Wrapping up 2018: Intentional Reflection Activities for Kids

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Kate Manickas
Senior Program Manager, Capacity Building 

 

Wait, it’s already the end of the year? When did that happen?!

With the new year racing towards you, it can feel impossible to take stock of all that happened in 2018. But reflection doesn’t have to be a major production, and is something you can do all year-long. Equipped with open-ended questions and a few activities, reflection can be a fun and meaningful way to look back—and an important skill for kids to practice.

The camp-inspired activities are made just for that—for kids to put reflection into action! You’ll notice a sampling of questions throughout. These are entirely interchangeable, so adapt as you’d like.  

 

1. Start a Snowball Fight

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No snow, you say? No problem. This indoor snowball fight is great for the whole family (or any group) to share their feelings on the year. All you’ll need is some paper and writing utensils, and the flurries will be swirling in no time.

Each person needs three to four blank pieces of paper and a writing utensil—bonus points for multi-colored snowballs! No need for the paper to be full sheets. Ripping 8 ½ x 11 sheets in halves or quarters will work just as well.

Next, each member of the group writes an answer to the questions below on their paper—one answer per sheet.  

  • What is something you tried this year for the first time (food, activity, etc.)? How did it go?
  • What is your absolute favorite memory this year? What made it so special?
  • What is one challenge you overcame this year? How did you tackle the challenge?
  • Who is someone that made a positive impact on you this year? What did they do that was special?

Then crumple up your answers to create snowballs. Once everyone is finished, let the snowballs fly! Once all are tuckered out, and the snowballs rest on the ground, have each person pick up several and take turns reading them aloud. Like all camp activities, it’s “challenge by choice” if participants want to remain anonymous when their snowballs are read. As you share out, be on the lookout for themes that emerge in the answers (they might surprise you!).  

 

2. Play Concentration 

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Who doesn’t love a good game of concentration?  Kids can show off their sharp memory skills while sharing their memories of the year! While traditionally played with picture cards, this version is played by creating quick, custom game cards. You can use index cards and hand-write the questions, or you can create and print cards using a template for labels if you have access to computer and printer.

You’ll need one question on each card and two copies of each question to make your concentration game cards. Here some sample questions to include:

  • What is something you're proud of? What did you accomplish this year?
  • What did this year teach you?
  • What three words would you use to sum up this year?
  • What surprised you this year?
  • Who is a new friend you made this year?
  • What is one adventure you had this year?
  • What is one way you took care of yourself this year?
  • What are you most grateful for this year?
  • Who is your favorite character this year? Why? (Think TV, books, movies, and so on!)

Once all cards are made, you can play! Mix up and turn all cards over so that they face downward (question-side down). Create a grid with the face-down cards. The first player flips over two cards. If the question on the two cards is the same, the player has found a match! The player can remove the cards from the grid and answer the question. The player then gets another turn. This repeats until they can no longer find a match. 

If the question on the two cards doesn’t match, the player turns the cards face-down in the same place, and the next player gets a turn. The object of the game is to locate pairs of matching questions. The person with the most matches at the end of the game is the concentration champ. Meanwhile, each player gets to reflect on their year!

 

3. Pen A Letter to Yourself

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When I was 22 years old, I received an unexpected letter in the mail. I had written to myself 10 years prior! My amazing teacher had kept the letters my classmates and I wrote to ourselves in the sixth grade and mailed them to us after all that time. The letter, of course, was hilarious, and although not much content matched my life at the time, it was incredible to see how much had changed since then.

Thankfully, you don’t need 10 years to make this activity impactful! Even six months, or one year, can bring about significant changes in dreams, attitudes, abilities, and goals. Have the kids or whole family carve out 20 minutes to sit down and write a letter to themselves about the past year—what went well, what was challenging, and what they hope for next. Go through the whole process of addressing and sealing the envelopes. Then tuck the letters away—no peeking! Here are possible questions to address in your letters:  

  • What were some of the highs and lows of the year? What jumps out at you when you think back?
  • If you could go back in time to the beginning of 2018, what advice would you give yourself?
  • In what ways have you improved this year? What areas do you still hope to improve in the future?
  • What is one goal you have for 2019? How will you go about achieving that goal?

When December rolls around next year, deliver the letters. The only trick is to remember where you’ve stashed them! Doubtlessly, portions of the letter will surprise the author, and prompt new  thoughts about the coming year and all the potential it holds. 

 

Although the final couple months of the year are inevitably busy, devoting a little time to reflection is an important way for you, your family, and loved ones to remind each other of all you’ve accomplished and how you've grown. Reflection doesn’t need to be a structured group discussion to be effective—these kid-friendly activities will still get you thinking, which is what reflection all about!

 


 

Kate is a dog-lover, and while she’s biased in her love of her own pup, she’s truly a sucker for them all!  Her love of moving and being outdoors is nearly equalwhether it’s making her way down a trail, stretching on a yoga mat, or jogging through her neighborhood. That’s probably why she relishes any time she gets to spend at camp enjoying the outdoors and exploring new activities.

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