A Wall of Trust

Students are hard at work, building their Wall of Trust (also known as their reputation) every day. Here's an activity using cardboard bricks that can visually show students how important that construction work is. Don’t have these cute little bricks?  No worries; you can use the Kleenex boxes that you get from each student at the beginning of the year!
     Before giving each student a brick, ask something like this: "Why do people like you?" or "What makes you a good friend?" or "In what ways are you trustworthy?" Their answers will vary from "I'm nice" to "I keep my promises," from "You can count on me," to "I tell the truth." Insist on an inward quality as opposed to “I’m pretty” or “I have a lot of cool stuff.” As they give you their answer, hand them a brick to represent that quality and ask them to lay the bricks on a table, alternating them so they're not stacked directly on top of on another, to make a pyramid-style wall.
     When the wall is built, talk with students about this wall representing their solid friendships. Who wouldn’t want to be friends with someone whose Wall of Trust is this sturdy and strong? Then, give students a dilemma like the following: What happens to your wall if you promise to pick me up for our best friend's birthday party and you forget and don't come? Let them answer before you strategically knock a block out of the middle of the wall. Doing so slowly will ensure that the wall stays up but just one block is missing. Talk with students about how "when you mess up, you gotta fess up," and ask them what you'd have to do to fix that hole in their Wall of Trust.
     Suppose with them that this time you need a ride to skate night. Do you trust that same friend who forgot you last time to give you a ride? If so, what happens if/when he forgets again? This time, knock down the top half of the wall (but leave the base!) to show what happens to our Wall of Trust when we've dropped the ball one too many times. Talk with students about how difficult it is to trust someone whose Wall is broken down in this way and what we'd have to do if that were our Wall to repair it and make it strong again.
     Adapt this demonstration to show responsibility rather than reputation by letting each brick represent a job, task, or chore that a child has to do. What happens when someone doesn’t feed the dog or put it in at night? It’s the perfect visual for how stakeholders are affected by our choices.


  1. this is a great activity. A take off of this is using the JENGA wood block game to show friendship and support. Have students say putdowns or that a friend might do or say, and after each comment, a student takes a block out. Keep doing this until the tower starts to wobble or fall. Then have the students build it back up by making positive comments. They will realize that their actions can really affect a friendship and the support friends offer.

  2. Thanks, Jo. I saw a blog post last week where the teacher taped discussion starters under each Jenga block for another spin on that game. Let me know if you want the prompts and I can send them your way.

  3. Good Morning!

    I'd like those prompts too (please)... if you wouldn't mind e-mailing them to me... Hmmmm. How do we do that?

    When you mess up... fess up. I love that! I am using that today! Really. In two hours.

    We also point to a poster in ourroom (Argus, I think) (especially if we catch them before they do something not-okay)... Self-control is knowing you can and deciding you won't...

    Ahhh. 'Tweens!

    Happy day!


  4. I like this. I need to start collecting those tissue boxes. Here's a spin-off activity I use. It is about taking down Walls and building Bridges. Walls keep us isolated. Walls keep us from getting along and feeling a sense of belonging with others. Bridges help us get from here to there. Bridges connect us. Bridges make the journey easier.

    We talk about the Bricks in a Wall which we create: selfishness, teasing, rumors, name calling, bossiness, etc...

    Then we discuss Planks in a Bridge: considerate, courage, polite, share, helpful, and so on.

    The idea is to plant seeds of awareness and be mindful of your behavior and ways of being. Take down the bricks in the wall and make a bridge to connect with others.

  5. Thanks for a GREAT idea, Marty - that's SUCH a cool visual for the kids . . . and grown ups, too!!!


I really enjoy hearing from my readers; thanks for sharing your reflections with us!