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close this bookLife Skills for Young Ugandans - Primary Teachers' Training Manual (UNICEF, 190 p.)
close this folderSection Two: Methodologies and Training Session Activities
close this folderPART A - General Activities
View the document2.0 PARTICIPATORY METHODS


1.1 Ice-breaking activities
1.2 Expectations and Tears
1.3 Laying ground rules
1.4 Team building
1.5 Coping with difficult group members
1.6 Energisers
1.7 Processing



Ice breaking activities have the following purposes:

· Create a safe, warm learning environment from the outset.

· Encourage participants to mix with and get to know one another.

· Give all participants a chance to speak and be listened to in an environment where their experiences and opinions will be valued.

· Reduce individual feelings of isolation.

· Prepare all participants to become fully involved in later activities.

· Ice-breaking means breaking the ice, overcoming the cold (not warm), and tense atmosphere which may possibly exist before participants get to know each other.

At the beginning of a session, participants or first year students tend to keep to themselves or interact only with those they knew beforehand, They come from different places, have different backgrounds, experiences, qualifications etc. and often do not know how to break down the walls that exist between them. There is a need, therefore, for them to become acquainted with one another so that they are comfortable working together during the training. Thus, ice breakers should be used at the beginning of training sessions, or of a new year or term when the students do not know one another. They should not take too long, about 10-15 minutes.




Cards with half names of a town written on them. Enough cards for one per participant.


1. Write cards with half names of towns. Each participant gets a card.

2. Participants look for the participant with the other half name of her/his town. i.e.

Card 1: MB-

Card 2: -ALE

Full name of the town; MBALE

3. Participants then sit in pairs and introduce themselves to one another using the following outline:

· Name....................................................................
· Where you live......................................................
· Where you went to school......................................
· What you have achieved.......................................
· Hobbies.................................................................
· A wish....................................................................
· Anything else..........................................................

4. Each participant presents his/her partner to the rest of the group.


· If the group is large, place pairs into small groups of about six for the last step. Otherwise the introductions tend to take a very long time.

· The facilitator can come up with a different set of cards (i.e. local foods, famous personalities etc. instead of towns) or points of introduction (e.g. like/dislike etc.)







1. Invite participants to sit in a circle

2. Place a large piece of flipchart paper in the centre of the circle (and one on the wall for those who are unable to move on to the floor).

3. Ask each participant in turn, to write their name on the paper and explain briefly why they were given that name e.g. “My name is Nightingale because I was born at night”.






1. Facilitator tells participants that they have to find a partner according to one of the following criteria:

· likes the same kind of music.
· shares the same birthday month.
· shares the same favourite food.
· also has trouble saying “NO” to friends.
· enjoys playing football.

2. Ask participants to stand up and move around the room, identifying another person who fits one of the criteria.

3. After forming pairs in this way, each pair can be given topics to discuss for 2 minutes each e.g. An exciting/sad experience I will never forget, or things that make me laugh/sad.


· Facilitator can think of any other appropriate statements for clustering individuals and topics for discussion. S/he should not be limited to the examples given above.






1. Ask participants to form a circle.

2. Each participant gives his/her name in turn and then gives a false reason why s/he can’t come to school. The reason for not attending school must begin with the same letter as the person’s name e.g. “My name is Joy and I can’t come to school today because there are no buses from Jinja”.


· The facilitator is free to think of statements beginning:

‘Reasons why I.....................................




A blank card for each participant, ball point pens or pencils, box or bag or basket.


1. Give each participant a blank card.

2. Ask each participant to write the following on his/her card.

· complete name
· previous school attended
· favourite hobby

3. After all the cards are completed, collect and mix together in a container/basket. Each participant picks one card, but not his/her own.

4. After each participant has taken one card, instruct the person to find the owner of the card. Then ask each person to find out more information about the owner.

5. After 5 minutes tell everyone to be seated and ask each person to introduce the owner of the card which s/he has picked.


· Information which is too personal should be avoided.
· Allow some fun to create a more friendly atmosphere.


At the end of each ice breaker, spend a few minutes asking the group some of the following questions. Do NOT ask all the questions every time.

· How did you feel during this activity?
· How do you feel starting a group in this way?
· How might you alter or adapt this activity?
· How have you benefitted from this activity?
· Do you have any comments about this activity?
· What other ice breakers do you know/have you used?
· Anything else?



It is very useful at the beginning to allow participants to state their expectations and fears or concerns about the training. This brings into the open what people are feeling and allows the facilitator to clarify what can and cannot be done in the course of the training.


Participants come to a training with certain expectations about what they may acquire in terms of knowledge or skills. It is important to give them an opportunity to express their feelings on what they expect to get from the training and also to say at the start what they think can or cannot be achieved.


The participants have fears about issues that may be a barrier to the attainment of the objectives. The fears should be dealt with to create a conducive learning environment.

The activity on the following page will help define the participants’ expectations and fears.



Time: 30 minutes


Pieces of paper, chalk or marker, blackboard/flip chart/large sheet of paper.


1. Prepare sufficient pieces of paper for the number of participants attending the session.

2. Tell every participant to pick a piece of paper and write down what they expect from the training on one side of the paper and fear from the training on the other side.

3. Participants exchange papers with their friends and read out what is written. Facilitator writes replies on the flipchart or blackboard for all to be made aware of individual expectations and fears.

OR Divide the participants into groups, read out the answers and then merge the similar ones. The group leader presents the expectations and fears to the class and you write on blackboard or chart.

OR Each participant displays his/her written work for the whole class to read and they are later merged by the teacher.

OR Individual participants read out their expectations and fears and the teacher merges them on the blackboard or flipchart.

OR Put the cards in the middle (so that they are anonymous). Shuffle the cards and redistribute so that students read out the card they are given while you put the points on the board/large sheet of paper.

4. Discuss all the expectations and fears with the participants. Explain that you hope everyone will acknowledge that people have certain fears and will support these individuals. Explain what you hope and think can be achieved during the training, and what cannot be achieved in the time available.

5. Hang the flipchart or leave them on the blackboard.


· During the training, go through the expectations to find out those which were met and not met. Do the same with fears to find out how they were overcome.

· Expectations and fears may be introduced at the beginning of every new unit or topic to be taught and at the end of it, particularly if the issue to be discussed is a sensitive one.

· Leave the expectations and fears on the blackboard.

· Not all the expectations will be met. Explain this. Also explain that participants can discuss issues during the break.

· To cater for some of the expectations which may not be met, you can use a story or case study; or give them homework which can be done during the participants’ free time or call a resource person to give a lecture touching on those issues being reflected in the expectations.



Life Skills education involves an individual interacting closely with other people. During such interactions, group members will want to be listened to and respected. Some of the activities may involve revealing personal experiences that one would not ordinarily tell others. Therefore, group members need an assurance that in interacting with other members, their personalities will not be betrayed. Rules of behaviour need to be established. These can be called ground rules or keys to cooperation.

The ground rules should be decided upon by the group members themselves. This can be done in different ways. One way is suggested below. Alternatively you may wish to use the ‘Group Shield’ in the Team Building’ section that follows as a method for developing some ground rules.



Time: 20 minutes


Small pieces of paper, each with a number relating to the number of participants.


1. Write numbers from one to the last number in the class on small pieces of papers.

2. Each member picks a piece of paper with a number on it.

3. Number one pairs with two, three with four, etc. If the number in the class is odd, there can be three in a group.

4. Each member of the pair introduces himself/herself to the other and reveals her/his likes/dislikes and hopes for the way in which people will work together during the sessions.

5. The pair then discuss the rules they consider important regarding the discussions they will have.

6. 3 pairs join to form one group and come up with consolidated rules.

7. Participants discuss and agree on the rules to be adopted.

8. To wrap up, participants discuss the following questions:

(i) What do we do to a member who breaks the rules?
(ii) How will these rules be useful to the group during the course?


· Only one way of group formation is described here. There are other ways that groups can be formed e.g. using strings of different lengths, using combinations of letters for naming towns, etc. The teacher can also devise his/her own way of group formation. The essential point is that groups must be formed at random, with no systematic bias so that gradually each member of the group will meet and work with several others, thereby reducing the possibility of isolation and helping the integration of individual members.

· The interactions for negotiating ground rules can also be varied according to the size of the class. In the end, the negotiated rules should be agreed upon by the whole class and then adhered to in subsequent lessons.

· Because of the nature of Life Skills education, some of the rules that may come out are:

(i) Confidentiality
(ii) Respect for one another
(iii) Honesty
(iv) Listening to each other
(v) No ridiculing or derogatory behaviour towards anyone.
(vi) No value judgements about a person’s position.
(vii) Freedom to speak
(viii) The right to pass.
(ix) Being positive and constructive to the group
(x) Punctuality

Do not list those rules for the class, but only ask whether any that they may have omitted would be important for their group.

· Ways of enforcing the rules may include showing a “yellow card” to an offending member. If 3 people in the group show the yellow card then the individual must alter his/her behaviour or stop the activity s/he was doing. This should be done with humour and fairness to emphasize the importance of the rules rather than punish. The group should see that the rules are important for their cohesion and facilitative of acquiring the skills they are learning.



Team building is a process which gradually transforms individual participants into group workers. A team has a common objective and a common strategy to achieve the objective.

Team building develops cooperation, builds good relations and makes learners active (Participants in pretest, Bushenyi).

The success of the team depends on each member being appreciated, building on their uniqueness and difference to enrich the variety of ideas, views or contributions for the general good.

For a team to function, every member should be given the opportunity to participate fully; learning to share, discuss, agree, disagree, persuade and adjust. Being a member of a team means looking beyond oneself and reaching out to others, and realizing that one has something to offer just like others. Life skills evolve around one’s ability to cope with the situations, circumstances, challenges of day-to-day life. Ability to get along with other people is one skill promoted through Team Building. The team spirit helps one to believe in oneself, boosting one’s self-esteem.

Some Team building Activities are described below. They can run through the whole session or workshops, varying in duration according to the purpose



Time: 20 to 30 minutes


Large sheets of paper, marker pens.



1. Randomly select participants in teams of 4 - 6 people.

2. Ask each team to choose a leader, moderator, observer, recorder and reporter.

3. Ask each team to draw the group shield with four parts (see below), under different titles, depending on topic.

4. Every member writes his/her name in the first compartment and says a little about their name e.g. why they were given that name.

5. Members discuss their hobbies/interests and the recorder draws or writes some of this in the top right hand compartment.

6. Members discuss what they can offer the group e.g. experiences, listening, support and these are written up by the reporter.

7. Group members agree on ground rules and write them down.

8. Ask each group to come up with a Group Name.

9. Lastly, the group must come up with a motto.

10. In turn, each group displays their shield. The facilitator draws out or asks the reporter to draw out some of the unusual or interesting points. Finally, read out and clarify/agree on the ground rules for the whole group.


· By writing one’s name in the first box, an individual registers as a member to the team, with a right to participate.

· Explaining what you have to offer:-

· Boosts self esteem

· Promotes self - awareness, as each participant looks into himself/herself to discover what s/he has to offer.

· Enforces active listening and positive contribution.

· Ground rules offer an opportunity for one to appreciate different perspectives, desires and concerns.

· Hobbies/interests: This allows one to express a part of oneself.

· Other alternatives could be included in the shield according to the group and the context.



The aim of this activity is to practise getting along using non-verbal communication and to appreciate its advantages and shortcomings. It improves negotiation skills, listening skills and critical thinking.

Time: 30 minutes


Objects such as children’s toy cube dismantled. One object needed for every group.


1. Divide participants into groups of 4 - 6 members.

2. Distribute objects such as a children’s toy cube, already dismantled.

3. Ask them to put the bits together without TALKING.

4. Ask groups how they felt working without verbal communication; and how easy or difficult it was for them to accomplish or fail to accomplish a given task.

5. Ask groups to exchange objects (if they succeeded in putting the first object together) or to continue with the current object if they failed to assemble it at the first attempt.

6. After 10 minutes, allow groups to use both verbal and non-verbal communication

7. Ask groups what are the advantages and disadvantages of utilizing both verbal and non-verbal communication.


· The trainer is encouraged to create his/her own team building activities as the need arises.



It is always possible that some of the participants work against the smooth running of the group. It is therefore important to be able to identify the types of behaviour that hinder the work of a group and strategies to cope with such behaviours.


Time: 45 minutes


Large sheets of paper, markers.


1. Whole group brainstorms on types of behaviour which hinder group work.

2. List the behaviours on a large sheet of paper

3. Divide participants into groups of six or seven.

4. Allocate an equal number of behaviours listed to each group and ask them to devise strategies/life skills for coping with the behaviours they have been assigned.

5. Each group summarises on a large sheet of paper and presents to the plenary for discussion.


· To start brainstorming, ask participants to describe actual example/incidents

· Difficult group member behaviour can include:

· People who talk too much
· People who challenge everything
· People who never contribute
· People who never stick to the point
· People who are critical of everyone and everything.

· There is no one strategy to cope with certain types of behaviour though there are certain suggested strategies.

· The actual behaviours, and the strategies to deal with them could take the form of a role play.

· Hopefully the team building activities, and in particular the introduction of ground rules, will avert many of the more difficult behaviours that certain individuals may display.



Communication experts observe that concentration span in a learning situation is initially high then gradually drops. To keep learners’ attention it is imperative that they are kept interested. Energizers help achieve this by breaking the monotony and stress of a learning session. They may be used to allow the participants a chance to stretch and move about. They are usually brief (3-5 minutes)



· Choose energizers that are conducive to your specific environment and situation; i.e. consider your age group, classroom size, how well you know the group and how well they know one other.

· Develop your own energizers for your group.

· Other energizers have been developed, look around for references that contain energizers.




Basket, baton, (stick).


1. Ask everybody to sit around in a circle.

2. Get a volunteer who shall start off as the policeperson.

3. The volunteer stands in the middle near the room, taps a person seated and runs and places the baton in the basket.

4. Policeperson should then run and occupy the place of the person that was tapped - referred to as a culprit.

5. The person who was tapped should aim at picking up the ‘baton’ from the basket and chase the policeperson and try to tap him/her before s/he sits down in the culprit’s chair.

6. If the policeperson sits down in the culprit’s place before the culprit taps him/her, then the culprit becomes the new policeperson and the game continues.


· The game is better if the circle is large so that there is a fair distance to run (3 to 4 metres).

· The ‘baton’ or stick should NOT be thrown in the basket but rather placed there.






1. Explain to the group that the floor area is really a map of Uganda, which direction is North etc. Agree with them where one or two towns/landmarks would be on the map.

2. Every participant should move to stand where their village/district is located.

3. The facilitator gives out the following instructions to the group who must respond appropriately in accordance with the perceived level of problem in their area.

· not a problem or issue - sit down,
· a small problem - kneel down
· rampant - stand up
· very serious problem - stand on tiptoe or jump

4. Facilitator reads out/presents a number of issues, problems:

· malaria
· Aids
· happy homes
· defilement/rape
· abstinence
· farming
· democracy
· good marriages
· drug abuse
· faithfulness
· equal rights for girls
· pre marital sex
· wife beating
· oppression of women
· condom use

5. The objective is to read the issues out quickly so that people have to move equally quickly.


· You may choose to stop the activity from time to time to foster discussion on a particular issue.






1. Participants stand up and space themselves evenly around the room in such a manner that will not collide or hit each other.

2. The facilitator does a trial to ensure the participants have understood the instructions. For example, the facilitator gives out the following key:

You should only follow the instructions if they start with ‘Nafuna says’. For example ‘Nafuna says, hop on one leg’. ‘Nafuna says turn round’ etc. If the instruction is just called out on its own, for example, ‘turn around’, ‘raise your right arm’ etc., participants should not follow the instruction.

3. People who carry out the instructions when they do not start with ‘Nafuna says’ should sit down.


· This activity may/could be made more interesting if one of the participants is asked to call out the actions.

· Pick a name that is easy to pronounce, fun and not the name of one of the participants



(Choose your own name)




1. Choose a popular song and select an energetic song leader.

2. Sing-a-long

3. In between the song/verses the choir/song leader may chant.



Participants should echo back with a loud clear answer “YES”

Suggestions for good songs

· Patriotic “Chaka muchaka songs”
· Football team slogans
· Nursery rhymes i.e. Old McDonald had a Farm.


· Actions could be added to it.


‘FISHERS OF MEN’ (A well known song)




1. Participants start off seated

2. Song leader starts the song

3 While the song is sung, males stand up at each word that starts with ‘M’ and females stand up at each word that starts with ‘F’.

4. Song gets faster and faster (in Tempo).


· Only use the song if you know and/or the participants know it.






1. Place enough chairs/benches in a circle for each participant to sit on

2. Facilitator stands in the middle, with no chair.

3. Facilitator calls out a task that gets people moving and swapping places. Nobody should return to the same chair/position. Examples of such statements could be:

· “all people putting on black shoes, change places”.
· “all people wearing T-shirts, change places”.
· “all people whose names start with the letter A, change places”.

4. As they move, the person in the middle also runs for a chair

5. The person who fails to get a chair stands in the middle and calls out the next instruction.


· To end the game the facilitator may consider ‘failing’ to get a chair so that s/he is deliberately left standing.

· This is a way of getting people into different pairs or small groups.






1. Facilitator explains that s/he wants people to demonstrate the activity called out. Participants stand up and walk slowly around the room. When the facilitator calls out “running shoes”, participants must imagine that they are running.

2. Examples of other statements to use with participants:

· walking shoes (participants demonstrate walking)
· slippery shoes (participants demonstrate slipping around)
· quiet shoes
· dancing shoes
· army boots






1. Participants stand in a circle facing into the circle

2. Participants pat their knees to make the sound of the type of rain mentioned.

Examples of statements - actions...

· a drizzle - (gently pat)
· a storm - (heavy patting)
· thunder - (a big clap etc.).


· This activity can be modified by you to be something else i.e. a dog and related statements; cow, horse etc.






1. Ask participants to pair up.
2. Ask one to volunteer to be a leader and the other a follower.
3. The follower should close his/her eyes and stretch out her/his hand and offer 1 finger.
4. The leader puts out his/her finger and places it on the follower’s finger.
5. Leader then takes the follower around the room without any collisions.
6. The follower should keep eyes closed at all time.
7. After 2 minutes ask each pair people to exchange roles.


· This activity can be used more than once in different sessions and include questions on how people felt as they moved around the room. Consider both perspectives, leader and follower.

· This activity should only be used after the participants have become familiar with each other since it can sometimes be quite threatening.






1. Divide the class into teams (two or three).

2. (Explain that the objective of the game is for them to bring objects to you. The quickest team gets marks.

3. Facilitator then calls for objects.

· bring me......... an ear ring
· bring me......... a belt
· bring me......... a leaf
· bring me......... etc.


· Make sure there is no physical damage to any individuals, or embarrassment at having to remove certain items of clothing!


2.1 Brainstorming
2.2 Questionnaires
2.3 Ranking
2.4 Case Studies
2.5 Role Plays
2.6 Drawing
2.7 Discussion
2.8 Buzz Group
2.9 Tableaux
2.10 Story Telling
2.11 Processing
2.12 Utilising the Creative Abilities of the Participants/Students


Since the aim of this initiative is to elicit, examine and develop life skills of the students, it is essential that participatory methods are used. They have several advantages:

· The more the students are engaged, the more they are able to develop their life skills. You cannot develop critical thinking by listening to lectures on the subject. Similarly you cannot develop the psychosocial skills without trying them out with others and practising them.

· Participatory approaches open up the syllabus in new ways because they start with the assumption that students already know many things. Thus, by eliciting what they know through different activities, the tutor is able to build on the knowledge they already have.



Brainstorming is a way of obtaining as many views as possible in a short space of time. Participants, in groups, or in a whole class are encouraged to give as many ideas as they can think of on a particular subject.

This can be done anonymously using cards, or on pieces of paper, or by students calling out their ideas which are all written on the board. In this first stage, all ideas are accepted and no challenges are allowed.

After all the ideas have been exhausted, the tutor can ask the groups to prioritise, or choose the most important 3 or 4 or 5 ideas. This is a good activity when introducing a new topic.


1. Draw a large ship on newsprint with lines beneath it to depict water. Label the drawing RelationSHIP.

2. Ask students to give ideas on what keeps a relationship afloat. Once all the ideas have been collected, each group will draw their own ship on a sheet of paper and choose the five most important things required to keep the boat afloat. These can be written round the water line of the ship.

3. Students brainstorm again on what leads to the sinking of relationships. They then prioritise the five most damaging aspects that can be drawn as rocks near the ship.

4. Groups stick their ships on the wall. Students move around looking at the different ships.

5. Class discussion on why priorities differ. Other processing questions might include:

(i) What do you notice about the positive things listed for the different relationships?

(ii) What do you notice about the negative things?

(iii) When you were working in your small groups, how similar or different were the responses of men from women? Why do you think this is so?

(iv) Which qualities do you think are the most difficult to find in a relationship?




These are different from normal research questionnaires since their aim is not to collect data but to give the students an opportunity to assess their own attitudes, feelings and emotions about a particular issue. Thus the questionnaires try to make provocative statements which will lead the students to confront truthfully what they think.


1. Give out the questionnaire to all students to fill in individually. If there are no duplicating facilities, write the questionnaire on the chalkboard and ask students to copy and fill in.


For each of the following statements write A (if you agree) D (if you disagree) or ?
(If you don’t know).

(i) Girls wearing short skirts are asking to be raped.

(ii) It is OK for a man to have more than one woman as long as he practises safe sex and provides for his children.

(iii) A wife is more likely to get AIDS than a prostitute.

(iv) Parents should talk to their children about AIDS.

(v) It is more important to send a boy to school than a girl.

(vi) To have sex with a girl before she reaches the age of 18 is defilement.

(vii) Women are more faithful than men.

(viii) Raising a child by yourself makes more sense than marrying a man you don’t love.


2. After filling in the questionnaires, students form groups and discuss their answers.

3. After reaching as much consensus as possible, groups present their answers to plenary.


· Because such questionnaires are very sensitive, the facilitator should be careful about how s/he introduces it and ensures that the ground rules for discussion are followed. The discussion, for example, should allow for tolerance of other peoples’ viewpoints.

· The facilitator does not have to go round finding out what each person believes. An atmosphere of confidentiality encourages participants to be honest in their answers.

· Some of the items in the questionnaire can also be connected to issues of knowledge e.g. the tutor can take advantage of this to provide the essential knowledge where necessary.


1. Give the following questionnaire to the students in groups.


· What would you do if:

(i) You won 20 million shillings in a lottery and you have to spend it quickly?
(ii) You have a free day with no responsibilities at all?

· What would you change if you could only change one thing:

(i) in your community?
(ii) in the world?

2. Students discuss in groups and present to plenary.


· These sort of open-ended questionnaires with no right or wrong, firm or fixed answers can enable students to discuss certain life issues and reach their own decisions from the choices available.



Ranking is another way of encouraging students to assess their own values and attitudes. They have to decide which aspects are more or less important to them and give reasons for their decisions.

This will allow them the opportunity to clarify their own values and attitudes.


1. Divide the students into groups and ask them to rank the following in order of importance.


(i) Popularity
(ii) Academic success
(iii) A good salary
(iv) To own land
(v) Marriage and a family
(vi) To enjoy life

2. Groups present their ranking to the plenary for further discussion.



Case studies can be true or imaginary descriptions of a situation, or a character. They can be used:

· To provoke thought and discussion on various issues
· To give the tutor a chance to assess how much the students know about a particular topic.


1. Divide the class into groups and distribute the case study.

Atieno comes from a poor family in Kampala. She went to school up to P7 after which she returned home to help her mother with her petty trading. When she was 16, a primary school teacher met her selling groundnuts on the street. He liked her and proposed marriage to her. He was quite young and handsome.

2. Ask the groups to answer the following questions.

(i) List the arguments for and against Atieno getting married.
(ii) If you were Atieno, what would you do? Why?

3. Groups report to plenary.


· It is vital that the case study does not give the answer, but rather provokes debate. If, for example, the case study showed Atieno getting married and dying in childbirth, there is no discussion, only a message.

· While this case study is directed at students’ attitudes to marriage and relationships, it can also be used by the tutor to find out the students’ knowledge on the law (defilement below the age of 18), the dangers of getting pregnant before the age of 18 and children’s rights.


Comparative case studies such as the one in the Unit on “Our Health” at the beginning of Section Four.


The case study could be in the form of a letter.

Dear Auntie,

We have started a health club in our school. We participate in child to child activities and try to advise people to keep their surroundings clean. The only problem is the local marwa bar which is always very dirty. It is owned by the LC1 and his wife is the main brewer. She just laughs when I try and explain to her.

What should I do in this situation as children often play in the dirt? Kato.

1. If you were the auntie, how would you reply to this letter?
2. Do you think that similar situations exists in your school/home area?
3. What do you think can be done to improve the situation?



Role plays are not dramas with fixed characters and dialogue. They are rather presentations of situations which the students can act out in order to explore situations, feelings towards situations and different strategies to cope with situations. They are very useful in providing students with a chance to react to simulated situations and test how effective or valid their reactions might be.


1. Explain the role play to the class.

Sara is a P7 girl preparing for the exams. When she goes to do her homework with her friend Mary, Mary’s brother, Michael who is S3 is always very keen to help her with her mathematics. One day, Sara finds herself alone with Michael. Michael reveals that he is interested in Sara.

2. Ask the class to divide into pairs and act out what they think would happen between Michael and Sara. Tell them to think about how each of them feels, what are their options, who is more at risk, what should they do.

3. Students discuss and act in pairs.

4. Ask for volunteers to act out in front of the class.

5. Students discuss on both the methods used by Michael to convince (or force) Sara and Sara’s different methods for coping with the situation.


· The situation could be linked to a lesson on STDs/HIV/AIDS to provide the knowledge element.


A ‘rolling role play’

1. Explain to the students that they are going to do a role play in several stages so that they can act out how they would behave at each stage.

2. Give stage one of the role play.

You live in with your mother, your stepfather and your two brothers and one sister. One day you are left in the house on your own. Your stepfather calls you into his room. What would you do?

3. Ask for one student to act the stepfather and another the girl.

4. After they act the scene, call for comments on the behaviour of both the characters. If someone disagrees with the way either behaved invite them to come and act how they think the uncle or the girl should have behaved. If they are too shy, they can ask someone to act on their behalf but they should be encouraged to try themselves.

5. After all possibilities have been explored and discussed, move the role play one step forward.

The girl enters the room and finds the stepfather on the bed. He calls her to sit on the bed.

What would you do?

6. Repeat as above.

Alternative scenario

Stage 1: You have agreed to go with a friend to a birthday party. When you arrive there, you find that several people are already drunk. Your friend immediately joins the drinking and calls you to join him. You don’t want to drink.


1. What would you do?

After possibilities have been explored, the role play moves forward.

Stage 2: You have agreed to join in drinking a bit to keep company with your friends. One of them introduces marijuana and uses the same arguments that were used to convince you to drink.

2. What would you do?

Obviously this particular activity could be linked to a component on alcohol and other drugs to provide the knowledge input.


· It should be stressed that with role plays, as with case studies, the aim is not to provide messages but rather to provoke (self-) questioning that will eventually lead the children to making their own decisions and adopting particular coping strategies in specific situations.



Drawing activities are another good way of encouraging students to represent their feelings. They can do this individually or in groups.


(i) One form of self introduction is to encourage students either to draw their lives the way they think they are heading and the way they would like to head.

(ii) Groups draw the health promoting/demoting school as explained in the next session.

(iii) Students could prepare a picture in groups on the roles and responsibilities of different members of a family, e.g. a boy child and a girl child.



Discussions and debates give children the opportunity to gain knowledge, check out their own myths and misconceptions, learn new skills such as listening (critically) and clarify their attitudes and values. Ground rules are needed to ensure that all individuals are allowed to express their viewpoints.



These are not as formal as group discussions. They normally involve a brief discussion of participants with their neighbours in the room. They are used to allow informal discussion on an issue so that people can relax and try out their ideas before they are put to the test in a more formal discussion.



Tableaux are a more stylised form of role play which encourage students to think and discuss certain issues within the context of working out how best to represent them.

1. Divide the participants into groups

2. Ask each group to prepare a ‘frozen statue’ that depicts, for example, the feelings and state of a pregnant schoolgirl, or the needs of an AIDS sufferer. You could either ask to each group to prepare a tableau on a similar issue or each group could take a separate issue and present it to the rest of the class for discussion.

3. After the presentation, the facilitator can ask several processing questions.

· Why did you choose such a tableau

· How did you feel when preparing the tableau

· How did you feel when you were the pregnant girl/angry father/AIDS sufferer etc.

· What could be done in real life to change the tableau to a more positive portrayal.



Story telling is part of our childhood and upbringing. Everyone can remember some stories they were told and they are an important source of learning about life. They can be used to illustrate and discuss a variety of life situations requiring life skills to deal with them. Stories can be presented in many different ways, through traditional tales using animals such as those in Hare and Hornbill by Okot p’Bitek which were in fact originally created as a way of commenting on the life of the community and teaching life skills to the children. Alternatively stories can be used from the Sara Communication Initiative or the teacher, or students can make up their own stories to suit different situations. Stories can be told in different ways such as this letter below.

Dear Auntie,

I really want to study so that I can escape from this life of poverty but what can I do when I don’t even have time to study. I have really struggled to get to secondary school but as the subjects get more difficult, I think I am going to fail. Just imagine, I wake up every day at 5.00am. I fetch the water, sweep the compound and wash the clothes for my little brother and sister before going to school. My brother wakes up at 7.00 am, prepares for school and goes.

At school I do my best to study but because I ate nothing before leaving the house, when it gets to midday, I start falling asleep. The teachers get angry with me but what can I do. In the evening my brother weeds the garden while I do the housework and help my mother cook. After eating, my brother can start doing his homework but I have to wash the dishes first. After that I try to study but within half an hour, I am falling asleep.

At the weekend we both go to the farm but when we get back my brother goes to play football after which he says, ‘he has the job of bathing’ while I start to do the housework. My brother washes his clothes when he feels like it, but he makes sure I realise that he is doing me a favour. To tell you the truth auntie, although I do my best to help my mother, sometimes I pretend to be sick because that is the only way I can get a chance to rest.

So what should I do so that I can study like the others? My brother tells me that I don’t do well in class because girls are not as intelligent as boys. He says that boys are more curious which is why they do better in science. Sometimes I am tempted to believe with him because he always makes fun of the way I enjoy cooking. But then I remember that while he is playing with batteries and making his own little radio or torch, I am washing the dishes or fetching the water. When do I have the time to study like him? And if I was not so tired, wouldn’t I be as curious as he is?

Yours fed up,



1. If you were the auntie, how would you reply to this letter?
2. Do you think that such a situation exists in relation to your school/home area?
3. What do you think can be done to improve the situation?
4. Why do you think boys tend to do better in science than girls?



As with the introductory activities, it is important that individuals have the opportunity to say how they feel about particular activities or situations and how it affected them. In this way the facilitator can assess her/his activities and to what extent they are being effective in engaging the participants and challenging them to think about the issues and life skills being raised through the activities. One part of such assessment is always observation of how participants are reacting, but processing questions allows a more reflective assessment and also encourages the participants to think about the purpose and value of activities rather than just participating in them.

Some questions that may be asked are:

· How did you feel about the activity?
· How (much) did it challenge your thinking/attitudes?
· How have you changed? (Or not?)
· How do you think the group has changed?
· What helped?
· What hindered?
· How might you apply this activity in training/teaching?
· Which life skills are promoted in this activity?



It would be a mistake for a facilitator to think that s/he has to produce all the material her/himself. Very often it will be the task of the facilitator to produce the preliminary activities but, after that, s/he can draw on the creativity and experience of the participants/students to produce supplementary activities.

This can be done in several ways.


· After presenting a case study, students can be asked to prepare case studies of their own which reflect different situations/dilemmas/problems they face.

· Students will act the role plays and, in cases where the tutor requires one participant in a role play to have a clearly defined or very persuasive role, instead of acting it him/herself can coach a student to do it on her/his behalf.

· If the tutor is not confident of her/his drawing skills (and for the purpose of teaching they do not have to be good) s/he can ask one of the students to prepare the drawing required in advance.