Second Grade Thumball discussion

In second grade recently, we used a Thumball to facilitate discussion about various issues while demonstrating patience, listening skills, and respect. What is a Thumball? It’s a ball covered with questions or topics that can generate conversation. When a student catches the ball, he or she answers the question closest to his or her right thumb. Thumballs can be purchased from various websites, but 4th grade teacher Mrs. Carroll created a Thumball better than any I have seen online! This one is ideal for young children and even has a few Westminster-specific questions written on it.

As the second graders tossed the ball around the circle and answered questions, they showed tremendous respect for others’ stories and secrets. Some of the questions on Mrs. Carroll’s ball are:

– Favorite thing about Westminster?
– Favorite season?
– What makes you unique?
– Favorite family tradition?
– If you could give your parents a gift, what would it be?
– Favorite book when you were younger?
– What scares you?
– Best gift you’ve ever received?
– Favorite breakfast food?

A question that generated a wonderful discussion in one class was, “What do you look for in a friend?” Second grade difficulties stem mostly from friendship troubles, especially on the playground, as students begin to really figure out who they are and who they want to be. After a talk about what we want in a friend, we went around the circle and shared what we don’t want in a friend. The students shared deeply and thoughtfully, often revealing pain. Their answers included the following statements:

– “I don’t want a friend who makes fun of my last name.”
– “I don’t want a friend who treats me like a two-year-old.”
– “I don’t want a friend who says girls shouldn’t play sports.”
– “I don’t want a friend who leaves me out.”
– “I don’t want a friend who says mean stuff about me to kids at other tables and then comes over and says nice stuff to me.”
– “I don’t want a friend who makes fun of the snack I eat every day.”

The honesty around the circle was very touching. As the students shared their answers, it was clear that some of them have been teased for their names, their snacks, their friend choices, their clothing, their after-school activities, and even their culture. We concluded the discussion with thoughts about how important it is to remember what others share so that we can work toward a larger world where children — and adults — treat each other respectfully as friends.



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