Debriefing and reflecting on an experience is an opportunity to identify what students have learned about themselves and others. The technique of debriefing is extremely beneficial for students following the completion of a lesson. A structured reflection helps students to:

• Think about what they accomplished and learned during a lesson

• Consider ways that the experience could be adjusted to improve the outcome

• Develop ideas of how they could use this experience in other aspects of their lives

• Share their ideas and feelings with other students

• Communicate the value of their participation with themselves and other students.

As a teacher, your aim is to lead a thought-provoking and safe discussion by asking meaningful questions in a pre-planned sequence. There are endless possibilities for incorporating reflection activities into students’ experiences. The following activities are designed to provide quick; fun and effective debrief ideas for students and teachers.

Start and Finish

Equipment: A paper plate for each student and markers

Group size: 3 – 30

Description: This activity is ideal for the younger grades. Hand out a paper plate to each student and ask them to use the marker to draw a picture of the environment or situation before they completed their lesson on one side of the plate. Then ask the students to do the same on the other side of the plate  of the environment or situation after the lesson. This picture should illustrate the impact the lesson had on them. To encourage discussion, ask each student at the end to share their pictures with the class and explain why they chose to draw what they did.


Describe your Senses

Equipment: One soft object

Group size: 3 – 15

Description: This is a good activity for younger students. It encourages them to reflect on their lesson through their five senses. Form the students into a circle and give one student a soft object. Ask one of the following questions and allow each student a chance to answer it. The soft object is passed around and only the student holding it is allowed to speak.


Sight: “What did you see during the lesson?”

Smell: “What did you smell during the lesson?”

Hearing: “What did you hear during the lesson?”

Taste: “What did you taste during the lesson?”

Feeling: “What did you feel during the lesson?”


The Pipe Cleaner

Equipment: Pipe cleaners

Group size: 3 – 20

Description: This activity is great for younger primary school students, helping them make connections between their experience and learning. Ask the students to make a stick person out of the pipe cleaners at the beginning of the day. The students then take it with them throughout the day during all their activities. At the end of the day, ask questions of the students, but through the pipe cleaner person; for example, What was your little friend’s favourite thing she did today? Why was that so special? Did your friend think all the children in the group were kind and friendly toward one another? What would your friend like to have seen so that other children’s feelings would not have been hurt? This is a very effective way to get younger students talking about important issues that can arise with group activities.