Lesson: Sticks & Stones
Objective: To design ways to address bullying behaviors
Grade Level: Kindergarten and up
[Based partly on a lesson plan by Teaching Tolerance called Breaking Down The Walls Of Intolerance http://www.tolerance.org/teach/printar.jsp?p=0&ar=970&pi=apg ]
Explain to students that an estimated 5.7 million young people in the United States have identified themselves as a bully, admit to being bullied, or both. Bullying can be verbal or non-verbal, physical or non-physical. Bullying can be direct, like hitting, teasing, or making threats. It can also be indirect, like rumors, manipulation, isolation and exclusion. A bully might be one person acting out independently, or a clique or group of people picking on someone out of a need to increase their popularity or to seem more cool.
1. Ask students what the think the saying “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can really hurt me.” Has anyone heard another version of this saying? Which is truer? Ask students to take a moment to reflect on their experiences. Have they ever had someone say something to them that hurt their feelings. Has someone ever hurt them physically or tried to scare them? Have they ever hurt someone by something they said or did?
2. Teachers might want to provide students with their own personal example of a time they were a victim or a witness to bullying or they hurt someone’s feelings. If students feel comfortable, allow them a few moments to share their experiences aloud. And/Or read a book about bullying like This is Our House, Hey, Little Ant, Mr. Lincoln’s Way, Say Something, or Simon’s Hook.
3. Give each student a light gray paper “stone.” Have students write a behavior that could hurt someone or make them feel bad such as calling someone an ethnic name, or tripping someone. Younger children can draw a picture.
4. Have them wrinkle up the "stone" and then try to smooth it out. Explain that once someone has been hurt, it is never forgotten. You cannot remove the hurt. The wrinkles will always be there.
5. Hang stones on wall to create a wall of intolerance or have students sit in a circle and pile the rocks up in the middle. Ask students to think about ways to prevent these things from happening. Create a class list of ideas.
6. In turn, have each student select someone else’s stone off the wall or from the pile. Read your stone and imagine that this happened to yourself or a friend of yours. What could you do about it? Pair and share your ideas.
7. Together as a class make a poster or some other product (PowerPoint, video, letter to newspaper) explaining something positive everyone could do about bullying.
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