SPARKLERS / Strengths

Use Your Strengths

Activities to help senior students start using and developing their strengths.
Connections with the NZ Curriculum and Mental Health Education Guide (learn more)

Learning outcomes

Tamariki know their personal strengths and how to build upon these for wellbeing.

He aha ai? – Why we love it

These activities help tamariki to tap into and foster their strengths. Knowing and understanding our strengths helps boost self-esteem and resilience, and encourages a growth mindset.

Important info!

These activities are a follow up to Discover your strengths. Once tamariki have their VIA Strength Finder results and have made their Strengths Cards, it's time to help them put those strengths into action!

Tikanga tips

Some tamariki may associate acknowledging their strengths with being arrogant. Remind students that learning about and using our strengths can help bring out the best in ourselves and others. If anyone's not joining in, you may want to catch up with them away from the larger group.

Hei mahi - What to do: ideas

Create some strengths-based habits

Tamariki will need to have made their Strengths Cards. To get started, ask if there were any strengths they were confused about. If needed, discuss what they mean. They may like to add notes to the back of their cards.

  • Growing a super strength
    Ask tamariki to choose a favourite strength from their top five – and write down a new and easy way they could use this in their everyday life. You may like to encourage them to do this for a second favourite too.
  • Developing a new strength
    Ask tamariki to choose a strength they'd like to foster – one that wasn't in their top five. Ask them to write down what they like about it, and an easy way they could use this in their everyday life. They may like to write a few ideas.

Let tamariki know that all it takes to foster our strengths is choosing and practicing new habits, and having a growth mindset (believing we can grow and change and aren't ‘fixed’ as we are now).

You may like to order and use our habit stickers to help tamariki practice their new habits.

Dialling up your strengths

Students will again need their Strengths Cards. Explain that sometimes we can 'dial up' different strengths in different situations. E.g. If we’re about to do a bungy jump, which strengths might we ‘dial up’? Perhaps bravery, curiosity and zest.

Ask tamariki to spread their strengths cards out on their desk, and to select a top 1-2 for the following situations. Remind them that they have all these strengths and can choose any of them.

Give a range of scenarios, e.g. If you won the cross country, what strengths might you dial up? What about if you were worried about a test? Or if your friend was having a tough day? What about if your Mum took you on a fun outing to the beach? Or someone was unkind to you?

After each scenario, seek a few answers, asking why as needed. The great thing is there's no right or wrong – we can use our strengths any time.

Act it out!

Group tamariki into ‘strengths groups’ e.g. Kindness group, Humour group. Let each group know they have one of their top 3 strengths in common and ask them to (quietly) work out what it is.

Give them 10 minutes to come up with a small performance for the rest of the class which includes – the frozen strength – a.k.a depicting their strength as a still image (like a picture) so the rest of the class can guess what it is.

Once they've got the answer, discuss some of things people with this strength regularly do.


Korero around the meaning of the word ‘Resilience’. Ask tamariki to bring out their Strengths Cards and look at which strengths are a part of being resilient – e.g. hope, bravery, creativity and perspective.

Talk through the strengths tamariki think are important and why. Which strengths have tamariki used to help them during tricky or tough times?

Different environments, different strengths

Korero about our different environments – home, school, sport, visiting friends, etc. Ask tamariki to identify three places they spend time, and from their Strengths Cards, to choose which they could 'dial up' in those different environments.

  • Are there strengths you can use in all environments?
  • Are some easier to use in some places than others? Why?
  • Ask tamariki to choose a place where they could dial up a strength to feel happier and/or be at their best. What place? Which strength?
  • Ask who's going to try this and at a later time, give tamariki a chance to report how it goes.

Thank you to...

We have had the kind help of Dr Lucy Hone to develop this activity and the many extensions. Lucy is a Positive Psychologist and lives and works in Christchurch.

To be honest, Lucy has provided loads of great advice to us with Sparklers!

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