We do this activity early in the group program because its goals include learning about each other and developing group cohesion. The activity also promotes the idea that while we are all different and diverse, we share commonalities in our experiences, desires, challenges, and so on. I have used this activity with adults and it works just as well as with children. You will need wooden clothespins and a variety of arts supplies to decorate/paint the clothespins. Encourage your group participants to decorate a wooden clothespin to represent and symbolize themselves. They can colour the clothespins with pastels, glue objects to them, use glitter glue, and a variety of other arts supplies. When the group is completed this task, each member shares what their clothespin represents or means, and then the clothespins are clipped to a string that is hung somewhere in the group room. By hanging the clothespins together, we symbolize that although we are all diverse, we are all connected in the group. The following dialogue is from a group with 12-year old girls; it briefly illustrates how the activity can promote personal sharing and discussion about similarities:

Sally: I colored all the bottom pink because everyone says that’s the color of my soul.

Facilitator: Oh, interesting.

Kim: Mine’s blue.

Facilitator: So [to Sally] how does pink represent your soul?

Sally: ‘Cause apparently, you know how people say pink is a love colour?…Stuff like that. It’s because I’m really loveable (laughs).

Facilitator: You girls have talked a lot about feelings related to colours…

Kim: You know what blue meant to me…blue represents caring, and people say that I have a blue soul because I care about others. I care about me…

Steph: I drew music notes ‘cause of singing and instruments. And then I wrote dance, and drew a tree because I like nature.

Facilitator: Well that’s neat. We both have blue and trees, right? And you’ve got the music like Sally has. So we can start seeing some connections between us right?

 

Group building exercises - participants are represented by a clothespin

Group building exercises – participants are represented by a clothespin