After a few months away, I visited Canyon Springs for the 3rd time this school year. Here is what we talked about:
4th Grade: Don’t Let Your Dreams Go Up In Smoke
I talked to the 4th grade about marijuana and THC. I spent the first part of class answering questions that immediately popped into the kids head regarding what they have heard about marijuana and THC. After that I had the kids read a story about a boy that started using THC in middle school and the problems that caused him in school and sports. Some of the points emphasized were:
- Marijuana is not a vitamin and its not a benign food.
- Marijuana is a plant that contains the drug THC.
- THC makes your heart beat faster and affects balance, vision and coordination, reaction time and motivation.
- THC makes it hard to remember things and negatively impacts learning.
- Smoking/vaping THC is just as bad for your lungs as smoking/vaping tobacco.
Even though the 4th graders (thankfully) don’t know a lot about marijuana at this young age, almost all of them had heard of it. This 4th grade lesson is the first of many that I have with the kids to help them understand the dangers of using THC while their bodies and brains are still developing.
5th Grade – Keep Off the Grass
We also talked about marijuana in the 5th grade. After asking the kids what they already knew about marijuana (they had all heard of it, but there were a lot of misconceptions about what it actually is: a plant that contains the drug THC), we watched some clips from a video called “The Marijuana Files”. The video discusses the ongoing studies into the permanent negative effects of THC on the brains of kids. The show follows two teenage hosts that travel across the country to interview researchers. While we watched the video, the kids filled in a handout that points out the effects of THC on the heart, lungs and brain.
I think its important to talk to the kids about marijuana in depth at least once a year, and each presentation builds on the material from the previous year. I emphasized to the kids that no matter what the laws are for adults (they are continually changing), drugs like THC, alcohol and nicotine have been and always will be against the rules for kids. But every kid knows they are not allowed to have it, so I want to spend the time I have in class talking to them about how using these drugs at a young age can not only be dangerous in the present but also damage their future. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
6th Grade – Decision Making
We talked more about decision making in the 6th Grade.
First, I handed out a sheet with some pointers on making good decisions. I didn’t make this stuff up myself; this wisdom goes all the way back to the Greek philosopher Aristotle (see picture).
After that, the kids broke up into groups and played a game using a sheet of scenarios. There are 13 situations for them to discuss. The kids take turns reading the scenarios, and then they reveal their answers Rock, Paper, Scissors style with the Yes, No and Maybe cards. Some of the themes and topics we covered include:
- You have a chance to cheat; what do you do?
- A friend tells you a secret; do you tell?
- You find a wallet with money and an ID; do you try to return it?
- Your friend asks you to help them shoplift; do you do it?
- You hear a rumor that your boyfriend/girlfriend is cheating on you. Do you break up with them?
- You find a vape device in your brother’s room; do you tell?
The kids really got into it, and we finished the class by talking about some of the scenarios as a group. I emphasized that our decisions shape who we are and how others see us; I want the kids to understand that having integrity and doing the right thing is a habit that needs to be ingrained just like brushing your teeth and eating healthy.
Kids this age have a good handle on what is right and what is wrong when it comes to these types of decisions. However, kids that age (and sometimes adults too) would rather come up with elaborate reasons to justify doing what’s wrong instead of just keeping it simple and doing what’s right.