Activity 4: The Courage Workout
Activity time: 15 minutes
Preparation for Activity
- You will need a large, open floor space. Have the children stand up in lines, as if in an exercise class. Make sure there is some space between them.
Description of Activity
In this activity you are pretending to be in an exercise class. You might like to tell the group:
When we are afraid, we can use our voices, our eyes, our breath, and our bodies to help us to feel braver. The more we practice feeling courageous, the more ready we will be to act when we need to be brave, for example, when someone needs us to stick up for them.
Today we are going to exercise our courage muscles. I am your exercise or gym class teacher. We will start with the strong body posture or stance. Show me what you think it would look like to stand strongly.
Encourage them to stand strong by standing tall, with chest out and perhaps hands on hips. Gently adjust their postures as needed.
Now take a deep breath. Say you are breathing in confidence, along with air. Demonstrate how it fills you up like a balloon. As you breathe in, say, "I can do this." As you breathe out say, "I feel good."
Lead the children to repeat this a few times. Then say:
Now we will use our eyes to tell people that we are serious. Which way of looking feels stronger to you?
Demonstrate looking at the ground and saying, "stop," and then look each one in the eye and say, "stop." Say:
Now I am going to look right at each one of you. When I look at you, you look me in the eye and silently tell me to stop. Say "stop" with your eyes.
As you look at each child, respond to what they are doing. You might say, "Good eye contact, Ian. Good eye contact, Sarah," etc. Then say:
Now we will exercise our voice muscles. Which feels stronger?
Say, "Stop it" in a quiet, high voice. Then say it again in a full, strong voice. Tell the children that they can get a bigger voice by taking their "confidence breath" deep into their bellies and letting it out while they send their words out like a powerful jet of water. Demonstrate.
Have them practice taking a deep breath into their stomachs first just to center and relax themselves, and then while saying, "Stop it." Or "That is mean." Or "Quit it", in loud and strong voices. Let them know that not all children can get a loud voice, especially if they are small. This is why many opera singers are large people. Compliment each child for practicing being louder than usual, this is what counts.
For a final time, have them put all three together and say "Stop it," with a strong body stance, good eye contact and a strong deep voice. If you want to give the children more opportunities to practice these skills in a role play scenario, use Alternate Activity 3: The Bully on the Path - Assertiveness Skills Practice, in which the children pretend to confront a bully and use their assertiveness skills to stand up to them.
Including All Participants
This activity can be modified to accommodate children with limitations. It can be done sitting down.