Yurt Circle

To show students that everyone is part of the big picture and that the skills needed to take care of a small community of individuals are similar to those needed to care for a larger community. 

This activity can be done at different times throughout the course, each time adding more people to the circle. As one of the closing activities for Urban EdVenture, we do a giant yurt circle with the entire 5th grade, each person playing a role in supporting their neighbor and their grade as a whole.

Author: Urban EdVenture Faculty

Print20 minutes

Students will learn how to work together to accomplish the goal of allowing all members to lean back together and feel supported by the group.


A non-stretchy rope or webbing. The length should be long enough that it can be tied and reach around the full circle of students who are standing shoulder-to-shoulder.

  1. Have everyone stand in a circle, shoulder-to-shoulder, facing inwards.

  2. Everyone should grab the rope or webbing and hold on with two hands.

  3. Have the group all take one or two steps back at the same time to place tension on the rope or webbing.

  4. On the teacher’s count, have all students lean back while holding onto the webbing. They should keep their feet firmly planted in place. The teacher must stress the importance of the group all leaning back slowly and at the same time. Anyone who yanks or puts extra stress on the rope can cause this activity to be unsuccessful. On the teacher’s count, the group should slowly return to standing. Teachers should be sure to be the first and only voices in the leaning back stage.

  5. After seeing the teacher role model good leadership, a student can facilitate the next round.

  6. Note: For an extra challenge, if the group is successful and focused, you can have them try leaning back and then sitting and raising themselves back up while there is tension on the rope.


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

  • What did we do well in this activity?
  • What was your role in the group?
  • How did you feel during the activity?
  • What skills did we need to complete this activity?
  • What are the different parts of communication? What part of communication were you responsible for?