Activity 4: The "in Your Hands" Ball Game
Activity time: 16 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Small, soft ball or a small stuffed bird to pass around the circle
- A copy of Leader Resource 1, "In Your Hands" Scenarios
Description of Activity
Gather children in a circle. Say, in your own words:
The boy in our story wanted to prove his point so much that he was willing to kill a bird in order to do that. He was in a situation where he could decide whether the bird would live or die.
Every day we all make decisions to hurt or help the people, other living beings, or the Earth around us.
Ask the children to think of some examples. You may prompt them with an example of your own, or use one of these:
- Making a choice to hit or push someone hurts them.
- Stealing something hurts the person you took it from.
- Pulling leaves off a tree hurts the tree.
- Dropping trash on the ground hurts the Earth and the others who live on it.
- Pulling a dog's tail hurts the dog.
- Saying mean words hurts someone's feelings.
You can mention positive choices people can make to avoid doing harm, such as sharing, doing chores, saying kind words, petting your dog, or, like the boy in the story, letting the bird go free.
Tell the children:
Unitarian Universalists believe that we should have peace for everyone in the world. Sometimes when we're angry it's very tempting to do something hurtful to other people, but we can choose to do something peaceful that doesn't harm others, instead. The answer is in our hands.
Have everyone sit or stand in a tight circle with their hands behind their backs. Pass the ball (or stuffed bird) around the circle in this way so that no one can see who has the bird or ball. After a few moments, call out, "Peace!"
Instruct everyone to stop passing the ball or bird. Ask that the person who is holding it think of a non-violent solution to one of the conflict scenarios in Leader Resource, "In Your Hands" Scenarios. Tell the group:
There is only one rule. Your solution cannot cause harm to another living being.
If you want to take the time, you can solicit additional ideas from other participants. After you are done generating non-violent solutions, invite the children to resume passing the ball or bird behind their backs.
The goal of this activity is to encourage children to think of and name alternatives to violence in conflict scenarios that are commonplace at their age. They will envision themselves acting as peacemakers, as well as hear many ideas for peaceful resolutions to conflict from their peers.