Express Guide

Quick, Low-Prep Activities

Celebrating Global Dignity Day in Canada

October 11, 2011

On October 20th classrooms and community organizations all around the world will be celebrating Global Dignity Day. As Canada’s Country Chair and life long Ontario educator, we — along with Global Dignity Day co-founders HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, professor and philosopher Pekka Himanen from Finland, and American social entrepreneur and author John Hope Bryant—are writing to ask for your support and participation as a partner in this global movement.

QUICK, LOW-PREP ACTIVITIES! (See this page for more comprehensive involvement!)

None of these activities should take more than 10 minutes to prepare!  Before beginning an activity, please take 5 minutes to briefly explain to your students what Global Dignity Day is and why you have chosen to celebrate it.  This will give them context and help them understand why they are participating.  To help you do this please view the Prezi presentation found at the link below in full-screen (in particular, the embedded Youtube videos can be clicked and will give you a good feel for the Global Dignity vision).  You can find the full-screen option under the “More” button found at the bottom right hand corner of the presentation.

The Web of Interconnection Game

Prep time:  None

Activity length:  About 10-15 min (depending on how long you want to discuss the message)

Materials:  A nice roll of string

Benefit:  It’s fun and provides a nice visual


  1. Create an open space in the classroom so that students can move around
  2. Have the students stand in a circle around the teacher
  3. The teacher goes around to each student in a random fashion, looping the string around their wrists and tying a knot (so that each student is fixed onto the string)
  4. Continue to do so until all students have a piece of the string tied around their wrists and what results is a complicated web of string & students
  5. The goal of the game is for the students to undo the mess by working together.  Done correctly, they should be able to stand in a line or in a circle without being tangled with each other.
  6. Have a discussion on the idea of interconnectedness and how this game symbolizes that every person is a part of a larger whole: we cannot do something without affecting another person and vise versa; we are affected by the actions of others.  In this way they see that to solve any issue, they must work together and consider the impact of their actions on everyone else
  7. The teacher then cuts the string IN BETWEEN students only, leaving the loop & knot around their wrists intact so that it acts as a bracelet that they can keep as a reminder of the activity and the lesson that goes with it (this is why it’s a good idea to buy nice string if possible)

Guess Who Game


Prep time:  None

Activity length:  Depends on how many stories you want to have

Materials:  Slip of paper and a writing utensil for each student

Benefit:  Great way for your students to learn about each other and receive recognition for the positive things they do


  1. Have each student write down on the slip of paper you gave them something they’ve done at some point in their life that had a positive impact on the life of another person
  2. Collect all the slips and put them in a hat
  3. Every time a slip is drawn, have it read out loud to the class.  The goal is for the class to guess who the slip belongs to.  Once the student is correctly identified, give the student the opportunity to elaborate and share what positive impact their action had and how it made them feel afterwards.  The length of the activity depends on how many slips you decide to draw

A Change for the Better

Prep time:  None

Activity Length:  Depends on how many stories you want to have

Materials:  Slip of paper and writing utensil for each student

Benefit:  If done correctly, can be a great learning experience for the students


  1. This activity is similar to the previous activity “Guess Who Game” except this time it is important for the stories to be kept anonymous and for the atmosphere (created by you) to be accepting and respectful – emphasize that rude, joking or inappropriate comments will not be tolerated
  2. Have each student write down on the slip of paper you gave them something they’ve done at some point in their life that they are NOT proud of.  You must tell them that these slips will be read to the class but that they will be kept anonymous (even so, tell them not to choose something that is too personal or something that would be considered a criminal offence)
  3. Every time a slip is drawn, have it read out loud to the class.  Again, a safe discussion environment is essential so please encourage this.  Use the slip as a point for discussion by asking the class “What could have been done differently so that the result is positive and the dignity of the people involved are strengthened?”  The length of the activity depends on how many slips you decide to draw


Lessons from Food


Prep time:  Maybe 10 min – Just need to run to the grocery store to pick up an appropriate snack

Activity Length:  5-10 min

Materials:  A healthy snack that takes into consideration the allergies that your students might have

Benefit:  Students examine the impact of their food choices + eating is always great


  1. Check ahead of time if any of your students have food allergies
  2. Buy a healthy snack and give a piece to each student (a good choice might be a peanut and gluten free granola?)
  3. Tell them to place it in their palm for examination before consumption.  First start by telling them to take a close look at it, smell it, feel it’s texture and take a tiny bite to experience its myriad of flavours
  4. Go deeper and prompt them to think about all the work and resources that went into producing this piece of food (ex.  “Imagine where the fruits came from and how the farmers had to care for them, where the oats and grains came from and the people who worked hard to harvest them, the energy that went into processing and baking the ingredients into a bar, the amount of gas and oil that was required to transport the product to grocery stores across the country, the resources used to create the packaging etc.).  The lesson is this:  in every object that they take a moment to think about, they will see interconnection between people all over the world.  There are foods that have negative impacts on people and the environment and there are foods that have very minimal impact.  With a little research and care, they can decrease their impact on the world (ex.  Buying local foods means less oil used in transportation which helps both the environment as well as people because reducing the demand for oil makes it less likely that wars will be fought over it).

Running Dictation by Karin Radhe, Hammond High School

Prep time:  1 min – You just need to print out a copy of the passage for each group

Activity length:  About 10-15 min

Materials:  Paper and writing utensils for each group

Benefit:  Contributes to literacy skills

Place several copies of the passage (provided on the next page) on the walls around the room.  Students are put in groups.  They are assigned the copy on the wall that is farthest away from their group.  One student in the group acts as the “runner” and one takes on the role of “writer.”  When given the signal, the “runners” run over to their copy of the passage, memorize as much of it as they can, and run back to their group to dictate that part of the passage.  Group members assist the writer with spelling, etc.  They keep running back and forth until they have completed the passage correctly (it is up to you to interpret what “correctly” means – do you want them to recreate the passage word-for-word or will the main idea be sufficient?  The more strict the rules the more difficult the game becomes).  During the activity, the teacher occasionally calls out “change!”  At that time, other group members take on the roles of “runner” and “writer” so that everyone has the chance to actively participate.  It is up to you whether you want to make this a competition where the first group to reproduce the passage correctly is rewarded but emphasize to the class that it is more important to process and understand the message than it is to be the first team done.  The sample passage is provided on the next page but feel free to create your own or tweak the suggested one.

Running Dictation Passage


We have created many issues for ourselves; wars over resources, accelerated climate change, poverty and world hunger to name a few.


These may seem like separate issues on the surface but some would argue that deep down, the root cause of all these problems is selfishness.  When people think that their dignity is more important than the dignity of others it makes it easier to take rather than to share and to hurt rather than to care.


To solve this issue we need to realize that we are all equal and interconnected.  Similar to how limbs and organs are all a part of a whole person, each of us are all a part of a whole humanity.  Imagine if your right hand thought it was independent from your leg and for some reason decided to cause harm to it.  Would the leg be the only part of the body that suffers?  Absolutely not!  The whole person would suffer from not being able to walk!  Seen through this perspective, actions such as bullying do not make sense.  If you hurt someone else, they will not be the only person to suffer.  In a very complex way, all of humanity suffers (and this includes the bully!).


So next time you have a decision to make, remember that the actions you choose to take will create a ripple effect that impacts the world.  It is up to you whether that impact is positive or negative.

Broadcasting Dignity Stories on Your PA System


Prep time:  10 min – You just need to meet with your Principal and have them agree to it

Activity length:  About 10-15 min

Materials:  Paper and writing utensils for each student

Benefit:  The positive message of Global Dignity is spread over a long period of time


  1. Discuss with your Principal and figure out a convenient time for this 10-15 min activity
  2. Use the PA system to broadcast the instructions to each class (or perhaps distribute a copy of the instructions to each teacher if not all classes are able to participate):
  • A person does not have a choice in whether they are born into a poor family or born into a rich family.  But regardless of what environment this person is born into, they have the right to a dignified life.  This means having access to healthcare, education, income and security so that they can fulfill their potential.
  • Although none of us could choose what circumstances we were born into, what we can choose are our actions.  We are not independent of one another, we are all interconnected!  Our actions affect the lives of others and the actions of other people affect our lives.  We can use this fact for positivity or negativity: it is our choice!
  • Write a short story about an experience that you know of (you could be involved or it could be a story about people you know) where the actions of one person had a POSITIVE effect on the life of another person; in other words, they contributed POSITIVELY to the other person’s dignity.  You can make the story anonymous or you can feel free to put your name on the page – just make sure to protect the identity of people that are mentioned in your story in case they don’t want to be identified
  • These stories will be occasionally broadcasted on our PA system to acknowledge the positivity that people are spreading.  However, if for some reason you don’t want your story to be read, you have the option to not submit your story to the teacher or to write “please don’t read” at the top of your page
  1. Finish by providing an example story to the students so that it is clear what you are looking for.  Feel free to tell your own short story or to use one of the stories provided in the Appendix of the Global Dignity Day Complete Facilitator’s Guide
  2. Have the teachers collect all the stories and submit them to you
  3. Each day or each week or each month, whatever works for your school, broadcast one of the student’s stories on the PA system at the beginning of the day as a way of reminding the students about Global Dignity and their ability to make someone happier

How Do You Feel Today?


Prep time:  None

Activity Length:  Depends on the size of your class (roughly 30 sec per student)

Materials:  Print out sheet with emoticons (provided on next page)

Benefit:  Students feel heard and their feelings are acknowledged


This activity is so simple yet can be quite effective at helping you build a connection with your students.  Sometimes, students go for long periods of time without being genuinely asked “how are you feeling today?” by an adult in their life.  This simple act can help make them feel cared for.  Pass around the sheet with the emoticons and ask the student who is holding the sheet to point to the face that best represents how they are feeling today.  Encourage them to elaborate if it’s not too personal and don’t push too much if they seem reluctant to share.  The important thing is that you truly listen to what they’re saying and validate their feelings.  Giving a comment or piece of advice at the end of each student story may be helpful.  If they ask “How does this connect to Global Dignity?” go back to the idea of interconnection; caring for how other people are doing and trying to make them feel better is an act of positivity that will spread to everyone.

Artistic Expression of Dignity


Prep time:  None

Activity length:  Probably a minimum of 30 min to be effective

Materials:  Standard art supplies

Benefit:  A fun way to have the students think about the concept of Global Dignity on a deeper level


This activity is pretty straight forward.  Give the students some time to be creative by asking them to express what dignity means to them and why it’s important by writing, drawing, painting etc.

Embracing Technology to Spread a Positive Message


Prep time:  None

Activity length:  5 min

Materials:  Access to the internet

Benefit:  Super quick way to effectively raise awareness about the importance of Global Dignity


  1. You might consider doing this at the very end of the period to avoid distraction to your lesson
  2. If possible, have the students log on to their Twitter or Facebook account from their phones or a computer in the room
  3. Dignity is sometimes a difficult thing to define; it means something slightly different to each person.  Ask them to tweet or update their status by completing the sentence “#dignity is…”  If people all around the world contribute to this on-going campaign, what we end up with is a global and collaborative definition of this concept from countless perspectives


  • #dignity is when you have access to the basic needs that allow you to live a decent life
  • #dignity is strengthened when you give more often than you take
  • #dignity is when you speak up for a peer that is being bullied

Or they can be creative and rearrange the format of the sentence, as long as “#dignity is” appears somewhere:

  • Another person’s #dignity is strengthened when you help them without the expectation of praise or reward
  • Many of the issues we face, we created ourselves when we forgot that our #dignity is connected to the dignity of others