Pardon the 80s-tastic graphic, but Heart to Heart really is one of my favorite community-building activities for my class! It can be used for almost any age group and takes no more than twenty minutes. It works particularly well during a meeting time when students can communicate directly with each other, using kind and complimentary words.
I recommend setting a time in your schedule to do this once a week. I usually end with this activity every Friday. We think it's a beautiful way to start the weekend.
Each student and teacher quickly chooses a name from the box. Ideally they do not get to pick a specific person, but that is up to you. You could also pass them out with a "you get what you get and you don't get upset" approach.
Then we go around the circle and have each student/teacher read the name on their card and say one friendly thing about that person.
In my class we stress that the friendly thing should be something specific. Instead of saying, “I love Jesse,” for instance, we encourage students to express what they love about Jesse - "Jesse helps friends clean up their art materials" - or what they love doing with Jesse - "I love building blocks with Jesse".
For older kids who are less enthusiastic about, or less comfortable with, hugging, we pass a pulse instead of a hug. Everyone holds hands in a silent circle. One person starts by gently and briefly squeezing the hand (creating a "pulse") of the person next to them. That person then "passes the pulse" by gently and briefly squeezing the hand of the person next to them... and so forth until the pulse has been passed all the way around the circle. It's not a speed or strength race! Just a quiet moment that acknowledges we are all linked to each other as a community.
Side note: passing the pulse can be done with more energy as a silent focusing exercise in other contexts - try it with more than one pulse going around at the same time, or pulses going in different directions around the circle.
Try this activity with your kids and/or Contact Us to Bring Bitty City Players To Your School for a community building workshop!