Potatoes and Plates: An Affirming Start to the New School Year
We all want to know our new students’ names and have creative ways of doing this. My favourite, however, is a classic Values and Visions activity (from our section on SELF). I have been using it for years and find the students love it. It is Affirmation Initials.
You ask each student to think of a positive word to describe themselves beginning with the first letter of each of their names. Mine is Super Sally Brilliant Burns. I have a list of adjectives for every letter of the alphabet which students can refer to if they are stuck. There is no rule about duplication of words. It is no problem to have a Kind Kate as well as a Kind Kevin. When everyone is ready they write their names on adhesive labels and stick them on their shirts. We then go round the circle introducing ourselves with our new epithets.
This year I gave each student a paper plate and asked them to write their affirming names in the centre and then decorate the plates to tell us about themselves. Next day we practiced remembering the adjectives each had chosen and shared our plates impairs then fours. The children are very proud of the plates and we are displaying them on a board outside our homeroom for all to see.
I followed this activity with another of my personal V&V favourites: Potatoes. This year, however, I tried a variation using blueberries. We shared a few thoughts about what a blueberry is like how your u know it is a blueberry and not a strawberry or blackberry for instance. then each student was given a blueberry to carefully hold and get to know so they would be able to recognise it in a crowd. I collected the blueberries and gently spread them out on a plate inviting the students to come and find their own. It took a little longer than with potatoes but we got there and each person was reunited with their personal blueberry friend.
Why did we do this, I asked. After a couple of general ideas, a girl said, “Because they are the same but different, like us. This is the core of the activity. “Same, same but different is the slogan on many a T-shirt. It is so true. We identify ourselves as members of different communities: faith groups, gender groups, language groups, ethnicities. We share characteristics, beliefs, culture, customs with other members of that community but each one of us is an individual who can be recognised as such in a crowd. We have our own unique traits, views and idiosyncrasies which mark us out. This is the nub of this activity. Simple to run, it allows the class to explore a very powerful message.
So get ready for the new year. Buy some sticky labels, paper plates and a bag of potatoes, blueberries, eggs or lemons and give it a go.
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Happy new year!