Body Language Print

A Lesson Plan from Life Planning Education: A Youth Development Program (Chapter Three)

NOTE:  Life Planning Education (LPE) is currently being revised. The printed/for-sale version includes an older version of this lesson plan. Please make sure you have looked at the PDF of Life Planning Education before purchasing - that is the version that is available to buy.

Purpose: To learn about body language (nonverbal communication) and how to use body language effectively

Materials: Index cards or slips of paper; container

Time: 25-35 minutes

Planning Notes:

  • Write the adjectives below on index cards. Add any you would like to include:



  • Place the index cards in the container so volunteers can draw them out one at a time, in Step 4.
  • On the board or newsprint, draw a large chart like the one below for use in Step 5.

 Feeling  Behavior




  1. Remind participants that problems may occur in communicating when a sender's actions in some way contradict what she or he says.
  2. Ask if anyone knows the term, body language, and what it means.  Clarify that body language means expressing feelings through body movement and facial expressions. Ask the group for several examples or give a couple of your own, such as smiling, shrugging shoulders, and rolling the eyes.
  3. Explain that this activity will give the group a chance to practice communicating through body language.  Go over the following instructions:
    1. I will need 12 volunteers (or one for each index card you have prepared) to play a game that is similar to charades.  Who can explain how charades is played? (If no one volunteers, explain how the game works: a person acts out a phrase or title and the teammates try to guess what it is.)
    2. The first volunteer will draw a card with a feeling written on it and act out the feeling without using words.
    3. The rest of the group will guess what feeling is being communicated.  Once someone correctly guesses the feeling, the next person in line will draw a card and act out what is written on it, again without words.
    4. The game will continue until there are no more cards or until time is up.
  4. Have several volunteers form a line in the front of the room. Each will draw a card from the container when it is her/his turn to act out a word. Help the volunteer if he/she seems to be having trouble acting out the feeling on the card.  As each feeling is correctly identified, write it in the left column of the chart and ask the group to list the behaviors that helped them identify that feeling. Write those in the right column. (For example, if the feeling is “disappointed," behaviors might include shrugging the shoulders, sighing, and/or hanging the head.)
  5. When all the feelings have been acted out, conclude the activity using the discussion points below.
Discussion Points:
  1. Can you give examples of when someone's body language communicated a different message from what he/she actually said?
  2. When you are trying to send a message, which is more effective: body language or verbal communication?  Why?
  3. In what circumstances might the other form of communication be more effective? Why?
  4. Sometimes one person is offended by another's body language.  How can you work to keep that from happening?  (Answers may include, but are not limited to: be honest and direct if you want to communicate something to someone; match your nonverbal messages to your verbal ones so the receiver can clearly understand what message you are sending; be aware of cultural attitudes toward various kinds of body language.)
  5. Sometimes, cultural differences can mean that body language will offend someone else accidentally. No one can always prevent this from happening because no one can ever know all about other cultures.  But, we can be aware of cultural differences and apologize if we have offended. We can also take care to not be offended when people of different cultures accidentally do something that is offensive in our culture.  Can you think of examples of this?
  6. What are some nonverbal body language messages that are particularly positive?  Negative?

Optional Activity:
Ask one volunteer to leave the room while the group agrees to act out one emotion.  Ask the volunteer to return and watch while everyone acts out the same emotion.  Ask the volunteer to identify the emotion and to discuss the range of expressions they saw for conveying that one emotion.

Life Planning Education, Advocates for Youth, Updated 2009.


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