Seesaw activities



Participants can use the seesaw in many different ways.  The bowls on the “seats” comfortably hold about 25–40 stones.

You may use equal numbers of stones in each bowl, or not.  That is entirely up to you.

Yes, the stones are different sizes.  No, I did not pick certain words to be on certain stones (at least not on purpose, most of the time).

No, you may not sit on the seesaw.  It will most likely break, and that would be a very strong metaphor for all kinds of things.

If you think of another activity for the seesaw, let me know what it is.


NOTE – You will most likely not be able to find the exact words you want among all the stones (there are about 1200 of them now…) so just let yourself find the first 25 or so that are OK for now.  Of course, you can obsess about this and search for certain stones, but then perhaps you had better think a bit about why this is so important to you.  Either let it go, or download the word list and be obsessive in written form.  Feel free to tell me all about it by posting a comment.



1) Fill one bowl with positive and the other with negative attributes about yourself.  Are you having an easier time filling one bowl than the other?

2) Fill one bowl with words that describe how you think of yourself and the other with those that describe how others think of you.  When you think a word can go in both bowls, how do you decide which bowl to put it in?

3) Fill one bowl with words that you think are generally offensive and the other with words that are generally complimentary.  As you do this, think about why you are making these choices – is this your opinion or the opinion you have been told you should have?

4) Two people each fill a bowl with words that they think describe themselves and see whose words weigh more.  Is it better to weigh more or less?

5) Two people each fill a bowl with the same number of words that describe the other person.  Trade bowls and you each get to reject or trade 5 (or whatever other number you agree on) stones.  Then weigh them, one on each end of the seesaw, and see how many trades it takes for you to balance the seesaw.

6) Randomly pick some stones (maybe 20 of them) – try not to look too carefully at the words (maybe even turn them over to hide the words?) and start playing with them to make the seesaw balance (in the bowls and/or along the arms).  Once you get the seesaw balances, examine the words more carefully and see whether their placement “makes sense” to you. What are you reading into the placement? Can you accept that some of this is random, or do you feel the need to add/find meaning?  Why?

QUESTIONS to keep in mind for all exercises:

Is it better to weigh more or less?

What strategies can you use to make the seesaw balance (including removing/adding stones from the bowls, or moving stones along the arms of the seesaw – physics!).

How much do you care that the size/weight of the stones doesn’t match the relative importance you place on the words written on them?

Are you really picking accurate words or are you trying “win” by making one side weigh more/less than another?  Which factors going into these decisions are most important to you? Why?

A few days after you do this exercise (regardless of which activity you choose), make a note of any words that are still haunting you or choices that you think you should have made differently.  Why are these words still on your mind?


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