Clothespin Count

Friends & Mentors
Friends & Mentors
Involved & Inclusive
Involved & Inclusive

To become aware of different communication skills and how these skills affect the way we speak and listen to others.


  • Clothespins
  • Board game or back-pocket game


Interrupting someone when they are talking is rude and a bad habit. Unfortunately it is a habit that many participants have and, until they are taught differently, they may continue with this habit on into their adult lives. In this game, people have to work extra hard at using proper communication skills, and some people must especially be aware of their desire to interrupt someone who is talking.


  1. Select a game for the group to play (board, card, guessing, etc.).
  2. Pin two clothespins on the clothing of each child.
  3. Inform the participants that their goal is to still have their clothespins by the end of the game. They can lose a clothespin if another child catches them using poor communication skills like interrupting someone who’s talking, making rude/inappropriate comments, not listening etc. It’s up to you to decide the conditions according to the skills your group needs to work on and to moderate whether a child should lose their clothespin or not.
  4. Explain the rules of your selected game (the clothespin rules are active here), then play the game. 


  • Participate as facilitator by giving clothespins to participants who do or say something particularly thoughtful or delightful.
  • Alternatively, you could carry-out this activity while you conduct your normal programming instead of during a game, thus the wrap-up could occur at the end of program.


  • Review and clarify program rules and expectations before commencing this activity to ensure that everyone understands the behaviours and language which are fair game.
  • Reinforce the notion of gentle touching and respect by discouraging participants from forcefully removing the clothes pins from peers. Instead, the “accused” participant should willfully hand over his/her clothespin to the other participant.


  • Why did you lose or keep your clothespins?
  • Why do people interrupt other when they are talking?
  • How do you feel when others interrupt you?
  • Why is it disrespectful to interrupt others?
  • What can you do to prevent yourself from interrupting others?
  • How can you show others that you are listening to them?

Submitted by Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa.