Anti-Bullying Activities for Elementary Students

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Teaching elementary school students about bullying is a very important aspect of any social and emotional curriculum. This lesson offers you some activities for helping elementary students understand why it is important not to bully.

Why Anti-Bullying Activities?

Teaching elementary school students why it is wrong to bully is one of the most important aspects of any social and emotional curriculum. It is your job as a teacher to help students learn what to do if they are getting bullied, how to stop themselves and others from bullying, and how to trust that adults and peers can support them through challenging situations. Some of this learning needs to happen gradually and repeatedly over the course of the elementary years, so it can be a good idea to have some go-to activities that support children in their social development and in their learning of kindness and good citizenship. The activities in this lesson can be modified to meet the needs of any elementary age and skill level, and can be used at various times of the school year depending on what issues are at play for students.

Literature and Discussion

One great way to fight bullying at the elementary level is to read students literature that includes teasing and bullying, and then engage them in art and rich discussion around the themes in the text. To use literature as an anti-bullying activity, you can follow these steps:

  • Read the story out loud to students, stopping along the way to monitor their comprehension and talk about the themes that are coming up.
  • After finishing the story, or after each chapter, ask students to discuss the lessons they are learning about how to treat others. Have students list the characters they do, and do not, admire, and why.
  • Choose an art project or writing project that builds on the themes students learned about through this book. For instance, have them write essays describing the characters who stand up against bullies, or create murals depicting the anti-bullying themes in the text.

Some great books to use for this purpose include The Hundred Dresses, by Eleanor Estes, Thank You, Mr. Falker, by Patricia Polacco, and Hooway for Wodney Wat by Helen Lester, among others.

Role Plays and Sorts

Another activity you can use to teach children about not bullying is role plays or reading and sorting of scenarios. To do this, you will want to develop 3-5 scenarios you would like children to think about. Write a short paragraph describing each scenario, and break students into small groups to act out the scenarios. Give them a chance to practice and then perform it for the class. Then, give the class the opportunity to discuss the scenario and how they would respond if something like this happened in real life. See if they can sort the different scenarios into categories based around appropriate responses; for instance, is it appropriate to handle this situation yourself? To talk to a friend? To involve a grown-up?

Anti-Bullying Activism

Students can also become more empowered about fighting bullying if you engage them in activism. Once you and your students have discussed bullying and worked on literature or scenarios, ask them to think about how they can work to make your school a bully-free zone. Some activist activities students might be interested in include:

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