I'm leading the Cub Scouts on their Building a Better World Adventure. We had a lot of information to cover about the US flag, so I decided to start off by making sure the boys knew what the flag looks like. I taped paper to the wall and set a chair in front of it, facing the audience. One by one, each boy sat in the chair and described to me how to draw the flag.
Sounds easy enough, right? Nope. I did my best to follow the directions each boy gave EXACTLY. If they weren't specific about something like vertical vs. horizontal vs. diagonal, I intentionally chose to interpret their instructions incorrectly.
Trevor was the first volunteer. Here's his finished flag:
His instructions? "Using a blue pen, draw a box in the upper left corner. No, wait. Draw a medium-sized box. Put 50 white stars in the box. Now put 14 red lines to the right of the blue box with white space between them."
Each boy was able to learn from the others' mistakes, but that didn't always help, as there were plenty of other mistakes to be made! Here, J has just realized from the rest of the group's hysterics that he didn't specify how long the red lines to the right of the blue square should be.
I should mention: I know these boys well and they know each other well. I knew that none of them would get their feelings hurt during this game, but I was also careful in who I selected to go first. That person is likely to do the worst and will be the first to experience the group laughing at something he couldn't see. I was relieved when Trevor volunteered to go first because I knew that he would find his mistakes just as funny as the audience did. All of the boys were great sports during their turn in the hot seat. We had a great time laughing together and everyone got the message - how important it is to be clear and specific when communicating directions.
L was the last to go. He nailed the colors, the rectangle size and placement, and the number and direction of the stripes. The stars weren't right and he forgot to clarify the placement of the stripes.
Here are all 7 Scouts, proudly showing off their flags. They're standing in the order they went. You can see the improvement in communication as they learned from each other's mistakes.
A closer look:
Tomorrow I'll show you the art project we did as part of the same meeting.