Spatial Requirements: Regular classroom setup; little or no space requiredActivity Type: Object lessonGrades: 3-12Group Size: 1 or moreTime: 10 minutes

Introduction: Manipulation, like disrespect and discrimination, is something that can be channeled in a positive direction when a person has Street Resilience. This activity will help students identify moments in life where manipulation occurs and brainstorm “Street Resilient” responses. 


  • 1 pen
  • 2-3 small pieces of paper
  • Whiteboard and marker


Frame the activity as if you are a mind reader. You are going to read not only a person’s mind, but go deep into their subconscious. Students will laugh and not believe you.

Pick a volunteer to come forward. Do a few funny mind-reading antics, then write a number from 1-8 on a small piece of paper. Say nothing about it, just write it down quickly and give it to another person to hold. REMEMBER this number! You are going to lead your volunteer to this number and make it seem as though you are reading his/her mind.

Now, look again at the person as if in deep concentration, then go to the board and start writing numbers as follows:

1      2      3      4     

5      6      7       8

Now draw a square around the numbers and a line between the rows of numbers, as follows:

Ask the volunteer, “How many rectangles do you see?”

Often the answer will be “2,” but have the student look again to notice the larger surrounding rectangle. This exercise is simply to create a diversion that will enhance the illusion in a moment.

You are now going to manipulate the numbers to make it appear as though you’re reading the volunteer’s mind. You may want to practice this trick in advance so you can complete it quickly and seamlessly.

Point to the top and bottom rectangles, and ask the volunteer if they want to pick the top rectangle or the bottom rectangle. Regardless of which one they pick, cross out the one that doesn’t contain the number you wrote down.

Point to the remaining four numbers and ask, “Of these four numbers, which two do you pick?” If they pick the number you wrote down and another number, cross out the other two numbers. If they pick two numbers that don’t include the one you wrote down, cross those out.

The remaining numbers should be the one you wrote down and one other number. Ask, “Of these two numbers, which one do you pick?” Regardless of which one they pick, circle the correct number and act amazed.

Have the person who is holding your small piece of paper open it up to reveal the number you have just circled.

Processing the Experience:

  • Was I really reading your mind in this activity?
  • How did I manipulate this activity to make it work to my advantage?
  • Do people ever disrespect or manipulate us in life?
  • Have you ever seen someone manipulate someone else (for example, on social media)? What did you do? How can you prevent that from happening in the future?
  • Have you ever felt manipulated, taken advantage of, or discriminated against? Would anyone like to share their experience? How did you respond? How did it make you feel?
  • If we have Street Resilience, how might we respond when we fall prey to manipulation? 
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