Bullying Role Plays for Elementary Students

Instructor: Maria Airth

Maria has a Doctorate of Education and over 20 years of experience teaching psychology and math related courses at the university level.

Bullying in elementary school happens; it is a fact of life. This lesson offers ideas for bullying role- plays in an elementary classroom. It is recommended that these role-plays be followed by open class discussion.

Why Role Play Bullying?

Bullying is a real part of everyday life, both in childhood and adulthood. Teaching children to recognize bullying, deal with it, and resolve a bullying situation safely, will serve them well their entire life. These aren't necessarily easy tasks to learn.

It seems obvious that students will all recognize a bullying situation. However, sometimes children get confused about the difference between an isolated incident where a person might make a mistake, or just not be friendly, and true bullying behavior. Consider a child that has recently gotten a new toy; her friend asks to play with it and she says no because it is new and she isn't done with it yet. Is that being a bully (not sharing), or is that understandable behavior? What about the situation of a new boy at school? A group of boys has a very specific long-running game ongoing during free-time, there is no room in their script for another character. Are they bullies for not including the new student, or just not friendly? Is being unfriendly the same as being a bully?

Through role playing, students can investigate these ideas in a safe environment. They can get a glimpse of how each scenario feels, and decide together through open discussion what constitutes true bullying and how to deal with it. The following scenarios offer students a brief story-line and guides to help them compose their own scripts for role-plays. It is recommended that you assign at least three students to each group (one victim, one bully, and one resolver), but more students in a group can add to the role-playing experience. Give students a set amount of time to work through their scenario and create a basic script for the role-play. Then, allow each group to perform the role-play in front of the whole class.

After each performance, ask the students whether the scenario is an example of bullying, or whether it could escalate to bullying. Encourage open discussion.

Not My Friend

  • Story: There is a new student at school. On the playground, no one asks the new person to play.
  • Guide: What would it feel like to be the new kid at school? Is it really bullying if no one plays with the new person? Come up with some ideas that show this story in a bullying way (maybe the other students are mean, or they just don't allow anyone to play with the new person). Think about ways that this story could be shown in a way that isn't really bullying (even if it doesn't feel nice to be the new student). Choose which story line you want to present to the class and write a script for it.

You Look Funny

  • Story: A group of children think that another child looks funny. They say mean things to him/her.
  • Guide: What might the children be saying? Do you think the child's clothes look funny? Could it be something about them personally; their hair color or skin color? Maybe it has something to do with an injury the other student has. Think about a time when someone might be made fun of for how they look and make a story about it. Assign roles for the person being made fun of, the person (or people) picking on the student, and another student to help out.

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