You will need
- Red paracord (about 75cm)
- Black paracord (about 50cm)
- Green paracord (about 40cm)
- Sticky tape
Before you begin
- This is a great activity to run during an online session. Check out the advice on using Zoom and other popular digital platforms and the guidance on being safe online.
- Let everyone know what you'll be doing in advance, send them the link to this activity, and ask them have the webpage open. They might be able to print a copy of the instructions to use too. Explain that parents and carers may need to help their young person with this activity.
- Think about how you’ll make sure everyone has the equipment they’ll need. You know your group best: some people have been dropping equipment packs at people’s doors while others have been sending links to buy things online. Don’t forget you’ll need some too so you can show everyone what to do.
- If you’re new to knot tying, we’ve added some links below to step-by-step guides for all the knots you’ll need. Have a look and try them out beforehand so you know what to do, and can help anyone who’s struggling during the session
- Some leaders choose to seal the cord using heat (for example, from a candle, lighter, or soldering iron. Only adults should do this. Remember that the cord will stay extremely hot for some time so everyone should be really careful not to touch it. You could use sticky tape instead.
Run the activity
- The person leading the activity should welcome everyone to the online meeting and mute them.
- Everyone should show that they have their three pieces of paracord ready to go.
- The person leading the activity should show everyone how to complete each step of the instructions to make their poppy. They should remind everyone that they can look at the web page to help them.
- Once everyone’s finished their poppy, why not spend some time chatting as a group about what they symbolise and why lots of people wear them around Remembrance?
How to make the poppy
Start with the piece of red paracord and use it to tie a two strand sailor’s knot (some people call this a ‘turk’s head knot’).
If you’re not sure how to tie this knot, check out the link below for a simple step-by-step guide.
Once you’ve tied the sailor’s knot, flatten it out keeping both loose ends on one side of the knot. Pull the sides out so that you create a hole in the centre.
Cut the extra loose cord. Ask an adult to burn seal the two ends together or use sticky tape.
Remember that the cord will stay very hot for a while if you burn seal it; don’t touch it until it’s safe.
Take the black cord and tie a lanyard knot.
When you’ve finished the knot, carefully thread the loop through to create a button shape. Make sure that the top loop doesn’t go through the knot or it’ll unravel.
Get the green cord and tie a cobra lanyard knot. Cut the extra cord that’s left over. Ask an adult to burn seal the ends or use sticky tape.
Be careful not to touch the hot cord if you’ve burn sealed it.
Now everyone should have three knots. Take the loose ends of the black lanyard knot and thread them through the centre of your red, flattened, sailor’s knot.
Then thread the same ends of the black cord through the loop in the green cobra knot.
Pull all three knots to the end of the cord with your lanyard knot and tie a simple knot to keep them all together. Trim the excess black cord and ask an adult to burn seal the ends to keep everything in place.
Let the hot cord cool down before you touch it.
Congratulations, you’ve crafted a paracord poppy! You could tie it to a safety pin to wear on your uniform, or add it to a wreath or other display.
Knots you’ll need to know
This activity gave everyone the chance to think a bit more about the poppy. Do people usually see lots of poppies around in November? Did anyone already know what they meant and what they symbolised? Do people think it’s helpful to have a shared symbol like a poppy for important things like Remembrance?
In this activity, everyone thought about Remembrance and how it links to their lives. What did people find out about Remembrance? How did it make them feel? How are people going to take part in Remembrance this year?
Supervise young people appropriately when they’re using scissors. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people.