Our gratitude to 1000 Petals for letting us share this great post by Stephanie Kennelly, a third grade teacher in St. Paul, MN, on implementing Yoga Calm’s Trust Walk activity for building community – and our thanks to Stephanie for sharing her insights! You’ll find the original post here.
Are you thinking of fun ways to build community in your classroom?
Trust Walk is a quick and easy Morning Meeting essential!
Students begin by choosing a partner. One partner will be the leader and the other, the follower. The follower closes his eyes and presents an index finger. The leader then leads the follower, with eyes closed and voices off, around the classroom. That’s it! That’s the game!
However, there are many social emotional layers involved that make this game a student and teacher favorite.
We begin the activity with a discussion about the importance of body connection and communication. Without the sense of sight or sound, students must rely on sense of touch and body language.
After the activity, the followers were able to give compliments and specific feedback about what made a good leader. The follower extends an index finger, but the leader is able to choose how they will connect. Most students agreed that another hand supporting the wrist made the follower feel safe. Also, the speed of movement and careful turns made the follower feel comfortable.
Then, the leaders share the factors that influenced their decisions. For example, watching the followers facial expressions gave clues about their comfort level. Was your partner smiling, maybe even giggling? Did your partner have furrowed eye brows? These discussions, of course, are also a metaphor for the social emotional connections happening in your classroom. Feeling safe, comfortable, and watching body cues are all important building blocks for a solid community.
Then, the partners switch. The leader becomes the follower and the follower becomes the leader. Who liked being the leader? Who liked being the follower? What did you like most about this game? What did you like least? How these questions are answered will tell you a lot about your classroom dynamics.
Here is another twist. I had the students form two lines, facing one another. One line closed their eyes and extended a finger. They were the followers. Then, the other line became the leaders and chose a follower! The followers did not know who was leading them. I once even said, “Choose someone who will be totally surprised that you chose them”, meaning, do not chose your best friend. It was fun to see the different partner combinations that emerged. When the round was over, before the follower opened their eyes, they had to guess. Once you have a community established, this is a fun way to see how in tune with each other your students have become.
Finally, for one more layer, add in a sensory adventure. The leaders presented the followers with various classroom objects. With only an index finger touch, the follower would have to guess the object. An eraser, a pencil, a chair! You could try this with items from your sensory/science table. It could be an anticipatory set for introducing artifacts or building vocabulary and background.
Are you thinking about ways to build community through social emotional games? Would you play Trust Walk with your students? Leave a Comment!
For a complete description of Trust Walk and variations/accommodations – or to learn more activities like it – get Yoga Calm for Children.