Weekly Tribes March 2017: Funeral for Put-Downs

Have put-downs resurfaced in your classroom lately…a little spring ‘influence’, getting near the end of the year, and feeling like ‘next’ graders already?

Here is an authentic and powerful idea from Brad and Jamie, teachers at Forest Trail Elementary school in Austin, Texas:

Funeral for Put-Downs– We extensively discussed in Community Circle the power of put-downs and the inability to repair the damage done with unkind words. We did the toothpaste activity that someone posted previously (except with shaving cream) and we did an activity where each student made a paper doll to represent themselves, then we passed them around and made little tears and crumbles to represent different scenerios where put-downs (both verbal and not) might be experienced. At the end we asked the students to repair their doll which of course they couldn’t – again highlighting the power of put-downs. Then on the day of the funeral, we had the students write down a put-down (that they’ve said, or heard) on a 3×5 card. We talked about what a funeral procession looks, sounds, and feels like and then made our way to our outdoor classroom which was to serve as our cemetery. We prepared a eulogy for our putdowns, and described how this funeral was a different because we were actually happy to lay the put-downs to rest. We had a fire in metal waste bucket and had the students individually read their put-down before laying it to rest in the fire. I’ll admit I was worried about doing this at first, but the kids all took it very seriously and were very responsible. In the days that followed, we brainstormed strategies for keeping our put-downs at rest and not letting them resurface. We also created an urn for the ashes and students (on their own accord) made tombstones out of paper and brought dried flowers to place next to the urn.