The following lesson is a guest post by my amazing friend Laura.  She’s a school counselor at my former elementary school and has some really great lessons.  Her recent one on bullying really touched my heart and I think it would be an amazing one to do with your students now and also in a few months as a refresher.  It can be worked into your character education program or just pulled out when you feel like your students are starting to really bother each other (which can also happen around the holidays).  I tied it in to some Common Core standards, but you can really connect it to even more based on how in-depth you take the lesson.  My comments are in italics and the rest is all Laura.  


Introduction and Standards

CCSS ELA Connections for Grades K-12

Anchor Standard – Reading

Key Ideas and Details

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.2 Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.3 Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.9 Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

Anchor Standard – Speaking and Listening

Comprehension and Collaboration

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.


The lesson starts out by reading The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig.  The story is about a boy who has been excluded for no apparent reason but finds a way to cope and eventually gains acceptance.  After students read the book and discuss some main ideas and themes from it, they move on to the activity portion.

All the kids gather around for a “science experiment.” Here’s how it works:

1. In a plate/flat container that’s full of water I pour in pepper. I ask the students to think of the pepper as people. We call them our “pepper people.” I ask them to notice that the pepper is floating together, almost like a family or a community This is a good place to discuss people coming together in the community, at school, etc. You can ask them to think of all the different ways people work together.

2. Then I introduce the “soap.” Put the soap in the middle of the pepper. In previous lessons I have introduced the soap as a “bully,” however this time I asked them to just think of the soap as a person.


3. As you will notice when you put the soap in the water the pepper immediately darts away from the soap. I asked the kids to tell me why the pepper would be running away from the soap. Some said that the soap was a bully, others said they were scared, etc. This time I asked them to imagine the soap was not a bully, perhaps a new student or even a student they have known a long time. I then asked them again, why would the pepper run away?

4. This was a good place to introduce our vocab. words of the day: exclusion and inclusion. I explained that the pepper were all off by themselves and the soap was left alone. We discussed the word exclusion here, when one student noticed that some of the pepper had stuck to the soap. She commented that if the soap were a bully perhaps they were joining the bully or maybe trying to stop him.

5. Next we talk about inclusion and that it’s important to include everyone and it just takes one “sugary sweet” random act of kindness to make a big change. As I talk about this I pour the sugar where the soap was and slowly you will see the pepper coming back together.


This is a great time to make connections between our experiment and the book; looking for pepper people, the soap, and the sugar. Laura also asked them to make text-to-life connections. She says when she did this portion of the lesson, that many of the students really opened up!

Next we played “Quiz Quiz Trade” using the discussion questions in the back of the book. I had a student demonstrate with me how to play and model how to restate an answer. I asked everyone to show their listening skills by restating what they heard and repeating it each partner. They did a great job, I loved the “I heard you say that you think…” or “So you are saying that….” It was amazing.  I also added a few like: “What do you think exclusion is?” and “Do you think exclusion is bullying?


Exit ticket/Post-test: To leave the room I gave each student a post it note and asked them tell me what stuck with them.




Follow up and Future Connections

I would like to follow this up with a lesson on bullying, specifically focused on having the students develop a definition of bullying. This could then lead into a lesson on what to do to stop bullying and practice using “I” statements.

You could also have students incorporate a writing piece to this lesson.  Have them do a free write about a time that they felt excluded or left out.  Have them write how they worked through this problem and how they would act differently next time.  By sharing their stories you are also allowing other students to connect with them and share feelings and ideas about how to support their peers in the future.

Thanks Laura for sharing such an amazing lesson.  Please make sure to visit her blog and check out other ideas for the elementary classrom!