Created by Ilze Zīriņa, Ieva Grundšteine, Agnese Bordjukova, Justīne Buliņa, in Rauna, Latvia. 21. 01. 2020. no 1

Anotation: Me – to be aware of myself: feeling myself with eyes closed, trusting, roles of leader/follower, me in cooperation with another. Yes – do not judge! Not myself, not the people around me. Checking myself during the process – how many times I catch myself judging. Being brave enough to acknowledge some episodes. Together – cooperation to create by copying, support or contrast. Learning to listen when another speaks.

Intention:  trust building; awareness towards own body and senses; cooperation to create; observation of judgementality in self; Duration: 2 hours x 2 classes: the same class for two separate target groups from the same school. one – for young people and another for teachers; Target groups: 17 young people ( age of 9 – 16) and another for 2 teachers ( age around 40 – 50 y.o.);  Approach: non- formal kinesthetic learning trough movement and dance.   

Description of exercises.

  • Ice breaking:

Everybody takes piece of paper tape, writes own name on it and sticks to the own body through cloth. Everybody chooses spot where to attach the name individually. Then group starts walking around the space, different directions. By walking, people are asked to read out names of others. Next step is to connect spots of people’s bodies where the name is attached. 

Note. It turns out that  a game is as well as inclusive and fun way to connect with all the participants of the group. 

  • Check your senses!

Intention: to remind of all the senses what can be used in kinesthetic learning. The fastest way to get the idea is through direct experience.

Short questions to activate thoughts can be: 

– For vision: “ How do you know this t-shirt is black?” Answer: “I see it.”; 

– For listening: whisper in the ear something and then ask: “What did I say to you just now?”  After getting the answer ask again: “How do you know that?” Answer:  “I heard.”;

– For smelling:  eyes closed. let people smell something ( for example cinnamon or lemon”. Ask:  “How can you recognize what is it?” answer: “I can smell it.”

– For taste: eyes closed. Sip something on the tang of receivers ( sugar for example). “How can you say what was it? “ “I tasted it”

– For touch: eyes closed. Make palm to palm contact with the receivers. “How do you know what was it? ” “I could touch” palms.

– For kinesthetic: one person from the group eyes closed. Give some instructions to her/him, for example: “Rise your left arm vertically up, step backwards with your right leg, turn your head 90 degrees right, place your right hand on your waist.” Then ask to the group: “How could he/she know where is 90 degree or backwards or waist or…? “ Answer: “Mmmm….”

Note: this can be used how to explain what kinesthetic sense is. And what is kinesthetic learning.

  • Activation of group energy:  

Intention: to develop skills of awareness and reaction.

Each one wants to touch other person’s knees with palms. Equally each one doesn’t want his/ her own knees to be touched. Immediately participants are involved in activity, which is fun & dynamic.

  • Me – Inside and Outside:

Intention:  to develop self – awareness. 

Inside: Participants are being asked to choose an individual spot in the space. For a moment let them pay attention to the space around (outside view), then to bring this sight to inner space by closing eyes (inner view). 

Give them time to observe of what is happening. How do they perceive their own body with eyes closed? We suggested to focus on sensations of touching points between body and a surface. In the positions of standing, on all fours, sitting and lying on the floor. Suggestion was to notice how the body weight transforms in between those positions; when body is still, can they feel the breathing? To pay attention how do they perceive things without seeing them.

Note:  It was a bit challenging for some teenagers to endure slow tempo, but in our view it was absolutely necessary to bring their attention towards themselves to get the sensation of ‘Me’. Who am I? How do I perceive things?  Gradually we would like to build up the confidence of every participant to be true to own wishes and needs as well as to have different view and opinion.  This was the first step towards that.  

Outside. Then from still position participants were asked to start moving in the space. Eyes still closed. They start to bring their attention towards the space around without seeing it. Sensing, meeting people around. Starting to meet each other through touch. In a simple manner, passing by. Choosing how long they feel comfortable to stay with somebody. At some point they choose one person to stay with. When feeling ready they open their eyes. Now people meet somebody else with an eyes. Transition from ‘me’ to ‘other’. 

  • Together – cooperation.

Intention: challenge of eye contact. Empathize with the movement, another provides.

Just standing facing each other and having eye contact. No sound. Around 3 min.

Continue with mirroring exercise where one of the couple is a leader, other – follower. After a while roles need to be switched. Important notice is not to rush, so the other person can follow.

Note: For still eye contact: it is interesting to observe what people do when the eye contact is too much. Some were closing eyes, starting to laugh or talk, leaving the space but for some it was ok to stay. In mirroring it’s nice to see which details people notice and choose to follow. This exercise always can bring out different discoveries about different possibilities what following can mean. This is suitable task for different levels of experiences. 

  • Check 1 on trust level.

Intention: to shake the energy and challenge the ability of trust.

Whole group is divided in groups of 6-7 people. One person stands in one side of the room, other part of his/her group – opposite side of the room. The one from one side of the room runs with closed eyes towards rest of the group as fast as he/she can. Trying to keep the speed even all the way through. Group receives each member softly and safely.  

Next step is that the group lifts the runner off the floor.

Note: This exercise shows how to take the responsibility for others as well as to trust them.  

Reflection in a circle

Everyone has 3 sheets of paper. Individually every person writes down, where did he/she experienced key words of this class Me, Yes, Together. When it’s written down, everyone is asked to share.

Some answers: “I experienced cooperation in mirroring task”; “together when I had to run eyes closed”; “Me when I had to lie down and stand on all fours with eyes closed”; “when we lifted a person”; “Yes at the exercise of mirroring”; “Together when was looking in eyes of another”; “I felt more myself while trying to sit down with eyes closed”; “I felt Yes while running eyes closed”.

Note: We observed that some participants changed their own written version according to what others said. To create the safe space for diversity of opinions among participants is going to be gradual process. 

  • CO-CO-CO (copy, contribute, contrast)

Intention: to be aware of freedom of personal choice.To develop consciousness of the individual choice and diverse options how is it possible to participate in a group work being comfortable with yourself. 

Complex task in groups of 4-6 people. The facilitator guides the timing of the whole structure. There’re 4 stages in this exercise. Every stage has equal time frame, for example 4 min. The facilitator says when task need to be changed. 

First stage: one person is the leader. The Leader starts to do  a movement by his own choice, other people in the group copy it. When leader wants to switch the role, he/she delegates some other person in the group by giving simple sign with a hand. It is up to the leaders if all the participants of the group could try out to be leaders within the time frame of 4 min.  

Second stage:  the routine of leader who is suggesting the movement pattern is being kept. On this stage other group members supports leaders motion. It’s nice to give some options, what support could mean, but it’s equally fine to give space for exploration what support can be for them.  Participants use the same sign to switch the position of the leader. 

Third stage: structure stays the same. This time other participants of the group contrast the movement offered by leader. The same sign to switch roles. Give time for explorations. 

Fourth stage: structure the same but followers make individual choice of how to react to leaders’ movement: to copy, to contribute or to contrast.

Note:  this is an exercise, which can be explored more than one time. The structure offers space for participants to get familiar with options how they can work together with other people. The 4th stage can be played in the big group structure. The focus of the participants at the end of the class was weak, so we did not manage to try out the fourth stage. Also the performance of first three stages was not very clear. We plan to involve this structure also next time and see how does it develop.

  • Check 2 on trust level.

Intention: to end the class with a relaxing and fun exercise which challenges ability to trust.

The group is divided in half. One person standing higher than the rest of the group eyes closed and falling backwards vertically in hands of the group.

Note:  Not everyone did it. But some – wanted more than once.

Reflection at the end.

Short reflection on the whole class. Every participant need to finish one sentence of four options:  Today I enjoyed…., I didn’t understand …., Next time I would like to… ,  I did not quite like…  

Some examples of thoughts: “I liked the sense of togetherness”, “Next timewill wear pants”,“Today I enjoyed the support from the group during CO-CO-CO”; “Next time I would like to do more exercises like this”; “I did not understand the purpose of all this”; “Today I enjoyed to be with eyes closed”; “Today I enjoyed the fun game about catching the knees”. “Today I enjoyed the cooperation”.

Note: It was encouraging to hear that there wasn’t so much confusion, but enjoyment and hopes to have next time already. 

Note from facilitators about both classes: It was interesting to notice that teachers who usually ask students to be active, to try out new things, to go out of the comfort zone, to learn etc… were not brave enough to come more than two people. During the debriefing those two teachers shared that were not sure about participation as they did not know what to expect. But they also acknowledged that it was meaningful process for them both personally and professionally. We hope that every next time some more people will join the classes. Exercises for focusing on inner self were more enjoyable for teachers. They struggled with the running eyes closed though. For most of the kids running with eyes closed was a piece of cake. But it was difficult to stay still or have eye contact.

Video extract:

the Key to Connection is implemeneted in the framework of Erasmus+: Youth in Action  programme – key action 2, Strategic Partnership for exchange experiences.