Author Topic: Help me teach cubs to knot!  (Read 3694 times)

ColinYounger

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Help me teach cubs to knot!
« on: March 21, 2007, 04:33:57 PM »
Hello,

I'm an Assistant Cub Scout Leader for the 1st Portsmouth Cubs. That means I'm not Akala, but (her) right hand man. :)

One thing we're weak on in my pack is knots, and I've made it a personal objective to learn more so that we can do some funky stuff on camp this year. I've been recommended here by a fellow leader.

Cubs are between 8 and 11 years old and I'm looking for knot tying stories - you know, the ones like 'poke him in the eye then strangle him' for how to tie the knots, as it's the best way for them to remember how to do the knots. Has anyone either got some good stories they'd be prepared to share, or can point me to a book\other resource to learn some?

Thanks. Be gentle - it's my first post.
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Colin Younger - ACSL, 1st Portsmouth Cubs

Fairlead

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Re: Help me teach cubs to knot!
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2007, 09:21:10 PM »
Colin,
Help is at hand - we have a thriving branch of the Guild in your area and people who are willing to help.
The problem is contacting eachother - I will send you a Personal Message with my phone number - unfortunately, being a new member you will not be able to respond - but phone me and we will arrange something.
Two events you might be interested in - the first is the Solent Branch Meeting on 10th April - 1930 at the Travellers Rest Inn at Newtown (between Wickham and Denmead) and the second is for your group to come along and see us at Ferneham Hall in Fareham one day of 24th. 25th or 26th of May - we are running special workshops for youngsters as part of the IGKT Silver Jubilee celebrations.

Gordon
Solent Branch Sec

ColinYounger

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Re: Help me teach cubs to knot!
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2007, 10:03:56 PM »
Gordon - wow! That's a better response than I was expecting. I shall call you, and I appreciate your kind offer.


Willeke

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Re: Help me teach cubs to knot!
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2007, 06:45:26 PM »
I have been thinking about this question during work today, and what this is the most important thing:

Teach the children that tying knots is fun.
It might be that you may have to skip some of the knots you had planned, but do not forget to have fun.
Think of making a skipping-rope, making a keyfob in the colours of their sport team or learn a few rope tricks, balloon animals helping the local scouts with pionering a swing and testing it for them.

I have seen to many scouts who hated tying knots because they were taught proper knots, but not the pleasure.

Willeke
"Never underestimate what a simple person can do with clever tools,
nor what a clever person can do with simple tools." - Ian Fieggen

Writer of A booklet on lanyards, available from IGKT supplies.

DerekSmith

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Re: Help me teach cubs to knot!
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2007, 08:36:29 PM »
Hello Colin,

Welcome to the Forum, I hope we will hear a lot more from you now you have found us, but particularly, I hope we will also hear from some of your Cub Scouts with their own thoughts and ideas on knotting.

It is great that you intend to introduce these youngsters to the world of knots, but more importantly, I hope you will primarily introduce them to the world of string - knots simply being the means of putting string to work.  Learning to tie knots without a use is a bit like learning to sing notes but never learning any songs.  Teaching the use of string today is shatteringly hard.  What did we used to use string and knots for, that is not now performed by Velcro, Sellotape, double sided tape, hotmelt glue gun, cable ties etc. etc. etc.

Show a child of today a piece of string and a knot and you are likely to be met with a look that says "Interesting history lesson, but what use is it today". You might as well be showing them a 20 book encyclopedia and expect them to use it instead of using Wikipedia, or to use two cocoa tins and a piece of string instead of their mobile phones.

I put it to you that the greatest challenge you face is to find uses for string that lead to these new citizens deciding that it is really useful to have a piece of good string in their pocket, only then will they actively want to learn some good knots that let them use the string to best advantage.  How many people do you know that have a piece of string in their pocket or purse?  I would hazard a guess that not only is the number very low, but that you yourself do not have a piece about your person.  If this is the case, could the reason be because you have no need or use for it?  Teaching a youngster a knot to tie up their Pony is of little use when they ride a BMX.

Having made the point that the task you face is a hard one, I do not believe that the challenge is impossible, nor is it a pointless exercise, it just means that for your initiative to be effective, you need to start to 'THINK STRING' before you start to teach knots.  Might I suggest that you equip yourself with a 1m length of high quality 2mm nylon braid (price 3p per metre)  and do likewise for each of your students.  Then learn and teach two knots.

The first is the Parcel Knot or Packers Knot  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Packers_knot.png

The second is the slipped or fixed Strangle (or double strangle) loop http://igkt.net/sm/index.php?topic=616.0

These two knots are easy to tie, easy to remember and very very easy to use, but most of all, they are self holding knots.  They can function as a second pair of hands to hold something in place for you while you fix something else.  Then the challenge starts - ask your students to use their string during the week and see how many uses they found for it - did the knots work and if not why not?  Then when you have yourself and your group thinking about ways to use string, then you can start to bring in specialist knots that will do specific jobs perfectly.  All the time ask - was string or Velcro(or Selotape etc) best and why (not forgetting of course, that string is in your pocket but it is unlikely that you have a roll of Sellotape or Velcro handy and you can't untie Sellotape).

Finally a request - if you start this process - PLEASE keep a log here of how it is progressing, what you learnt and what your group learnt.

But most important - put a piece of string in your pocket and 'THINK STRING'.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2007, 11:23:51 PM by DerekSmith »

DerekSmith

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Re: Help me teach cubs to knot!
« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2007, 10:48:00 AM »
Derek,
There is no progress report to make as Colin has not yet contacted me

Gordon

Hi Gordon,

I hope that Colin takes you up on your offer, either way, how do you feel about putting together a collection of little projects for youngsters clubs to do?

I think it is important to heed Willekies suggestion - 'KEEP IT FUN'.  If we are to tempt children away from their TV and computer games consoles then we have to give them something that makes their friends envious without branding them as little knotty nerds.  Cred is very important to today's youth.

We have not answered Colin's request for catch story type ways to remember tying knots.  I only know the rabbit, tree, hole one for the bowline, but then who would want to teach kids the bowline? (still, I suppose it is better than a stack of overhand knots used by most folk that attempt to use string).  Who is the Granddaddy of these stories?

Do you think it would be useful to put together a number of 'Fun Projects'?  They could be posted here for groups to access and they could be enhanced with group feedback and improvements.

I have been thinking back to my childhood days on the farm for interesting 'projects'.  The fun stuff involved building the gang Den, 'weapons' manufacture and the gang 'cord'.  Virtually all of this would be frowned upon today in our Nanny state world and everything PC but perhaps some of the elements could be used.

The gang 'cord' was sort of a friendship cord that you were allowed to make when you joined the gang.  It was a loop of cord worn around the wrist and closed with a strangle knot.  The gang leader would have a five turn strangle knot, his second in command (his sister, yes we had girls in our gang) had a four turn strangle knot, the section leaders had three turn strangle knots and the rest of us had two turn strangle knots.  The girls would 'share' coloured wools which would be threaded through the wrist cord and hang like charms from a bracelet.  Girls seem to change their 'friends' quite rapidly, so the 'charms' tended to denote who was friends with whom - strange!!  Perhaps this friendship cord might make a suitable project?

The Den was a tree house.  Making the rope ladder was the major challenge, used hemp bailer twine being the only cord readily available to us.  I don't know how parents would react to their little ones being taught how to make (and use) a rope ladder, let alone the liability implications.  Such a shame our kids are no longer allowed to grow up with real risks and a firm sense of self responsibility and preservation.

The weapon of choice was the catapult, but 1/4" elastic was expensive so the majority  were based on the sling our the bow and arrow.  Making a bow and arrow, particularly the bowstring, might make a good project as might the sling.  Of course, being farm children, we were brought up with a total respect for life and animal welfare so our weapons use was always  skill based  - who could shoot the furthest, the fastest or the most accurately.  The nearest we got to shooting 'at' something was when we would be set to keeping the crows or pigeons off of  newly planted wheat and I am sure those birds could gauge the range of our slings to within inches, always strutting cockily and turning to look at the fallen missile with an air of indifference.

So what do you think?  Could folks like Colin benefit from a series of little fun projects?

Fairlead

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Re: Help me teach cubs to knot!
« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2007, 02:36:59 PM »
Hi Derek,
Within the Guild there is a 'Youth Forum' which is currently active in collecting data sheets of small projects for children/youths of all ages (Willeke has already given permission for her web page projects to be used).  These will be tried on the children/youths visiting the Silver Jubilee meeting at Fareham in May, then it is planned to have them available as 'packs' to hand out to Youth Leaders for future use.
In fact, one of the major aims of the meeting is to "Focus on Youth".
I too am a great believer that 'rote' learning is not the way to teach children and like to use the 'discovery' route from the Overhand Knot to start with.  However, where Cubs, Scouts, Guides, Cadets etc are involved they do have a set of knots to learn, so it is important to make sure that, whatever learning route you choose, you get to those in the end.
Most knot tyers I know abhor the 'bunny going round the tree' (but I bet that is how most of them learned!) but if that is going to be the best way of learning to tie a Bowline correctly every time (in the interests of safety) then why not!  I must confess that I know no other rhyms that are published or publishable - nodoubt there are some.

Gordon