My best assembly

29th May 2015 at 01:00
Clean up bullying with a tube of toothpaste

All schools have occasional problems with playground unkindness and bouts of name-calling. This assembly, which was handed down to me by one of my mentors when I was a new teacher, deals effectively with situations like this and has such a visual impact that pupils will talk about it for weeks. The assembly also uses metaphor, which gives you an opportunity to discuss this linguistic feature.

To begin, ask who knows the rhyme Sticks and Stones. The majority will have heard it. Then ask how many actually believe that "names will never hurt me", picking out individual students to give their opinions.

Meanwhile, observant children will notice that you are holding a tube of toothpaste. You will also need to hand out paper hearts to five students.

Then it's time to lead pupils towards the idea that those who argue names can hurt might just be right.

Ask the pupils if they know what a metaphor is. Explain the term and then say that the tube of toothpaste is a metaphor for calling someone a name or being unkind. When they look confused, without warning squirt the toothpaste on the floor. The reaction to this is always brilliant.

Reveal that the tube of toothpaste is the person who is being unkind and the toothpaste is the words that are spoken.

Then invite some pupils up to the front and hand them a variety of spoons. Ask them to try to get the toothpaste back in the tube. Can they clear up the mess?

While they are having a go, tell the pupils holding the paper hearts to scrunch them into balls. This represents calling someone a name and hurting their feelings. Invite them to try to undo the mess by smoothing out the paper heart to make it perfectly unwrinkled and undamaged.

The message quickly gets through: saying sorry helps, but the bottom line is that the toothpaste is still out of the tube and the paper heart is still crumpled.

Steve Mills is headteacher of Whitehill Junior School in Hitchin, Hertfordshire

To download resources for this assembly, visit bit.lyMyBestAssembly29May

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