Activity time: 15 minutes
Materials for Activity
Newsprint from Activity 3 with traits compiled from group work
Small pieces of paper or card stock, pens or markers
Optional: a selection of costumes and props
Preparation for Activity
Arrange a large, open area for the youth to pose as statues. If weather permits and you have time, increase the “garden” feeling of this activity by using an accessible outdoor space.
Decide how you will pair the youth for the activity.
Optional: Display costumes and props where all easily get to them.
Optional: If the group hasn’t done Activity 3, Building the Mind-Garden, you will need to add five minutes up front for brainstorming: Plan to post blank newsprint, ask for one or more volunteer scribes and lead the youth to imagine what seeds of character traits one might find in a garden. Prompt the youth not to forget weeds—negative traits! If you cannot add five minutes, create a list before the session and have the slips of paper already prepared. You will need two to three times the number of traits as you have participants.
Description of Activity
This is a physical, charades-like activity exploring our good and bad traits.
As a group, using the list of character seeds and weeds the groups came up with in Activity 3 (or in the optional five-minute brainstorm), write each individual seed or weed on a small piece of paper or card stock (duplicates are fine). Shuffle the papers and give one to each person.
Ask the group if they have ever seen a garden statue. Ask for some examples from their city or neighborhood or from popular culture. If the group has done Activity 3, tell them that now that they have made a garden, it is time to decorate it! They are going to be the garden statues, and you are going to be the Gardener, who is choosing which ones to put in your garden. Explain that since you are planting a garden of character, you want to choose a statue that reflects good character traits.
Ask if they can imagine how a statue would demonstrate good character traits. After taking a few responses, tell them that what you as a gardener want is a statue that has two people in it, relating to one another in a way that shows a good character trait. Tell them that a posed, still image like this is called a tableau.
Pair up the youth (make one group of three if necessary), and invite them choose from among their character trait papers which they think is the most wholesome character trait. Once they have decided, their challenge is to think of an interaction between people which shows this good character trait, and choose how to act it out. If available, youth may use props or costumes, one or two per group.
Ask the youth to spread out around the room and take the shape of their vignette. Move around the room consideringly, and once you have looked at each group’s statues, proceed to guess what the statues represent, as though you were shopping at a garden center (e.g. “Hmm… do I want a friendliness statue, or a courage statue for the front patio?”).
Once you have guessed what each group represented, invite them to break their poses but stay where they are. One by one, check and see if you guessed correctly. If not, ask the pair to take their pose again, and let the rest of the group guess what trait they think the interaction represents.
If time allows, shuffle the trait cards and play another round with new traits and new pairs.
Bring the group back together and wrap up the activity with a few questions like:
Was it easy or hard to recognize the traits in other people’s statues?
Is it easy or hard to recognize wholesome and unwholesome traits in ourselves?
Including All Participants
This is a physical game which is nonetheless designed to include participants of all abilities. If you are limited in the space available, you may ask the groups simply to take turns presenting their vignettes for the group, for a more charades-like play.