By Ralzie Yusuf, AmeriCorps member serving on the Parker-Varney Elementary School Team.
For Bullying Prevention Month, I have put up an anti-bullying game on out bulletin board at Parker-Varney Elementary school. I used the slogan, “Be a Buddy, Not a Bully”. The game combines math and bullying to help the kids work on their counting, adding, and subtraction skills as they learn about bullying.
On the board, there is a number line from 0 to 40. There are two character pieces: red and green. The object of the game is to get to the top of the number line by “performing kind acts”. There are instruction cards which have kind and unkind acts written on them and how many steps to take. Kind acts move their character piece forward and unkind acts move them backwards. For example, one card might read “you pushed a classmate, move back 10 spaces,” but another might read “you complimented a classmate, move forward 6 spaces!”
I came up with this concept of the game after thinking about the long-term effects of being bullied. I noticed how difficult social skills were for young adults after being bullied throughout their childhood. Many studies have shown that children who are bullied may develop anxiety and depression, which can follow them into adulthood. Research has also shown a long-term connection with bullying and adult substance use and general health. Being bullied can bring you down mentally and emotionally whereas having a support can help you up. This sparked my math brain into thinking about positive and negative numbers.
I put the game up in hope that the kids would be able to get a visual of bringing people down by bullying and the good feeling of reaching the top of the number line by helping others up. I hope it encourages them to be more kind to their friends, classmates, and peers.
So far only a few kids have interacted with the game, but they enjoy it! There are even some girls that run to the board during dismissal and play until they have to leave. During afterschool one day, a student told me that every time he walks by the game, he does one move and he finally reached the top that day. He was so proud of himself and said to me, “Ya know, that game is actually kind of fun, Ms. Yusuf.”
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