I've noticed that gossiping really starts to appear in as early as 3rd grade. Often times, the topic is pretty minor, but it can easily escalate. My teammate discussed reading this book to her class earlier in the year. I had heard about it, but never read it. We just finished our mystery read aloud and it was a perfect break for a shorter, fiction book with a fabulous message.
Who would've thought Madonna could write such a stellar book? A quick run-down for those of you who haven't read it.
Mr. Peabody is respected by all in his small town, and helps out with the little league team. He grabs an apple every morning from Mr. Funkadeli's stand after the game. One day, one boy saw him take the apple and not pay. He began to share what he saw with others. Soon, the whole town thought Mr. Peabody was a thief. Once he found out this was the case, he told another boy the truth- he buys the apples every morning with his milk, but waits til after the game to have his crunchy treat. He wasn't stealing at all. He tells the boy to go bring the other boy to meet him, and to bring a pillow stuffed with feathers. Mr. Peabody explains to him the truth and conducts this little experiment, where the boy dumps out all the feathers and watches them scatter. Mr. Peabody then told him if he wants to help clear his name, he would need to go pick up every single feather. The boy was shocked at that request, as it was nearly impossible. Mr. Peabody had made his point... be careful that what you say is only the truth, as you can't control where it goes and you can never take it back.
My students then started asking what the word gossip and rumors meant. The following day, we did this activity that I adapted from this blog here.
I first explained what gossip is: when you talk behind someone else's back- sometimes it's true, sometimes it's false, and it gets spread by others sharing it. Sometimes, gossip might not start out as something necessarily hurtful towards someone, but it could lead to it. Also, gossip is about someone's personal or private life or matters, which they usually don't want it to be shared with a bunch of other people. Then I posed the question: How is glitter like gossip?
They had no clue.
Perfect. Just what I was hoping for.
I then set up the challenge:
I told them that they would be in teams, and I had a challenge for them. The winning team would be free of homework for the entire week! (I knew that no one would win, but boy, were they excited and motivated).
I then gave them the goal: The leader (the person with the glitter first) must spread it to everyone else in their team.
But of course, I had a few other rules:
- The leader could not have ANY glitter left on their hands- it must all be spread to their teammate's hands. They couldn't wash their hands to get rid of the glitter either.
- No glitter could be found on the ground, not even ONE SPEC.
- They only had 3 minutes.
They were pumped. I was pumped too. I started the clock. I have to admit...one group got me very nervous. The leader almost got all the glitter off their hands by rubbing their hands on their shirt (clever- they bypassed my no-water rule... I give them credit). Kids were scraping their hands, rubbing their hands, creating a basket of hands to catch any falling glitter. It was beautiful, because it was also promoting team work. Once the time was up and no one was victorious, we washed our hands and came back to the question...
How is Gossip like Glitter?
We first talked about how it was like working with the glitter: it went everywhere, it's shiny and sparkly, it stuck to peoples' hands and clothes.
Then we came up with connections between gossip and glitter. Here are real pictures from our activity with our ideas:
They discovered the glitter spread very quickly from one person to the next, just like the feathers in Mr. Peabody's Apples, and just like gossip. One person can start it, and it just bops around from person to person quickly.
The glitter clung to them- they couldn't get rid of it easily. We talked about that our words stick with people- both kind words and hurtful words. What we choose to say will leave an impact on someone in someway.
Every group had glitter on the floor around them, on their faces, in their hair, you name it. They couldn't control where it went- just like the feathers and like gossip. If you share something with someone, you don't know who they will share it with, and who that person will share it with and so on. It can be very dangerous when you share something hurtful about someone and don't know who might hear it, not to mention, how the original idea could be changed from person to person.
And when they sit on the carpet during our reading block, math, or writing, I hope the little glitter specs ingrained in the carpet from this activity will remind them of this message and make them think before they speak.
What do you do in your classroom to promote social skills and such? I'd love to hear and gather more ideas!