To the Teacher:
In these uncertain, stressful times of physical distancing, coming together and connecting socially and emotionally is especially important. For young people to see and connect with their peers can be ray of light for some, and a real lifeline for others. Students might connect over things that spark joy and gratitude or over things that bring on more challenging feelings. Young people, like all of us, need a chance to express and share their feelings, and get the support of others.
We’ve been hearing from educators that students don’t necessarily want to talk about what’s challenging for them during Covid-19 on a weekly basis. They might want a break from it all to connect with friends and classmates on a lighter, more fun note.
In this part three of our series of lessons and activities for the corona age, we offer a series of lighter, fun activities for you and your students to come together and enjoy each other’s company. These are stand alone activities, not intended to be done in any particular order or combination. Decide what works best for your students and please adapt an activity as needed for all students to participate and have fun together.
These activities are not intended to be done in sequence; you can do them singly or in any combination that works for you and your students.
Note: If you have any light and fun activities that have worked well with your students in a remote setting, please send them to us so we can share them more widely.
Creative Check Ins
Students, especially teenagers, often don’t like being asked to share their feelings. But there are other ways to check in with students and get a sense of where they’re at.
In Morningside Center’s 4Rs and Building Belonging curricula, we sometimes use weather check-ins with students: Instead of asking students how they are feeling, we ask them for “their weather” in that moment.
Answers might include: I’m cloudy, foggy, I feel a thunderstorm brewing, or I’m sunny, clear blue skies, I feel like a gentle rain, a sprinkle, a snow flurry, a storm, or possibly pounding hail.
Alternatives for a weather check-in could be:
- What emoji are you today?
- What snack are you today?
- What animal are you today?
- What kind of music/genre are you today?
Have students themselves come up with their own metaphors for how they’re doing as well. They’ll likely come up with colorful, fun alternatives.
And if you want to take it further, and students are ready to go there, ask them to also explain why. For those who are struggling, or feeling down for whatever reason, consider these follow-up questions:
- What snack, animal, emoji, or music would you want to be right now?
- What can we do to help you become that?
And for those who are doing well today:
- What can we do to help you hold on to that?
For a simple scavenger hunt, break your class or advisory group into smaller groups of two, three, or four. Give each group a list of common household items and ask each group to find as many of the items on the list that they can. Depending on the length of the list, give them 7-10 minutes before asking them to return to the remote meeting.
Examples to include on your list:
- a coffee cup
- a book on ___________
- a plant
- a key chain
- a sock
- a spoon
- a piece of soap
- a quarter
- a charger
- an instruction manual
- a paper clip
- a safety pin, etc.
And as a bonus perhaps:
- an item that you don't think anyone else in your class/advisory would have in their home, etc.
If you have time to add another layer to the scavenger hunt, consider including (bonus) questions like:
- What was our regular day/time to meet for our class/advisory?
- What room (number) did we meet in for class/advisory?
- Where at school would you find the fire extinguisher?
- What is the room number of Principal Cintron’s office?
- How many floors does our school building have?
- What can you see when you look outside of our classroom?
- How many nationalities are represented in our class/advisory group? List them.
- How many languages does our advisory group speak? List them.
You might also ask questions about things they could research on the school’s website, such as:
- What is Officer Moore’s first name?
- How many teachers in the _____________ grade/department?
- What is our school’s mission statement?
- Who is featured in the picture for the admissions page?
- What is our school’s mission statement?
- What are the names of the other schools in our building?
- What does it say on the front of the building?
Wrap up the activity by finding out how many of the objects (and correct answers) each group was able to find. And if students are interested, process the activity asking follow-up questions such as:
- What was that activity like for you?
- How easy was it to find these items/answers?
- Did you strategize with your teammates in any way? Explain.
- Did you encounter obstacles? What were they?
- Did you come across any unexpected objects/factoids while you were searching? Share out.
One Line Drawing Challenge
Materials: Paper and pencil/pen
This video of the One Line Drawing Challenge was shared by a teacher at one of our schools. For this challenge, ask students ahead of time for images that resonate with them. In the video, the images used are Pokémon characters.
The challenge is to:
- Look at the image (which you can either post on the desktop of your online platform or possibly email to your students ahead of time)
- Draw the image using one uninterrupted line, never lifting your pen or pencil off the paper
- Don’t look at what you’re drawing until you’re done.
Consider showing part or all of the video to give students a sense of what they’ll be doing.
Afterwards, you might ask students questions such as:
- What was hard about that for you?
- What was easy?
- Were you surprised by what you drew? If so, why?
Game: Can You Draw This?
Materials: Paper and pencil/pen
The next activity can be done with students in pairs, or with the whole group.
One student finds an image of some basic, drawable object ahead of time. They might find an image online from a page like this, or they might find an image from a book or magazine at home. Examples of images include:
- a simple house with a door, window, chimney
- a lightbulb
- a lit candle
- a kite on a string
- a pair of glasses
- a sail or rowboat
- a dining room table and chairs
The job of the student with the image is to describe the image in as much detail as possible so that the other student(s) can accurately draw what they hear being described. The student describing the image shouldn’t be able to see (or comment on) the pictures that are being drawn.
The student describing the image cannot use words for the items they see in the image. Instead, their directions can include shapes and the direction a line should go (for example, to the bottom, top, right or left side of the page), or whether the line should be straight or curved perhaps.
So instead of saying, “Next you will draw a chair to the left of the table,” you’d say something like, “Immediately to the left of what you just drew, starting at the bottom of the page, draw a line going up, for about 3 inches. At the 1.5 inch point, draw a line at a right angle for about an inch, then down from there at another right angle for 1.5 inches,” etc. For a pair of glasses, the student describing the object might instruct others to “draw two circles of the same size, about a half an inch apart in the middle of the page. Then draw a curved line going up, between the two circles,” etc.
Afterwards, you may want to process the activity by considering some or all of the following questions:
- Why do our pictures vary?
- Why don’t our pictures match the original?
- What was hard/easy about giving instructions?
- What was hard/easy about following instructions?
- Would it have helped if you’d been able to ask questions?
- Would it have helped if you’d been able to see the image the student(s) was drawing and adjust your directions accordingly?
Consider adding these last two steps when doing the activity a second time.