- String or wool
- Plastic ring toss ring or embroidery hoop
- Pen and paper
- Something to mark lines (optional)
Before you begin
- Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Additional help to carry out your risk assessment, including examples can be found here. Don’t forget to make sure all young people and adults involved in the activity know how to take part safely.
- Make sure you’ll have enough adult helpers. You may need some parents and carers to help if you’re short on helpers.
- The Kaaba (also spelt Ka’bah) is one of the most important sites in Islam. It’s in Makkah, which is often spelt Mecca, in Saudi Arabia.
- It’s a cube-shaped building in the centre of Masjid al-Haram, the largest mosque in the world.
- Muslims believe that Prophet Abraham and his son, Ishmael, laid the foundations of the first Kaaba. They believe that the black stone was given to Abraham by the angel Gabriel, to be placed into the corner of the Kaaba. The Prophet Muhammad said “The Black Stone came down from Paradise and it was whiter than milk, but the sins of the sons of Adam turned it black.”
- The Black Stone is also known as Hajr Al-Aswad.
- The Kaaba is still made of bricks, but it’s now covered by a huge black cloth embroidered with gold.
- Every year, millions of Muslims visit the Kaaba during Hajj, a pilgrimage to Makkah. They complete a ritual involving walk around the Kaaba seven times, and may kiss the black stone. According to Islamic scholars, prayers are accepted at the black stone and on the Day of Judgement, the stone will testify to the faith of those who have kissed it.
- Muslims all around the world pray five times a day in the direction of the Kaaba.
- The special Black Stone is still on the corner of the Kaaba today. It’s now in separate parts and is fixed in a silver frame.
Over 1000 years ago, the Kaaba was damaged by a flood. Some of the most well-known tribes in Makkah worked together to rebuild the Kaaba.
One important piece of the Kaaba that fell out of its place was the Black Stone (Hajr Al-Aswad) – a special stone that belonged in the corner of the building.
No-one could agree who should have the honour of placing the special stone back in its place. All four of the tribes thought they should be the one to do it.
The tribes argued, until someone had an idea. Instead of fighting, they decided to wait and see who came into the mosque first and let them decide.
They waited, and it was Muhammad who arrived first. He was someone who was well respected and known for being trustworthy. He even had the nickname 'al Sadiq al Amin' meaning the most truthful and honest. So, they trusted him to make a good decision.
Muhammad listened to their problem and agreed to listen to each tribe leaders’ case. Then, he carefully gave it some thought, whilst everyone waited, hoping their own tribe would be chosen.
But, instead of choosing a tribe, Muhammad asked for a large piece of cloth. He spread the cloth on the floor and carefully placed the black stone in the middle of it.
Muhammad asked the leaders of the tribes to each take a corner of the cloth. They all worked together to lift the black stone and put it back in place in the Kaaba.
Everyone was relieved and pleased that Muhammad had found a peaceful solution, where all tribes could be involved.
Planning this activity
The aim of this game is for teams, made up of 4 people, to work together to get a balloon from one side of the meeting space to the other, without dropping it. The balloon is balanced on a ring/loop, which has four pieces of string attached.
You'll need to prepare at least one set of equipment, which teams can take turns using and be timed. Or, if you’ve got enough space and equipment, you could prepare more than one set, so that teams can play at the same time.
- Cut four pieces of string, each about one metre in length.
- Attach the four pieces of string to the ring or hoop. People will be holding onto these pieces of string during the game.
- If you’d like to, mark two lines on the floor of your meeting place - one for the start and one for the finish.
- Place the prepared hoop at one side of the meeting space.
- Blow a balloon up ready for the game. It’s a good idea to have some spare balloons too, just in case one bursts.
Introduce the activity
- Explain that one of the Scouts values is beliefs. Scouts always respect people’s beliefs, faiths and cultures, and everyone should be open to learn.
- Ask everyone why it’s important for people to learn about each other's faiths and beliefs, even if we don’t have a faith ourselves. It can help us understand, respect and relate to others, and it also gives us opportunity to reflect on our own personal beliefs and values.
- Tell everyone that today you’ll be learning about the story of replacing the Black Stone from Islam. This is the story of how the Prophet Muhammad helped bring peace between tribes, who all felt they deserved the honour of replacing a sacred stone in the Kaaba, a holy building. We’ve shared some more information on this page.
Play the game
- Get everyone into teams of four.
- Give the first team a balloon to balance on the ring. Explain that the balloon represents the Black Stone.
- Each team will have to work together, each holding one of the pieces of string.
- The aim is to get the balloon from one side of the meeting space to the other, as quickly as possible, without it falling. Explain that this represents the four tribes from the story working together, carrying the special stone on a cloth.
- Get the first team, or all the teams ready on the start line.
- Shout ‘ready, steady, go!’ and start the timer.
- If the balloon drops at any point, the team should stop, pick it up and put the balloon back on the hoop, before carrying on.
- When the first team has finished, make a note of their time, unless you’re all racing together then watch who crosses the finish line first.
- If you’re playing one at a time, now it’s the next team’s turn. Can they beat the time?
- At the end, see who has the fastest time. You could award the team that worked well together or communicated well too.
- You could play again and see if teams can get faster with practise or using different techniques.
This activity gave everyone the opportunity to have fun while working as a team, whilst reflecting on or learning about a story of peace from Islam. It also needed everyone to persevere - to keep going, even when it was tricky.
You could use these questions to reflect on the concept of peace.
- How did Muhammad create peace in the story?
- What does peace mean to you? How does it relate to your own faith, beliefs or values?
- How could you help promote peace in your daily life? Sometimes it could be as simple as using a calm and quiet voice.
- How is peace important in your life?
You could use these questions to reflect on the importance of teamwork.
- What would’ve happened if just one person tried to move the balloon?
- What would’ve happened if the team didn't work together, or everyone tried to do it their way?
- How did the team work together?
- Why did you keep trying when things didn’t work? How did it feel when you achieved your goal?
Extra reflection for Muslim Scouts
Muslim Scouts may want to use the following passage from the Qur'an, the holy book of Islam, to reflect on the importance of teamwork.
''And hold firmly to the rope of Allah and do not be divided. Remember Allah’s favour upon you when you were enemies, then He united your hearts, so you—by His grace—became brothers. And you were at the brink of a fiery pit and He saved you from it. This is how Allah makes His revelations clear to you, so that you may be ˹rightly˺ guided.'' (Qur'an 3:103, translation)
- Active games
The game area should be free of hazards. Explain the rules of the game clearly and have a clear way to communicate that the game must stop when needed. Take a look at our guidance on running active games safely.
Supervise young people appropriately when they’re using scissors. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people.
- The game doesn’t have to be timed. Teams could just focus on balancing the balloon, and not letting it drop.
- The distance between the start line and finish line can be made shorter or longer, depending on the needs of your group.
- To make the game easier, let people hold the string closer to the hoop, as this gives the ring more balance.
- To make the game a little more challenging, try it without the ring/hoop. Teams can work together to decide on a strategy to move the balloon using only their four pieces of string.
- You could also add in additional rules, such as everyone using their non-dominant hands, someone in the team walking backwards or being blindfolded, or adding a time penalty if team’s drop their balloon.
- If needed, let people be in bigger groups to make sure everyone’s supported in taking part in the activity. A young leader could join a group to help people to take part, too.
- If anyone may have difficulty holding the string or playing the game, they could take on another role, such as timekeeping, or help to start the game.
- Make sure that all the materials are at a level that can be easily worked on by wheelchair users.
- If this game won’t be accessible for everyone in your group, you could play a game with other objects representing the story. You could play a parachute game, with the parachute representing the cloth and a ball representing the Black Stone. Can everyone work together to move the ball in a certain direction?
- People can move at their own pace, so you don’t need to make it competitive unless it works for everyone.
- Some people might not like how it feels to touch some items of equipment. If you’ve got someone in your group who won’t be comfortable using balloons or has an allergy to them, you could use a light plastic ball or a foam football instead. People could also wear gloves, or someone else could move or touch the item for them. They could also use another object or utensil to be able to use, touch, put something on or move the item. No-one should be forced to touch something they feel uncomfortable with doing, as it may be distressing for them.
- Picking up or holding materials could be a challenge for some people, so ask people to work in pairs or with a young leader or adult volunteer to assist with collecting.
- If it’s too noisy and anyone doesn’t like the noise, the person leading the activity can remind everyone to be quieter. You could have a noise level warning system to help everyone be reminded of the noise levels. The person could wear ear defenders, or you could run the activity outside or over a larger space to reduce the noise. Shutting doors and windows can help to reduce external sounds, too.
All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.