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Applicable activities for NVC.


These activities and their language are aimed at teaching children in grades 4-8 how to understand and practice NVC. They can be tweaked and altered if need be if you wish to teach to different grades. The core of these examples come from Nonviolent Communication Companion Workbook by Lucy Leu based off of Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication, A Language of Life. Though some examples are not fully from the book their basic ideas and concepts are from these books. Therefore all rights to these activities are given to Lucy Leu and Marshall Rosenberg from https://www.cnvc.org/



Four Components of NVC Exercise:

1.    Have each student write down a list of things that they felt that they needed but did not receive. This could be from as simple such as “I didn’t get the flavor of ice cream that I wanted” to more complex such as “My friend Henry wasn’t here today for our class project, so now I have to do all of the work while he stays at home”.

2.     After a few silent minutes pass have each student the write a response for one/two of those needs. For example if someone had “I didn’t get the flavor of ice cream I wanted” they could have the response be “Could I exchange it for strawberry instead”?

3.    Let the students volunteer to share one of their needs that were never met and the request they came up with for it. For each student that shares have the rest of the class ask questions about their needs and if need be help guide them to formulating an observation of the situation and what they are feeling.


Traversing the Four Components of NVC:


1.    Have each student write down one person who behaves in a way that they don’t like.

2.    Then after each student has written down someone have them write down one thing that they do that they don’t like.

a.    (This is the observation)

3.    From here have volunteers say what they wrote down. When they say their observations, if they have evaluations within them, try to help them recreate the observation so that it doesn’t have evaluations in it. Evaluation can take the form of:

a.    Blaming (She stole my seat on the bus. He punched me in the nose.)

                                      i.        An example of changing these into an observation would be: (Someone is sitting in the spot that I like to sit at on the bus. Paul was mad because I teased him.)

b.    Assumptions (Sahra likes to make fun of me. Joel thinks i’m dumb.)

                                      i.        An example of changing these into an observation would be: (Sarah called me “dumbo” because of my ears. Joel said “Kyle, you are dumb”.)

c.    Judging (He is mean. she isn’t a good friend.)

                                      i.        An example of changing these into an observation would be: (Alex steals my lunch money so that he can buy himself ice cream. When I tell Katie a secret she tells everyone about it.)

d.    Statements (He talks too much. They don’t follow the instructions.)

                                      i.        An example of changing these into an observation would be: (Whenever I want to talk about my day he interrupts me with his stories instead. When I ask them to stop playing on the playground they instead continue to play on the swings.)

4.    After a couple minutes of this, choose a few of the said observations and have student’s work down the line of the four main components of NVC

a.    From the observation, how does that make them feel? (Feeling)

b.    What needs) do they and the other person have? (Needs)

c.    How could they express their needs to the other person? (Requests)

                                      i.        (This request can then be set up as I feel _______ Because I need/want ________. Could you _________?) Taking the example from someone is sitting in the spot that I like to sit at on the bus would be something like:

1.    “I feel upset because I want to sit in that spot. Could you please move to another seat so that I can sit in that spot?



Taking Responsibility for our Feelings Exercise:

1.    Have students take a moment to think of a time when they felt a distinct feeling such as anger, sadness, or fear.

2.    Have each student then write the following about the distinct feeling they had:

a.    What situation they were in when the feeling occurred

b.    What the distinct feeling was that they had

c.    the stimulus to the feeling

d.    The cause of the feeling.

3.    After everyone completes that task ask them to write how they could have had responded for each of the four ways to receive negative messages

a.    Blaming ourselves

b.    Blaming others

c.    Seeing our own feelings and needs

d.    Seeing others feelings and needs



Empathy Role Playing Exercise:

1.    Set students up into groups of no more than 4. Let the students know that one of them will be the student that’s in need of empathy and the others in the group will be the students who will try to listen empathetically.

2.    The students begin to role-play a situation by letting the student who is in need of empathy explain a one - two sentences complaint or request. Some examples include:

     “My dog ran away from me over the weekend. I miss him so much.”

     “Sometimes I wish I could live on my own without any rules.”

     “Why did I get an F on my quiz? I should have had gotten a better grade!”

     “When I get angry I hit something that is near me. That isn’t okay is it?”

     “Be Quiet!”

     “Why should I believe you? You always lie to me.”

3.    The others in the group should then try to empathize with the student who read off the line in their group. The student(s) who are trying to empathize with their partner should have their responses generally sounding something like “Are you feeling _______ because _______”.

4.    The one in need of empathy continues to make up the dialogue until he or she is satisfied with having been fully heard.


**Remember: “Empathy before education.” Avoid problem-solving and giving advice until the speaker has received adequate empathy.**


Requesting/Demanding Exercise Worksheet:
Have students fill out this worksheet in class. After students are done go through each example and have students share with the class their thoughts on how they can compare and contrast from a request to a demand.




These sample activities for effective communication were made by Stephanie Knox. All rights to these activities belong to her. Below is a short description of how these activities help students learn more about listening empathetically, the second core component of NVC.


It is beneficial to practice communication skills to students at a young age. Doing so let students begin learning the first steps of how to listen empathetically to one another. It is even more essential for teachers who are teaching effective communication skills how to listen to their students and others empathetically. These activities are intended to help participants practice communication skills, and to demonstrate communication skills. Trying these activities with your students may start their understanding of the importance of listening to one another and show how to begin the process of listening with empathy. It is very important that peace educators develop effective, peaceful communication skills. So the more you practice with others and the more you observe with your students, the better!


Active listening with a partner:

1.    Pair off the participants so that they are with people they do not know.

2.    Have one student take five minutes to tell a story (perhaps about their childhood or something that has happened in their life) and then give another five minutes for the other students to tell a story. They must not take notes, but they can ask questions.

3.    Ask some of the students to tell the stories told by their partners back to the whole class. Ask the partners if the stories are accurate. Do the same with their partners, then ask if their stories are accurate.



This game is best played with a group of people. In this game, one person thinks of a phrase or story, and whispers it to the first person in the line. That person listens, then repeats to the next person in line, and so on until everyone has heard the story. Finally the person at the end of the line repeats the story to the group. Usually, the story has changed dramatically by the time it reaches the other end.


One-way/two-way communication activity

1.    Ask for four volunteers.

2.    Send two out of the room and show the picture of geometric shapes (for example, a rectangle with a circle inside) to the other two. Remind them not to show their picture to anybody. Ask for one of them to wait for the second part of the exercise. Invite one of the other volunteers back inside.

3.    Explain that they are going to draw what the other person tells them. They cannot ask any questions (this is ‘one-way communication’). The ‘instructor’ (the participant with the drawing) stands behind the flipchart (or with his/her back to the board). The ‘instructor’ describes the picture to the participant at the flip chart (the ‘artist’). The ‘artist’ draws the picture based on the instructions given. If you are using a flip chart, turn to a new page. If you are using a board, ensure that you can reproduce the drawing and then clean the board.

4.    Ask the second ‘instructor’ to come forward and bring in the second volunteer from outside. This time the instructor can watch what the artist is doing and make comments on it, and the artist should ask questions (two way communication).

5.    When the drawing is completed, compare the two drawings (redraw the fist drawing if necessary). Ask the volunteers how they felt when they were either instructing or drawing. Show the participants the original drawing. Ask the group which drawing is the most accurate. Discuss why this is so. Then discuss the following questions:

a.    What is positive about having only the instructor telling you what to draw?

b.    What is negative about having only the instructor telling you what to draw?

c.    What is positive about letting the artist ask questions about the drawling?

d.    What is negative about letting the artist ask questions about the drawling?

e.    What do you need to do when you are communicating to someone else ( just like the instructor in the activity)?

f.     Why do people  talk to one another as if we were the instructor telling the artist what to do without letting them ask questions?







Lucy Leu and Marshall Rosenberg: Nonviolent Communication Companion Workbook

Stephanie Knox work: http://twbonline.pbworks.com/w/page/34116915/Effective%20Communication%20Final