I love this visual representation of gossip as toothpaste. Once you let it ooze out of the tube, there is no getting it back in. Gossip, like unkind words, can have unknown and permanent damaging effects on those around us. So, in knowing that, this lesson reinforces that we need to be careful with our words.

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I’ve adapted the lesson from the one found here.

How I would teach this lesson:

  1. Read the short story: The Dangers of Gossip  It’s an old proverb that tells the story of how once gossip is repeated, it scatters like feathers in the wind and it can be almost impossible to reverse the damage.
  2. Put the students into groups of 4. Provide each group with a paper plate, a pair of scissors, and a box of tube toothpaste.
  3. Ask the students to open the box and squeeze all of the toothpaste onto the plate.
  4. Stop the students after few minutes. Ask them to put all of the toothpaste back into the tube, put the toothpaste tube back in the box and clean off the plate. After a few minutes, have them clean their hands and dispose of the materials, then return to their desks.
  5. Ask the students to reflect upon the activity. Ask them to think about how toothpaste is similar to rumours or gossip.
  6. This might be a good place to discuss the concept of bystander apathy and some of the ways that we can take active steps not to participate in and even stop the perpetuation of harmful behaviours like gossiping.

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    Here are some other related concepts worth discussing:

    -the difference between tattling and seeking help

    -school policies

    -brainstorm ways to counteract gossip and rumours

    -organizations and individuals that can be helpful to students when they need help

    This is a cute video that could serve to reinforce the lesson

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 Leave a comment below to share how you used and adapted this lesson for your classroom! I always get inspired by people’s stories and the things they do. You might just inspire someone today!

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