Bullying prevention takes center stage with these tips and tricks from teachers around the country. The activities are designed to engage learners of all ages and help them see the side effects of unkind words and actions. If you’re looking for a way to teach your students about bullying prevention, start with these teacher-tested and approved ideas!
Bullying Prevention Lessons for Students
“This is an idea I adapted from the Internet,” said Jennifer, a 5th Grade Teacher, from Statesville, SC. “I make a display that resembles a tablet or e-reader containing a message that says:
- Or communicate in any way, manner or form…
Stop, think and ask yourself is it:
Bullying Prevention Through Family Ties
“A great way to fend off bullying behavior is to establish a sense of family in the classroom,” explained Tracy, a Kindergarten Teacher, from Kennesaw, GA. “I do this from Day One, but you can easily do it anytime during the year. To begin, all of the adults who work with the kids in my classroom and I bring in photos of ourselves with our families when we were in Kindergarten.
We frame the photos and display them on a table near the door to our classroom. We also take a group shot of ourselves. We use these photos to tell the children a bit about the importance of family groups and that there can be many different types of families including those you grew up with and those you play, work and learn with. We then invite children to bring in a few family photos and have children tell about their family members. In addition, we take a photo of our class and talk about our group as a type of family: a classroom family. All of this emphasis on family as a concept reduces the amount of teasing and bullying that takes place during the year. I believe my students really do develop a sense that they belong together and look out for one another, much as traditional family members might.”
“To address the issue of bullying, we conduct Bullying Circles inspired by Barbara Coloroso’s highly acclaimed book The Bully, The Bullied and The Bystander. In Bullying Circles, we invite students to consider the impact bullying has on everyone,” said Caroline, a Middle and High School Teacher, from Ontario, Canada.
“We have students review the roles and responsibilities people take in a bullying incident as well as their power to make a difference. By examining each role, students learn to consider things from another person’s point of view — the beginning of empathy. To encourage critical thinking, we invite students to reflect on why some kids bully, why others stand by and watch and, most importantly, what defenders can do. We ask students to relate this information to their own experiences and share what they might do differently the next time.
We follow this up with insightful reflection through discussions and journaling exercises including writing in first person for various roles or dramatizations. This approach empowers young people as they begin to understand for themselves that every person has the ability to make a difference.”
Using Children’s Books to Teach About Bullying
Idea by Beth, a”I explore the issue of bullying with my first graders by reading aloud from the book, Chrysanthemum, by Kevin Henkes,” said Beth, a 1st Grade Teacher, from Green Forks, IN. “This story is about a little girl who goes to school excited and leaves so sad. Her classmates make fun of her long name and tell her she is named after a flower and that they are going to “pluck” her and “smell” her. Chrysanthemum is constantly harassed by her classmates and goes home sad every day. Her parents tell her how pretty her name is and she goes to bed feeling better only to face the same ridicule at school the next day and the next after that. This continues until her class goes to music class and discovers that the music teacher’s name is also the name of a flower: Mrs. Delphinium Twinkle. And, this teacher is going to have a baby she plans on naming Chrysanthemum! After this, the classmates don’t think Chrysanthemum is such a bad name after all. The book’s charming illustrations and very simple text are to the point for students of this age. I love it, as do my students.”
“When it comes to bullying, I believe prevention is the best approach,” agreed Erica, a 1st Grade Teacher, in Lindenhurst, NY. “From Day One, I set a positive tone in my class by sharing some favorite character education-based read-alouds. My favorites are Hands are Not for Hitting by Martine Agassi and Words are Not for Hurting by Elizabeth Verdick.
As I present each book, I monitor students’ comprehension and encourage text-to-self connections. I also review with students what they might do if someone uses words or hands to hurt them. I then focus on the positive things that hands and words are used for and reinforce these positives through writing extensions. I bundle the writing extensions into two class publications and place these books into our Book Nook. That way, my students have a resource they can read, remember and refer to all year long.”
Promoting Peace Deters Bullying
“To promote peace when teaching in elementary grades, I had students go around the room and put sticky notes on the backs of each other’s chairs,” explained Laura, a Preschool Teacher, from West Babylon, NY. “Students were asked to write and post one positive thing about each fellow student (e.g., You are a good friend, You sing well, etc.) At the end of the exercise, students each have many different pieces of paper with positive things written on them. This helped promote a sense of peace and cohesiveness within the classroom.
For community building with younger learners, we have children share what peace means to them. We have each child tell us his or her own thoughts on peace and then record each child’s contribution. Children then illustrate their ideas and we bind them into a class book.”
Online Lessons About Bullying
“I like to keep it basic at first,” explained Jenny, a 3rd Grade Teacher, from Columbus, OH. “Brainpop and Brainpop Jr. are online video resources I have used to explore Internet Safety with my students. It engages students and educates them on what is safe on the Internet. It also gives teachers pointers on how to speak with students about this issue. At the end of the video, there are review quizzes and games that my students love to participate in. I highly recommended this online resource.”