Activity time: 15 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Three-ring binder notebook
- Blank paper and three-hole punch
- Pens, pencils and color markers
- Newsprint, markers and tape
Preparation for Activity
- Create an affirmation page for each participant by writing, "Seeing (name) with Awe" at the top of each piece of blank paper and punching the left-hand side with the three-hole puncher.
- Think about each child in the group and be ready with a few honest affirmations that you can add to each affirmation portrait. If this is difficult, try to reframe behaviors that seem negative as their positive counterparts: Stubbornness becomes persistence, loudness becomes passion.
- Post a page or two of blank newsprint where you can write on it.
Description of Activity
This is a variation on Activity 5, Life-size Affirmation Portraits that requires less floor space and less time. When you are done you will have a group affirmation book which can be photocopied and sent home with each child as a tangible reminder of their learning to "see others with awe."
Say, in your own words:
When the children in the story thought that one of their classmates was a messiah, they began to see each other differently. That's because they started to see each other with awe.
Ask if children have an idea of what the word, "awe," means. Listen to responses. You may want to mention that the slang use of the word "awesome" captures the meaning well. Ask the children:
- When you say something is "awesome," what does that mean?
Allow responses. Then say:
When you look at something or someone with awe, it means you are looking with respect and wonder, because you see that it is so amazing or special.
Unitarian Universalists believe that all people are amazing and special and should be looked at with awe. This is part of what our first Unitarian Universalist principle means when we say that we affirm that all people have inherent worth and dignity.
Today we're going to practice recognizing the worth and dignity of each person here and looking at each other with awe. We're going to notice and write things we like about each person here. The things we see when we look at each other with awe will be part of each person's affirmation portrait.
Lead a brief brainstorming to draw out some things the children can say and write about each other. Make it very clear that they can only say positive things about one another. Model affirmations by saying things like, "I've noticed that May often shares things with friends," "Sammy's friendly smile makes me feel happy," "Joy's really good at playing soccer," or "Terence draws very realistic dragons."
Explain that the children will write on one another's affirmation pages. Tell them they may write a whole sentence ("You are creative,") or just a word that describes the person ("creative"). Write some key words on the newsprint for children to copy. Ask if children want any particular words include on your list. Common words might be: friendly, creative, loyal, kind, helpful, gentle, or courageous. Encourage the kids to really think about each child when they choose what they will write on that person's page.
Spread the affirmation pages for each child around the room, on work tables. If possible, arrange them in a circle, to facilitate children writing on every page.
Distribute pencils, pens and markers. Invite the children to circulate the room, writing affirmations on every other child's affirmation page, including their own. Remind them that an affirmation must be positive, and it can be a sentence, a phrase, or a single word.
As you write your own affirmations on children's pages, speak them aloud. This will help the children think of affirmations to write.
To help a child think of affirmations for another child, use these questions:
- What do you like about them?
- What can you think of that they are good at or really likes to do?
If the children did Activity 2, Welcoming Game – Find a Friend, help them remember things they learned about each other. This will be especially helpful for generating affirmations for newcomers or visiting children.
Pay attention to whether any child's page is receiving scanty affirmations. If this is happening, subtly direct children to that page or have an adult write a few extra affirmations. Help the children think of affirmations, but do not insist they write something if it will be insincere.
Including All Participants
Not all children will be proficient writers. Make yourself and any other adult volunteers widely available during this exercise to write dictated affirmations for children who cannot write. In order to avoid embarrassing any children, make the option of dictation available to all the children.
Be aware of new children in the group. Help them come up with affirmations, but if they simply do not know the others, they can write compliments such as "I like your hairstyle," or friendly sentiments such as, "I'd like to get to know you better."