The community is a large net

Make the community something very concrete using this activity, where you physically experience what mutual obligation in a community means.

Standing together in a large circle, the parents form a net by repeatedly throwing a ball of yarn to each other.

When the net has been created, engage the parents in a group discussion about the symbolism of the net and use it as the basis for a conversation about what they can expect from each other as part of the parent community. You can also discuss how the same analogy can be applied to a children’s group.

Educational purpose

Use this activity as a relationship-building exercise for parents.

Carry out the activity with

Parents or colleagues.

What you need

  • A ball of bulky yarn that must be long enough for each participant in the circle to be allocated approximately 5 metres. Use multiple balls of yarn if you have formed multiple circles.

Here is how

  1. All participants form a circle. If there are more than 25 participants, make more circles.
  2. One of the parents starts the exercise by holding the ball of yarn and sharing something about themselves with the other participants (e.g. something they are good at or like to do). The parent then throws the ball to another participant in the group while holding on to the end of the yarn.
  3. The recipient must now share something about him- or herself, hold on to the yarn and throw the ball to a third participant.
  4. When everyone has had the ball of yarn, a large net of string has been created. You now ask the participants if they can see what the net symbolises. Everyone best possible environment for their children and for themselves. It is important that everyone engages and contributes, so that it becomes a pleasant and safe community. Everyone has an important role in the community.
  5. You now ask two participants to drop their string and ask the group what happens. They may say that the net is broken, but that is not actually the case. The net can withstand someone letting go a little if that is what the person needs to do for a while. The most important thing is that the others keep holding on and pull a bit more “of the weight” at their end, so that the net stays strong. And equally as important: it needs to be possible for those who let go of the net (e.g. due to illness in the family, divorce, etc.) to come back and regain a place in the net. Let the two participants pick up a piece of string again.
  6.  When everyone is back in the community/net, you ask participant X to take their string and walk over to the other side of the circle. Then ask the other participants to lift the net so that participant X can get under it. As participant X makes his or her way under the net, other participants will feel it start to tighten. The participants will need to be mindful of whether they can loosen their end of the string a little, so participant X has enough string to get under the net. Ask the participants what this means to a community (i.e. that a new place can be found for you in the community if the others are prepared to make room for it). When all groups have visited all three stations, you all discuss your observations together. Remember to make room for a discussion about anything you have disagreed with along the way
  7. Conclude the session and tell them that you do the same exercise – in a simpler version – with the children, and that the exercise is about reminding participants that we all have mutual obligations in communities.


You can use this activity at meetings with parents or when welcoming new parents, in which case participants can give their names instead of sharing something about themselves.

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