Building Community With Friendly Fridays
The students are putting in a lot of effort to complete their most recent communication to a fellow student. Because it is such a major secret, they have to move very swiftly. To put a positive spin on the conclusion of the week, each student will soon have the opportunity to share with a fellow student the one-of-a-kind work they have been working on. Why would a child spend so much time and effort on such a menial task? It’s the last Friday of the week!
WHAT IS FRIENDLY FRIDAY?
It’s not uncommon for Fridays to be challenging, particularly in the afternoon when everyone is getting excited for the weekend. Over the course of the years, I experimented with a few other concepts, like maintaining the same level of curriculum material and providing students with free time. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that we should have Friendly Fridays. After putting in a lot of effort throughout the week, my students in the fourth grade participate in an imaginative activity on Friendly Friday to help them maintain their concentration.
Students take turns selecting the name of a fellow student from the jar containing popsicle sticks. They come up with a friendly and original note or card to hand out to the student, but they keep the name a secret from each other. At the end of the allotted time, I am responsible for collecting the works, performing a cursory inspection of each one, and then ceremonially handing them out. In this uplifting and enjoyable activity, the students are inspired to produce high-quality work.
FRIENDLY FRIDAY IS MORE THAN PASSING NOTES
However, passing notes to a fellow student is actually just the beginning of Friendly Friday. There are many additional ways to create an engaging activity for Friendly Friday.
Hands of Friendship: For this piece of group artwork, each student offers their own one-of-a-kind hand design along with a handwritten sentiment that expresses their desire for friendship. After a quick introduction on the need of being polite and patient, I pair up the students in a way that they wouldn’t normally collaborate with one another. They take turns tracing each other’s hands and forearms on a piece of poster board, and then they come up with other methods to interact with people in a nice manner. (Here are a few of examples: “Say hello to someone in the corridor” and “Let a fellow student borrow a pencil.”)
After I have verified that each partnership has picked appropriate sentences, I will instruct each student to write one of the sentences on their sketched hand and then use crayons, markers, or coloured pencils to decorate the rest of their cutout. In the end, we put all of the students’ work together and glue it together to make a stunning image of how to get along with others.
Positive self-talk: There are moments when we need to remind ourselves to treat ourselves with kindness. In order to get started with this activity, we first have a conversation about how the things that we say to ourselves affect both our mood and our level of motivation. After that, we make an entertaining display consisting of speech bubbles that hold these uplifting phrases.
Students have the option of drawing their own cartoon heads or using previously printed photographs of themselves to affix to the speech bubbles. The takeaway is easy to understand but profound: Have a positive attitude toward oneself.
Who Needs a Pick-Me-Up Speech? A little bit of acting and sharing stories are going to be involved in this Friendly Friday exercise. Ask your students to use a set of prewritten scenarios as a springboard for giving a fictional character some words of encouragement to help push them to perform well or to keep trying.
Here are two scenarios that could serve as examples for you to present. First, despite the fact that Suzie has put a lot of effort into preparing for the science test, when she finally sits down at the beginning of class, she has the distinct impression that she has forgotten everything. Second, Gino is celebrating his birthday by going mini-golfing with his friends as part of the festivities. Every time he swings, he is unable to hit the ball, and he is becoming increasingly upset with himself.
You could lead a discussion about what Suzie’s classmates or Gino’s friends might say to give a quick pep talk; alternatively, you could ask a small group of students to create a skit illustrating a pep talk for the situation. One option is to ask Suzie’s classmates or Gino’s friends to give a quick pep talk. The important thing is to follow up with additional circumstances.
SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL BENEFITS
The idea of “Friendly Fridays” was developed as part of a subfield of arts integration known as “making the most of the natural and profound linkages that the arts have with social and emotional capabilities.”
Students are encouraged to engage with one another and develop their social awareness throughout practically every activity. During the activity in which students pass notes to one another, for instance, they are able to identify the areas in which others may have difficulty, such as paper folding or spelling. Despite this, each note is valued because it was prepared with care.
Students naturally form relationships with one another as they engage in artistic endeavours and experiences together. They observe how their individual works of art are combined to form a unified whole, engage with one another in constructive ways, which is one of my favourite things to see, and gain an appreciation for the skills and difficulties that each other possesses. Students are supporting one another with cutting, making kind comments on each other’s work, and smiling as they share resources.
When students engage in creative endeavours, they are unquestionably enhancing their capacity for both self-awareness and the regulation of their emotions. They go through the creative process with each project, planning out how much time and materials they will need, and making decisions that will influence the appearance of their creation as well as the meaning it will express to the audience. Students get the opportunity to work through obstacles with the direction of their teacher and the encouragement of their peers on Fridays, which are referred to as Friendly Fridays.
ADAPTING THIS IDEA TO YOUR SITUATION
The idea that we should have a Friendly Friday at our general elementary school works really well in my classroom, but there are a lot of other ways that this concept may be modified. Some teachers enjoy using some of these ideas as an extension of their morning meetings. Other teachers in middle and high school adapt this concept by doing something monthly. It has even happened that teachers have introduced the exercise in the classroom, assigned the product to be completed outside of the classroom, and then brought it back into the classroom to either distribute pleasant notes or reflect on the experience.