Picture this. There are four teams of three eleven year olds each gathered around a table. Each team has a piece of paper with four parallel lines, a plastic knife and a tube of toothpaste. Their mission? In 20 seconds squeeze as much toothpaste as possible out of the tube to cover the lines.
Thirty other students are there to watch and cheerlead.
The excitement of having a “squeeze the toothpaste out of the tube to cover the lines” contest was superseded only by the second instruction – “Now put the toothpaste back in the tube with the plastic knife”. I heard one of them say, “You’ve got to be kidding”.
What could possibly go wrong?
If you don’t count the students who ate the toothpaste it all went well.
There was a point to this. And I’m sure, thanks to the viral nature of social networking, that you already know what it is.
When we speak it’s like squeezing out the toothpaste. Our words are out there and, like trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube, words are hard to take back once they’ve been spoken.
Moments later I was blowing up a balloon – a breath into the balloon for each negative way to resolve a conflict that a child could think of. Of course the inevitable happened. There was a huge noise as the balloon popped and lots of delighted laughter. As I blew up another balloon and let out air each time the students named a positive way to resolve a conflict everyone was paying attention. No mean feat in a room full of 44 eleven year olds.
Why would I be doing these types of activities? Well, this is where Pinterest came to the rescue again. I needed lessons for grade five students about treating each other well and finding ways to resolve their issues more peacefully. As I have mentioned previously on this blog, I follow a number of other counsellors on Pinterest and they never fail to inspire me with wonderfully engaging activities that made serious points.
It’s not just activities. It’s ideas for group sessions, ways to organize my files, communicate with parents, and fabulous ideas for promoting positive mental health on campus. Whether it’s the elementary school or the university I work at.
Next up on my list?
I can’t wait to see how that one turns out.
Dawn M. Schell, MA, CCC, CCDP is a school counsellor and an affiliate of Worldwide Therapy Online Inc. http://www.therapyonline.ca *The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA