Prepare ahead of time a large piece of butcher paper cut out in the shape of one of the student’s silhouettes. Hang the cut out up on the chalkboard. Tell the students that the silhouette is named “Bob”. Have them come up one by one and write a mean put down about Bob somewhere on the silhouette in pencil. Then after they have completed writing their put down, have them tear off the portion of the silhouette where they wrote and take it back to their seat. When everyone has completed this task, there shouldn’t be much of Bob left.
Ask the students the following question. What did they do to Bob? Tell them that they literally tore him apart with their put downs. Now have them erase their negative comment and rewrite a positive one and bring their piece of Bob back to the front of the class. One by one, have the students tape him back together until the silhouette of Bob is whole again. Ask the students to tell you how Bob looks now that he is taped back together. Does he look the same as he did when we first started? They should all see that although he is back in one piece, he is not the same as he was when we began.
This represents how negative put downs can hurt a person deep inside. You can say you are sorry, but your harsh words will always leave a mark. Tell the students that before they put down another person or say something unkind, they should think to themselves, “How is what I am about to say going to affect this person”?