Spatial Requirements: Regular classroom setup; little or no space required
Activity Type: Group
Group Size: 1 or more
Time: 10 minutes
Introduction: The combination of optical illusion and effective story will help students understand the importance of looking at every situation differently, reframing their thoughts, and Flipping The Switch.
- Horse and frog optical illusions
Put up the first optical illusion slide. Ask students, “What is this a picture of?” and allow them a few moments to respond. Most will say that this is a picture of a frog. Put up the second optical illusion slide, which is the same picture turned sideways. Ask students, “What is this a picture of?” and allow them a few moments to respond. Most will say that this is a picture of a horse. Then ask the class why they gave different answers when they were looking at the same picture. After brief discussion, read the following story.
Once a family decided to take a nice afternoon drive. While they were driving along a road enjoying the day, they saw a young man a little ways ahead of them, lying in the ditch off to the side of the road. They could barely see him because the grass was so tall. They could also see a bike lying next to him. As they drove a little closer, they could see he would rise up slightly each time a car passed by and throw an object in the direction of the car. As they got up next to him, they saw him wind up and throw a rock directly at their car. The father sped up as he passed, trying to get by without being hit by the rock. But the young man’s aim was good, and the rock hit the back window of their car. The window smashed into pieces and the children sitting in the back screamed and ducked down as low as they could. The family drove down the road a couple of miles when the father spotted a police car. They signaled to the police officer to stop. They all pulled over to the side of the road and the family told the police officer what had happened to them and what they had seen. They told him that back on the road a few miles there was a young man who was hiding in the grass and throwing rocks at cars as they passed by. They asked the officer to investigate the situation and arrest the young man for breaking their car window and putting their family in danger.
Stop reading and ask students to raise their hand if they think the officer should arrest the young man. Continue reading the rest of the story. Tell the students that now they will hear the young man’s side of the story.
The young man had a job delivering newspapers. He was riding along his route delivering papers as usual, when a large truck slid on some gravel at the turn of the road. In an attempt to avoid getting hit by the truck, the young man swerved. He lost control of his bike and hit a large rock at the side of the road. Upon impact, the young man flew off his bike and flipped into the air. He landed awkwardly at the bottom of the ditch, and one of his legs was badly broken. He was knocked unconscious for a while. When he awoke, his leg hurt so badly he could barely move. For hours he tried to pull himself up the side of the ditch. For nearly an hour he tried to get the attention of passing cars by waving in the air, but he was so well hidden in the weeds that no one stopped. His leg was bleeding and he was becoming very weak. At last, in desperation, he tried to throw rocks at passing cars, hoping to get someone to see him and stop. Unfortunately, most of the cars were going so fast that no one noticed. When a car finally came by that was driving slower, the boy gave it his best shot. He was relieved when the rock hit the car but felt disappointed when the car sped off.
Processing the Experience:
- How does this new information affect what you were thinking about the young man who was lying in the weeds?
- How is this like “flipping the switch”?
- In life, do we sometimes forget to look at a problem from multiple perspectives?
- How can seeing a problem differently help us be resilient?