In social group interventions, we would like our students to develop a sense of each other by building “friend files” (Michelle Garcia Winner). Some of the activities I have mentioned in previous posts can be of assistance in engaging students to share straightforward information about themselves. However, we also want to build students’ abilities to make inferences about each other—for example, wearing an Apple T-shirt might indicate that the person likes computers, and could be a good conversation starter.
We can engineer opportunities to develop social inferencing skills by using some other interactive activities available for free on the Internet. In these creative activities, students have fun constructing and designing, and we later can ask, “So what can you guess about Billy after looking at what he made?”
One of my favorites is the Discovery Kids Room Maker, which allows you to design your own kids room with a simple drag-and-drop from categories such as walls, details, beds, etc. When complete, the site gives you a summary statement about your “design persona” that would be fun to share with the group, along with all the accessories that can add traits to our “friend files.”
Create a Ride is also a big hit with kids; click to select car details such as headlights, wheels, details and a fun background! I used this one with a teen group and asked the boys to design a car that they thought another boy in the group would like. This resulted in the memorable social inferencing quote: “I think he is unpredictable so I designed a car that fits his personality...”
Finally, though this makes me think uncomfortably of back-to-school, I love Lands’ End Packland Fantasy Backpack Creator. This fun, animated site lets you select a theme (such as spy or ocean) and add “pack art” to enhance the design and function of your backpack. In no time, your kids will be chatting about personal details (aka “character traits”) and getting to know each other better!
For these activities, remember that screenshotting can be a helpful step so you can refer to creations later or share with parents:
On Mac- Command-Shift-4 turns your cursor into a photo-target. Click and drag across the area of the screen you want to capture and a picture will be saved on your desktop.
On PC- Alt-Print Screen captures the screen on the clipboard. Open Paint (Programs>Accessories>Paint) and Paste the image, then you can crop as you like and save.
Any of your group members’ creations would provide a great context to continue talking about character traits. Keep adding to the Character Map in It’s All About the Story (or the SGM and other manuals) as a visual cue to help the kids think about each other!