Activity time: 15 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Moral Compass poster
- A bold marker, or a piece of card stock and tape or a stapler
- Newsprint, markers and tape
Preparation for Activity
- Consider incorporating role-playing into the second dilemma presented in this activity.
- This activity can be done with the children sitting in a circle on the floor or around a single table. If you plan to include role-play, form a semi-circle to leave an open area where children can enact roles.
- Place the Moral Compass poster where all of the children can see it.
- Post one or two blank pieces of newsprint where you can write on it and children can see it.
- Write the word "Cooperation" on a piece of card stock to attach to the Moral Compass poster. Or, if you prefer, plan to write the word "Cooperation" directly on the poster.
Description of Activity
In this activity you are helping the children to think about how they can each contribute to solving a problem by using both their individual strengths and their strengths as a group. Children will consider two dilemmas. Their solutions to the dilemmas will demonstrate that each one of us makes a group stronger and that together we can accomplish more than when we act alone.
Tell the children the activity is called "What Would UU Do?" and explain that as Unitarian Universalists, we try to act with goodness and justice. You may add:
Cooperation is one of the tools we can use to do what our inner voices and our hearts tell us is right. As Unitarian Universalists, we believe it is important to learn how to work together with others.
Write or post the word "Cooperation" on the Moral Compass poster.
Say, in your own words:
Let's pretend that I am your classroom teacher and I am coming to you to ask for your help with a problem. There is a new child coming to our school and our class starting tomorrow. (You can tell them that they can each decide individually if it is a boy or girl.)
This child isn't going to know anyone or anything about this school or our community. How could each one of you help in your own special way to make the child feel welcome and at home in our school and our community? Just like the children in the story, "A Bundle of Sticks," you each have special gifts to bring to this class. I want you to think about what you most like to do, in and out of school. How could you volunteer to show, teach or do something with this new child? Together we will help to make this child at home. Together we can do much more than if just one or two of us made an effort.
Now I am going to write down a list of all the things you can do to help this new child to feel welcome.
Going in a circle or by asking for volunteers, invite each child to name something specific that they would do. Examples might be helping the new child find their locker, inviting the new child to play at recess, inviting the new child to after-school or weekend sports activities, telling the child about a favorite ice cream shop in your community, or helping the new child in the school cafeteria and asking them to sit with you and your friends. Write each child's contribution on the newsprint, with their name.
When they run out of ideas, ask the children what they could do together, as a group, to help make the new child feel welcome in the classroom. You may need to help them suggest things like drawing a big welcome sign, making nametags for everyone, playing getting-to-know-you games or whole class games to include the new child at recess.
Reflect back on your list and ask them how they were acting and thinking as a bundle of sticks.
Now tell them they will consider another situation. Say:
Even though we teachers try to stop all bullying at school, sometimes it happens when we aren't looking. Let's pretend again that I am your classroom teacher at school. Let's pretend there is a small group of children that are making fun of one child who has recently moved here from another country and is just learning to speak English. These children keep surrounding the child at recess, and in the hall, and in the cafeteria, and pretending to talk like the new child.
Pause for a moment. Children may be relating this story to real events in their lives. Now say:
First let's think about how the child feels who is new. What would they wish to do about this problem? What might be hard for the child to do about it, on their own?
Take a few responses. A child may suggest "fighting." You may say that the new child might indeed feel like fighting, and might feel even more like it with some friends to help, but violence would not solve the problem.
Now let's think like a bundle of sticks. How could you help that child as a group?
Prompt for suggestions such as standing with the child, walking together with the child through places where the bullies are waiting, and including the child in their games and activities. Try to draw out, but if necessary, state the idea that it can be easier for a group to say, "Stop!" to the bullies. You may use these questions:
- How can you protect this child?
- What could you say to the bullies?
- Would it feel easier to do this in a group? Why?
This dilemma would be good to set up and act out as a role play as the children will benefit from experiencing working together to solve this problem kinesthetically.
Including All Participants
All children will probably be able to participate in this activity. If there are children who cannot tolerate sitting for any length of time, you may want to provide them with fidget objects.