It is important to teach children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol early to decrease the chances they will fall victim to substance abuse later. These topics can be difficult or scary for children. Without detracting from the seriousness of the subject matter, try to keep the lessons lighter and accessible with some educational activities.

Role Playing

Classroom with young students.
Classroom with young students.

This activity provides good practice for real-life situations where peer pressure might be used to lure young people into trying drugs or alcohol. Allow each student a turn as the victim and another as the person offering harmful substances. The child playing the victim should think of a way to remove himself from the situation and act it out in the role-playing exercise. The other child playing the person offering the drugs or alcohol should try to predict what an actual person might say to peer pressure a child. This will allow the children to experience the situation from two different points of view, and it will help them to formulate a more effective plan of action to remove themselves from a problematic situation should it ever arise.

Anti-Drug Posters

Art supplies.
Art supplies.

Give children access to poster board and art supplies for this activity. Have them brainstorm their own unique anti-drug campaign and then create a poster or flyer depicting their ideas. The posters can be a general anti-tobacco, alcohol, and drug campaign, or you can have the class create a series of posters that are tailored to more specific substances highlighted in your awareness lessons. Have the children consider the negative physical and emotional effects of the substance or substances they choose to denounce. Also, have them think about different ways they can avoid these substances by staying occupied with healthy activities and lifestyle choices. Allow each child to present her finished poster in front of the class, and use this time to promote an open forum for classroom discussion. Hang the posters in the classroom or around the school when the children have finished presenting.

Future Goals Essay

Student writing an essay.
Student writing an essay.

Have the students create short essays that outline their future goals. Ask them to consider career and lifestyle aspirations. For children who are not enthused by a writing assignment, you could let them offer a visual interpretation, such as drawing or painting their goals instead. When they have finished, come together as a class and have each student share his goals. Then have the students discuss the ways in which drugs and alcohol abuse could interfere with the realization of those goals. This will help students to realize that drugs and alcohol can harm their chances of success and happiness.