In February, I was able to go into 4th and 5th grade classrooms and give a valuable lesson on gossip. Several students already knew the meaning behind gossip and we talked about how it can take on various forms (rumors, exclusion, untrue stories, etc.) We talked about the impact gossip can have on peers and how it isn't safe, appropriate or kind. We also discussed that gossip can occur online through text messaging, group chats, etc. We also talked about the concept that once words leave our mouth, they cannot be taken back. To give the students a visual, we took a tube of toothpaste. Each student got to squeeze a bit out onto a plate (this represented the student starting to spread a rumor). Students watched as the toothpaste pile began to grow and how much bigger it got with each rumor that was spread. Eventually, all students had taken their turn and they could see how big the gossip had grown. I then asked the students to try and "take back" the rumors, or get the toothpaste back into the tube. The students found this VERY difficult as it doesn't go back in very easily. The idea behind the activity is that once our words leave our mouth, it is difficult to take them back. We did discuss ways we can try and fix the situation by apologizing or admitting that we had contributed. We also discussed ways we can stop gossip in it's tracks: by NOT passing the rumor/gossip along, notifying the person who it is being spread about, or reaching out to an adult for help. I believe our students loved discussing the subject and loved the opportunity to have some fun with toothpaste!