William F. Natale Jr.
There are many suggested activities listed in books in the Bibliography. I will deal here with a few of the ones I have found very useful.
Hi Strangers Game
. In this game each child must go to another child with whom he has not talked recently and have a private three minute conversation. After the allotted time partners can switch or a group discussion may follow. This exercise helps to make all of the children in class feel that they belong and it helps them to care about one another. You might be surprised at how many children have spent eight years of schooling in the same class or division and do not really know one another.
Another activity I find enjoyable to students and one that helps develop empathy is the use of an interview questionnaire. Teams of two are formed with students taking turns asking a prepared list of questions (i.e., What was the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you? ). The person who asked the question must paraphrase or repeat in his or her own words what the other child has just said. Later they switch roles. Not only are the students learning more about their classmates but they are learning to be listeners.
Relaxation or meditation can be a very useful tool in helping the child to look inward and discover himself. Many children live in such a chaotic environment that they rarely if ever have a chance to sit still and listen to oneself. Playing relaxing music and instructing the class to sit back and close their eyes you can cause a great deal of learning. Encourage children to dream of what they want. Have them explore possible ways of attainment. Consider consequences. Insight is growth and it is learning about oneself.