In my experience as a social worker, our role is always in charge or at least a large part of Red Ribbon Week. And when you work with a large age range like I do, it takes a lot of planning to make sure each grade level has a different activity and the themes work for everyone! Whether you are just starting out or looking for new ideas, here are the Red Ribbon Week activities and lessons I do each year!
Red Ribbon Week Activities for PreK-5th
For the little ones, we focus on healthy choices. In preschool and early childhood, I like to do a quick introduction hunt, a sorting activity, and a review coloring page. Sorting activities are great because even if they don’t fully understand the topic, they can usually pick out which choices would be good and which wouldn’t be. Ending with a review coloring page repeats the language used with them, and lets their parent/guardian know what they worked on that day to continue the discussion.
For kindergarten, I like to play a healthy choices game. We start by discussing what healthy choices are and I ask for examples, then we play healthy choices bingo. The one I use is visual and comes with calling cards to help students find the right healthy choice.
In first grade we review healthy choices, then students complete a worksheet with puzzle pieces. They draw a different healthy choice on each piece, with the completed puzzle representing them as a whole!
For 2nd grade, we also start off discussing healthy choices. Then they draw themselves at 4 different ages, focusing on how they would look for each one if they make healthy choices throughout their life.
In 3rd grade, we learn the history of Red Ribbon Week and then discuss different drug awareness questions. If we have extra time, they complete a word search.
For 4th grade, we focus on peer pressure. I start with 2 videos to discuss positive peer pressure vs. negative peer pressure, and then discuss what to do with different scenarios. I used to use Garfield’s Learning Lab for this, but it’s no longer available. I have also had students do a cross the line activity for different things they may have felt pressured to do at some point.
In 5th grade, they attend the assembly I explain below, and receive DARE weekly, so we focus on Bullying Prevention Month instead. In the past, we would play drug awareness bingo or I would have them discuss the questions on their own.
Red Ribbon Week Activities for 6th-8th Grade
At the middle school, I always put on an assembly! The first year I planned this, I knew that I wanted to make things as engaging as possible. We start off by reviewing the history of Red Ribbon week, and also discuss bullying prevention month, which the principal takes questions from to quiz classrooms throughout the week (the class to call down with the correct answer first, gets a prize). Then, every grade level competes against each other with minute-to-win-it activities! They always have such a fun time cheering each other on.
The activities I use are related to the negative effects of drugs and alcohol, but I try to change them each year. Our middle school has 4 grade levels, so I have 4 different versions. Once the youngest grade graduates from 8th grade, I cycle through the activities again (this way, no one is seeing/participating in the same activity twice). I set them up like an obstacle course, with 3 different activities, each with different volunteers. Here are some of the activities we have done:
Activities Related to the Negative Effects of Alcohol
- Putting a puzzle together with thick gloves on
- Picking up spaghetti with gloves and placing it in a specific spot
- Doing dizzy bat then walking a straight line
- Borrowing goggles from the police department that impair your vision and balance and throwing and catching a ball with them on
Activities Related to the Negative Effects of Drugs or Smoking
- Running a lap then blowing up a balloon
- Blowing a marshmallow or cotton balls over a line with a straw
If an assembly is not an option for you, you can also find drug awareness task cards for 6th-8th grade in my store.
Did you find any Red Ribbon Week activities you want to try? Tell me which one(s) in the comments!