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January 17, 2012

A Heartfelt Approach to Bullying Education on Valentine’s Day

Written By: Brandi Jordan
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A Heartfelt Approach to Bullying Education on Valentine's Day - ReallyGoodTeachers.com

A Heartfelt Approach to Bullying Education on Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to teach student about how bullying hurts and kindness heals.  This idea comes from Judy, a Kindergarten Teacher, in Fenton, MO.  Not only does it encourage students to identify what bullying behavior is, but it also shows them how kind words make a difference in how people feel about themselves.   

One Teacher’s Approach to Bullying Education

When bully behavior is a problem with some students, I involve my whole class in this “heart-rendering” activity. I begin by drawing and cutting out a large heart shape from red craft paper. I use a marker to divide the heart into enough jagged-edged pieces so each child can have one piece. I also use a second length of red craft paper to draw the same heart, but this time, I flip the paper over so the heart appears on the reverse (or back) side of the paper. I leave this heart uncut and set it aside for later.

I introduce the activity by displaying the first heart. I spark a discussion about how teasing and mean comments can hurt us inside. (You can read a story about bullying as a discussion springboard as well.) I then invite students to take turns coming up and ripping off one piece of the red heart along the lines while sharing one negative or nasty-sounding bullying comment someone at one time said to them. (I ask children to not reveal any sources). I tell children to remember where on the heart their piece was located.

We continue until each student is holding a piece of the heart and each has shared a time he or she was the target of mean words. I then display the heart I have drawn on the reverse side of the second piece of red craft paper. I have the students reassemble the heart shape by gluing their torn heart pieces to this new heart. With the pieces reassembled into a heart shape, I tell the class that this paper heart is a reminder of how mean words can break and scar a real heart. I then cut out the “broken” heart shape along the outside edge. I flip the heart over to show the fresh intact red heart shape. I tell the class that this fresh heart represents a heart healed with forgiveness and kind words from others, and with kind words from themselves to themselves. I inform my class that when others say mean things, it’s because their hearts have been hurt and broken and the hurt makes them want to hurt others so they can get some control and feel better. (When someone feels good inside, they have no need to lash out at others.)

I also tell my class that if we understand that a bully’s actions come from his or her pain and not from our shortcomings, we can forgive the actions so we all can begin to heal as no one needs to suffer from a hurting heart. I guide my children to understand that part of feeling better comes from offering themselves the nice, supportive words they would like to hear from others.

I then help each child jot an uplifting word or phrase on the intact heart (e.g., “Great job!” “You can do it!”, etc.). I outline this new heart with glitter glue, let dry, and display it in our writing center. The heart then doubles as a Word Wall students can refer to when writing about positive ways they can help themselves and others cope with bullying behaviors.

What are some of your favorite ways to teach students about bullying and kindness?  Share them with us below.

A Heartfelt Approach to Bullying Education on Valentine's Day - ReallyGoodTeachers.com
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  • makada
    February 5, 2014

    That was beautiful because my daughter is always bullied by class mates and they don’t talk to to her or even friend her I think she has one person she speaks with in class and this is a great story for her to read. Heart broken to hear but I love it. Congrats from me you are one of the greatest heartfelt teacher of the year. Thank you.

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  • Suzy Yates
    January 29, 2012

    I think this is a great idea that I’ll have to try. I’m having some issues with bullying in my 1st grade classroom. Thanks for sharing!

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  • kelly
    January 29, 2012

    love this…will be using it

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  • kelly
    January 29, 2012

    I love this idea …will use the crumbled heart to make impact with first graders

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  • Julie
    January 22, 2012

    What a great idea! Wish I had it as I had to teach iSafe lessons on cyber bullying this past week! We discussed friendship, kindness, and when it is okay not to show either one of those

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  • Kathy Brown
    January 22, 2012

    What a wonderful idea! I do kindness unit during February, but I will add this as a good way of dealing with bullies. Thank you so much for the idea!

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  • Sam
    January 22, 2012

    This is a wonderful idea. I have seen this happen where the teacher crumples the heart a little at a time for each negative story. Then, talking about kind words and forgiveness, smooths it out. The heart is still whole, but you can see the wrinkles because the things that happen to us do affect us. We can’t just “erase” negative comments with positive ones, but we can help to smooth things out!

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  • Kirsten
    January 17, 2012

    Great idea. But for the record, these woven hearts are a Danish Christmas Tradition. My father taught me how to make these when I was 7 years old (yikes…31 years ago!) Every year we make them and put them on our tree. You fill up the little basket with goodies. Google it. It’s a Christmas thing…but this is a great way to modify it and change it up.

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