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Alternate Activity 2: Making Moral Compasses

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • 8.5" x 11" paper and pencil for each participant
  • A directional compass
  • Drawing compasses, plates, or other tools for making circles
  • Rulers or other straight-edged tools
  • Newsprint, markers and tape

Preparation for Activity

  • Think about what people need to know to make good, ethical decisions.

Description of Activity

In this activity, youth make paper compasses showing some of the things people need to know to make good, ethical decisions.

Explain the general process, then conduct a brainstorming session and list some of the things people need to know to make moral or ethical decisions. (You might need to explain that "morality" means the "state of being good." A "moral decision" is the right decision and a "moral act" is the right thing to do.) Possibilities for the list include, but are not limited to: the difference between right and wrong, truth, what your conscience says, what your faith or religion says, how the Golden Rule works, and what the law says. If you will have time for participants to write eight things on their compasses, try to make the list longer than eight items. If time is short and you will ask participants to choose just four items for their compasses, try to have at least six items on the list.

Show the youth your directional compass, and remind them of how it works. The arrow points automatically to the north, making it possible to know how to move in any direction of interest.

Say that they will now each draw a moral compass. At the top, instead of north, they should write something like "moral choice," "ethical decision," or "right thing to do." For the other directions, they can pick from your brainstormed list the items they think are most important. Tell the group whether they should put four or eight directions on their compasses. Also, explain what tools you have provided for drawing circles and lines. Note that the terms they choose might take up too much space to fit easily around their paper circles, so they might need to make up and use abbreviations for the "directions" they choose. They might also write their entries perpendicular to the circumference of their circle, along imaginary lines coming out from the center. Each participant should write her/his own name or initials at the bottom of his/her page.

When all have completed their compasses, either ask each of them to explain theirs to the group or place them around the room so all can walk around and look at them. Consider whether to leave them on display or to let youth take them with them at the end of the session.

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