and a lot of laughing.