Electronic Resource Centre for Human Rights Education:
Opening the Door to Nonviolence.
Part 1: Workshop 1

Workshop 1


What we will be doing today: Introducing ourselves; starting with group interaction; positive thinking about ourselves and others; building mutual trust and a feeling of security.


Left-hand writing. We can take a very simple exercise to make children understand what our future activities will be about. The pupils are sitting in the classroom as usual. We ask them to take their pencils and write down their name. Then we ask them to write their name once again, but this time with their left hands (if left-handers, with their right).

Feedback: How did you feel while doing this? Was it difficult, funny, confusing, new, uncomfortable or cheerful? Next, please, draw a face of your feeling and name it underneath!

= surprised

At a signal, everyone shows his/her drawing to someone else.

Teacher's introductory note - Writing our name is familiar to us. But writing our name with our left hand was quite a new experience. We did what we knew how to do, but it was still very different. That is exactly what we are going to do during our programme in the workshops - we shall talk and play, but it will be different from the school hours that we are accustomed to. We shall sit in a circle, so that everyone will see everyone else and we shall establish our own rules for our games and activities. While doing this you might feel somewhat strange, as you did while drawing with your left hand, however you might also find yourself feeling amusement, joy, confusion . . .

After this introductory activity pupils will put their benches aside and form a circle in the middle of the classroom. The leader (or the teacher) will sit in the circle along with the other participants.

10 minutes

The chain. We introduce ourselves by name and with one additional word that starts with the same letter as our name does. Everyone has to repeat the name of the one who spoke before them, the word he/she has said and then add his/her own (name and word). For example: This is John - jogging, and I am Maya - mouse. . . This is Maya - mouse, and I am Divna - divine...

5 minutes

Hidden treasure. Now we introduce ourselves in pairs. Pairs step forward out of the circle one by one and each member says two things he/she does well and that are unknown to others. For example: "First, I am good at repairing bikes and second, I am good at computer games." After all pairs have spoken and the circle is reformed, the teacher throws a ball to someone. That one has to tell us what his/her partner is good at. (E.g. "John is good at repairing bikes and very successful at computer games.") If some-one can not remember their partner's words, they can say "Pass" / "Next!" and throw the ball on to someone else.

Regardless of how well pupils know each other, there are some introductory activities that are to be done because of their importance for group work and for the very principle of workshops as interactive learning method. The cohesion of the group and every member's feeling that he/she is accepted in it, depend on some principles and rituals. One that is very important is putting on your name/ badge at the beginning of each and every meeting during the whole programme. It will not only help pupils (if they do not know each other) to communicate more easily but give everyone the feeling that he/she is equally important and accepted by the group. The second activity is the agreement about the group's own code of behaviour. Expressed in "ground rules", this code is to be written down and visible throughout the whole programme.

5 minutes


My name/ badge. Pupils take some paper and draw a symbol for themselves. They cut it in to the form of a badge, write their names on it and do whatever they find necessary to make their badge more beautiful. After they have finished they put it on their chests and walk around looking at each other's badge. When the activity is over, badges could be left in the classroom, pinned to a flip-chart, ready and waiting for next meeting.

Feedback: Maybe someone would like to say something about his/her badge. If so, he/she takes a pencil (pretending it is a microphone) and share his/her thoughts with the group. After that we discuss the way each of us got our name and whether or not we like it. If not pleased with their existing name a person could share his/her wishes for another one.

We represent a small community. And as in every other community there have to be some rules to make our common lives easier. Every game has its rules, every state its laws. We are now a small state. We have already noticed that not everyone wants to join in every activity, and that certain activities and games might seem coercive to some members of our group. We want everyone to feel comfortable and therefore there are some rules to be followed during the programme. As the workshop enlarge the space of freedom beyond that which pupils normally have at the school, our own ground rules create mutually supportive responsibility and the feeling of safety.

20 minutes


Our ground rules. We will make some basic rules concerning our behaviour during workshops. Write them down on a big poster and pin it to the wall so everyone can see it (see examples on the blackboard drawn below). Every group member comes forward and put his/her symbol next to the rule they like most.

Then we will agree to remind one another (not by loudly protesting but by gesture, mimic and by pointing to the rule on the poster the rule that has been violated) to respect the rules that someone forgets them.


10 minutes

Empty your pockets. Everyone will find something valuable in his/her pocket or handbag and put it in the middle of the circle. We shall all inspect these objects and after a signal try to get the one we like best (but not our own). Then we shall find ourselves a partner and explain to them our reasons for choosing that particular object. Then the partner will tell the whole group what reasons he/she has heard. For example, John will say: "Ana took the small mirror because it reminded her of her sister who has moved to Australia."

After everyone has told us their partner's story, all pupils get up and try to find the real owner of the object they chose in order to return it.

Feedback: How did you like this game? Did you find out something new about your class-mates?

15 minutes

Support. We explain that we are going to practice giving and receiving support. Support is a positive thought (or action) expressed to someone in the group. Everybody sits in a circle, each member goes into the middle of the circle and says something positive about somebody in the circle, and that one then says something positive about somebody else, and so on until everyone has a turn. Note that something positive has been said about everybody in the group. While everybody is thinking what he or she would say, the others do not interrupt nor distract him with gestures and words.

Discussion after the activity: How did you feel when you were listening to positive things being said about you? Good-bad, satisfied-dissatisfied, embarrassed, important, tense, relaxed, cheerful, worried? When somebody said a nice thing about you, did you feel it as attack or a support? Which was harder, to receive or to give a positive statement?

Conclusion: Everybody wants to be important and valued, recognized by others. We all need support. If you wish to give (or get) support, begin by talking in positive way about yourself (and others). We begin with affirma-tive statements, not with negative statements.

10 minutes

Making a peace lighthouse/ the mind around the circle. Everyone is standing in a circle and holding hands but in a special way - the receiving hand' s palm is turned up and the sending hand's palm down. Close your eyes and think about what message for peace you would like to send. First you send it to the nearest person, than to everyone in the circle and after that to everyone in the building. . . What do you feel in your heart? Send that light and warmth you have to every person in your neighbourhood, in the street you live in, to the whole town, the whole state, to other states, the whole of Europe, to every continent, to the whole planet . . . Finally, squeeze hands and open your eyes.

5 minutes

Part 1:
[Workshop 1] [Workshop 2] [Workshop 3] [Workshop 4]

[Table of Contents] [Foreword] [PART 1] [Part 2] [Part 3] [Part 4] [Part 5] [Bibliography]

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Electronic Resource Centre for Human Rights Education:
Opening the Door to Nonviolence.