The idea of encouraging children to participate in a mock battle may seem shocking;however, many children at this age are fascinated with fantasy tales which include warfare such as the Harry Potter books, the Chronicles of Narnia,and the Lord of the Rings series.Channeling that interest into a truly collaborative process is a great opportunity to engage children in creativity and learning.
The children (ages 7-12) were encouraged to brainstorm their ideas with peers and they were asked open-ended questions during the process of planning. How do TheBattles work? What are the rules? How can we make The Battles safe for everyone? We had many meetings facilitated by the teens (ages 13-15) to go over ideas, rules, and safety. During the process of planning, a true collaborative effort took place, and the children learned to communicate, to collaborate, and to compromise with their peers.
Although it took us three and a half months of planning, this very process helped the children to develop a sense of understanding the differences in each other and to learn to accept and respect the differences. Because of this process,everyone was respectful of the rules and of each other during The Battles.After implementing The Battles, a sense of accomplishment and self-confidence was evident in the faces of all the children. Violence was never the center of the children’s interest, while the children’s own sense of respect and safety were fostered at all times during the process.