Leadership Inspirations Activities

Tree of Life

Learn more about the people around you with this creative activity!

Duration

45+ minutes

Team Stage

Forming, Norming, Performing

Type Of Activity

Bonding Activity

Materials

Paper, markers or pens

 

SUMMARY

 
This exercise gives participants the chance to share a look into their past, present and future, through the image of a tree.

 

SET UP

  • You may want to prepare a poster with all of the essential elements of the Tree of Life for your group to refer to when creating their own.
  • Safety: This activity is higher risk and asks participants to be vulnerable and trusting with each other (and the facilitators). Assure participants to only share what they feel comfortable sharing with others and remind the groups to be respectful of each other while sharing.
  • Facilitator Note: If you work with minors and are a mandated reporter, be aware that these types of activities can bring up issues such as abuse or suspected abuse, suicide or self harm, neglect, etc.

INSTRUCTIONS

  • The Tree of Life consists of seven parts:
    •  The Roots – Your history and ancestry: where do you come from?
    • The Soil – Your anchors: what do you ground yourself in? Where do you draw strength from? What feeds your spirit?
    • The Trunk – Your skills and values: what abilities and principles make you who you are?
    • The Branches – Your creations and partnerships: what are you manifesting in the world? What organizations or groups are you a part of?
    • The Leaves or Fruit – Your accomplishments: what do you feel proud of?
    • The Blossoms/Buds – Your hopes, dreams, and wishes: what do you hope for? What is the legacy that you want to leave behind?
    • The Dead Branches – Things you are trying to be free of and/or unlearn: what are you trying to let go of in your life?
  • After framing the activity, give participants the materials they need to each draw their own tree. It usually takes about 20-30 minutes.
    • Facilitator Note: It is important to remind people that they are all artists, and that everyone’s tree will be unique and different. It is not a competition, but rather a chance to share one’s story and self.
  •  People are free to use symbols, words, whatever they like. And if they don’t feel drawn to the metaphor of a tree, they can make whatever image they like that responds to the questions above.
  • After people have completed their drawings, invite them to share with each other in pairs or small groups (no more than four to a group). Preferably, each person will share with at least two other people.
  • You can encourage people to ask each other questions during their presentations of their trees.

VARIATIONS

  • This activity can be done without the “tree metaphor”. Instead, try doing an activity like Masks or Draw Your Life with a more structured prompt, like the 7 parts listed above.
  • If working with the group for multiple days, you can spread this activity out instead of doing it all at once.

SAMPLE DEBRIEFING QUESTIONS

What?
  • What was the goal of this activity?
  • Did your group do well? What could have improved?
  • How did your group make decisions? Was it effective or ineffective?
  • How did your group manage conflict that arose?
So What?

Group Dynamics

  • What are the traits that make someone successful on this team? What are the traits that make someone unsuccessful on this team?
  • What motivates our group?
  • How does our group dynamic affect the way we get work done?

Inclusion & Involvement

  • What does it mean to be inclusive or exclusive?
  • What did we do as a group that was inclusive? That was exclusive/not inclusive?
  • Why is inclusion and involvement important for our group?
Now What?
  • What does this activity tell you about the strengths of your group? The areas for improvement?
  • What’s one commitment each person can make?
  • What are three lessons the group has learned that they can continue to work on?
  • How can we implement these lessons in our school/organization?
  • What can you do differently moving forward?