Finding simple, yet effective ways to teach important lessons is no easy task. This is especially true when it comes to teaching core values and traits such as kindness, tolerance and ethics.
These teachers nailed it and made a huge impact! Below you’ll find a few super simple lessons that discourage bullying, prejudice and bias and encourage friendships, understanding and goodwill.
Ask the children to crumple up a piece of paper, then ask them to unfold the paper and smooth it out to how it was before. Obviously, everyone’s paper will remain crumpled and creased. Tell the children that they must now apologise to the paper for what they did. Once they have done this, explain that even though they said they were sorry the creases still didn’t come out, no matter how hard they try.
“That is exactly what happens when one child tears down another. You might not be able to see it on the outside, but all those crumples stay with them on the inside.”
Prior to the lesson and before the children arrive take two apples. One needs to be treated carefully, the other needs to be bashed and banged on the floor to create invisible bruises under the skin. At the start of the lesson, hold up the two apparently similar apples to the class, and ask them to describe them both to you.
Once you’ve established that the apples are much the same, take the one that has been treated carefully and pass it around the class. Ask the children to be extra kind, pay it compliments and say lovely things. With the other apple, begin to call it names, and ask the children to do the same.
The final piece of the lesson is to cut both apples in half and show the class the difference. The apple that has been treated kindly looks healthy, clean and nice. The other looks mushy, unhealthy and broken.
“We don’t often see the pain our words cause”
Choose one pupil to come to the front and ask them to squeeze the entire contents of a tube of toothpaste out. Once this is done, ask them to try and put all the paste back into the tube. Obviously, this is not possible, so here is where you explain that this action is much like rude or hurtful comments. Once it comes out, you can’t put them back in.
“Thoughts are private, but behaviour is public and the next time you think about giving a put down, think again and screw your lid to your toothpaste tube on tight!”
This can be done on a small or a large scale, depending on how glittery you’re willing to get! Either choose the whole class to participate or a small group to come to the front. Inform them that their mission is to pass a hand full of glitter around the class. Set a time limit to make things more difficult. The rules are that no glitter must fall on the floor or the desks, or remain on their hands once it’s been passed on. There’s also no washing of hands! This facilitates great discussion around how glitter is like gossip.
“It sticks with you, it’s hard to get it off even if you really want it gone, it’s hard to contain, it’s easy for it to travel where you didn’t intend, it can put the spotlight on someone who doesn’t want the attention, it can seem really fun and sparkly but it turns into a big mess.”
This is an awesome way to make kids understand the importance of not judging our friends by the way they look. Offer your class two boxes, one a shabby box wrapped in newspaper, but filled with M&Ms. The other filled with stones, but nicely wrapped in brightly coloured paper.
After prompting a discussion about the two boxes, such as ‘what could be inside?’ ‘Which would you pick and why?’, open the two boxes to reveal the contents. Explain to the class that although the birthday box was wrapped nicely, it wasn’t very nice on the inside, but the newspaper-wrapped box was sweet on the inside. You can then relate this to them choosing friends.
It’s then time to try the M&Ms! Ask them the best bit and, of course, they’ll say ‘the chocolate!’. You can then explain that the colour of the M&M doesn’t matter, can they close their eyes, taste one and guess which colour they have? They’ll not be able to!
“People are like M&Ms, it doesn’t matter what we look like on the outside, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. We should choose our friends by the way they act and treat others, not by how they look.”