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

Alternate Activity 1: Nonverbal Survival Skills

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Read the story.

Description of Activity

The children will experience giving and receiving nonverbal affirmations. Form two groups-speakers and listeners-and pair each speaker with a listener. Now ask the listeners to count off by fours and come receive special instructions from you, out of the earshot of the speakers:

  • Listeners who are ones: Use no nonverbal affirmations while listening to their partners.
  • Twos: Use positive nonverbal affirmations, such as smiling or nodding their heads, at appropriate times.
  • Threes: Use positive nonverbal affirmations, such as smiling or nodding their heads, at random times.
  • Fours: Use negative nonverbal confirmations, such as frowning or shaking their heads "no" at times when a positive affirmation is appropriate.

Make sure all understand what you mean by "nonverbal affirmation."

Send the listeners back to their speakers. Give the speakers a subject prompt, such as their favorite vacation or the funniest thing that ever happened to them. Allow the speakers one minute to speak to the listeners, who follow the directions for their subgroup.

Re-gather everyone and ask the speakers to evaluate the quality of their listener's listening, on a scale of one to ten. Discuss the mixed messages speakers received from some of the listeners. Say:

Now we are going to hear about an American Peace Corps volunteer in Bulgaria who faced a similar problem.

Ring the chime to begin the story.

After the story, ring the chime again.

Help the group identify Elizabeth 's nonverbal communication difficulty and the problems that ensued (head nod vs. head shake). Ask volunteers to identify the adaptations Elizabeth made to deal with this difficulty:

  • Asking her students to use "da" (yes) or "ne" (no).
  • Listening for the tongue cluck that often accompanies no.
  • Laughing at her own mistakes.
  • Practicing correct head movements when speaking Bulgarian to Bulgarians.

Ask the group:

  • What traits did Elizabeth need to succeed in her work? (Affirm: good learner, good sense of humor, hard worker, determined, sensitive, good listener.)
  • What were Elizabeth 's rewards for her efforts? (Affirm: feeling closer to the people and the culture, laughter and sharing smiles.)
  • What cultural universals in communication does Elizabeth mention? (Affirm: laughter, smiles.)
  • Do you agree with the statement, "A smile is a smile the world over," and if so, why do you think it is true?