Science Club – Rope Making

Rope Making


Arrival Craft: cross-stitch cards, lacing cards for littlies.

Very small children can sew ‘wonky kisses’ cards and, they look quite sweet.
The heart, though it looks simple, takes a good fifteen minutes for kids to make. But, some of the children took theirs home to complete.


What do we use rope for?

Sometimes we need very strong rope for lifting heavy things.

I’ve got various threads here and we’re going to test how strong they are by hanging weights from them until they snap.

Ask the children to guess how much weight the sewing thread, string and rope will hold, see if they’re right. I needed to use my husband’s dumbbell weights to snap the thicker threads. Make sure you experiment in advance and have heavy enough weights to hand.

We can turn string into rope by twisting lots of it together. People used to make rope in long rooms, walking up and down as they twisted the small ropes into bigger ropes.


Individual Task:

In teams, make ropes.


Gather together:

Test the ropes to see if they are stronger than the individual strings they were made from (we won’t snap the children’s ropes, we’ll let them all take some home 😉 )

Do you think that people still make rope like that today?

Show the children a rope-making machine made of lego.

This is what it looks like with the front taken off, so you can see the gears clearly:
Eldest also made a rope making machine from Gears, Gears, Gears (really, that’s what it’s called), which shows the gears very clearly:


Active Science: make two lines of children, holding hands, see how far they can stretch, and mark each ‘strain line’ on the floor, then ‘twist’ the lines of children to make ‘thicker rope’ and see how far they can stretch (not as far!)


Break for drink and snack and Story of String.


Optional Extension:

  • Look more closely at the rope making machine, perhaps have a go at making your own.
  • Basket weaving

This was yet another Baker Ross kit.
It was a bit fiddly, and parents ended up helping a lot more than I’d anticipated.


2 thoughts on “Science Club – Rope Making

  1. Fantastic 🙂 If you’re ever in the neighbourhood of Chatham Dockyards the rope walk is well worth a visit. Also there was a good demo of medieval rope making on the show Secrets of the Castle with Ruth Goodman and Peter Ginn – in the series the presenters help in the building of a new castle in France using medieval tools and techniques. It’s on Youtube, although the film quality is quite poor.

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