Pink Shirt Day is coming again. Depending on where you live in Canada, you might observe this anti-bullying awareness day in February or September (or even April or May). Regardless of when you wear your pink shirt, the movement to bring awareness to bullying has begun to spread worldwide. Do you need an activity to do in your upper elementary classroom?
Do you know how Pink Shirt Day came about? The movement started in Canada when two boys saw another boy being teased for wearing a pink shirt to school. They went out and bought lots of pink shirts and started handing them out to friends. They all wore pink shirts to school the next day as a way to support their classmate.
Since then, agencies around the world that fight against bullying have started adopting the wearing of pink shirts to stand up to bullying. This story is included in our free activity set found on Teachers Pay Teachers and in our Brain Ninjas Shop.
We’ve written a drama circle all about the origins of Pink Shirt Day in Canada for students in upper elementary. It is available in our TpT Store and our Brain Ninjas Shop. If you’ve never tried a drama circle, you can learn more with the free kindness drama circle listed at the bottom of this post.
Here are some ways to observe Pink Shirt Day
Learn about the history of Pink Shirt Day
You can learn the back story of Pink Shirt Day by checking out the official website. This is also the official website where you can purchase shirts that help fund the awareness programs.
If you have older students, the more mature version of this story is told for International Day of Pink which supports members of the LGTBQ2+ communities.
Read books about kindness
There is no substitute for a great book about kindness. You can find a list of books about kindness on our site. There are so many great books available these days.
Don’t forget that older students love pictures books too. Don’t assume they won’t enjoy a short story and there are so many different reading activities that can be done with a picture book.
We set up a bucket of books that students are welcome to read anytime. We also invite younger students to our classroom and read the books to them. It’s easy to read a book over the announcements or a screen virtually too.
Make a Pledge
Work with your students to come up with a pledge that your students will make and keep to prevent bullying in your classroom and school. Write these out and hang them in your school.
Do some writing activities
We have included some basic writing activities in our free package. They revolve around encouraging people not to be a bystander, speaking up and preventing bullying.
Our students needed a little help coming up with ideas to write about. We created a set of Kindness Writing Prompts that feature three different prompts each day. Students can have some choice, but there are ten full days of prompts. In fact, there are so many, (thirty of them) that you can spread them out for a whole month. They come in paper and digital versions so you can make them work no matter what’s happening in your classroom. You can find them in our Teachers Pay Teachers Store or Brain Ninjas Shop.
Build some positive relationships
One of the most effective ways to defeat bullying is to help your students build positive relationships with each other. We have taken lots of time to work with our students to develop lessons that help them learn how to foster positive relationships with each other-including online.
Check out Building Positive Relationships for Grades 4-6 which includes the online portion. Our Building Positive Relationships for Grades 1-3 includes activities more suited to younger students and does not include the online portion.
These lessons explicitly teach was bullying is and is not in addition to giving students ways to prevent, report and stop bullying.
If your school has kindness as one of its pillars or foundations, you can also take part in World Kindness Day.
Wear Pink Shirts
Encourage your students or even your school to wear pink shirts, Choose the official day or choose any day that works for your school.
If your school has the opportunity, design your own pink shirts and wear them for your special day. Your students could have a contest to design the official shirts for some of the different agencies that support anti-bullying initiatives.
Create buddy systems
Partner your students up with older and younger students who can look out for each other around the school. They can read together or do different activities throughout the year. Buddies or family groupings can help students get along because they all know each other. The more people you know, the less reason there is to fear or assume things about each other.
One way to get your students to know each other is through games, such as this Would You Rather…? game that you can get for free.
Another activity we often do is have students learn to work together. There are several activities included in our Communication, Teamwork and Classroom Community set.
Do a collaborative art project
When students work together on a single project, they have a united goal.
One of our favourite art projects is to simply put students in groups (usually we have four groups in our class of 29 students). Each group gets the largest piece of paper we can manage (those rolls of butcher block paper are great for this) along with paint and brushes.
We ask each group to paint a mural about kindness. Those are the only instructions we give to students, though we do give them a rough estimate of how much time they’ll have to work.
The truth is, the painting doesn’t matter. This whole project is about learning to work together as a team to paint the painting.
Create a Collaborative Poster
If you don’t want to go quite at dramatic as painting, try this collaborative poster colouring activity. Students each colour a piece or two and then it gets put together in one big poster. Our collaborative poster sets come with 18, 24 or 36 pieces so they work with lots of different group sizes. We have lots of different ones, but the Pink Shirt Day set works great this time of year. You can find it in our TpT Store or Brain Ninjas Shop.
Create a reporting system
Work with your students to create a system to report bullying. Visit the Royal Canadian Mounted Police website to talk about what bullying is and how to report it to authorities.
Teach kindness all year round
Teaching students to be kind shouldn’t be a one-day event. We encourage kindness all the time with our students. Understanding that kindness is one of the best ways to prevent bullying. It’s part of our classroom culture.
We created the Be Kind Challenge last year and it was a big hit. Students brainstormed one hundred acts of kindness anyone could do in our classroom or school. We made a huge list. Then, the challenge was for students to complete as many of the acts as possible. You can get a copy of the Be Kind Challenge by email or you can find your own copy in our Resource Library.
And don’t forget to grab your free copy of our Pink Shirt Day Activities.
Model kindness with your students and praise the students that show kindness to others. Regularly discuss how bullying impacts others and how we as a society can prevent it.
We have book lists for other holidays and subject areas:
Christmas Books We Love
Cozy Up With These Great Winter Books
Books for Ramadan and Eid
Remembrance Day Books
Books for Lunar New Year
Orange Shirt Day (Residential Schools)
Books for Holi Festival of Colours
Black History Month Books
Books for Social Emotional Learning
Books with Great LGTBQ+ Characters
Asian Heritage Month
Earth Day Books
Students can never learn too much about kindness. We designed this Kindness Drama Circle as another way to help our students recognize kind acts (and encourage them to try more of them). We’ll send a copy directly to your inbox when you sign up for our mailing list. If you’re already a ninja, you can find this activity in our Resource Library.
What activities do you do in your classroom to discourage bullying and promote kindness? Share your ideas with us in the comments below.