Podcast #20 Advisory Activities

We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character- that is the goal of true education.
Dr. Martin Luther King.

Ideas to try:

Side-by-Side (team level activity)

    • On a team, take a half day and send the students to advisory.
    • Assign a question sheet which the students fill out for the first 30 or so minutes of the half-day advisory.
    • Allow students to select group board games.
    • Call students up to you and have them sit beside you. Ask them to pick two or three items from the sheet to talk to you about.
    • Rotate through topics allowing them to initiate conversation and prompt as the conversation goes along.
    • Source: MAMSE Conference Advisory session 2005.

Walk The Line (individual Advisory activity)

    • Challenge students to line themselves up in order, by birthday, from January to December without using lips or sound.
      • Other methods of organization: student number, street address, alpha order by middle name, alpha by first name.
    • Check for success. Mentally keep the number of errors in month and date in the back of your mind to use later.
    • Ask them to turn toward you and touch the outer edges of their feet. For the remainder of the activity they must remain connected.
    • Define success in the next step of the activity as, “Everyone gets across the finish line.” They will most likely forget this little tidbit, which is ok as it is a learning experience in and of itself.
    • Rules for walking the line:
    • Outer edges of feet must stay connected. (Note: This is where you keep track of the number of errors in the line-up part of the activity. If there are two people out of order, allow two or so separations of feet as you progress through the game.)
    • Everyone must make it across the finish line.
    • If feet separate, the entire group must start over.
    • Set the goal out a distance from the group and let them problem solve a solution. There is more than one way to solve this problem.
    • Possible solutions:
      • The “Side Slide”: Students move to their right or left and snake across the finish line keeping constant pressure on the foot next to them. It looks like a giant U turn/Michigan Left.
      • The “Shuffle”: Students move forward in little, tiny “shuffles” keeping their feet together as they inch toward the finish line.
      • The “Inch Worm”: Students move one foot at a time forward and move in a wave down the line forward toward the finish line.

Who are You?
Introductions (Getting to Know You)

    • Supplies needed: Foam Ball
      • Start by having the students form a circle.
      • Each student will say their name and then toss the ball to another student. Each student can only get the ball once (thus, the student’s have to pay attention).
      • Once they have done that, have student’s say the name of someone in the circle and then toss the ball to that person. Again, each person gets the ball only once.
      • Once they seem to know everyone’s name, the teacher can time them. Give them time to talk about strategy to see if they can “beat” their previous time. (Eventually, they will figure out to go in a circle). Discuss with them the process for improving their time. Did different students take on different roles? Was it important that everyone participate and cooperate?

Sponsor a Soldier (Advisory level activity)

    • One of the key ways to take one’s mind off of one’s life problems is to focus on the needs of others.
    • Many sources to find soldiers overseas in need of letters or care packages.

Teacher Appreciation

    • The advisory chooses one teacher who has made a difference in their lives that week or month and writes a short note articulating how they were helped and in what fashion. This can be sealed in an envelope if the student is concerned about others reading the note inside.
    • If available, students can put together a small breakfast for the teacher to enjoy.
    • If that’s not an option, make a “LifeSaver” note where LifeSavers are strung together and the note(s) of appreciation are attached at the end of the string.

TP Shuffle (individual Advisory activity, higher level of challenge for both the advisory teacher and the students involved)

    • Materials: 3 or 4 3.5 x 3.5 inch beams and 4-6 cinder blocks and a relatively soft place to fall.
      • Note: Don’t use beams you want to use later as construction material. Humidity and weight will warp these quite well.
    • Set up:
      • Put the beams inside the cinder blocks so the rest a few inches off of the ground.
    • Challenge:
      • Students can pick any spot on the beam to stand. You want to see how many seconds they can stay on the beam. If there looks like there’s a tight fit, put in another beam (I’d recommend two full 10′ beams and then cut the remainder in 5′ lengths to scale the challenge to the number of students participating in the activity.) If there’s too much space, take away a beam.
      • After all the students have the hang of standing on the beam for a period of time, tell them that the two end people must switch spots on the beam without anyone touching the ground in the process. If anyone steps off or falls off, the process begins anew.


    • Materials: directions, paper, patience, and an origami book with a variety of challenge levels.
    • Rationale:
      • There can be a point at which extending a lesson/activity can be beneficial by having the students teach each other something.
    • Process:
      • Allow students to select their own piece from choices you have provided.
      • Students practice pieces.
      • Students teach other members of the advisory how to make their piece and experience the interpersonal side of teaching others.

Take a Stand

    • Materials: Short news or policy article (www.izzit.org, The Annenberg Project, etc.) that generates an opinion that can be measured on a scale of 1 to 10.
    • Process:
      • Students formulate an opinion on a topic and the place themselves on a scale from 1 (very pro the article/opinion) to 10 (very negative the article/opinion).
      • Take the line that is formed and divide it in half. Students step out, turn toward the 1 end of the line and then walk so the two lines are next/across from each other. 1’s should be across from 5’s and 5’s across from 10’s. Then they discuss the basis of their opinion in terms like, “I think …”, “I understand …”, “I hear you say …”, “I disagree with …”, “I agree with …”.


    • Supplies Needed: Paper & Pencils
      • Have students pair up (birthday order and fold in half, random numbers, take a stand, etc)
      • Instruct 1/2 of the students to draw a simple shape on their paper.
      • Without their partner seeing the drawing, the first student simply describes the shape to their partner. Their partner is to replicate the picture as closely as possible. The partner may not talk at all. The describer can NOT look at the drawing of their partner.
      • Have them compare drawings. How close are they.
      • Have the students switch roles and complete the assignment again. This time, however, the one who is replicating may ask as many clarifying questions as they want (but they still can’t look at the orginal).
      • Discuss which one worked better and why. Discuss Why we ask questions? Did the questions result in a better product? Was it easier? Less frustrating? Extend to classroom assignments. (You may even want to a student volunteer to come up and receive complex homework assign directions. Then have that student deliver the directions to the class. Have the students write down what they understand the assignment to be and discuss).

Take a Side
Have students take a side about a variety of topics.

      • Ask a variety of questions and have students line up on one side of the room (hallway) or the other.
      • You can ask controversial or basic questions.


  • NMSA Bookstore
  • Stenhouse Publishers: Adventure Education for the Classroom Community, Laurie S. Frank (spiral bound edition)

Please share your Advisory Activities via the Comment Section.