Spatial Requirements: Regular classroom setup; little or no space required
Activity Type: Group
Grades: 3-12
Group Size: 1 or more
Time: 15 minutes

Introduction: In this activity, students will identify the things that they value most in life, then be forced to narrow down their list of “values” to one. This exercise will allow students to reflect on how the loss of valued people and things can create rock bottom moments. It will open discussion about how to be resilient in such situations.


  • 5 strips of paper per student
  • Writing utensil for each student


Distribute the strips of paper to students. Tell them that on each strip of paper, they are to write down one thing that’s really important to them in life. It can be anything – from their family and their faith to their computer games.

When students have something written on all of their papers, tell them that they are allowed to keep four of their “important things” but must choose one to get rid of. Have them rip up or crumple that piece of paper. If you wish, you can go around the classroom with a garbage can and have each student throw his/her strip of paper away.

After students have gotten rid of their first paper, challenge them to look at the remaining four and choose another one to get rid of. Have them dispose of this one in the same manner.

Continue to have students get rid of one strip of paper at a time until only one remains. As their choices narrow with each round, this activity will likely increase in difficulty for students.

Processing the Experience:

  • What was difficult about this activity?
  • What did you learn from this activity about the things you value most in life?
  • How could losing any of the items on your papers be a rock bottom experience?
  • When you lose something or someone important to you in life, how can you be resilient?
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