Tapestry of Faith: Windows and Mirrors: A Program about Diversity for Grades 4-5

Alternate Activity 1: Elevator Speeches

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Pen, paper and scrap paper
  • Newsprint, markers and tape
  • Timepiece
  • Chime, bell or other musical noisemaker

Preparation for Activity

  • Write on newsprint, and post: What is a Unitarian Universalist?

Description of Activity

This activity gives participants practice in articulating a Unitarian Universalist identity. By spending deeper attention on children's individual beliefs, you might make this activity an alterative to the Faith in Action worship activity.

Direct children's attention the question you have posted and tell them today everyone will answer it. Explain the "elevator speech:" A few brief yet meaningful words to communicate an idea to a friend or stranger in the time it takes an elevator to go from the first floor to the twelfth floor-the equivalent of a walk from one's classroom to the school cafeteria. An elevator speech should be positive, clear and informative.

Distribute paper and pens/pencils and give the group five minutes to script what they would say to a friend who asked "What is a Unitarian Universalist?" As they work, remind them the elevator speech should be something to help someone understand.

After five minutes or when most seem to be finished, pair participants and ask them to stand together as if in an elevator. Invite one to ask the question when you ring the chime and listen to their partner's answer until they arrive at their floor and you ring the chime again.

Ring the chime, wait 90 seconds, then ring it again.

Help the children form new pairs so that this time, the children who asked the question before now get to answer it with their own elevator speech.

Re-partner the children two more times so that, in total, each child gets to make an elevator speech twice and listen twice.

If participants express frustration with how quickly the time passes, remind them this conversation is happening in an elevator.

Gather everyone together and ask a few volunteers to share their elevator speeches with the whole group. You may wish to stage each speech as if the speaker were riding with a few people in an elevator and invite one of the elevator-riders to ask the question. When they are done, clarify their statements by asking questions and making corrections as necessary.

Ask the group whether the exercise was difficult. Why or why not? Ask if there were similarities or differences in what they heard? Might they use some of the words they came up with or heard others say, if asked about Unitarian Universalism? If you have newcomers in the room, ask if they found the elevator speeches helpful.