Instructing our children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol is one of the most important things we do. In the 1970s, districts waited until high school to teach drug and alcohol awareness. By the 80s and 90s, middle schools began to teach kids about drugs and alcohol in their classrooms, and now common practice dictates that we teach drug and alcohol awareness at the elementary level. Kids enjoy games, so it pays to have a good line-up of age-appropriate activities to help teach kids about drugs and alcohol.
Under The Influence
Put your kids in a circle and have them play catch with a soft, rubber playground ball. After a couple minutes, pick a student and help him spin around 10 times quickly. Immediately have the other kids throw the ball to him and note the results. Repeat this with several other students. Follow up the spinning by having the dizzy student try to throw the ball accurately to a particular student.
Next, move the students to the blackboard and have them write their names and phone numbers on the board. Then have them spin around 10 times quickly and write the exact same thing. Let them compare the writing. Wrap up with a discussion about how these simulations mirror the effects of mind-altering substances.
Threading a Nut Onto a Bolt
Divide your class into even teams of 4-5. Give each team a bolt and nut with the nut screwed all the way onto the bolt. Explain that each person must unscrew the bolt entirely and then re-screw it back on completely before passing it on to the next teammate. Also explain that you will be timing them. Obviously, the first team to finish the relay wins. Record each team's time.
The second time through the exercise, explain that they must do the same thing but this time wearing a pair of mittens. The mittens are to be passed from player to player along with the bolt and nut. Again record each team's time during the mitten round. Finally, the teams will need to do the same task but wearing dark sunglasses with the lights off. Again record their times. After the sunglass round, have each team note their three times and share their observations. Wrap up with a discussion of how these various impairments mirror the effects of drugs and alcohol on us when we are performing important tasks like driving or operating machinery.
Guess Who's Coming to Lunch?
Invite a local police officer who is involved with the D.A.R.E. program to come to your classroom for lunch. Ask if he will come with a half-hour's worth of age appropriate games and activities designed to inform your students about drugs and alcohol.
There are many Internet sites with kids' games designed to help them better understand the facts about drugs and alcohol. Many such sites are sponsored by governments or national councils on alcohol and drug abuse. Most of these sites include games and activities for kids broken down by age levels.