Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Sing to the Power: A Social Justice Program for Children Grades 4-5

Activity 3: Rant - A Listening Exercise

Activity time: 10 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Bell or chime or other noisemaker
  • Timepiece (minutes)
  • Optional: Computer with Internet access

Preparation for Activity

  • Decide how you will form pairs.
  • Optional: Preview the video of the Helsinki Complaints Choir (8:24)-an orchestrated choral piece that uses assorted, everyday complaints as lyrics-or the Horace Mann School (4:57) complaints choir on YouTube. Read more about theComplaints Choir project, which began in Birmingham, U.K. in 2005. Consider showing one of these videos to help participants "warm up" to rant about their pet peeves. (Listen to and read the lyrics of any version you plan to show to make sure it is appropriate.)

Description of Activity

Participants practice active listening, and experience what it feels like to have someone listen intently to what they have to say.

Tell the children they will have a chance to complain about whatever bothers them, and have a partner listen intently to their "rant." If you wish, show one of the Complaint Choir videos.

Form pairs. If necessary, a leader can pair with one of the children. Say:

One person in the pair will be the speaker. The other will be the listener. The speaker will have three minutes to talk about their pet peeves-things that really drive them nuts. The speaker may spend all their time focusing on one particular issue, or can go through a whole list of complaints. While the speaker is ranting, the listener may not speak, but should convey by their body language and facial expression that they hear and understand what the speaker is saying. When three minutes are up, I will sound a bell (or chime) and you will switch roles. The person who was the listener will then have three minutes to rant about their pet peeves while their partner listens intently.

Sound the bell for the first speakers to begin. After three minutes, sound the bell again for partners to change roles. After another three minutes, sound the bell once more to end the exercise.

Regather the group and lead reflection with questions such as:

  • Did you prefer to listen or to speak? Why?
  • Was it difficult to listen without interjecting any words, even words of support or agreement?
  • How often in your daily life do you listen to friends or family members this way, without thinking about what you will say next or trying to shift the conversation to a topic you prefer?