Even as an adult, goal setting can be challenging. Now try to imagine how hard it is for pre- and early teens with all their raging hormones. Make learning goal setting and seeing the big picture fun by breaking it down into fun activities and games that will keep them engaged.
Goal Treasure Map Activity
Goal treasure maps can be a fun way to get your artistically minded student engaged. It is also a good visual representation of the process from start to finish.
- Large paper or poster board
- Art supplies (markers, crayons, glitter, paint, etc.)
To get started, ask your middle schooler a big goal that they plan to achieve by 90. This could be a career goal, family goal, or even a travel or hobby goal.
- Using the paper, allow them to brainstorm ways to achieve their goal. They should also think of roadblocks or problems that might come with meeting their goal and list them as well.
- Once they've listed their path and roadblocks, give them the poster board.
- On the top, they should write, draw, or create a collage of their overall goal.
- Using the art supplies, they should create a treasure map to their goal, making sure to put in the roadblocks that might happen along the way and how to overcome them.
- When completed, kids will have a treasure map vision board that they can follow to achieve a big goal.
Basket Toss Goal Game
This is a fun game that you can easily do at home with materials already in your house.
To get started, you'll need:
- Laundry basket
- Beanbags, plastic balls or something to toss
- Tape or some other measuring tool
- Set the basket on the ground in a large area. Outside works perfectly but you can do this in a large room as well.
- Ask your child how far they think they can go from the basket and still throw the beanbag in the basket. This is going to be their overarching goal. You want them to set this so it's hard to achieve.
- Using the tape or other measuring tool, they should set up smaller, easier goals that will help them achieve their large goal. For example, they think they can throw it 30 feet into the basket. Place the markers at 5 feet increments.
- Let them start throwing the bean bag at the first marker. Once they make it into the basket twice in a row, they should move to the next goal.
- Keep playing until they reach their overarching goal of 30 feet.
- Make this a game by setting a time limit.
I Bet I Can ____ in 5 Minutes
You won't need any materials for this activity, unless you want to use some or the kids want to use some. Pose the phrase, "I bet I can [activity] in 5 minutes" to the middle schoolers and come up with a plan to accomplish that phrase.
Come Up With the Bet
Your student(s) will need to think of something they can do in 5 minutes. This isn't something they can already do but something they are going to work for. For example, they can run a quarter mile in 5 minutes so they say, "I bet I can run a half mile in 5 minutes." If they can do 20 jumping jacks in a minute, they should try for 125 in 5 minutes, etc.
Make sure this is something fun that they like to do. They will be more engaged if they are excited about the goal. For example, kids that love baseball might challenge themselves with hitting a certain amount of balls in 5 minutes or kids that like writing might challenge themselves to finishing a poem in 5 minutes.
Brainstorm Ways to Achieve Goal
Now that they know what they are going to do, they need to brainstorm how they can achieve their goal. In the running example, to go from a quarter mile to a half mile they need to take twice as many steps. How many steps is that in 1 minute, 2 minutes, etc.
Create a Plan
Based on their brainstorming, have them create a plan for achieving their goal. This should be broken down into smaller goals. For example, "I will run _____ steps in 1 minute" by a certain date, "I will run _____ steps in 2 minutes," and so on, until they reach the end of their plan.
Put Their Plan Into Action
Now that they have their plan, they can put it into action until they reach their goal in 5 minutes. Make this really fun for middle schoolers by having them bet against someone else, making it into a game. This way they are trying to compete against someone else, adding a new level of competition.
Obstacle Course Challenge With Goals
This goal setting game is a race. You are going to need at least two middle schoolers and hopefully more for them to play the game. To play, you need to gather:
- Nerf guns with darts
- Large balls
- Jump ropes
- Laundry baskets
Before you can play, you're going to need to set up your obstacle course. There should be a station for targets (Nerf guns and large balls), jumping rope, shooting baskets and kicking a ball around cones. Once the stations are set up:
- Set a specific number of activities that students must complete. For example, hit the ball three times with the Nerf gun, jump rope six times, make three baskets from 20 feet and kick the ball around three cones.
- Tell your students the activities.
- Have them run through the obstacle one time.
- Time each one.
- Now, each student should set a goal for how much faster they can do it. They should think big, like 20 or 30 seconds faster.
- Give them a time to brainstorm how they can get faster. They need to think about each individual task and ways they could get quicker.
- Hand paper and pens, allowing them to create a plan of action.
- Give them time to try out their plan and revise until they are confident about meeting their goal.
- Allow them to race. The one to meet or exceed their goal the most wins.
If you have access, creating an obstacle course with inflatables can be loads of fun for young teens.
Why Is Goal Setting Important?
Not only can it be challenging to get a pre-teen to think about their future, but it can be a challenge to get them to think about how to complete their next assignment. Turning goal setting into an activity or game will provide the fundamentals for thinking about the future, but also show them how big goals can be broken down into small steps. It also helps them to visualize the process for goal achieving and planning.
Small Steps to Big Change
Goal setting is an important skill for kids to learn but especially young teens. Not only will middle school activities help them see how to achieve their future goals, it makes goal setting fun.