The most common reason that kids become excluded from social networks, targets of bullying, teasing, etc. is that they are different from the “in” kids in some way. This new game is a vital tool for counselors, school psychologists, and teachers to help kids see the benefits of inclusion. Friendship Explorers is a cooperative game that helps players learn to understand similarities and respect differences. Players answer open-ended questions to earn pieces to a 9” x 21” jigsaw puzzle map of the world. Everyone wins when the puzzle (see below) is completed.
In order to create an empowering environment at home and school that promotes the respect, cultural acceptance, and tolerance, children need to first explore who they are and where they come from. Research has shown that by sharing their personal backgrounds and experiences with their peers, and actively listening to what makes their peers unique, prejudice is reduced and tolerance is increased. By finding similarities with many peers in their group, they find that they have more in common than they originally may have thought, and that differences first thought to be extreme, are simply wonderful ways to enrich our world.
This game will help build a community that fosters honesty, acceptance, and mutual respect. Game play creates an opportunity for self-expression and cultural pride which leads to increased self confidence and empowerment. The questions are all open-ended, so students can define themselves and their cultures without being guided by overly prescriptive prompts. The cards draw from the actual personal experiences of the participants, so the game is different with every group that plays. It's the drawing out – not putting in, that avoids teacher/parent bias and makes this a truly student-centered exercise.
Players spin the spinner to determine which question card they will answer. There are four decks of cards. Culture and Traditions–appreciates the diverse family backgrounds that make us unique. We are the Same/We are Different–explores similarities and differences in various areas of life and discusses how it enriches our lives to have friends who are different. Good Character–provides definitions, scenarios, and personal examples in the areas of respect, fairness, caring, honesty, and responsibility. All About Me–helps players express key aspects of their identities and helps all the players to get to know each other better.
Playing time: Flexible from 30–45 minutes
Learning Objectives–Players will:
1. Learn information about classmates that will lead them to be more accepting of others and more inclusive in their social relationships.
2. Learn to actively listen to others who are different with respect and tolerance.
3. Appreciate the similarities and differences between diverse cultures/ethnic groups and develop greater empathy, emotional maturity, and a more accepting attitude.
4. Consider the viewpoints of others while recognizing unique lifestyles of diverse cultures including but not limited to food/music/religion/ethnic background.