July 28, 2023
Series: Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators: Summertime Sort!
By: Sharon Muza, BS, CD/BDT(DONA), LCCE, FACCE, CLE | 0 Comments
It is summertime in the Northern Hemisphere and I thought it would be fun to share some “Summertime Sorting” ideas. If you are like me, you are always looking for new activities to try in your childbirth classes in order to keep it fresh for the families and for the educator as well. July’s Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators offers some suggestions for using a variety of sorting activities to help families prepare to birth and parent with confidence. They can also have fun at the same time. To review all of the Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators posts, follow this link.
Sorting activities work great for both virtual and in-person classes, and can be conducted individually with the pregnant person and their support or in small groups. You can also do it as an entire class, with each family sorting one item. Letting the families work in small groups is a bonus as it helps with community building. Materials are minimal and you can also use these activities in your flipped classroom.
In person classes: you will want laminated sets of printed cards, one set for each group or family. If doing this as a whole class, one set would be sufficient.
Virtual classes: I would suggest using Jamboard, a free Google platform, as a sorting tool, it is easy to set up, and simple for families to figure out how to use.
When to conduct this activity
You should insert this activity into the appropriate session where the subject matter is being discussed. For example, feeding activities would go in the postpartum period, a labor sort would occur the discussion on physiological birth.
How long to allow for this activity
The length of time will depend on the topic and the number of items to be sorted. Remember quick and effective activities are better and more memorable than a long, repetitive, drawn out one. Mixing things up helps folks to absorb information without fatigue.
What different sorting activities can you do
Signs of labor
Create topics of “Possible,” “Probable,” and “Positive” signs of labor. Label cards with many behaviors, signs and indications of labor that would fall into each category. For example, mild cramping, rupture of membranes, contractions getting longer, stronger and closer together and so on. Ask families to sort the cards into one of the categories. When summarizing this activity, I like to share that there can often be some overlap, and an item might fit in two categories.
Reasons for induction
Many pregnant people are being offered the option of an induction rather than waiting for spontaneous labor. There are clear medical indications and there are also more nuanced reasons that involve personal choice. Your two categories might be “Medical Reasons” and “Personal Choice.” Ask families to sort the reasons that an induction might be on the table and if that is a firm medical reason, or a more flexible decision. Items might include a big baby, intrauterine growth restriction, twins, provider or hospital capacity and more. You can facilitate a great discussion with your class about evidence based reasons for induction and their own personal values. Supporting choice without judgment is important, while at the same time helping families understand when there may be different options available to them.
Reasons for a cesarean
Similar to the above sort, helping families understand when a cesarean is necessary for preserving the health of the parent or the baby, versus when a vaginal birth might still be an option. I like to use the categories “Hard” and “Soft.” I ask families to decide if the circumstances absolutely warrant a surgical birth or if a vaginal birth might also be possible. Some items might include placenta previa, big baby, previous cesarean, breech baby and more. It is important for families to understand that often reasons given for a cesarean are not firm reasons but rather one option to consider amongst many.
Human milk versus human milk substitute
This activity is an awesome one for your lactation classes. You can help families to see the benefits of providing human milk to their baby versus using a human milk substitute (formula). Categories should be “Unique to human milk,” Unique to milk substitute,” and “Common to both.” Items might include immunities, changes with age, iron, higher financial cost and more. Invite families to move the items to the proper category.
What families say about sorting activities
I find that the families appreciate these sorting activities the most when they get to work in small groups. Many heads are better than one, and interesting discussions occur as they navigate the sorting challenge. The correct answers, when we finally go over them, are often surprising to the families. Lots of good conversation and learning happens as we process as a whole class.
How you could modify this activity
You can use this activity as a review after covering the topics in another way. You can also assign this activity as homework, that each family does individually outside of class, and then discuss when you are all together again.
These sorting activities help families rely on knowledge they already have, information you have shared in class and their judgment to make decisions about the proper category to place the items. Manipulating the cards and discussing with others in small groups further increases retention and understanding of the topic. Consider some fun “Summertime Sorting” activities in your upcoming classes, but remember, you can use these ideas all year long. Do you do any sorting activities in your classes? Let us know in the comments below.
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