This activity is very simple, but it really emphasises that each of us is special in our own ways.
Before the lesson starts, write the names of each child in your class down the side of a piece of lined paper (with one name on each line). You might also like to write your own name and the names of any classroom helpers that you have. Then, copy this page so that there are enough copies for one per child (and one for you and the classroom helpers).
During the lesson, before the main activity begins, you might like to brainstorm as a class a list of positive words which we can use to describe people (e.g. kind, friendly, clever, good at sport, funny).
Next, give each child a copy of the list and ask them to look at the name of the child (e.g. Paul) at the top of the list. They should then think about how Paul is special (referring back to the brainstormed words earlier if necessary) and write their answer in the box next to Paul’s name.
This should be repeated for each child in the class, and if possible, they should try to keep their answers secret. The teacher and any classroom helpers can also complete a sheet if they like (in fact, the children seem to enjoy it more if they know that the adults are doing the same work!).
When they have completed the sheets, they can be handed back to the teacher (without showing anybody else).
The results of this survey can be presented in a number of ways:
- The teacher can create a record sheet for each child, showing all of the comments that were written about him / her. Although this is a very time-consuming job for the teacher, the children will be able to keep their sheets as a permanent record showing why they are special. When these sheets are made, they can be handed back to the children discretely or shared among the whole class.
- The teacher could read through the comments that were written about the children.
- The children might want to feedback on the comments that were made about them. Did they agree with the comments? Were they surprised by anything?
Gillian Robson has contributed this variation to the above activity:
Another way of doing this activity would be for each child to write their name at the top of a piece of paper, and then pass it on. Each child then has to write a compliment for the person whose name is on the top of the paper. They start at the bottom and then fold it upwards so the next person can’t see it. That way, each child has their own sheet, and there is less work for the teacher in collating information.
Jeanettebryce31 says, “I’ve used this idea where a child’s name is at the top, and everyone has to make a positive statement. I make the final comment then the children ask for a positive comment from home which is also included in the completed piece. Once I have typed them and they are printed out as a scroll, the children get to take them home, and their parent/guardian makes a comment about their child’s “I Am Special” scroll. It is a great keepsake and encourages home/school partnerships. I photocopy them to display them in the class. EVERYBODY reads them as they pass by our class – even the staff!”