Activity 4: Round-Robin Story

Activity time: 10 minutes

Materials for Activity

Description of Activity

Ask your group to create a story that shows how a small personal action can lead to significant results.

Begin by displaying Leader Resource 1, Butterfly and Wave, from the Conundrum Corner and asking participants why they think it is on display for a session discussing the consequences of our actions.

After hearing some ideas from the group, if it does not come up, introduce the concept of the "butterfly effect." That's the idea that a butterfly's flapping wings can affect the air flow just enough to cause a ripple effect that changes the weather- to create the wave in the painting or maybe even helping to create a tornado thousands of miles away. Ask how this theory relates to the story heard in Activity 2.

If it does not come up in conversation, you might point out that another way of looking at the painting is that the wave created by the butterfly might destroy the butterfly. Does this interpretation hold meaning for us in light of what we are finding out about how human actions have affected our world? (For more on this topic, see Alternate Activity 4, Ripples and Waves.)

Use words attributed to the Buddha to help make the same point:

The thought manifests as the word;
The word manifests as the deed;
The deed develops into habit;
And habit hardens into character;
So watch the thought and its ways with care,
And let it spring from love
Born out of concern for all beings...

Ask the group to summarize the passage. (Even an idea can have great effect, and that effect will be good if the idea comes from love.) Note that the passage reflects the universal-love theme of the previous activity.

Ask the group to create a round-robin story based on the idea that a small action can have great effects. Explain that you will start the story with a single sentence. You will then go around the circle several times, with each participant adding one more sentence, until you have created a story that shows what wonderful results can come from one small act of kindness. If you think the pressure to create a line may trouble some youth, consider doing the activity "popcorn style," with participants offering lines as ideas occur to them. Both approaches can work well. Your choice should depend on your own careful assessment of your group's needs.

Begin the process with this sentence: "The woman was small and her bags were large so I offered to help carry them to her car." Encourage the youth to use their imaginations and have fun as they build from this beginning. (Maybe the woman tips the speaker and the speaker feels guilty to accept her money and so gives it to somebody else who.... Or maybe the story begins badly-the woman screams because she thinks someone is stealing her bags, but everything turns out okay in the end.)

This activity works well with six to eight youth. If your group is larger than that, consider having two or more small groups create stories independently of each other.

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