Activity And Project

Can You Convince Me?

3 - 5
Activity Time
2 to 3 hours (can be done over different days)
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Activity Description

Begging seems like a skill that every child masters early on: “Please, please, please let me sleep over at Sally's house” or “Yuck, don't make me eat my peas.” Turn the tables on these encounters by making them opportunities for the child to learn how to make a persuasive argument. Make them state their case in order to get whatever it is they want…or don't!

Why This Is Helpful

Persuasive argument is a skill children will need throughout their lives and one that they are expected to master in grade school. This activity helps them develop this skill in a fun way and in a relaxed setting. The activity teaches children the different parts of a persuasive argument and strategies for making their case. It also helps children become aware and more critical of persuasive materials they see every day, from TV and magazine ads to billboards and cereal boxes.

Here’s What To Do

  1. Before beginning this activity, review the Persuasive Strategy Definitions and online Persuasion Map so that you are familiar with them. Print out the Persuasive Strategy Definitions.
  2. The first step is for the child to learn the basics of persuasion. Start by asking the child to think about a time that they were trying to get an adult to let him or her do something, like go for a bike ride. Another option would be to think of a time that the child was trying not to do something, like clean his or her room. Ask the child what he or she did and said to try and convince the adult.
  3. Next, go over the Persuasive Strategy Definitions. As you do so, ask the child if he or she used any of the strategies on the list when making an argument in Step 2. If the child is having trouble understanding any of the items on the list, you can use examples from commercials you know, such as a toothpaste ad that says 9 out of 10 dentists recommend that brand as an example of Big Names.
  4. Using the Persuasive Strategy Definitions as a guide, have the child brainstorm and research his or her argument further. For example, a child arguing against eating peas could use the Food Pyramid as the Big Name. This step might require a trip to the library or some online research. You may need to help the child find the right book or navigate the Internet for answers. The child may want to take notes with paper and pencil.
  5. Now it is time for the child to fill in the right side of the printout with the points to use in his or her argument. For example, the child whose main point is that he or she shouldn’t have to eat peas could use the food pyramid as the Big Name but in the Logos section point out that the food pyramid includes lots of different vegetables, not just peas. The child could then list all the other veggies he or she does like to eat. Not every category on the printout may apply to your child’s topic, but help the child fill out the sheet to his or her best ability.
  6. Go to the Persuasion Map. Using the completed Persuasive Strategy Definitions printout as a guide, have the child complete the mapping exercise. Help the child as needed. Print out the Persuasion Map. The child will use it to prepare an oral argument.
  7. Now it is time for the child to make his or her oral presentation. The child should start by stating the goal or thesis from the Persuasion Map, read Main Reason Number One, and then read the Facts or Examples for the first main reason. The child should follow the same pattern for Main Reason Number Two and then Main Reason Number Three.
  8. You decide: Did the child effectively make his or her case? But look out—you may have to find a good substitute for peas!
  9. Older children or younger child with a guardian's permission can proudly display their work on social media outlets by using #RWTsummer.

More Ideas to Try

  • Encourage the child to use these new skills on others when an issue pops up that the child feels strongly about. For example, you could help the child to write a persuasive letter to his or her school about adding or eliminating a food from the lunchroom menu or to create an oral presentation to convince his or her scout leader to take a field trip to the child’s favorite spot.
  • Help the child to create a summer lemonade stand in the front yard (or a hot chocolate stand in winter). The child can write and decorate a persuasive ad on poster board to convince neighbors to buy the product. Make sure you supervise the child at all times.

Saving Your Work With RWT Interactive Tools

Once you’ve finished your Persuasion Map, use the saving capability within the interactive tool to save the file.

  1. On the final screen of the interactive, click Save Final.
  2. Name your file something that is descriptive of your Persuasion Map, and click Save.
  3. Select a place on your computer or external drive to save the file, and click Save.
  4. For more information about the saving capability, see our RWT ReView: Saving Work With the Student Interactives.

Sharing Your Work

  • With guardian permission, share photos or videos of completed work via social media sites by using #RWTsummer.
  • Congratulate the child on publishing his or her work, and click through other children's persuasive pieces to comment--or to find inspiration for a new project!

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