4 Bullying Prevention Demonstrations for Educators

Discover four hands-on activities you can use to teach kids about bullying


Developing and implementing successful bullying prevention programs can seem like a daunting task. And it can be hard to know where to start. Aside from evaluating your existing bullying prevention program and setting bullying prevention goals, you need to come up with the nuts and bolts of your program. These elements usually include regular bullying lessons, assemblies and workshops.

If you are planning a workshop or an assembly on bullying, or if you are simply developing a lesson on bullying prevention for your students, you need to include a few hands-on activities to keep students engaged.

Here are five engaging demonstrations that get students involved and leave a lasting impression.

Toothpaste Game. The goal of this game is to teach students that once something is said or posted online, it can be very hard to take back. You will need to purchase tubes of toothpaste for your small groups as well as paper plates. Divide the kids into groups of two or four and tell them they are going to race to see which team can squeeze all of the toothpaste out of the tube first.

Once they are all done squeezing the toothpaste, ask them to race at putting all the toothpaste back in the tube. They will be frustrated with this task but have them keep trying for a minute or two. Then, have them sit back down and discuss with them how words or posts on social media are a lot like a tube of toothpaste. Once you put it out there, it is very hard to take back. You also can expand the discussion by encouraging them to think about ways they can keep this from happening in their own lives.

You also can tie-in discussions about name-calling and cyberbullying.

Cotton Words and Sandpaper Words. The goal of this exercise is to show students that some words hurt. Doing so will also help learn to develop empathy. Pass out pieces of cotton and very small pieces of sandpaper to the students. Ask them to describe the difference in how the two things feel.

In other words, the cotton is soft to the touch and sandpaper is little scratchy and can hurt if you push too hard.

Write their descriptions on the board. Make a column for Cotton and a column for Sandpaper. Then, ask them to think of words that would feel like cotton and words that would feel like sandpaper to someone. Then discuss the importance of using Cotton words instead of Sandpaper words.

Pencil Break. The goal of this exercise is to show students how standing up for someone when they are being bullied has a bigger impact than they might realize. You will need about 10 pencils for this exercise. Ask for the strongest kids in the class to raise their hands. Then pick one to come up for the demonstration.

Hand him a pencil and ask him to break it. It should break pretty easily. Then give him the remaining nine pencils and ask him to break all nine at the same time. He won’t be able to do it. Ask him to sit down. Then, describe how when someone is being bullied it is very easy to break the victim if no one says or does anything.

But if a group of students come up and help the victim it is very hard for the bully to hurt (or break) the victim. You can expand the discussion by asking the kids for ideas on how to stand up for someone when they witness bullying. Explain to them that bystanders have a very important role at school. The key is to empower your bystanders.

Broken Heart. The goal of this activity is to show kids that their mean words hurt other people and break their hearts. Put a large red heart on the board. Ask kids to name mean things that have been said to them or others. Examples might be fat, ugly, stupid. Each time they say something, rip a piece of the heart off.

As you are ripping pieces of the heart away, talk to them about how hurtful words and actions can break pieces of a person’s heart. Once the heart is ripped, ask for a volunteer or two to help you put the heart back together with tape. Ask the kids what they think. Does the heart look the same? Expand on their thoughts. 

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