Climbing Activity of the Month: On Thin Ice


Climbers are challenged to avoid areas of “thin ice” on the climbing wall.

Grade Level: 2 and up

Grouping: Whole group

Materials: Bungee cords, string or tape (preferably Gaffers’ tape)

Boy wrapping bungee cords around hand holds to create obstacles on a rock climbing wallAdvance Prep: Use bungee cords, string or tape to mark off areas that will be “thin ice,” or areas that cannot be used for climbing. The cords and string can be wrapped around several holds to create the imaginary areas of challenge. Keep safety in mind as you space the areas so that there are clear opportunities for climbers to climb over, under and around thin ice to get from one side of the climbing wall to the other.

Activity: This activity brings some new challenges to the climbing wall by “eliminating” some of the holds from use by climbers. As they climb, climbers must abide by these rules:

  • The climber’s feet or hands cannot touch any part of thin ice (border and interior space).
  • Regular climbing wall safety rules still apply.
  • If the climber breaks any rule, s/he must return to the starting point and try again.
Girl rock climbing while avoiding hand holds that are wrapped with bungee cord

    Variation: It’s Opposite Day! Now try climbing ONLY using areas of thin ice. This will likely require adding more thin ice or giving people three strikes, or three times to use any part of the wall.

    Teaching Tip: Encourage participants to climb more slowly than usual since this activity requires additional problem solving and possibly new body positioning.

    National Standards: 1,2,3,4 & 5

    Grade-Level Outcomes: 

    • Nonlocomotor (S1.E7, S1.E8, S1.E10)
    • Movement concepts (S2.E1, S2.E2)
    • Engages in physical activity (S3.E2, S3.M3, S3.M4, S3.M5)
    • Personal responsibility (S4.E1, S4.E2, S4.M1, S4.M2)
    • Rules & etiquette (S4.E5, S4.M5,S4.M6)
    • Safety (S4.E6, S4.M7)
    • Challenge (S5.E2, S5.M3)

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