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Strengths spotting

This activity encourages tamariki to use the VIA Character Strengths and start to see and recognise the strengths of others. Spotting other's strengths means celebrating diversity. It is the beginning of building a culture of kindness.

Firstly, the science...

Understanding and recognising our strengths, as well as those of others, is backed by science. It stems from positive psychology the VIA Character Strengths framework. Character strengths are like our superpowers that make our lives awesome and meaningful. When we know our strengths and appreciate them in ourselves and others—like being kind, persistent, creative, or wise—we become stronger, more resilient, and happier, and it creates this amazing culture where we feel okay and cheer each other on - and not always in a loud, excitable way - quietly and internally works just as well!

Why this activity?

This activity supports tamariki to start to use the VIA Strengths framework outside of themselves and put it into practice by spotting the strengths of people they know - famous people, but also the person sitting next to them.

You'll need

We’ve created this Google Slide which you can duplicate and change. We’d recommend you do this activity over the course of a few days and incorporate the faces of people who are famous and your tamariki will recognise, as well as the faces of people who are important to you and your tamariki - perhaps your office manager, the gardener, your principal… but also each other. Over the course of the three or so days repeat this activity adding in all of your tamariki faces, and your own. 

If your tamariki are still getting used to identifying strengths you may like to have our Strengths Reminder Worksheet handy

What to do

Remind tamariki of the VIA Character Strengths and that we all have them available to us. Let them know that you’re going to look at some people they (hopefully) recognise and their job is to spot the strengths of these people.


Start with a kōrero before starting around everyone having strengths and that we don’t have to like someone to be able to see and appreciate their strengths, perhaps talk about someone they know is pretty awful, think Donald Trump or even a fictional character or villain and consider the strengths they may have, since we all have strengths it’s just about how we use them, right?

Use the slide show to show up to around 5 to 10 people. For each person, ask them to refer to their strengths worksheet and then say what they believe their top strengths are. For some of the answers, you might want to explore how, and why? When it comes to spotting the strengths in people in your community or your tamariki ensure you’re able to get in with a strength first in the case there is some silence from your class.

Debrief at the end of the activity asking how this felt for those who featured and those that didn’t. It’s likely that tamariki might have a different perspective of some of their peers. Ask how they might keep what they’ve learned and noticed here alive during their ordinary days.

Whānau engagement

Engcorouge tamariki to kōrero with those at home about strengths and perhaps even continue the strengths spotting with whānau considering the strengths of different members of their whānau.

And to add to this...

To keep the strength spotting coming try our our game Compliment musical freeze where tamariki can get moving with some fun kanikani while complimenting each others strengths.

Dialling up our strengths is another fabulous activity that suports tamariki in identifying their own strengths and considering all the awesome opportunities they can put their strengths to use.

Curriculum links

Health and PE Curriculum

Personal health and physical development: A4 - Personal identity

Relationships with other people: C2 - Identity, sensitivity, and respect

We'd like to say ngā mihi nui

To Dr Denise Quinlan from the New Zealand Institute of Wellbeing and Resilience. It was Denise who taught Anna about VIA strengths initially and totally owns this activity! Denise has a very real passion for the VIA Strengths mahi, wellbeing and a te Ao Māori perspective. We love what she does, and who she is!

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