LifeSkills Handbooks Activity 13

This is a single activity session plan from The Lifeskills Handbook. There are 61 activity sessions in this book and this is Activity 13. The book is available from our resources section where you’ll also find downloadable storybooks, booklets and posters to help you in your work.

LifeSkills Handbooks Activity 13 Communication: Missing the Message

Purpose of activity: To understand what helps and what stops good communication

Life skills: Self-awareness, Communication, Critical thinking

Important points: In this activity there is a lot of talking and discussing. It may be useful to do an active, physical game at the end before monitoring questions. For example, Dragon Heads or Tails or Community of Five. See the games section at the end of Part 2 on how to play this game.


  • Blank paper for each group
  • Pencils for each group


  1. Divide children into groups of five. Explain that you want each group to draw a pictures, but that you will secretly tell one member of the team what you want drawn. This child secretly tells the next person. This is repeated until the last person in the group receives the message. They then draw the picture. The first team to draw the picture correctly wins.
  2. Give each group a piece of paper and a pencil.
  3. Call forward one child from each group. Tell them this once only: Your last group member should draw a round table. In the middle of the table there is plate of biscuits. To the left of the plate there is a spoon and to the right there is a cup without a saucer. Under the table there is a cat with a kitten.
  4. Show the drawings. They may be very different from your explanation!
  5. Discuss what went wrong with the communication, for example:
    • did not listen carefully
    • did not remember
    • explanation was too quick
    • too many details
  6. Explain the basic steps to communication:
    • Sender – Creates and sends the message.
    • Receiver – Responds to the message.
    • Message – The information that the sender wants to communicate to someone. The message can be understood in the same way or differently by the sender and the receiver.
    • Feedback  – How the receiver shows s/he has received the message, for example by repeating it or by asking a question.
  7. Read the example of communication below.

Ali says to Hussein, ‘I’m not going to school any more. I don’t why I should be hungry just because of going to school. I’m going to town to find a way of making money.’

  1. Ask the following questions:
    • Who is the sender? (Ali)
    • Who is the receiver? (Hussein)
    • What is the message Ali is sending Hussein?

Here are some ideas:

    • I want to get a job and earn money
    • I’m tired of going hungry every day
    • It’s not worth going hungry just to get an education

You can have a break here.

  1. Explain that the message is not just what a person says but the meaning behind the words. Look at the situation between Ali and Hussein again. How should Hussein reply?
    • He could ask a question, for example, why do you want to get a job when you are so young?
    • He could tell Ali he doesn’t understand. Then Ali will have to explain more
    • He can advise Ali not to leave school.
    • Any of these make Ali say more.
  1. Explain that bad communication can be because:
    • The sender does not send a clear message. The words may not be clear or there is conflict between the words and the way the sender speaks them or behaves while speaking them.
    • The receiver does not listen to the message or understand it.
    • The receiver does not make sure s/he has understood the message by giving feedback to the sender.
    • The sender does not acknowledge or respond to the feedback.

Final discussion:

  • What do you think about the communication model? What went wrong with the communication in the game? In the game, the message being sent was too long for the receiver. The receiver may not have listened well and there was no chance for any feedback.
  • What are the consequences of breakdown in communication? Conflicts, fights and wars are often the result of poor communication and misunderstanding.
  • Have you ever had difficulty sending a message? What happened?
  • Why is it sometimes difficult to express what we want to say?
  • Has this activity helped you understand why?

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