Activities for Red Ribbon Week

It doesn’t seem that we would have to tackle the concepts of drugs, alcohol, or smoking in the elementary grades. Yet, we do. It’s not something that we can blow off as a topic too mature for our students. In some areas, children as young as first grade have already tried these things. (See here.) Further, some 8th-grade students are vaping and drinking which isn’t too many years after leaving our building. (See here.) Whether we like it or not, our students are exposed to mature topics regularly and we can’t keep them under rocks protected from these things. We need to make sure we are educating them. That’s where Red Ribbon Week comes in.

Are you looking for some activities for Red Ribbon Week? Check out this blog post where I help you teach strategies for peer pressure and provide engaging activities for teaching about drugs, alcohol and smoking to upper elementary students.

Red Ribbon Week is a week in October that is dedicated to drug and alcohol awareness. I have provided some strategies that you can teach your students and some engaging activities for drug safety.

Peer Pressure Strategies

These are some strategies that you can teach your students for when they are approached by a peer to try drugs, alcohol or smoking. You’ll want to teach each of these methods through roleplaying or examples.

1.) Broken Record – a person simply repeats their response.

2.) Make an Excuse – a person makes up an excuse about why they cannot.

3.) Steer Clear – a person avoids going near a situation that may cause them to be offered.

4.) A Better Idea – a person may offer up a different (or better) idea of something to do.

5.) Ignore – a person may just ignore the suggestion or request.

6.) Say No – a person would simply say “no.”

7.) State the Facts – this could range from stating the facts about drugs, alcohol, and smoking, to stating facts about themselves.

8.) Reverse the Pressure – a person could just turn it around on the person by asking “why are you pressuring me?”

9.) Walk Away – the person could simply walk away.

Red Ribbon Week Activities

After you have taught the different strategies for handling peer pressure, then consider doing one or more of these activities below with your students:

1.) Create cause and effect chains. These can be similar to my cause and effect chains that we created using paper clips and post-it notes that I described in my post, Not Your Traditional Cause and Effect Chains. Otherwise, you could take strips of paper and create chains in the traditional way.

Explore the cause and effects of using drugs, alcohol, and smoking with these chains during red ribbon week!

Have students create chains for both negative consequences for choosing to do drugs and one for the positive consequences of not doing drugs. Start the chain with a reason why someone may choose to use drugs. Then link a strip with a negative consequence for doing drugs. Do this for the next 2 more strips for a total of 4 links. When creating a positive chain, start with reasons a person may not choose drugs or alcohol and the positive path that will lead.

2.) Create a commercial. Have your students work in groups and create a 60-second commercial that needs to educate others about the dangers of drugs, alcohol, and/or tobacco. Have them create a positive slogan or message for it. Have students “perform” it or record it to be presented. As an alternative, students can create a “magazine advertisement.”

3.) Play a game called “SWAT!” Break your students up into two teams. On the board create a 3×3 grid with all the names of the peer pressure strategies written out. Take turns calling a person from each team up to the board to hold a flyswatter and be ready to “swat” the correct strategy. Read a scenario to the class. The students holding the flyswatter has to determine which peer pressure strategy the person in the scenario used to avoid drugs or alcohol. Once the “swatter” knows, he or she will swat the name of the strategy on the board. The person who swats the correct one first earns a point for their team.

Explore the 9 different peer pressure strategies to help your students during red ribbon week!

4.) Advice columns. Have around the room a variety of written “letters” on large chart paper from imaginary students who have written in looking for advice on what to do when confronted with peer pressure. Have students work in groups to write back advice. Then share out as a class.

5.) Play bingo. Provide students with many facts regarding drugs, alcohol, and smoking. After teaching about these facts, write many of them on the board and have students randomly select spots on a bingo grid to place one fact in at a time. Then randomly select a fact to “reshare” with the class. If students have it on their bingo card they can cover it. Once students cover 5 in a row, they shout “bingo!”

6.) Survey and graph it! Have students survey family and friends regarding drugs, alcohol, and/or smoking. It may be something as simple as how many nights a week do you drink, how many beers do you drink in a week, do you smoke, have you ever tried or used drugs, etc. Then have students bring in their data and combine it as a class. Together create graphs to represent your data. Create a large poster to represent your newfound information. (For more accurate information, anonymous surveying is always best. Consider using google forms.)

7.) Create a concept wheel with all the peer pressure strategies. Have students illustrate each peer pressure strategy and write in a sentence an example of how to use it.

Engage your students during red ribbon week with this concept map that explores the 9 different strategies for when they are being pressured by their peers.

8.) Design a stamp. Have students design a stamp to tell people how dangerous drugs are. Then label it “Stamp out drugs!”

Help your students "stamp out drugs" during red ribbon week with this engaging activity!

These are just a few ideas to get you started. There are plenty more, including several great activities you can find on Teachers Pay Teachers and the internet. Additionally, you can learn more, have your students take a pledge, and look for curriculum ideas at

Download Your FREEBIE!

You can download your red ribbon week freebie with some of these ideas above to get you started!

Just click here to download it free.

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