May 08, 2018 Postcard/Object Strength Activity: Showing Appreciations and Celebrating Peers
I pulled this post from the blog archives as it is one of my favorite activities to use this time of year with both adult and youth groups who are wrapping up their programs or the school year or participating in staff retreats. This activity is perfect for educators and group facilitators looking to help their groups build community, positive norms, celebrate strengths and successes, and end a program on a high note. This technique is also a lead up to one of my favorite end of the year activities the “Postcard to Your Future Self.”
Postcard/Objects Strengths Activity
Postcards, image cards and metaphoric objects are powerful ways to spark introductory conversations and initiate meaningful reflection on learning experiences. This Postcard Strength activity uses this technique as a morale and rapport building experience that strengthens the whole team. I use this activity with smaller groups who know each other well, like colleagues within a work team who have been working together on a project or students who have been in a classroom or advisory group for a whole school year.
- Invite participants to pick an image or object that represents a personal strength, a positive quality they contribute to the team or a unique perspective they bring to their work as a student, or practice as a professional.
- Ask participants to take turns holding up their postcard/object while their colleagues or peers guess why they chose it. This is a wonderful opportunity for people to hear encouraging feedback and insights from others.
- Next, ask participants receiving the appreciations to share how close the group came to guessing why they chose the card. This gives the opportunity to express thoughts about their personal strengths and contributions – another essential skill to practice.
- When using postcards, consider inviting participants to write themselves a note on the postcard about these strengths as a reminder and take it with them as a memento. Or, I have them self-address the postcard and send their reminder note to them at a future date. See Postcard to Your Future Self post for more ideas around using postcard reminders.
Note: You could use objects or any kind of image card for this strengths celebration activity. I prefer the postcards, as I like to have participants write the note to themselves on the back which I send to them later.
This celebration of personal strengths and contributions from colleagues or fellow students is something that doesn’t happen enough in the workplace or school. In my experience with this activity, people regularly share thoughtful appreciations and insights that go beyond the reasons the individual chose the image or object.
The strengths guessing idea was first suggested to me by a participant in the midst of a postcard partner sharing activity at the Chewonki foundation a few years ago. Since that spontaneous experiment, I have used this approach with numerous groups with very positive results.