Knots & Cordages

How knots can be taught to learners in a Forest School?

The beauty of learning, comes from exploration. Exploration helps the learner orientate around the surrounding and different elements of the knowledge or skills that they are about to embark on. When it comes to specific skills like knot tying, exploration plays a major part in the learning, with up to 70% of the learning being self exploratory. It may take a sum of 5 hours and beyond in exploring how and why they will use the ropes, before they start learning the specific skill. It is important for the exploratory moments to take place first.

Half Hitch


In half hitch, the learning process requires learner to tie the rope around a rod first. Having learners practice going around the rod, will be the first step. This will then move on to, circling the rope around the opposite rope, before slotting it under the active rope’s “bridge”. An introduction to active and passive rope end/line, will be good for the learners to recognise which rope we are instructing on. A creative description (one which learners can comprehend) will add better understanding as well

Timber Hitch


In timber hitch, the initial steps are the same as half hitch, as it is an extention of the half hitch. After the half hitch is done, we continue, by having the learner “wrap” the passive rope using the active rope like a “snake” to create the Timber hitch, its use for a knot that will tighten on tension, so if the ends of the ropes are tied to tensioned items it will serve its purpose better.

Clove Hitch


The clove hitch is a tight knot, for putting the line on the rope, for further actions. It is simple, and tight. The uniqueness of the knot, is in its double cross (one over, one under). Learners will begin with with first over cross, followed by second loop around the rod. After that, make a cross beneath the second loop’s passive rope, above the first passive rope (Look at picture for visualisation). Then tug on both end to tighten it.

Reef Knot


Called the Reef Knot or the Granny Knot, the knot is use to attach two ropes together, while giving the ropes some loose angle to create a slack so that the rope can be manipulated further (or add ons can happen easily). First get the passive rope into a U-shape. Then use the active rope, go over and under the U-shape. Then make a U-shape for the active rope over the passive rope, followed by a under and over from the other side of the passive U-shape.

Star Knots

(combination of sheer lashing and square knots)


This is the “Star Knots”(my term). It is a combination of roping and twisting. A really creative process on its on. To get this knot firmly tied, would require the end to consist of a clove hitch or another knot which locks in the ropes and rods.

In the end, the most important thing about tying knot, is to make sure that things we wish to attach are secured safetly. Knot tying has a benefit, giving the learners opportunity to work their visual recognition from replicating what the knot picture says. It also gives them problem solving and resilience training experience from the constant practices they will engage in (for those who are interested).

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