Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Love Connects Us: A Program on Living in Unitarian Universalist Covenant for Grades 4-5

Activity 4: Motivating Speeches

Activity time: 10 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Obtain a tabletop podium or a large cardboard box to serve as a podium.
  • Decide how to structure this activity. Base your choice on your knowledge of the children in the group.
    • Impromptu speeches by individual volunteers. Consider the likelihood of children in this group volunteering to make an impromptu speech. Some participants might volunteer if you ask well ahead of time. Identify and approach likely candidates at least a week before this session. Give them the Thoreau, Gandhi, and King quotes (Leader Resource 1). Invite them to be ready to use these quotes or similar ideas in a speech urging peaceful methods to change something that is unjust today.
    • Small groups. You may prefer to have participants work quickly in three groups (Thoreau, Gandhi, King) to draft and deliver three speeches urging peaceful protest against a contemporary injustice of their choosing.
  • Use Leader Resource 1 to provide Thoreau, Gandhi, and/or King quotations to the individuals or groups who will need them.

Description of Activity

Invite some participants to bring the voice and ideas of Thoreau, Gandhi, and/or King to an impromptu podium speech.

Ask participants to think of a social or political injustice we face today-a situation where laws are unjust. How could we protest the situation and demand change, using peaceful means? Invite them to imagine what kind of speech a nonviolent activist would make about the contemporary issue. Challenge them to convince one another that nonviolent protest is the way to accomplish the goal.

You can structure this activity in a variety of ways. Individual volunteers could take a few minutes on their own or with a group to select a contemporary justice issue to address and choose quotations from Thoreau, Gandhi, or King to include in a speech. You might work as a group to choose a contemporary issue, provide quotations to everyone, and then ask for volunteers to make a brief, impromptu speech. If the group includes strong writers, you could invite everyone to work quietly on their own for five minutes, each choosing an issue and drafting a speech; then invite volunteers to read or have another person read their speech aloud from the podium. Choose any way that will engage this specific group, but be sure you ask for volunteers to give speeches. Do not pressure any child to speak to the entire group.

After the participants give their speeches, reflect. Use these questions, as appropriate:

  • Was this speech convincing? Why or why not?
  • How could you tell who the speaker was?
  • Can all justice problems be fixed by nonviolent means? Why or why not?
  • How can we as Unitarian Universalists motivate others to join us in advancing social change through nonviolent actions?

Including All Participants

Do not put any participant on the spot by asking them to quickly create a speech or to speak in front of the group.