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Lesson Plan #: AELP-GAM0201
Submitted by: Carla Fairbairn
Email: cargar@sympatico.ca
School/University/Affiliation: Pope John Paul II School, Barrie, Ontario, Canada

February 22, 2001

Grade Level: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6


  • Physical Education/Games
  • Physical Education/Motor/movement skills

Duration: 20-30 minutes

Description: This lesson involves groups of approximately 5-8 students working together to successfully cross the ocean (gym) on two rafts (square gym mats). Given brief instructions, the students need to work together to figure out a way to get all of their group members safely to the other side of the ocean without having any member fall into (touch) the ocean. 


  • To foster cooperation and communication among students.
  • To foster critical thinking and reasoning skills.
  • Objectives:

  • Students will be able to follow directions given by the teacher.
  • Students will be able to work cooperatively in groups (talk with one another and listen to each other’s ideas) to complete a problem-solving task.
  • Materials:

    • two square gym mats for each group of 5-8 students

    Divide the students into groups (about 5-8 students per group). Arrange each group along a line at one end of the gym. Explain the following scenario: All of you are on a tropical island, and it is very hot outside! Across the ocean, there is some creamy, cold ice cream waiting for you. The problem is that each group has only two rafts to use for taking the group members across the ocean. In your groups, you need to figure out a way to travel from one side to the other without having any group members touch the water (gym floor). If a group member touches the water, then the entire group must go back to the start line and begin again.

    [ Author’s Notes:
    The size of the square mats can vary. Larger mats would mean larger groups of students and smaller mats would mean smaller groups of students. I suggest that for approximately 5-6 people, a 5 x 5 ft. mat would be good. The mat has to be big enough for all members to stand on yet small enough to compromise movement.

    The task can easily be accomplished by having all the group members stand safely on one mat while they move the other mat carefully to the front. Then they can transfer themselves to the new mat and move the other one to the front until they get to the other side. I have done this activity many times and have yet to see a group of students arrive at that conclusion at first. The students usually make several unsuccessful attempts, but they have a lot of fun doing it!] Assessment: Observe the children as they interact with one another. The teacher may find it useful to jot down some observations, as this activity can tell a lot about how a child functions in a group situation.

    Special Comments: The main objective of the activity is for the children to learn first-hand how important it is to cooperate with each other to reach their goal. You will learn so much about your children with this activity! Some will take on leadership roles while others will be lead!