From I to Us

Type of tool: 
60-90 min
Topics addressed: 
Personal development

The exercise relies on written communication with artistic expression.
The students present themselves using the outline of their own palm. Then, in groups of four, they make a common drawing that includes features from all the group members.


The aim of the tool for learning is facilitating the youngsters/learners to get to know each other in an artistic way.


This is a variation of the "palm" exercise that I experienced during the 4.3 "Bee EdUcated" training course in which I took part in September 2012 in Brno, the Czech Republic. The exercise, in its original form, involves drawing the outline of the youngsters' palm on a sheet of paper. On each finger, the youngsters write the following:
-their main hobby;
-something they are really good at;
-the thing that is most important in life for them;
-one plan for the future;
-something they would like to change about themselves.
Then, they present themselves to the rest of the participants/the rest of the class.
I have improved this exercise by dividing the student in groups of four or five. They present the palm map to the small groups they are divided in. Afterwards, they are required to integrate all the presentations graphically, as they wish to and depending on the group's skills. Finally, each group presents their end result and the process through which they have reached that precise drawing.

Step by step process: 

Step 1: drawing the palm outline
Trainer’s activity: The trainer divides the class/group in groups of four.
Student’s activity:
Each student/youngsters takes a piece of A4 paper on which he/she draws the outline of his/her palm. Starting from the thumb, he/she writes the following inside the outline of each finger:
-their main hobby;
-something they are really good at;
-the thing that is most important in life for them;
-one plan for the future;
-something they would like to change about themselves.
The thing they would like to change about themselves should be written on the smallest finger, so as to be psychologically comfortable.

Step 2: integrating the four “palms” in a shared drawing
Trainer’s activity: The trainer tells the students/youngsters are to present the palm outlines to one another within the small groups. The trainer instructs the students/youngsters to listen to their colleagues very carefully as, later on, they will have to agree on a common graphic representation that suits all the group members.
The trainer insists that the students needn’t be primarily concerned with the artistic quality of the drawing but with conveying the message through drawing.
The trainer tells the students/youngsters that, at the end of the activity, they will have to present the following aspects:
-how they came up with the idea for the drawing;
-how the logo represents the gist of the concept behind the drawing;
-how each member is represented in the final product.
The trainer presents all the materials that the students/youngsters can use in order to create a representative drawing.
Student’s activity:
The students/youngsters present the palm outlines to one another within the small groups. They ask one another question and agree on a common representation. Then, they proceed to put their ideas into practice.
Trainer’s activity: The trainer checks if the students/youngsters have understood the task or if they are all involved in completing the task. If necessary, the trainer can help the students/youngsters with ideas, if they are in a deadlock.
Student’s activity:
The students/youngsters perform the common drawing.They also agree on a logo that synthesizes the concept of the common drawing. Then, they present to the rest of the class/group the aspects required before they started drawing.

Materials and resources: 

For the first part of the exercise, the students need one piece of A4 paper each. On this piece of paper, they will draw the outline of their palm and make the specific notes inside each of the five fingers. They also need a writing utensil to write with.
For the second part of the exercise, the students will need a larger piece of paper / cardboard, at least in the A3 format.
In order to make the drawing more attractive, the students should use crayons, markers and other non-conventional materials, such as thread, glue, coloured napkins etc.
In order to boost the participants’ imagination, there can be music in the background. The music can vary from slow to fast, in order to appeal to a wide range of tastes.


The physical outcome is a piece of drawing for each group. The other types of outcomes are far more important, though: -improved communication within the group. The students/youngsters must present their own palm outline and negotiate a shared graphical representation for the four different palm outlines. -improved active listening skills. The students/youngsters must listen very carefully to one another in order to identify the shared graphical representation that suits the four different palm outlines. -improved integration in the group. Since each member must be represented in the final product, the group is bound to cooperate. Moreover, even the members who tend to be isolated in the class/group will feel important and worthwhile.


The main advantages of the exercise are:
-it fosters communication within the group;
-it improves the students’ active listening skills;
-it leads to improved group cohesion;
-students enjoy taking part in the activity;
-it stimulates the students’ creative thinking;
-it promotes peer learning within (while drawing) and outside the group (during the presenations of the other groups);
-it is a lot of fun;
-it does not require expensive materials.
I have implemented this activity with three classes of students so far and all the students have enjoyed it so far. I have not identified any disadvantages so far.
The exercise can bring a divided group a little bit close together.
It can also be the starting point for a successful team-building activity. I implemented it with large groups(over 25 participants) and it is extremely entertaining when the groups are larger as, during the presentation phase, the participants cn see a wide range of artistic work having been put intopractice.
I have used this activity with studenst who were (and some of them still are) colleagues in the same class. I believe that the success of this activity is due to the fact that the students had a common background and history.
I can only guess that with newly-formed groups thare may be some difficulties because the group members know nothing about one another. But I am also curious to see if this theory is correct or not!

Notes for further use: 

I implemented this tool last academic school year with the students to whom I taught the elective course "Non-formal education - Life-skills education". The drawings resulted from group work were extremely diverse in terms of artistry and content. The most artistic drawings featured a seascape/ a volcano or a sun with its rays. The students have really enjoyed the process of creating these drawings.
I would like to deliver a "Working with tool" workshop.I want to implement the tool with the participants during the Tool fair in Budapest.
The tool can be developped in many ways. The participants could choose another form of artistic
expression, such as: a song with lyrics, a poem, a play, a sketch, a mime show etc to illustrate them as individuals in a group. One participant in the workshop that I presented mentioned that he would like to see how a mime can be used instead of a drawing in order to illustrate the group as a whole.The participants metioned that they can implement this tool in their current work as it is really usable.

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