I’m sharing my notes on a session about Friendship that I led last Nisan. It worked really well with my 6th graders and the subject matter will resonate with older girls as well. I’d love to hear how it goes for your group!
As girls arrive, ask them to walk around the room and choose a Yiddish proverb quote that they think is good wisdom about friendship:
- “A good friend to everyone is a good friend to no one.”
- “The bond of friends is greater than the bond of siblings.”
- “One old friend is better than two new ones.”
- “A friend isn’t someone who wipes your tears but someone who does not make you cry in the first place.”
Once everyone has arrived, say the blessing over the Rosh Hodesh candle.
Physical warm-up: Musical Chairs (10-15 minutes)
To introduce the idea of exclusion and inclusion in friendship, we start with an interactive group game.
Play a classic game of musical chairs in which chairs are placed in a circle, people march around to the music, and people must sit when the music stops. Pull a chair away after each round. Those who don’t have a seat are out. When the game is over, explain that you’d like to try a different version — this time the object is to make sure that no one is excluded. If everyone has a place to sit, the group wins. If anyone is without a place to sit, the group loses. When playing, eliminate a chair, but not a person, every time the music stops. Eventually, students will need to figure out creative ways to have everyone on one chair.
Debrief after the game:
- Raise your hand if you liked the first version of the game better? Why?
- The second? Why?
- What might this game have to do with the idea of friendship?
Barometer Activity (10 minutes)
Which of these statements do you agree with and which do you disagree with (name one side of the room agree and the other side of the room disagree)
- It is better to have two or three close friends instead of one best friend.
- You shouldn’t call people “my friends” unless they are really close friends.
- Everybody has times when close friends hurt their feelings.
- Most people have a best friend.
- Girls are told by society to be outwardly “nice” to other girls.
- Boys are told by society to be outwardly “cool” to other guys.
- Girls who do not gossip behind other girls’ backs find it more difficult making friends.
- Boys who do not publicly make fun of other boys find it more difficult making friends.
- Boys do not need to have a “crew” of friends to be popular.
- Girls become popular by leading a “clique.”
- Girls are supposed to have a best friend.
- Boys are supposed to have a best friend.
- Your friends from elementary school are the most important friends in life.
- Some people have too many friends and some people do not have enough friends.
- In your lifetime, you will probably have different best friends depending on where you live.
- A person should have one best friend throughout life.
- A person should have lots of friends, but should not designate a “best friend.”
- A person should have a “best” friend in every group that he or she participates in. (i.e., a best friend from camp, a best friend from school, etc.).
Before we debrief, would someone like to call out a prompt that is similar to the ones we just did? Call it out and we will move.
- Which prompt of the ones that I just read are you still thinking about?
- What prompt was hardest to answer?
Friendship Bracelets (20-30 mins)
Set up 7 bowls of beads, each bowl with a different color of bead. Tape a “Friendship Characteristic” card from the list below(choose from the list of characteristics) on or next to each of the bowls.
Facilitator’s note: Suggested pairing of colors and characteristics:
Betzelem Elohim- white; Emet- yellow; Tzni’ut- brown; Respect – gray; Lashon Hara – red; Confidentiality – pink; Boundaries – purple; Equality – blue; Affirmation – orange; Support – green; Wild Card – black.
Ask girls to walk around, read all of the cards and pick up to 5 beads that correspond with characteristics that they think are most important in the context of a friendship. After the girls have gathered their beads, ask them to share what colors they chose. Ask the girls who chose “Wild Card” beads to share the characteristic they came up with.
- What characteristic was most popular? Least popular? Why do you think so?
- Was it difficult to choose just 5 characteristics? Why/why not?
- What characteristics did you think were missing?
Pass out slips of paper. Ask each girl to write her name on a slip and place it in a bag. Then, have girls select a name from the bag. If they select their own name, have them put it back and choose another slip. Tell them that they will be making a bracelet for the person whose name they selected; they can choose to use the same colors that they chose for the previous discussion or use a wider selection of colors.
Facilitator’s note: You may choose to put your own name in the bag and make a bracelet along with the girls.
Betzelem Elohim (white)
Treat each other as if we are created in the image of God
Tell each other the truth
Maintain privacy regarding our relationship and never brag about our personal
moments to others
Are able to disagree and still respect each other’s choices
Avoid Lashon Hara (red)
Don’t gossip about others with each other; don’t make each other a subject of gossip
Keep each other’s secrets
Give each other time and space to pursue our own interests—
and then are proud of those very interests
Make each other feel like we are equals
Respond to each other and our ideas in ways that make usbelieve that we are each smart, capable, attractive