Breaking Sticks


This group dynamics exercise is called “Breaking sticks” or “The old man with five quarreling sons”. It is conducted at the beginning of the first session when we discuss forming a farmers’ club when both the men and women are present. It will make people understand that unity is strength.


  1. To create understanding that if all the FFS members work together they are stronger and can be more effective than when everybody works on their own.
  2. To create an atmosphere where people start thinking of forming a club or association.


  • 30 minutes


  • A bundle of bamboo sticks; 5 sticks are tied together and 5 are single sticks


  1. Before conducting the session the facilitator will select six participants. Select one from each group and one extra who could be very good in a role play.
  2. The facilitator will ask one to be the father (old man) and the other five to act as his sons.
  3. The facilitator now takes few minutes apart with these 6 persons to explain what they have to act.
  4. The other participants will now sit in a circle and the play will be acted in the middle of this circle.
  5. There will be first some dramatic dialogue between the five sons. They pretend to be quarreling among themselves, each trying to ensure their own benefit or interest.
  6. When they have quarreled for some time, the old man will come inside the circle and will try to calm the boys. During his discussion he will offer each of his sons a single stick to break that into pieces. The sons can do that easily. Then the old man will offer the bundle of sticks to their sons to break it. Nobody, not even the strongest one could break that bundle of sticks.
  7. Then the old man will ask the boys to be united like the sticks in bundle. They try together, and now they manage to break the bundle of sticks.
  8. The boys are now happy and convinced that “unity is strength”.

Some guidelines for discussion

  1. Why were the boys quarreling?
  2. What did the old man want to show by breaking sticks?
  3. What have we learnt from this exercise?
  4. If we, as members of this FFS, work together, what could we do?
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