|Outreach No. 97 - Children in Especially Difficult Circumstances - Part 2: Children Affected by Catastrophes (New York University - TVE - UNEP - WWF, 70 p.)|
SUGGESTIONS FOR USE teachers, youth workers: To stimulate thinking and adapt ideas for workshops for children aged 7-10 years old who have been traumatised by the ravages of war.
Cognition through games is a way to help children work through the inner journey of the ravages of war and its traumatising effects on the way children view themselves and the world.
The two workshops for 7-10 year olds described below are taken from the manual Cognition through games: a handbook for workshops for children 7-14 years. The manual was conceived in the context of war in the former Yugoslavia, but the ideas it contains will stimulate thinking and help others in different parts of the world to adapt the ideas to their own specific locations and be creative and responsive to the needs of children with whom they work.
WORKSHOP: NICE AND TERRIBLE
Aim: Through a guided fantasy, children "play" with potential sources of fear in an atmosphere of protection.
- materials for badges
- blackboard or a large sheet of paper hung on a wall
- chalk or felt pens
Badge: The children make badges by drawing and cutting out "what they like". This can be anything: a favourite cake, a toy, an animal, a person.
Introductory game: Touch.....
The leader explains the game: "In this game, we will use music. I'll tell you now what you should touch and then I'll turn on the music. While the music is playing, you will dance. When I stop the music, you should run and touch it. When everyone does that, I will tell you what you will have to touch next when the music stops, and so on."
1. Touch blue; 2. Touch hot; 3. Touch hard; 4. Touch cold; 5. Touch hairy; 6. Touch smooth; 7. Touch rough; 8. Touch woollen; 9. Touch metal; 10. Touch nice.
Preliminary game: Nice - Terrible words
The game consists of children "creating" two nonsense words through a guided process, one of which will mean something nice and the other something terrible. This represents an introduction to the main theme. It is important that the children learn something of the idea of terrible, which each individual will make concrete in the main game, i.e. the guided fantasy.
The whole group sits on the floor. The leader says to the children: "Now we will say various nice words which have meaning. Try to remember as many nice words as you can. We will write all those words on this piece of paper." Prompt them to remember as many nice words as possible. Write the words on the board or on the paper. When all the words are written down, go on to the terrible words: "Good, now let's say some terrible words which mean something. That is, words that are really bad and which we are afraid of." These terrible words are written down on the other side of the paper or the board so that the nice words and the terrible words are opposite each other.
When all the nice and terrible words are written down, the children, guided by the leader, look for the primary qualities characteristic of nice (for example, warm, soft, light, gay...). These qualities are written alongside the nice words. For example, if the first word in the list of nice words is "sun", the leader asks: "What is nice in the word sun?" Then, the children are asked about each word until 3-4 primary qualities of the idea of "nice" are arrived at. That is repeated with the terrible words. For example, if the first word in the list of terrible words is "dark", the leader asks: "What is terrible in the word dark?" Then, the children are asked about each word until 3-4 primary qualities of the idea of "terrible" are obtained (dark, cold, fear, sad...)
On the basis of the quality for nice, the children should now make up a new, nonexistent word, which from now on in this game means nice. The mentioned qualities of nice are read out and the leader says: "Now let's make a completely new, nonsense word, which has not existed before, and which will contain all that we have said about nice. This word will mean nice to us." (If several words are suggested, then choose one.) In the same way, on the basis of the quality for terrible, the children should now make up a new, non-existent word, which will from now on mean terrible in this game. "Let's make up a new word, which has never before existed, for terrible."
Main theme: What is that funny terrible?
The purpose of this guided fantasy is for the children, in an atmosphere of protection, to "play" with the potential sources of fear. This game has meaning and justification whether the child under the chosen, nonsense, terrible word imagines a concrete real existing source of fear or s/he remains at the level of recognition of that fear not connected to any particular object.
Step 1: Relaxation: The leader tells the whole story slowly in an even rhythm pausing from time to time in order to give the children time to imagine each picture: "Let's lie on the floor. Make yourselves comfortable, relax and breathe deeply. Close your eyes."
Step 2: Guided fantasy: The leader continues: "Imagine that _____ (the chosen terrible word) is on the ceiling, in the middle of the ceiling. It is glued to the ceiling and it cannot move. It cannot come near you, and you are perfectly safe. Now look at the _____ carefully. You can see all there is to it, what it looks like. You know that it is stuck to the ceiling, and that we are perfectly safe looking at it.
"Now let's change its colour. Let it be orange...and now blue... and now pink. Let it now have green sneakers on its feet. Look at _____ in green sneakers. Let it now have a red skirt with dots and a yellow ribbon in its hair. Let it now, dressed as it is, slap its hands on the ceiling. Let it walk to the comer... and then to the other corner... let it gather itself together in that corner, let it shrink, let it be as small as a bug... now let only one of its legs become bigger... and then let it become small again... let its nose grow... and then let it become small once again. Now let it come back again to the centre of the ceiling. Let it yawn as if it were sleepy. Now make it smaller once again, let it be as small as a dot. Then make it as big as you wish... now ruffle it a little... let it have red lipstick... Now it is in the middle of the ceiling, and it is singing and playing a guitar. When it finishes singing, it sits down, puts a pacifier in its mouth and looks content.
"Imagine how that a piece of rope is holding it and that the rope can be lowered and raised. When you pull the rope, _____ is raised to the ceiling, and when you loosen the rope, it is lowered. Well now let's lower it a little... as much as you wish, and then raise it again. You can do this as often as you wish.
When it is lowest, that is closest to you, look at it. Perhaps, it is no longer so terrible... Perhaps, we can say "Hello" to it... Perhaps, we can now tell it what our names are. Let it take the pacifier from its mouth and tell us its name. What is its real name? We have given it the name ________, but perhaps it might have a different name. Let it say so... Look at it carefully. Perhaps, it is lonely because everyone is afraid of it... perhaps it wants to be friends but it doesn't know how to. Perhaps, we can offer our little finger to it in a handshake. Perhaps, we can offer it a sweet... It will now go back to the ceiling, or it will remain with you, or it will go off somewhere... Do with it what you want."
Step 3. Coming out of the fantasy: The leader ends the fantasy by saying to the children: "Good, now shake yourself a bit, stretch your hands and legs, open your eyes and slowly get up."
1. Drawing of the "funniest terrible"
The children draw their own _______ when it was the funniest during the guided fantasy.
2. Discussion in a circle:
Each child present his _______: what it was like; how it was imagined; when it was the funniest. Did it change its name after becoming acquainted with you, or did it keep the same name?
Make an exhibition of the "funny-terrible".
WORKSHOP: HOW TO MAKE A DOG AND CAT FRIENDS
Aim: To consider conflict resolutions
- materials for badge
- large sheet of paper or board
- felt pens or crayons
Badge: Every child makes a badge shaped like a dog or a cat, as they wish.
Introductory game: Dog and cat
The leader explains the game: "All stand in a circle and hold hands. Two children enter the centre of the circle and agree on who is to be the dog and who is to be the cat. The cat stays in the circle, and the dog leaves it. The dog has to catch the cat. At the beginning, those of you holding hands in the circle, start walking right and stop when I count to ten. At that moment, the dog starts chasing the cat. You, forming the circle, should help the cat in the following ways: While the cat is in the circle, you hold your hands low and do not allow the dog to enter the circle. When the dog succeeds in entering the circle, those who are nearest to the cat must raise their hands quickly and let the cat out of the circle, and then drop their hands down quickly to prevent the dog from going out of the circle. When the dog finally catches the cat, a new pair is to be chosen to be the dog and the cat."
Main theme: How to make a dog and a cat friends
The children are told a story of a serious conflict between a dog and a cat. This realistic, existing conflict is a prototype of an insolvable conflict. The children know it as such but nevertheless in the game they are asked to discover as many successful solutions to the conflict as possible.
Step 1: The story about a conflict between a dog and a cat. The leader tell the story about the dog and cat: "Now I shall tell you a story. Listen carefully. Once there were two children who lived in the same house which had two doors. One door led to one street, and the other to another street. The two children got along very well. They played together the whole day. One day the two children went off in two directions. One left by one door and the other by the other door. Imagine what happened! One child found a dog dozing in front of the door, and the other child found a cat sunning itself. Both the children thought: "Here is a pet for us to have fun with." Both children, not knowing that the other had also found a pet, brought their pets in at the same time. Suddenly there was a fight: the dog started barking at the cat, and the cat started hissing at the dog. The dog chased the cat, and the cat began running away, but seeing it could not escape, the cat lay down on its back and started to scratch the dog. There was general mayhem. The children had a hard time separating the animals. But the children were now faced with a problem: they wanted to keep the cat and the dog, but how? How could they keep both without having them fight? How could they teach the dog and the cat to live together? Let's help them."
Step 2: Brainstorming: The children are divided into several groups so there are 4-5 in each group. The leader continues: "Every group should decide what to do. Think of as many solutions as you can, and the ways to make the animals live in peace."
Step 3: Reporting solutions: Each group reports their solutions which are written on the blackboard or on a large sheet of paper.
Step 4: Drawing a solution: At the end, the solutions are read once again, and then each child individually draws the solution which seems the best to him/her.
Advice: Some children are prone to refuse a solution which seems the best because they think it is difficult. Such children should nonetheless be encouraged to do it because it is not important how it will be drawn but what the solution is. In any case, the children also have the opportunity to explain their drawings. Make an exhibition of their drawings.
1. The dog and the cat become friends
The children are divided into pairs on the basis of their badges: one pair is one "cat" and one "dog". Then, according to the leader's directions, the pairs perform at the same time:
- how the "cat" and "dog" sniff and nudge each other
- how the "cat" pats the "dog" with its paw and vice versa
- how in the evenings, the "cat" and "dog" sleep close to each other to keep warm
2. A cat goes round you
The leader explains the game: "Let's sit in a circle on the floor. We choose one child to play the "cat" in this game, and the others will play "mice". The "cat" will get a small cloth (e.g. a handkerchief) and will keep it in its hands and walk around the outside of the circle. During that time, the rest of us will sing a song: "A cat is going around you, watch for your tail, do not be blind, because if you are blind, your tail will fall off." While going behind our backs, the "cat" will make gestures several times as if dropping the cloth. While the song is sung, or at the end, the "cat" will put the cloth imperceptibly behind somebody's back. If that person (the "mouse") discovers the cloth behind his back, he will run around the circle to reach his place before the "cat". Meanwhile, the "cat" runs to reach the place of the "mouse" in the circle. If the "mouse" does not notice the cloth behind him before the "cat" reaches him again, the "mouse" will drop out of the game, and sit in the middle of the circle. The same "cat" continues the game. If the "cat" succeeds in reaching the empty place in the circle, the "mouse" who was sitting there now becomes the "cat".