A Glittery Gossip Lesson
Here's a fun and concrete way to teach students about how gossip impacts people. I've used this activity with 5th graders and they really enjoy it. I think it could be easily adapted to other age groups as well. I also like to teach gossip lessons with toothpaste, but this resource helps mix it up, if you're like me and get bored repeating lessons. Warning, this can get a little messy!
Write the word gossip on the board. Ask students to define what it means. Record responses making sure to include: information about someone, often hurtful and untrue, spread to others.
You can do this either as a demonstration or as a contest, depending on the size and behavior issues in your group. As a demonstration, ask for five volunteers to come to the front of the class. Explain that you have a task for them to complete and if they do, you will give them $20 (or whatever amount you have handy in your pocket :) Inform them that their mission is to pass glitter from one person to the next, all the way down the line. However, in order to collect the money, they must make sure that they complete the mission in five minutes. Also, not one spec of glitter is allowed to fall on the floor or desk and absolutely no glitter can remain on their hands. They are not permitted to use water to wash their hands. If you have a small class, you could try to involve all of your students by having two (or more) teams compete to complete the mission at the same time. Ultimately, you are setting your students up to fail. I have done this lesson many times and it is impossible to complete the assigned task, because inevitably glitter flies, falls on the floor, and sticks to students hands. Just make sure to use fine glitter like those pictured above.
This sets the groundwork for you to facilitate a great discussion on how gossip is like glitter. Explain that the reason for the activity is because glitter and gossip have a lot in common. Ask students to describe the glitter: Shiny and messy are usually the first responses. Ask students to identify how gossip is like glitter. Examples of student responses: it sticks with you, it's hard to get it off even if you really want it gone, it's hard to contain, it's easy for it to travel where you didn't intend, it can put the spotlight on someone who doesn't want the attention, it can seem really fun and sparkly but it turns into a big mess. After the discussion, have students put their heads down and put their hand up a.) if they've ever had a gossip or a rumor spread about them or b) they've ever heard a rumor about someone else. Usually, just about every hand goes up
A short story about the dangers of gossip helps students solidify the concept. I use the story below, which can be found at http://spoken-words.weebly.com/the-dangers-of-gossip.html. I like it because it's short, sweet, and to the point. However, you could use another short story on the topic to get the point across.
Since gossip often involves information that isn't true, ask students whether it is always easy to tell if information is true or not. After listening to a few responses, tell students you are going to do an activity to test their hypotheses.
Divide students into groups of about four to play the game two truths and a lie. Students should develop two truths for the entire group. They will need to find two things they have in common such as a food they like, a color, a sport, place they've traveled, class they enjoy, favorite movie, activity, etc. Their lie only has to be untrue for one person in the group. Circulate to help groups as needed. Once everyone has finished, call groups to the front of the class to read their facts and allow several students to guess the lie. At the end, review whether it was as easy as they thought to detect the lies
Have students complete the worsheet and review answers as a class.