At Children for Health we believe that basic life skills are essential for effective health education. We want children to be effective agents of change, so they’ll need to feel empowered with a strong sense of self. A life skills session that works on this and provides children with opportunities to discuss this can make subsequent work on learning and sharing ideas on health with the family easier and more rewarding for the children. Sensitive work with the children will also require the children to open up and discuss their feelings and opinions and again, self-awareness and a strong sense of identity will help with this.
Here is a single activity session plan from our book, The LifeSkills Handbook, which has 61 lessons altogether.
Purpose of Activity
To give children a chance to recognise their own special qualities and to tell others about these.
To hear about their own qualities from others.
To recognise and tell others about their qualities.
To talk about how they feel when they hear bad things said about them.
Life Skills: Self-awareness, Critical Thinking, Creative Thinking
This activity can help children begin to think about themselves and how other people see them.
In this activity children have to draw symbols. If children have not done this before it may be useful to do an introductory session in which you show them how a symbol can represent a thought and feeling. Show them some symbols (e.g. a happy face or a sad face) ask them to draw these symbols. Ask them to draw other symbols they know and then ask them to make up a symbol to show a feeling or idea.This activity is quite long; we have divided it into three stages. You can either take a break or spread the activity over more than one lifeskills session.
Several small slips of paper per child
A large sheet of paper to make a large poster, for example, two pieces of flip-chart paper taped together
Shield shapes for each child
Drawing materials for the children
Coloured pens or crayons
Pictures cut from newspapers or magazines if used
Draw an outline of a person on the large poster
Copy and cut out shield shapes for each child
Stage One: Steps
In pairs, children tell each other about someone they admire and why they admire this person (sports star, family member, friend etc)
In a circle, children name their partner’s special person and one reason why they admire the person.
Next, ask each child to write down or draw symbols for three things they like about themselves. (These can be simple shapes e.g. a smile to show I am happy or stick men!) Or you can use pictures cut from newspapers or magazines, the children can choose the pictures that have something in common with them. If children find this difficult, they can choose a partner to work with and write, draw or talk about three things about each other. These things may be physical characteristics or skills and talents.
Stage Two: Steps
If you have taken a break or if you are doing stage two in a new session, remind the children of the things they like about themselves.
Ask children to walk around the room and at a sound (like a hand-clap) they tell the child nearest to them, one or two things that they most like or admire about them (if appropriate the children can hold each others’ hands while they do this). Do this a few times.
The children write or draw symbols on pieces of paper to show the replies they have been given.
Show the children the outline of a person. Ask the children to give this person one of their qualities by drawing a symbol on the person, writing the quality or by putting a mark like a dot or a cross on the person. Each child does this in turn and as they do this, they say what their gift is, for example:
I am giving you my kindness
I am giving you my smile
Sitting in a circle to discuss the activity. These questions can help you.
Was it easy to find something good to say about yourself? About others?
Which was easier? Why?
People will sometimes say unpleasant things to you. How does this make you feel? Why do you think they said these things?
Here are examples from Delhi of ‘bodies’ created by girls and boys.
Extracts from the feedback session on the activity from children in Delhi:
‘It was difficult to share about ourselves.’
‘It was a difficult question as I don’t know about myself.’
‘It was difficult as I know what is good about myself but I have some fear of disclosing things about myself in case it turns my friends against me.’
‘It was easy for me to share.’
Stage Three: Steps
If you have taken a break or if are doing stage three in another session, remind the children what they did in the other two stages.
Give each child a cut out of a shield. Explain that warriors use shields to protect themselves in warfare. They will make a shield to show people who they are and to protect themselves from negative remarks. The shield is divided into four areas.
Ask the children to write or to draw a picture, a design or a symbol in each of the four areas. You can simplify the areas on the shield, for example, my favourite colour shape and/or ask the children to draw just one thing.
The children explain their completed shields to the group. If appropriate, other children and adults can be invited to an exhibition of the shields.
Here are some monitoring questions that can be asked at the end of each activity. Whenever you see this symbol remember the monitoring questions!
Do you have questions or comments on this activity?
Did you enjoy doing these activities?
What did you like doing most/least? Why?
What was the hardest thing about these activities?
What have you learned from doing this exercise? About yourself? About others? Is there something you want to do again?
You can help the children make their fingerprints using an ink pad and paper. Explain to the children how no two human beings have the same finger prints; each of us is unique.