In this activity, suitable for preschool through primary grades, children learn to empathize with how it feels to be bullied and learn ways to be an ally and support the victim.
"This house is mine," declares George as he stakes claim to a large cardboard box and then ruthlessly excludes everybody else because they are girls or small, or wear glasses, have red hair or are twins. The author, Michael Rosen, writes, "Our attitudes about who's okay and who's not get formed when we are very young. I've watch how some children carve out space for themselves using the language of discrimination. This book is a way of looking at that." This lighthearted, funny book helps children see the unfairness in exclusion. Don't be surprised if your young audience doesn't start protesting George's actions all on its own, saying: "That's not fair."after each child is rejected. This book was an American Bookseller "Pick of the List" selection
Objective: To learn how to be an ally
Grade Level: Preschool, Kindergarten and Primary
Have markers, glue, paper squares about six inches by six inches, and a long sheet of mural type paper or if possible, a large cardboard box such as a refrigerator or stove comes in. Alternatively build a large box from several sheets of cardboard or a group of cardboard boxes. See other alternatives in the Follow Up below.
Whole group discussion
Opening Questions: Have you ever been bullied by someone? What did it look like? What did it feel like? Set up a large box like in the book or create a play center. Ask: Who should be allowed to play here?
Read the book This is Our House by Michael Rosen.
Introduce the terms bully, victim, and ally. Make a chart with those three words at the top. Identify the bully in the book then make a list of the things the bully George did. Under victim, make a list of how George's actions made the victim feel. Under ally, make a list of the things other children did to get the bully to stop. Ask the children how they think the allies felt.
After discussing the children's ideas, share the following possible ways they could help someone being bullied. Which ones were used in the book? Which ones seem easy to do? Which ones seem hard to do?
Pass out the squares of paper, markers, and crayons.
On your square write one thing you can do to stop bullying and draw a picture showing how you will do it (Preschoolers can just draw a picture). Join your square with others to create an Anti-Bully Quilt by gluing it to the mural paper. Hang the mural in a prominent place in the classroom. [If a box is available, cut out doors and windows to create a "House" then have them glue the squares to the box.]
With the children create a set of rules for using the "House" or if no box is available, rules for using the play area, learning center, the playground, or even a tent so that no one will be bullied. You may also want to read Vivian Paley's You Can't Say You Can't Play and consider some of her ideas for developing positive play experiences.