Mentor Resources

Big Shoulders Fund mentors are an integral part of our scholarship programs. Mentors provide guidance and support for students, helping them build their self esteem and awareness of themselves and the world around them.

Mentors meet with students at least once a month for one hour. As a first time mentor, or a mentor working with a new age group, we understand that it may be difficult to identify activities for your meetings. That’s why we have compiled the best of the Mentor Newsletters to provide you with a space to find all the resources to be the best mentor that you can be. All of these activities are designed to help get students talking and thinking!

Ice Breakers

Two Truths and a Lie (all grades) Everyone goes around the circle and name two true things about the person, it can be about anything that truly happened or a fact about yourself and one lie. Everyone guesses which is the lie.

What’s Your Theme Song? (all grades) Ask your mentees to choose a song that if their life were a TV show would play every time they entered a room. Each students explains what it would be and why. Then find the song on Youtube and listen to one minute of it. Materials needed: Internet Connection to Youtube to play the song

Getting To Know You Questions
If you were a comic book character, who would you be and why?
You’ve been given access to a time machine. Where and when would you travel to?
If you have could have any super power, which one would you like to have and why?
In your opinion, which animal is the best, most interesting to you or beautiful and why?

Candy Introductions
Pass around the candy and tell each participant to choose anywhere from 1 to 5 pieces of anything that they want. Instruct them not to eat it yet, though. After they have chosen their candy, you will tell them what each candy type/color represents.
If there is a whiteboard or chalkboard present, write on the board the following:

Red – Favorite hobbies
Green – Favorite place on earth
Blue – Favorite memory
Yellow -Dream job
Orange – Wildcard (tell us anything about yourself!)
If you don’t have the above colors, change the above to match the candy types that you have. Each person takes turns introducing himself or herself, beginning with their name and then saying one fact for each candy type that they have.
Materials Needed: Bag of Skittles, Gummy Bears, or M&Ms.

Collaborative Drawing (grades 4-8)
Instruct each person to fold their paper into four equal sections, as you would fold a letter. They should then unfold the paper so that it is flat again.
Players are then told to draw a head for their drawing in the uppermost section. It doesn’t matter what kind of head they draw, as long as the neck connects to the top of the second section of the paper. Instruct players to fold their paper over in order to hide the head they drew, leaving only the very bottom of the neck showing to help the next player in their drawing.
All players pass their folded papers to their left. Each time a new paper is given to each player, they must draw the missing section, connecting it to the other person’s previous section without looking to see what it looks like. This process will be repeated for remaining sections: torso, legs, and feet. The very bottom of their drawing must be visible so that the next person can continue on. Each section should be timed to avoid spending too long on this game.
Once the drawings are all completed, open up the papers and check out the crazy creatures or people that are featured there!
Materials Needed: Paper for all participants, Writing utensils for everyone, A timer or stopwatch

Getting to Know You

Conversation Starters (grades 4-12)
At this point in the year, you have laid the groundwork with your mentees to develop trust and build rapport.  Below are some great conversation starters to help keep the conversation going and to get to know one another even better (from Take Stock in Children).  Give students 10-15 minutes to work on these independently, and then give everyone an opportunity to share, mentors included.
Worksheet: My Vision of Success
Worksheet: My Likes and Dislikes
 Make it a “Compliment Day.” (all grades) 
Have students write their names at the top of a piece of paper. Pass the paper to the student next to them. That student starts at the bottom and writes a one line compliment about the person, or about something that person achieved during the past school year. Then they fold up the bottom of the paper, covering their words, and pass the paper to the next student. Each student can take home a page full of compliments.
Elevator Pitch (all grades)
Many students will be meeting new people over the summer or will be preparing to meet new classmates and teachers in the next school year.
Marc Cervantes provided this great tip for an activity to help ensure students are putting their best foot forward:
I explained what a one minute elevator speech was for adults and told them they had to have a presentation ready for when they meet new students, parents, teachers or visitors to the school.  We had each student give about a brief speech and then I had the other students add in other things they did not think about.

Guided Learning

Make it a “Research Day.”  (all grades)
Find out from your school principal if you could have access to ipads or a computer lab, so that each of your mentees can get on a computer.  Let them pick a research topic – something they wish they could have learned more about during the school year.  Give them a set amount of time to research that topic, and then leave time at the end of your meeting for each student to share the most interesting facts about what they learned.   
 Chicago Wildlife Watch (grades 4-8)
This is a fun, new project where residents are asked to classify pictures of wildlife that have been taken in Chicago. Details and instructions at . (The project would like to stress that as each image is marked by the volunteers, it really does not matter if  students don’t mark all the features. That being said, the task itself is simple enough that they believe most people can take part and make a worthwhile contribution regardless of age.)

A longer activity based on this project called “What Lives With Us” can be found at  Please note the materials that need to be printed out from the website to complete that activity.
Materials: Ipad or Laptop with internet connection

Five-Minute Film Festival: Earth Day (grades 4-8)
Earth Day is April 22, 2017. Consider watching one of these short videos with your students to spark a conversation about what they can do to help conserve resources and protect our planet.
Materials Needed: Computer or mobile device with internet access


Graph of Highs and Lows (all grades)
Ask students to draw a graph of their year’s highs and lows on 8.5 x 11 paper with emoticons, symbols, lessons learned, etc. Students use the month of the year as the x-axis, and their emotions, what they learned, etc., as the y-axis. 
Top Ten List (all grades)
Have students work in pairs or small groups to come up with a Top Ten List about the year. Students can be as serious or funny as they wish in presenting their lists to the class and you’ll find out a lot about what students found meaningful about the school year.
Letter Writing (all grades)
Ask your students to write themselves a letter, reviewing the year and making “resolutions” for the next school year. Give them some prompts to write about: one thing they are proud of from this year, one thing they would like to do differently next year, one thing they want to remember, and so on. You can either mail these letters to your students just before the start of the next school year, or make arrangements with their next teachers to distribute the letters at the start of school.

For High School Mentors offers a library of thousands of information video interviews with real professionals through an easy to use website. Big Shoulders is making this resource available to high school mentors and their mentees to help facilitate
conversations around college and career.
Access Link:

Explore CandidCareer.Com
Watch videos together that align with mentees’ interest inventories, or you could just dive in without doing the interest inventory! (this will require that you have a laptop or ipad with wifi available for use)
Possible Ways to Use this Optional Resource:
1) First, you could do a career interest inventory with your mentees. There are many of these available online, a couple you could use are:
Career Clusters Activity (online) by
Who R U (paper based assessment) by Virginia Career View

Identify the majors/course of study of professionals with careers of interest and discuss how mentees might want to consider that in the college admissions process.