6.5  Lesson Four – Making our own rules

Time required: 70 minutes
Materials required: chart paper, marker pens

Teacher instructions:

The purpose of this lesson is to provide the students with a decision-making experience in which they determine the rules or guidelines for living in a given community.

The class is divided into groups composed of three to four students. Each group is provided with chart paper and marker pens. The teacher then describes or outlines the following scenario: 40 teenagers are stranded on a deserted island far from civilization. Both genders are present and there are no adults.

The young people have no means to readily escape and it is unlikely that they will be rescued for a long time. They have ample food which grows naturally on the island. They also have the means to make fire.

The task of each of the various student groups is to develop a list of five to six rules to which this stranded group of young people on the island must adhere. The students also compose a list of consequences that are applied to those who choose not to adhere to the established rules. Some students may feel that there should be no consequences for non-adherence to the rules. Some students may feel there is no need for rules at all.

The students record the list of rules and consequences on chart paper. The rules can be listed in order of importance, as determined by the student group. Following this activity, each group presents their set of rules and consequences to the class using chart paper.


Following discussion on this matter, the teacher further stimulates the discussion by asking each group to address one of the following questions (or other questions which the teacher composes):

  • What did you as individuals or as a group feel/think about this decision-making experience? (The goal here is to have the students talk about their experience.)
  • Was it difficult or easy for your group to agree on a set of rules or guidelines? Explain.
  • Was it difficult or easy for your group to agree on a list of consequences? Explain.

The teacher continues to stimulate discussion following each group report.

Following the group reports, the teacher facilitates a class discussion using one or more of the following questions:

  • What are some of the things that struck you as you listened to the various group presentations? Explain.
  • As you listened to the various group presentations and looked at the lists on the chart paper, did you see any common themes? Did you notice that some rules showed up more than once? Or many times?
  • As you listened to the various group presentations, did you notice that there are one or more rules that seem to emerge again and again? Explain.
  • As you observed the lists of consequences for those who break the rules, what did you think or feel? Explain. Do you feel there should be consequences for those who break the rules? Explain.
  • If this experience of being stranded on an island actually happened to you, how would you have coped with it? Do you think you would have become a follower or a leader? Explain.
  • Can you predict what would happen if our class, as it is right now, was stranded on an island? Explain.
  • If our class was stranded on an island, do you think that we as a group should have leaders? If you feel we should have leaders, what kinds of qualities should we look for in these leaders?

After the reporting and discussion have been completed, the teacher asks the class to respond to one or more of the following questions or to questions composed by the teacher:

  • What is a rule?
  • Why do we have rules?
  • Why do we need rules?
  • Do we need rules?
  • Now that you have thought about this experience of being stranded on an island, does this help you to understand society better? Does it help you to understand why we have rules and laws in society? Explain.

Journal activity: Let’s write about it!

For journal questions to stimulate the students’ written reflections after or during class, see Appendix 2.

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