by Marsha Rakestraw
IHE M.Ed. student Rachel Filtz created this fun, visual, interactive activity, which can be used with teachers or students to help them reflect on their journey and impact as humane educators (or changemakers) and to identify their primary goals.
Participants construct a flower together to symbolize their “mark” on the planet and how we can collectively make a positive difference.
Here’s how it works:
Time: 20-30 minutes
• large construction paper “flower petals” for each participant (cut out petals using different colors of construction paper. Sizes of petals will vary depending on the number of students.)
• markers, pens, etc.
• a large circle of light-colored paper (This will be the center of the flower. Size will vary depending on the number of students.)
(Note: This activity is designed to use with teachers (humane educators), but it can be adapted to use with older elementary students through adults. Use “humane educator” if referring to teachers and “changemaker” or “solutionary” if referring to others, as appropriate.)
1. Share with your group an opening like this:
“We’re all doing humane education for different reasons, and sometimes we lose sight of why we are doing this work. It’s good to have reminders about why we’re all here to create change in the world, so we’re going to create something that we can refer to that will remind us of what our goals in life are.”
For younger students/non-humane educators:
“We are all individuals who can make a difference in this world, and each of us leaves a mark on this planet. We are going to create something today that will demonstrate that each one of us can make a difference.
2. Give each participant a “flower petal” but don’t tell them what the petal is. Ask them to create their own symbol and draw it at the very top of the petal. They should create something unique to them that represents their mark as a humane educator/solutionary. It could include their first initial with additional symbols, or whatever speaks to them. Ask them to not think too much about it, and draw whatever comes to their mind first.
2. Next, ask them to turn their petal horizontally, and to list two to three specific reasons or events that have shaped them and guided them to the path to educate and be changemakers in the world. (Ask them to leave space at the bottom.)
3. Ask them to turn to a partner and briefly share their reasons/events.
4. Now, in the space left at the bottom of the “petal”, ask them to write down their goal in life: “If you could choose to do one thing in life, what would it be?”
5. Have participants count off by twos. Have one group form an outward-facing circle in the center of the room, and have the other group surround them, facing inward, so that each person has a partner across from them.
Have each participant share their goal with the person across from them. Then participants in the outer circle take a step to their left, so that they’re in front of a new person. The new partners take turns sharing. Repeat, until the participants in the outer circle have completed their revolution around the inside circle group.
6. Bring out the large circle of paper. Invite everyone to glue/tape their petals to the center circle to create a flower together, and have them write their new symbol that they previously designed, in the center circle next to their petal.
7. Either during the time participants are completing the flower (if the noise level allows — you could have them do that piece silently), or after the flower is complete, share something like this:
“These symbols that you created on your petal and in the middle of the flower not only personalize your mark as a humane educator/solutionary, but also symbolize your mark on the planet. Each one of us can make a difference, and we should never lose sight of that. Every petal shows the history and experiences that got us where we are today as humane educators/solutionaries. Our goals may all be different, but they show how many positive changes we can make when we come together. And this flower will remind us to never forget those possibilities.”
8. Have participants break into small groups and help each other brainstorm ways in which they can meet their goals.
9. To wrap up the activity, hang the flower on the wall (or an appropriate place) and tell participants that the flower is to help everyone “Remember why we’re here, how we got here, and where we’re all going.”
Find more humane education lesson plans and activities in our online Resource Center.
Image via Ales Cerin/FreeImages.