Crossing a swamp

Group and physical activty to illustrate co-operation and problem solving

1. Motivation based on the story of the Cats from the Cat Garden project: “Things are going better if we help each other.”
2. Conversation with the children in a community circle. Questions:
• Have you ever encountered a task you could not, or did not want to, resolve?
• What would you recommend to someone in a similar situation?
• Who would you approach should you need help?
• In what situations it is worth cooperating?
• In what situations it is better to work independently?
• Try to think about the pros and cons of teamwork (mind map).
3. Game: Crossing a Swamp
According to the number of children, the class splits into groups of 5 (using cards with symbols) in a large area, e.g. gymnasium. Each group receives two foam mats and goes to the starting line. The space in front of them is a swamp full of crocodiles. The groups are to get to the other side of the swamp without having to step outside the foam mat.
Who steps outside, is “caught by a crocodile” and must sit on a bench.
The winner is a team, which is the fastest but also has lost the least number of members on the way. The game requires cooperation and assistance of all teammates.
4. Reflections on the game, the pros of cooperation, etc.
5. Joint drawing of the Cat Garden to the large papers, which requires having to agree with the teammates on the art techniques, placement of the cats, etc.

How this resource relates to Shaping Characters objectives

  • Attitudes and attributes
  • Education techniques
  • Motivation and resilience

Actual outcomes

Educational objective: Learning to cooperate; being able to ask for help

Qualities in focus: Cooperation, problem-solving

Target group, age of the students: 8 years of age

Suitable for: Fundaments of Humanities and Sciences, Physical Education, Art

Resources required

Teaching aids, preparation: Foam mats, drawing paper (A2 format), paints, pastels

Time needed

4 units (each unit defined as 45 minutes)

What could have been done differently or is planned for future repeats?

The students tried to cooperate in the groups, some of them better, some worse – it all depended on the random composition of the groups. When reflecting on the activity, the children discovered that those who did not argue and tried to help were better off in the game.
The community circle questions revealed that the students most ask for help from their parents, and when in school, they approach the teacher or their classmates.
When drawing together in the groups, there were some quarrels and fights, which needed resolving, and it also became evident that certain students are leading personalities who exercise natural authority with their classmates. It was difficult for some children to submit to the group and cooperate.

Links to related resource files

Contact information

hana.maresova@upol.cz