Volunteer Experiences: How to get started with activities

Leading into an activity

Now Good Day/Bad Day is a great warm up activity that we have taken to using to get everyone comfortable around each other. What we do is gather the students in a circle and tell everyone to clap their hands if they had a good day and stomp their feet if they had a bad day. Then we go around the circle and each kid shares whether they had a good or bad day and what it was that made their day good or bad. This activity is great at getting the kids thinking about what happened to them during the day and allowing them to share so that we can focus on other things as we move on into our other writing exercises. It also is a great outlet for the kids who maybe don’t have a vocal place they can share their opinions or complain. I would definitely recommend this activity to be used in other classes. The kids have fun and so do the teachers/instructors, not to mention it builds comfort and trust between the kids as well as between the teacher and students.

The next activity we chose to do was Shakedown. In this activity everyone is still gathered in the circle and each person puts one limb in the center, much like the hokey pokey, at a time and then shakes it while counting down from ten. After each limb is done you begin again starting from nine, and so on until you reach zero. When we did this activity we picked up the pace, as the countdown got closer and closer to zero, which the kids seemed to really enjoy. I would say this is a fun activity, perhaps instead of explaining it to the kids though; it would be easier to give them a mini demonstration so that they understand what exactly is going on.

Now after this we moved to a more physical game that we called the Superpower Game. The way this worked was we had the kids spread out and walk around regular. Then sporadically a leader would say a power from an already prepared list of superpowers and the kids would have to suddenly walk or act in that manner. Then after a few the leader would announce “normal person” and everyone would go back to walking regular. On a side note, several kids when this was said would yell out things like, “but I’m not normal” and it made me happy to see them so sure of who they were and what they were like and that there was nothing wrong with kids that weren’t “normal” .The kids got really into this activity. Everyone was running around making sure their friends saw their portrayal of a specific power. Afterwards the kids brought up suggestions for more to do another time and I was happy that they were looking to get involved.

The main focus of our lesson plan this week was the final activity, which we titled Make a Superhero. Now for this one we got the kids together and asked them to come up with superhero names. After each kid contributed at least one or two names we told the kids to pick one of the names on the board and create that hero. We gave them some prompting questions such as, what is your superhero’s secret identity, who is his arch-enemy, and what is his or her origin story? The kids then got to create their hero’s story as well as draw up what he or she would look like. I have noticed that the kids really enjoy the art aspect of creating. By the end of this I hope we have taught them that you don’t need crayons and markers to create a picture that you can do it with words and it can be even better than a picture.

~ Jenna Anderson

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