Activity time: 15 minutes
Materials for Activity
- A bell or other sound instrument
- Chairs, cones or other objects to create a simple obstacle course.
Preparation for Activity
- Find an open space you can use that is at least fifteen feet across. If you can't get this much space in your meeting space, bring the children to another area in your congregation's building. Instead, you may create a long obstacle course for one child to do at a time, from one end of the room to another.
- Place cones, chairs or other objects to create an obstacle course. Make sure there are no objects that are sharp or otherwise dangerous to run into.
- Decide how you will form pairs of children for this activity.
Description of Activity
Show the children the obstacle course you have made. Tell them that they will each go through the obstacle course blindfolded, with a partner explaining to them the best way to go. Tell them:
When you are the one who is blindfolded, pretend to be an airplane pilot who is trying to land at an airport during a blizzard. The partner will pretend to be an air traffic controller who must guide you to safety, using only their voice. When you are the air traffic controller, your job is to guide your airplane pilot successfully to you, without having them bump into any obstacles or other airplanes.
Depending on how you have set up the obstacle course, you may be able to have two or three pairs of children enact a "landing" at once. Make sure the child who is the air traffic controller says their partner's name each time they give an instruction.
As children do this activity, you may want to help them notice how tone of voice and attitude can communicate caring or lack thereof. You can model this by demonstrating with your co-leader, showing a caring, encouraging tone of voice versus an impatient, commanding, or put-down type of tone.
The goal of this activity is to give the children an experience of caring for someone else's wellbeing, and for thinking about how they would like to be treated. When done successfully, it builds trust in the group.
When all children who wish to have tried the obstacle course, take a few moments to talk about the experience of playing this game. Help the children to think about what they felt when in the role of helper and one needing help by posing these questions:
- When you were blindfolded, how did you want people to take care of you?
- Were you treated the way you wanted to be treated during this game? (If children answer that they were not, try and draw them out without finger-pointing by asking what other children could have done to help them to feel safer.)
- What made you feel that people were following the Golden Rule in the way they treated you?
- What made you feel that you were not being treated with compassion? (Again, if they did not feel that they were treated with compassion, try to avoid finger pointing and ask them what people could have done to help them to feel better.)
- How did it feel to be the one guiding the blindfolded person?
- What did you do that felt like acting with compassion and kindness and following the Golden Rule?
At the end of this processing time you may wish to make the point that we all want to be treated well by friends and neighbors and strangers alike, and that we should treat others in the same way. This is the "Golden Rule."
Including All Participants
If children are not comfortable putting on a blindfold, they can close their eyes or only take the role of guide.
A child who has limited mobility can be an air traffic controller for more than one of the other children. If you think the child can do the obstacle course with modifications, make these modifications for the whole group. If you have a large enough space, cones can be placed far enough apart for a wheelchair to round them and still make an obstacle course that is challenging for physically mobile, blindfolded children.
It is important that the children are careful not only with the blindfolded person's bodily safety, but also with their feelings. Tone of voice and attitude of care are just as important in this game.
To encourage all the children to contribute their reflections, you may want to go around in a circle for answers rather than having children call out.