On completion of this activity, children will be able:

  • To engage well with other people who have a variety of different points of view
  • To seek out discussions with people whose ideas and values are different from their own
  • To listen carefully to differing opinions
  • To share their own ideas and resources with others
  • To show appreciation of and consideration for other group members
  • To understand their friends better by imagining how things look from their perspective
  • To describe feelings identified by other people
  • To express sympathy for other people’s misfortunes

Source of the activity

Contributed by Kari Kivinen (Free-to-speak-safe-to-learn)

Competences targeted by the activity

  • Tolerance of ambiguity
  • Skills of listening and observing
  • Co-operation skills
  • Empathy



  • A role game story (or any other relevant text)
  • A constructive dialogue method adapted from the Finnish Timeout project, which is a new method for generating constructive discussions. Constructive discussion tools and conversation cards from the Timeout project for use by the facilitator12
  • A facilitator who takes care of the constructiveness of the discussion (teacher, school psychologist, social worker, or educator)

Step-by-step instructions

  • The session takes 60-75 minutes. The groups should have a maximum of 25 participants. A group of 12-15 children is ideal.
  • The facilitator organises a calm and safe place for the discussion. The chairs should be in a circle, so that everybody can see each other. It is also possible to do the exercise online (for special instructions, see the Timeout project website).
  • The facilitator begins by explaining the rules of constructive discussion. Pupils should:
    • LISTEN to others and not interrupt the speaker.
    • RELATE their comments to what others have said.
    • TELL about their own experiences.
    • RESPECT others and the confidentiality of the discussion.
  • The facilitator reads out the first part of the role game story. Then the floor is given to all the children. The facilitator points out that everybody has an opportunity to express themselves, and the facilitator encourages everybody to express their own ideas and experiences.
  • After the first part, the facilitator reads the second part of the story, and opens the discussion again, and so on.
  • At any time, the facilitator can request the children have smaller group discussion to find common views (pair discussions, small group discussions etc.) which will then be presented to others.
  • At the end of the session, the facilitator wraps up the discussion and asks everyone to write down on a post-it note the most important things they remember about the discussion. The facilitator shares the anonymous answers with the rest of the group.

Debriefing and Evaluation

  • It is important that in the end of the session the facilitator asks questions about the dialogue process. The following questions may be asked:
    • How did the children feel about the dialogue?
    • Was it easy to express their views?
    • Was the discussion constructive?
    • Did their understanding of the topic increase?
    • Should there be similar types of discussions about other sensitive topics?
    • Which ones?

An example of role game story

12 https://www.timeoutdialogue.fi/whats-timeout-about/

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