A Fun Game that Helps Teach Kids the Value of Trust in Relationships

Meet the kids

If you read my last post then you know that I have started using the word trust a lot in my classes. We have a lot of trust issues with the kids where I work. They lie, cheat, fight, and steal on a regular basis. For many of them, their ability to “not get caught” is a bit of a status enhancer. Disciplining can be hard. They just take the suspension and come back without learning any lesson.

I started asking them questions during my little disciplinary sessions. Questions like, “What kind of friends do you think you will have if your friends can’t trust you?” I was a little surprised to discover that nearly all the kids did not know what trust meant, or even was. I was even more disappointed to discover that once I had explained trust as “the feeling you have about a person when you know that they will never lie to you or steal from you,” nearly all of the kids admitted that either they did not trust their friends, or that they had never felt the feeling of trust. They also seemed to think that not trusting people was normal for everyone. They didn’t seem to mind if their friends didn’t trust them, or if they didn’t trust their friends. Trust  seemed to play no part in their definition of friend, while I have always found trust to be a critical aspect of my friendships.

This of course got me thinking, “How can I introduce the concept of trust to my kids in a way that won’t seem like a boring lecture?” Now I have always believed that games are our best teaching tools, so I began designing a game that I call Can You Trust Me?

The kids really love the game, and it has gotten them thinking about trust. I has also taught me a lot about my kids, so I thought I would share the game with you.

Making our cards

We began by making flash cards with the words liar, cheater, thief, and trust on them. That in itself was fun because I got the kids involved in making the cards using our letter stamps. Once I had the cards ready, I explained the game.

If five people were playing we would use five cards; if ten people were playing we would use ten cards, and so on. No player but me would know which cards I passed out. Sometimes all the cards might read trust. Sometimes one of the cards would say liar and the rest trust. Sometimes I would have two liars, sometimes one liar, one thief, and one cheater. The point is that the kids would never know what combination of cards were being passed out.

The kids would sit in a circle and take turns pulling a single card from the deck. Their card would define their role during the game. If it said trust then they must tell the truth during the game. If their card said liar then they had to answer everything with a lie. If their card said thief then they had to try and steal something during the game without getting caught. If their card said cheater then they had to try and cheat during the game.

Next came game play, during which we asked each other questions to determine who was the liar, who was the thief, who was the cheater, and who could be trusted. Once everyone had run out of questions, we would vote on what kind of card we thought everyone had. When the votes were recorded, we would reveal our cards and award points. The thief, liar, and cheater got points for playing their roles if they did not get caught. Those holding trust cards got points for picking the right thief, the right liar, or the right cheater. We played a few rounds, counted up the points, and gave treats to the kids with the most points.

Now this is where the sneaky lesson come in. Not only do I hold a card and have to answer their questions, but I also get to vote and ask them questions; however, my questions have less to do with trying to win the game and everything to do with getting the kids to talk and think about the importance of trust in their friendships. Questions like:

  • What do you think trust means?
  • Who in this circle do you trust the most?
  • Who in this circle do you trust the least?
  • Should people trust you?
  • What do you think of people that you can’t trust?
  • Once you stop trusting someone, how hard is it for that person to earn your trust back?
  • How do you think that having friends you can’t trust will affect you?
  • Have you ever had a friend dare you to do something that you knew was wrong?
  • How does it feel when people don’t trust you?
  • Do you think you can be trusted?
  • Do you think I trust you?
  • How does it feel when you are trusted?
  • How does it feel when you are with a friend that you trust?
  • How does it feel when someone you trust breaks that trust?

You get the idea. I have got to tell you that I have gotten some interesting answers. The kids are learning and thinking about trust. Plus they always want to play one more round.

Our first set of cards

If you would like to try this game with your kids, I have attached a PDF of a scoring sheet and the cards for you to print out. If you try the game, be sure to get back to us, and let me know the interesting things you and your kids learn about how you trust each other. Download PDF of Can You Trust Me? Game

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