To accomplish a goal together through the use of teamwork skills, problem solving, risk taking and perseverance.

Turnstile is a problem solving activity that gets many students out of their comfort zone. Although it looks like a simple jump rope activity at first, students quickly learn that they need to rely on one another’s strengths and skills to make it through. It is very rare for a group to easily breeze through the three rounds listed below. The group must practice perseverance and teamwork in order to succeed.

Author: Urban EdVenture Faculty

Print20-35 minutes

Students will learn to work together to move their entire group from one side of a turning rope to the other without touching the rope.  


A long rope for jumping (30 foot length suggested). The rope should be long enough so multiple people can move through together.  

  1. The story is up to you. The rope can be swirling blades, a portal to another dimension, or connected to a challenge with the course’s final service learning project. Be creative, know your audience, make it relevant, or make it fun. This activity can have different levels of challenge depending on group age/ability and activity time frame. Tell the students that there will be NO diving head first through the rope.

  2. Round 1: Get the group from one side of the rope to the other without touching the rope. If someone touches, the group must start over. Consider turning the rope in the opposite direction of a traditional jump rope - this allows students to run through without jumping.

  3. Round 2: Get the group through the rope without touching in consecutive rotations. If the rope makes a full rotation without someone passing through the rope, the whole group must start over.  Consider turning the rope in the opposite direction of a traditional jump rope - this allows students to run through without jumping.

  4. Round 3: Following all the rules from the previous two rounds, see in how few rotations you can get everyone through. 

  5. Round 4 (optional): In order to push a collaborative process you may wish to create a specific “ticket” that will signify completion of the task (i.e. “everyone must make it through the turnstile in exactly 4 turns”). Choose something that will require students to plan together in order to be successful.

  6. Safety notes: It is essential that students be careful and are aware of the rope. It is a tripping hazard as well as dangerous if caught around the neck. The speed of the rope turning is up to you as a facilitator – keep it within reason, and keep it safe. You will need another adult or student to help you turn the rope. Also make sure you do this activity on level ground with a soft landing in case of trips and falls. 


Debrief as a group or have students quietly reflect on the experience through writing about the following questions:

  • What happened?
  • If the group was highly successful, what were the methods that worked? How did you all agree on a method?
  • If not successful, what were some areas you might change if you did this activity again? Was it frustrating to have to start completely over? What pushed you to try again?
  • Within your group, what were the difficulties you had to overcome to be successful? Have we seen any of these same difficulties when we’re planning our service learning project?