Teacher asks students how many of them have heard the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” How many of you believe this statement is true? The teacher then states, “Words do hurt us.” The teacher then goes on to discuss if we can always tell by looking at someone if words hurt them. We may be able to tell how a person is feeling by their facial features and body language. Other times, we may not be able to tell how negative words hurt someone. The person may hold their feelings and emotions on the inside.
With this experiment we are going to see how positive and negative words make a person feel on the inside. The students are then instructed to share a time that someone did or said something mean to them. After the student has made the comment, they will then drop the apple directly in front of them. They are told not to smash or throw the apple. They are to only drop the apple directly in front of them. After the apple has been dropped, the student will pick up the apple and pass it to their right. The teacher then starts off with an example and passes it to the right. This is continued until all students have had a chance to share their negative experience. This apple is then placed behind the teacher. The teacher then picks up the other apple. This apple will be used for positive statements. This time we are going to see how positive statements make us feel on the inside. The teacher then asks students how they feel when a positive statement is made to them. The students then show how they feel by showing their emotions by using their facial expression. It makes us feel happy when we are given a positive statement.
The students are directed to say something positive that someone did for them or said to them. Since our words are gifts to people, we will carefully pass the apple to the person to our right. We give the gift of kind words. So, we are going to treat the apple as a precious gift.
This is continued until everyone has given one example of a positive statement or act that was given to them. Once the apple gets back to the teacher, the teacher places both apples beside one another on cutting board. We have the one apple that people said unkind things to and we have the other apple that we said positive words to. When we say unkind words to people, it hurts them on the inside.
The teacher then cuts the apple that had negative words to it in half vertically. The other apple which was given positive words is cut in half horizontally so the apple looks like it has a star in the middle. The teacher states that we are going to see the impact on what negative words have on someone on their inside. On the outside, the apple looks normal. However, let’s see how it is really “feeling” on the inside. The teacher then cuts open the positive apple. Once the apples are cut, the teacher puts up the knife-safely and carefully! The teacher then states that she is going to show what unkind words can really do to someone on the inside.
The teacher shows the student all of the bruises that are on the inside of the apple that negative statements were made to. That is what unkind words can do to someone on the inside. You may not realize the impact of your unkind words. It is not only the words that you use but also your facial expression, body language, etc. that can hurt someone’s feelings. It is not only your words but also your actions. The teacher then shows the apple where positive words were given. There are no bruises inside this apple. That is because our positive words and actions are gifts that we give each other. If you look really close, what do you see in the middle of the apple? …a STAR. You see a star because you are a star to someone when you give the gift of a positive word or action. You make yourself a star and you are a star to the other person. That is why it is always important to use kind words. You do not want to be responsible for “bruising” someone on their inside.
Middle School Extension: Middle School teachers and counselors may use this activity during small groups or as a beginning of the school year activity. Teachers or counselors may incorporate the use of cell phones, e-mails, texts, instant messaging, etc. Middle school students do not realize the impact of such devices may have on another student. These devices take out the emotional aspect and when they may be joking, the other person does not realize it and take the information personally.
High School Extension: High School teachers may use this activity as a club activity; such as, student council, peer mediators, or school ambassadors. Students may not realize how a joke may turn into a devastating scenario. In Language Arts, this activity could be used as an introduction activity for a writing assignment. The students could write of a time that another individual hurt them by the use of words, texts, e-mail, etc. They can write about the event and how this made them feel.
Home Extension: Parents may use this activity to show their child how easily a joke, negative statement or action can “snowball” into a larger negative experience that could have a terrible ending. You do not know all the negative experiences that an individual may have in their life. Your one negative statement, joke, action that may seem small to you may be HUGE to the other person. That one negative statement, joke, or action could lead to a serious situation that was not meant to happen.
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