Gift Giving is a strategy that uses improvisational play to practice pantomime skills and ways to positively accept “an offer” from a partner. The game asks students to be present in the room, focus on the task, use their imagination, and react to their partner. This strategy encourages reflection and dialogue about respect, spontaneity, and cooperation.
Divide students into pairs and ask one person to be Player A and one to be Player B. Player A names and pantomimes a non-stop series of imaginary gifts that they give to player B. Player B’s job is to receive each of these gifts with as much enthusiasm as possible, no matter how strange or unexpected, and explain how they will be helpful. For example, Player A might shape their arms into a large circle and pantomime lifting a large, heavy basket as she says, I’m so thrilled to be able to give you this extra, extra large box of old banana peels. Player B would accept the gift–using the same physical gestures as A–saying, Thank you, thank you! This extra, extra large box of old banana peels is exactly what I need to put in my garden to make my plants grow. After a set time, switch roles and repeat. Encourage students to use descriptive language and pantomime skills to show the size, weight, and shape of the object being given.
- Did you prefer giving or receiving gifts in this activity? Why?
- What gift do you remember best? Why? (Can follow up with questions about verbal and physical details used in the activity as context clues)
- What might this activity have to do with the way we work together OR how we write creative stories?
- Givers, remember to use specific, rich vocabulary (adjectives and adverbs) to describe the gifts you give. Give the totally unexpected!
- There’s no right or wrong gift to give.
- Receivers, respond enthusiastically to each and every gift!
- Try having the gifts named by the receiver rather than by the giver. The giver pantomimes holding a gift – using their body to show shape, size, and weight – and the receiver then identifies the gift based on the context clues provided by the giver’s performance. Thank you for this very stinky sock.
- Try having player B only react non-verbally.
- Reading/Writing or Social Studies: Have students explore themes from a story or book or moment in history through the types of gifts that are given. For example, if exploring Lois Lowry’s The Giver, students might consider what memories they might share with each other.
- Reading/Writing: Have students use as many descriptive words or adjectives as possible. For example, instead of saying: It’s a ball, a participant might be encouraged to use a variety of adjectives and instead say something like: It’s a humongous, squishy, blue ball that smells like the ocean. Or they might give the same gift multiple times but use adjectives to change the description which will impact the receiver’s response.