Learning Activities

The Connections Game


Art Form
Poetry, Drawing/Painting
Science, Art, Language Arts
Grade levels
You will need
a diverse collection of interesting small objects from the natural world (Objects might include pieces of bark, lichen, twigs, a milkweed pod, leaves, stones, antlers, shells, feathers, thorns, crystals, fruits, grasses, a dried mushroom, small driftwood, and the like.; Writing and Visual Art materials
One to two hours


The first principle of ecology is simple: Everything on Earth is connected to every other thing. Another way of saying this: The entire Biosphere is interconnected and interdependent.

In this discovery activity students explore their personal intuited connections to a variety of objects from nature.

The resulting art should be personal celebrations of the fact of being one leaf on this ancient and enormous tree of life, of being connected to the whole of life.

Review: Everything on Earth is connected to everything else on Earth

• through the water cycle and nutrient cycles

• through the atmosphere and oceans

• through the simple glorious fact of being alive

• and the fact of death and the body returning to the Earth to be re-cycled.

• through shared origins and descent

• through our dependence on solar energy, and our sharing it

Everything on Earth depends on each other for our lives—and we have no choices about that.

The Activity

Note to Teacher: With some groups, this activity needs to be done twice. The first time, use objects familiar from the students' childhood, that is, human-made objects intead of natural objects. The writing will come from personal memories and emotion stirred by them. This success will enable the next round.

Rules: Explain to students that this is a silent writing activity. Explain that you will time the activity, and they will pass objects around a circle one at a time, when you say "Pass." Stress that this a kind of game to explore the connections ideas you just reviewed. also tell students that they will not connect equally with all the objects, and that's OK. Emphasize that this is not a test; it is a quest.

Organize Students in small groups.
Give each group a set of small objects from the natural world.

Players arrange themselves in a circle with pencil, paper, and one object in front of them.

• Players are told that their task is to quickly explore each object they get with their senses, especially eyes and touch. They are told to look for any similarities between themselves and the object in hand. First they search for connection, then they quickly write (see below).
• Players pass the objects clockwise around the circle one by one.
• After a minute with each object, Teacher calls "Pass."

They then each write a quick answer to the question:

• “What is the connection between myself and this object?” or,
• “How is this object like me?” or
• "What do this object and I share?" or
• “Is this object made of a material that is also part of me?”

Repeat passing until each has the original object. Additional objects may be introduced into the circle at the teacher’s discretion.

Ask players to volunteer to share one of their their results, and discuss.

The connections discovered may be factual, emotional, or both.

Some objects will not ‘connect’ for some players; that’s fine—there are plenty of other objects.

Turn the Game Into Art

Players then write a poem or personal essay, or draw/paint to express personal responses to a connection they discovered during the game.

• For example, students might draw or paint the objects, then write about how they feel or see the connection(s).

• Suggest the option of writing from the first person, as the object: "I am a sea shell… " and get to the connections from that direction.

• The art may turn out to be a very different sort of self portrait.

This activity would be good to pair with Journey of My Atoms.

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