Encouragement Games

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Encouragement games help students learn about their positive qualities and ultimately, build positive self-esteem. Encouragement games can be incorporated into classroom curriculum or done as a part of a group or team meeting. When students have fun together, they learn about themselves and develop self-confidence. A side benefit is a strong sense of group cohesiveness.

1 Encouragement Journal

High school and college students can build positive self-images by learning more about how they view themselves. Provide students with notebooks and ask them to create a list of positive qualities, talents and accomplishments. Remind them to write only positive things on the list. After 10 minutes, assign each student a partner. Ask them to share five qualities from the list. Each partner should provide positive feedback and encouragement. Ask students to continue working on their encouragement journal for the next month. At the end of the month, revisit the journal and have partners comment on the positive qualities added to the journal.

2 Goal Collage

The ability to imagine the future and plan for success is motivating and encouraging to students. Help students dream about what they will accomplish through a goal collage. Ask them to consider their career and educational goals and construct it with a series of pictures. Provide magazines, paper and glue for the project. Tell them to leave their name off the goal collage. After every student has finished his work of art, put the collages into a basket. Have each student pick a collage to introduce to the group. Ask the group to guess the owner of the collage. Finally, have the collage owner comment on what he plans to accomplish and how it felt to make a picture of his goals. Middle-school students can use this activity as a career exploration activity. High school and college students can take it a step further by creating a specific plan to accomplish their goals.

3 Guess Who?

People often wonder how they are perceived. This wonderment can lead to a sense of insecurity or an inflated ego. To help students feel encouraged about their role, play a game of “guess who.” Assign partners, but do this secretly, by writing names on paper and distributing them to the group. Ask students to write a positive description of their assigned person. Take turns having them read their description to the group and have everyone guess who best fits the description. Students will feel happy and surprised at the nice things said about them.

4 Compliment Circle

Taking time to share positive thoughts and compliments is a great way to encourage students of any age. Divide your group in half and have students form two circles. One group is the inside circle and the other is the outside circle. They should align so that everyone has a partner. Give them one minute to share positive thoughts about each other, 30 seconds for each partner. Since younger children have a shorter attention span, have them use one word to describe their partners. Older students can engage in conversation and provide more feedback. In either case, ask the outside circle to rotate one person to the right and repeat the process. Do this until they reach their original partners. Ask the group how they felt about hearing positive thoughts from others.

Dr. Kelly Meier earned her doctorate from Minnesota State Mankato in Educational Leadership. She is the author and co-author of 12 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education. Dr. Meier is is a regular contributor for The Equity Network and has worked in education for more than 30 years. She has numerous publications with Talico, Inc., DynaTEAM Consulting, Inc. and Kinect Education Group.