Allies in Diversity: Teaching Allies – Content

The resources in this section have been developed to build awareness and understanding of the values that are at the core of the Allies in Diversity program. The activities, videos, and online resources are all targeted to middle-school students. The activities are grouped according to themes, including self-awareness, building communication skills, learning about gender and sexual diversity, combatting bullying, and building upstander skills. There are also links to videos, books, and other useful information.

Icebreakers

Wompum
Materials: A foam “Noodle”
Instructions: Have the group sit in a circle with their legs extended forward. Explain the rules. To start, someone in the circle says the name of someone else in the circle. You must whack (below the belt) the named person before they name someone else. If you whack that person before they say a name, they are in the middle. The person who was in the middle says another group member’s name before they sit down.
Notes: Kids love this activity. Probably because they get to hit each other with a foam noodle.

Where the Wind Blows
Materials: A chair, piece of paper, or carpet square for each group member.
Instructions: Arrange pieces of paper on the floor in a circle. With the facilitator in the middle, there are just enough pieces of paper for each member. Say to the group “I have…,” (snowboarded, been to the beach, etc.). If any group member has done so, they move to another piece of paper that someone has left open. They may not move to the paper beside them. The facilitator moves to a piece of paper, and the person left without anything to stand on now says “I have…”

Blanket Name Game
Materials: A blanket, tarp, or dark sheet large enough for half a group to hide behind.
Instructions: Divide group in half. One group is hiding behind the sheet. Both groups (quietly) choose a representative to go forward. Facilitator counts to three. Group members drop the blanket and each representative yells the name of the other. First person to yell the other’s name wins, and the slower person must come to the winning side. This continues until time runs out or all members are on one side.

Snap, Crackle, Pop
Materials: None
Instructions: Teach the group the signs for Snap, Crackle, and Pop and have them practice them.

  • Snap = Point right finger across left shoulder.
  • Crackle = Point left finger to the right over their head.
  • Pop = Point right finger across circle at anyone.

Put the motions in order and pass it around the circle so that the first person Snaps, the second member Crackles, and the next person Pops across the circle to start a new round. Have members say “Snap,” “Crackle,” and “Pop” as they perform each motion. A variation has each person who misses a motion sit out of the circle and heckle whoever remains.

Ball Toss
Materials: A ball
Instructions: Ask group members to stand in a circle. One member is in the middle to be the “ball tosser.” The person in the middle takes turns throwing the ball to various members. The people in the circle must tell something about themselves when they catch the ball. If someone takes more than 2 or 3 seconds, they go to the middle of the circle. Other topics include telling an emotion, source of stress, something learned in school that day, movies, songs, animals, etc.…

Hand In the Candy Jar
Materials: Bag of small candies (Skittles, Starbursts, Reese’s Pieces, etc.)
Instructions: Pass around a bag of candy for the group to share. Do not let them eat the candy, yet. After the bag goes around the group, let the group know they have to share one thing about themselves for each piece of candy they took from the bag. Other possible topics to share include emotions, facts from school that day, goals, and things that stress them out.

Change Something
Materials: None
Instructions: One member goes to the front of the room and stands for 5-10 seconds. He or she then leaves the room and changes something (takes off a belt, puts a watch on the other arm, unties a shoes, etc.). The group member reenters the room and other members guess what is different. The person who guesses correctly goes next. If nobody guesses, the person chooses someone to go next.

Follow this link for more icebreakers.

Appreciations

  • Ask two students to face one another, about an inch apart, and make eye contact for a full minute (timed). Then ask them to tell their partner three things they think are beautiful about the other student.
  • Have students race each other to the front of the room, and the “winner” has to say something kind about someone on their team.

 Trust-building activities

  • Ask students to lead one another around the room while one partner is blindfolded, trusting one another to keep them safe.
Lessons and activities

For your allies group

SELF-AWARENESS ACTIVITIES

Are you ready to be an ally?

Ask the group:

  • Who has ever seen someone being bullied?
  • If you saw someone being bullied, how might you respond?
  • Have you ever used the word “gay” in a derogatory manner or heard others use it in a negative way? Do you think this could be considered bullying?

Read the following to the group:
Everyone knows that we all need to do our part to put an end to bullying, but it’s not always as easy to know how and when to get involved. Here are some ideas to help guide your actions and efforts.

Keep the following three goals in mind every time you consider getting involved:

  • Be sure that your intention is to always attempt to de-escalate the situation. Don’t ever try to engage in behavior that could also be considered bullying.
  • Always support the target.
  • Keep yourself and others safe from harm. To keep yourself safe when defending a target:
    • Never put yourself in danger. If it is a case of physical bullying, get an adult.
    • Make sure everyone keeps their dignity. If the bully is ridiculing the target, don’t ever agree with him or her.
    • Don’t bully back. Just keep the target safe.
  • DOING NOTHING IS NOT AN OPTION!

Have the class brainstorm things to say in a bullying situation, such as:

  • Verbal bullying (derogatory comments or verbal harassment).
  • Social bullying (exclusion from friend groups or social situations).

Show these two videos (30 seconds each):

What Bugs Me and How I Bug Others

Use activity sheets to describe “What Bugs Me!” and “How I Bug Others!.” Participants discuss what they discover.

GETTING TO KNOW EACH OTHER

Download and facilitate the following activities:

BUILDING COMMUNICATION SKILLS

Hula Circle
Materials: 2 hula hoops
Instructions: Have students stand in a circle and holds hands. Place a hula hoop between two students and have the group pass it around the circle without breaking hands. After hoop makes it around the circle, add another hoop going counter clockwise.
Notes: You can add to the difficulty by blindfolding everybody.

Traveling Karabiner
Materials: A kite line or a piece of thin rope over 20’ long and a karabiner
Instructions: Ask group members to stand in a circle. Hand the end of the rope to a group member to hold on to. Walk the rope across the circle to another member. Have that member hold on to the section of rope that comes to them (about 3 feet from the start of the rope). Continue zigzagging the rope across the circle to group members until each member is holding the rope and a spider web is created. Place the karabiner on the rope at its start. Tell the group the rules:

  • The karabiner is to make it from the beginning of the rope to the last person.
  • The karabiner must not touch any other rope except the section it is on or anyone’s hands while traveling.
  • The ropes must not touch one another either.

The group can repeat it in reverse once the karabiner reaches the last person. You can also add another karabiner going the opposite direction, only allowing somebody to touch it when it has to be unclipped and passed over the other karabiner.

Mat Flip
Materials: A small blanket, sheet, gym mat, parachute, etc.
Instructions: Begin with the mat folded and all group members standing on it. Ask members to flip the mat without touching the floor. Other challenges:

  • Have 5 members move the mat across the floor without touching the floor or getting off the mat.
  • Double the size to 10 members, add another mat, and have them move it across the floor without touching the floor or getting off of the mat.

Minefield
Materials: Blindfolds, various toys, and colored pieces of paper cut into small squares – “mines.”
Instructions: Spread the toys randomly in a large square (15’ by 40’). Divide groups into pairs. Before blindfolding each pair, have them pick out a toy that is in some way a representation of them. They must get this toy and cross the minefield. The members who are not blindfolded stand on the opposite end of the square and give directions to the blindfolded partner. Set up a penalty for stepping on mines, a 5 second delay, for example. Have each pair trade positions.

Knotted Rope
Materials: A long section of rope (about 10’).
Instructions: Tie several knots in the rope. Ask the group to stand in a circle. Drop the rope inside of the circle and have members pick it up with their right hand only. Tell them their hand is now glued to the rope. They must untie the knots without letting go of the rope.
Notes: Add blindfolds to increase difficulty. You can also do a round where nobody is allowed to talk.

Making Squares
Materials: 6 squares cut into geometrical pieces, mixed up, and put into several envelopes – patterns are included in this packet.
Instructions: Give each member an envelope with pieces of squares in it. It may work better to separate group into 2 smaller groups. Tell members the rules, print them out for each group, or write them on a board.

  • There is only one right way to make the 4 squares.
  • All squares will be exactly the same size.
  • There is no talking.
  • You may give pieces to other members, but you may not take pieces that have not been offered to you.
  • Do not throw your pieces into the middle of the group.

Give members time to put the squares together. Have a copy of the original patterns to show groups who cannot complete the squares.

Blind Architect
Materials: Legos, Lincoln Logs, Giant Legos, Tinker Toys, or any other building block with parts in different shapes.
Instructions: Divide groups into pairs and have them sit back to back (no peeking). Each group gets two sets of building toys with the same pieces in each set. Have one member build a structure and then describe it to the other member who has not seen it. Have the members take turns building and describing.

Cup Stack
Materials: 6 cups, a rubber band with 4 or 6 strings tied to it at equal distances.
Instructions: Divide group into smaller groups with 4 or 6 members – depending on the number of strings tied to the rubber band. Lay the cups upside down on the table. Instruct each member to pick up one string. The group must use the rubber band tool to stack the cups in a pyramid.
Notes: Add blindfolds to increase the difficulty. You can also do a round where nobody is allowed to talk.

Copycat
Materials: Paper, markers, and copies of simple line drawings – several are included in this packet.
Instructions: Pair up members and have them sit back to back. Give one partner a picture and the other partner a piece of blank paper and markers. The members with the pictures describe them to their partners in as much detail as possible so that the other person can reproduce it without looking.

TEACHING ABOUT STRESS

Download this guide that includes a variety of activities to increase understanding about stress management.

CULTURAL DIVERSITY

Worst Case Scenario

Cultural Competence Self-Assessment

The Global Village

Diversity Necklaces

Diversity Pledge

Teaching 7 Aspects of Identity

LEARNING ABOUT PRIVILEGE

This Teacher Taught His Class A Powerful Lesson About Privilege

LEARNING ABOUT GENDER AND SEXUAL DIVERSITIES (GSD)

Invite members of community groups that deal with gender and sexual diversity to visit the club meetings.

Local organizations to reach out to: OASOS, One Colorado, PFLAG, Out Boulder

Create a panel of adults or students who act as a resource for kids who have questions and want to hear stories from GSD community members, allies or high school students who are GSD.

Use statistics from the Colorado School Safety Resource Center to delineate the higher rates of bullying, depression, and high risk behavior for GSD students.

The Genderbread Person (or other gender binary activity)

COMBATTING BULLYING

10 Ways to Respond to Bullying

Combating the Use of ‘That’s So Gay’

BUILDING UPSTANDER SKILLS

What is an Upstander?

Act out/role play bullying scenarios with students. Allow Allies to discuss the scene and develop ways to intervene, both as single individuals and with a buddy. Discuss which felt better, intervening with a buddy or alone. Have the group constructively offer different solutions about how to successfully intervene, narrowing down the best tactics and then practicing those.

QUESTION AND JOURNAL PROMPTS

Download this list of low, medium, and high risk questions to prompt discussion and writing exercises.

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