Making Christmas Paper-Chains for Reflection, Communication and Learning

6 years ago by in Christmas, Coaching, Parenting Tagged: , , , ,

I love Christmas. As soon as my youngest daughter’s birthday celebrations are over in early December, I’m straight in there! Tree up, stockings hung, too many cakes in the cupboard and general cosiness and sparkliness take over! I’m not great at getting around to writing Christmas cards, but making paper chains happen early in the proceedings. Here are this year’s efforts: (Must admit it was more my effort than the daughters!)

I also begin to use paperchains as an activity in my coaching work with children this month. By adding some writing to the back of each strip of paper before forming the links, the chain becomes a stream of thoughts or ideas that are meaningful to the child. It has just occured to me that this would be nice to do with my 6 year old. Who scribes in unimportant. She could write or I could ‘catch her words’ and record them for her. When I do this with my daughter, I’ll help her create a chain called ‘Some of My Favourite Bits of 2011.’

All you need to do this are:

If time allows and you choose to make the strips with the child, Model the fact that they can be of mismatched width and length. Keep the ugly spectre of perfectionism out of the session or it will eat at the time and space you’ve created.

I have used the paperchains to:

  • Set goals for the coming year- each link contains one step or action towards the goal, and the last link has words or phrases to say what the achievement of the goal will bring.
  • An evaluation of what the child has learnt throughout our sessions if we’re coming to the end of our work. This is really interesting, as certain aspects of our work will stand out for me and others for them. This is always a great reminder that other people see the world differently than me.
  • One child will be having their first session with me in the week before the holidays, so in their session I could use a chain to record their goals for our work together
  • Alternatively for a first session, making the chains could be about building rapport and beginning our coaching relationship, and we might just share what we like about Christmas, and make a paperchain each. Beware with this one though- be mindful of the child’s home experience and how positive an experience Christmas is in their household. So for example, with one family I have worked with, the extra pressures of Christmas put a tense, violent home much more into the zone of the ever-threatening clouds of domestic violence. therefore I choose another conduit for our getting-started work.
  • For children that I’ve worked with for a while, for those with self-esteem problems, I’ll have been working on encouraging them to notice and accept positive things about themselves. The paper chain links become a lovely vehicle to record a ‘What I like about me’ list.

Some other ideas could be:

  • The most important thing(s) I learnt this year was/were
  • I showed I was a good friend this year by
  • This year, I was happy when

Any starters such as  ’3 things that . . .’ or ‘My favourite . . . ‘ will work. In the conversation you may also talk about less positive experiences. These can be included in a starter such as ‘ When bad/ tricky/ sad things happened I learnt that . . . ‘ Alternatively these could be used as a way to begin thinking about their hopes and goals for the year ahead, or how they’ll use what they’ve learnt. On these links, children could start with ideas similar to the following:

  • One goal I have for the coming year is
  • A skill I will improve this year is
  • I have learnt to . . .  when I feel angry.

Really, the ideas are as limitless as your imagination. The chain simply represents a recording mechanism for some aspect of life or your work. If something meaningful is created, it’s a lovely tangible way to hold onto it for awhile.

Some children have chosen to write on the inside of the link, allowing their ideas to remain  hidden, whilst others have formed the links with the writing displayed on the outside surface.

There is no correct method! Do it your way, or be lead by the child’s way. It’s a papechain afterall- it aint that heavy!

Enjoy, be creative and really connect and talk with your children or the children that you work with.


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One Response to “Making Christmas Paper-Chains for Reflection, Communication and Learning”

June Whittle
December 13, 2010

Tara – The Parent Geek – I love this paper chain idea. It has so many uses and positively brings this lovely christmas tradition BANG up to date and makes it more fun and very meaningful. Thanks for the idea. I love the look of your pages too and will be visiting often. Thanks!

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