Teaching Kids to "Fail" Gloriously!

Last night for our Family Night I taught an activity on making mistakes, failing and never giving up as the path to succeeding in life. Here's all the stuff you need so you can do the same with your family.

  1. Prep
    1. Download and print out a copy (pages 1-2) for each person of my "Say 'Nay' to the Naysayers" article which lists many Famous "Failures" and one copy of the "Scavenger Hunt List" (pages 3-4). Don't let them see the answer sheet.
    2. Print out one copy of the "'Stupid', Mistakes and 'Failure'" coloring/discussion posters (there are nine total, only five are shown above). Or make your own, too.
    3. Crayons, colored pencils, or markers. 
    4. Tape.
    5. A treat.
    6. Activity
      1. Place the Scavenger Hunt List, tape, crayons/colored pencils/markers in the center of the table.
      2. Have the group as a whole go get the scavenger hunt items and/or have each person pick two or three things they will go get. Don't tell them what the lesson is about yet.
      3. Once everyone has retrieved their items, hand out the "Say 'Nay' to Naysayers" article. Explain to younger children that "nay" means "no" and that "naysayers" are people who say things can't be done. Tell them that many famous people failed a lot before they were ever famous. 
      4. Have them all read through the article and find the person their item goes with. 
      5. Explain that failure doesn't always mean failure. That failure actually is the frequent path the successful take.
      6. Share the Japanese proverb for success: "Fall down seven, get up eight." The difference between people who fail and those who succeed is just not giving up.
      7. Have everyone take turns reading aloud to the rest of the group about the Famous "Failure" they found.
      8. Pass out the "'Stupid', 'Mistakes' and 'Failure'" coloring/discussion posters (you can do this one in the same activity or if attention is waning you can save this part for a follow-up lesson/discussion). Tell everyone that while they are coloring theirs you will go prepare the treat (we made Oreo shakes). As you are all enjoying your treat, have everyone take a turn showing their poster and reading it to the group. Let them share their thoughts on what it means and discuss.
      9. Have everyone take their poster and tape it up somewhere around the house (next to the bathroom mirror, on doors, on the fridge, on the wall next to the toilet, on the wall next to the back door, etc).

Did you try the activity? Tell us about your experience? Whether or not you did the activity, tell us what YOU think about failure, mistakes, learning and success.

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