Diversity Activities and Ice-Breakers
A few activities to liven up your classroom instruction.
To diffuse negativity within a group when faced with challenging changes.
Using a flip chart, list the changes that the group is going through. Facilitate a discussion on:
How these changes are altering us as a group and as individuals?
What must we do to face the challenges?
What symbol or object could we use to represent the change we are going through and the commitments we strive for in this session?
Break the learners into small groups and ask them to select a symbol. After their discussions, reassemble them into a large group and have them select a symbol.
Repeat as needed throughout the training event.
Connect The Dots
To demonstrate that we often limit our perspective and choices.
Pass out a copy of DOTS. Ask the learners to complete the directions given at the bottom of the drawing.
Give them about 5 minutes to work on the puzzle. At the end of the time period, ask if anyone has found the solution:
Why is it that most of us do not think about going out of the boundaries?
We had to draw outside of the lines. This is what is required of us when we interact with others as every thinks differently (outside of our boundaries or "box").
Why is it so hard to understand others' point of views?
HINT: We often so busy thinking about our point of view, that we fail to see others' point of views. In addition, we tend to judge others ideas rather than try to understand them.
To create a supportive environment in which the learners can disclose their group memberships and to allow them to experience what it is like to be part of a minority group.
Have the learners form a large circle. As you call out different group names, the members are to go inside of each successive circle as they identify with the group.
Begin with "low-risk" groups (e.g. brown hair, large family, group of professions you are working with, such as a manager or production associate and then work up to groups that are typically discriminated against or under-represented (e.g. African American, Asian, female, gay, person with disabilities). Applause as each group forms in the middle
As each group of learners move towards the center of the circle, ask them what they think is the most positive thing about being a member of this group.
- How did it feel to be in the center of the circle? (Were you comfortable being stared at?)
- How did it feel to be on the outside of the circle?
- How did you feel about those with you in the center of the circle or about those in the outer circle?
- Did anyone not make any trip into the circle? How did that feel?
I Want You To Know
To share the experiences of various ethnical, gender, religious, and cultural groups and listen to one another.
Decide the ethnic categories to be used based on the demographics of the learners by asking the group which ethnic groups they feel comfortable using. If there is only one member of a certain group, ask if she or he feels comfortable or if she or he whishes to join another group.
Divide the group by ethnic categories and give each a sheet of flip chart paper.
Give them about ten minutes to write down their answers for the following questions:
- What we want you to know about our group.
- What we never want to see, hear or experience again as a member of this group.
- What we want our allies to do.
When all groups have completed their lists, reassemble them into one group and have them discuss their answers. When each group has explained their list, ask questions to clarify, not to challenge as the list represents realities for the group.
- What are your initial reactions to the activity?
- Which group did you learn the most about?
- Did any of the statements surprise you?
- Did you notice any similarities between the groups?
Getting To Know You
To learn about each other.
Divide the learners into small groups. Provide each group a large sheet of flip chart paper and markers. Have them to draw a large flower with a center and an equal number of petals to the number of learners in their group. Through discussion with their group members, have them find their similarities and differences. They should fill in the center of the flower with something they all have in common.
Each member should then fill in his or her petal with something about them that is unique — unlike any other member in their group. Students should be instructed that they cannot use physical attributes such as hair color, weight etc. This encourages them to have more meaningful discussions with their group members).
They should be encouraged to be creative in their ideas and drawings.
After the small group activity, have them share with the large group, about similarities and differences.
The Herman Grid
To discover that first impressions of people are not always true.
Pass out copies of the Herman Grid to each learner. Ask them to share their impressions and if they see gray dots at the white intersections. Are the Gray spots really there? This is an example of how we sometimes see things that are not really there.
- Have you ever had a wrong first impression of someone who had a different background or came from another culture?
- Has someone from a different back-ground or another culture ever had the wrong first impression of you?
Ask participants to share and discuss their examples in the large group or in small groups.
Who I Am
This activity allows the learners to share their cultural roots and to learn about each other.
- 12x24 paper for each learner
- a variety of magazines (ones with lots of photos)
- colored pencils and/or water colors
- Have the participants fold the paper in half (make a table tent).
- Write name in the center of the "table tent."
- Using drawings, magazine cut-outs, symbols, etc. tell us about yourself.
- NOTE: Have them leave some empty space as they will add more later.
- Include one or two things that most people do not know about you.
- After the learners have finished their table tents, have each one explain hers or his to the group.
After the activity, if the table tents get in the way, then post them on the wall.
Throughout the training event, ask the learners to add something new to their table tent. Note that as there is more trust built between the learners, more information will be revealed.
Have the learners complete the table tents as described above, except do NOT have them write their names on the paper. When they are finished, collect them, and then hang them on the wall. Have the learners read each table tent and then try to identify the person it belongs to.
- What led you to your decision?
- Whose description was most surprising?
This activity is based on the chapter, Diversity
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