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Objective: To teach children at any age, even adults, how people can do things in a different way than you do and it is still OK. And also that, whenever one is learning something new it can feel weird and the desire is to rush back to the way it was, but by getting comfortable with doing things in different ways we a) broaden our view of life and b) realize that doing things differently can accomplish the same result.

1. ARMS: Have everyone cross their arms the way they always do. Once everyone has, ask them to cross them the other way. There will be some laughter as they try to do it and get confused. Then, when everyone has their arms crossed the other way and quieted down, ask them how it feels? If you saw someone else doing this, would you think they are “wrong” since it is not the way most everyone else does it? If you did this enough, do you think you could get comfortable crossing your arms a different way?
2. LEGS: If children are sitting on the floor have them cross their legs the way they normally do. Then have them change and put the other leg on top. (The knees bent, ankles crossed kind of way, not with legs straight.) Ask the same kind of questions.
3. Could use other examples such as have a boys and a girl’s shirt. Have the girls put on the boy’s shirt and button it and the boys put on the girls shirt and button it. Ask if they notice any difference and if it is awkward to button the reverse way. Neither is “wrong,” just different, and “different” takes time to learn.

Wrap up: Ask people what they learned from this exercise; how they felt doing something different. Discuss. Look for answers like:
1. Hard to learn new things, always want to go back to the old way (like printing vs. cursive writing for 3rd graders.)
2. That it’s good to be open to new ways of doing things, even if you don’t do them the same way. (Tolerance)
3. That when you have a disagreement with someone, maybe it is better to listen and look more closely to what the other person is doing before just telling them they are wrong or stupid and making them feel bad. In fact, they could ask to learn from the other person and actually make a new friend. (Use any number of playground examples.)


Recommended to calendar by: Barbara L. Beatty, Dispute Solutions, Phoenix, Arizona

CRE Calendar Usage: 2nd Edition