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Soft and hard words

This is ANOTHER way to show how words can hurt! I did this activity with my students today. I started by asking if anyone thought that words could hurt them. They all said "No!" So then I asked, "Okay, what if I said to you that I didn't like that pink stripe on your shoe or that I thought your hair looked nasty today? How would you feel? Did those words hurt you?" Of course, they all answered "Yes!" and that began our discussion of how words can hurt us even if they don't give us a bruise or a cut that we can see. I divided chart paper into two parts and labeled one side "soft words" and the other side "hard words". We brainstormed what soft words would be. Words like "I like you. Let's talk about it. Please may I play with you?" are soft words. Then we brainstormed what hard words would be. Words like "No, you can't play! I don't like you! Give me that!" are hard words. I wrote the words on chart paper in the proper columns. After brainstorming hard and soft words, I opened up a can of NEW play dough and set it on a plate. I showed the children a rock and a cotton ball. The cotton ball represented soft words and the rock represented hard words. I said one of the words (or phrases) that we had brainstormed and asked if it was a hard word or a soft word. If it was a soft word, I asked a student to touch the play dough with the cotton ball. Did it change? No, not really... Soft words make us feel special! (After I did this activity, I thought wouldn't it be fun if we attached the cotton balls somehow to the play dough and discussed how soft words make us look beautiful?!) If it was a hard word, I asked a child to touch it with the rock. Did it change this time? Yes! The rock made a dent! What does that mean? We continued until all our words were used up. Then we looked at our play dough. Did it look the same? No, it didn't. It had dents and bruises in it. And even when we tried to repair it, we couldn't get it to look the same again. Hard words DO hurt and they cause a person to hurt and it is hard for them to get back to their same person. All day today I heard my students saying things like "That was a hard thing you said to me. They made me feel bad." or "Those soft words made me feel happy!" We discussed how it was alright to be angry at someone, but it was important to use SOFT words when you were settling a problem. For example: "I don't like that you took that toy from me. Let's figure out a way that we can both be happy and play with it" are soft ways to settle problems. This is a great opener for beginning problem solving skills!
Happy teaching everyone! Cindy (KinderKay)


  1. What a neat way to take an abstract idea and make it concrete for your students.

  2. I LOVE this idea!!! I think that it is wonderful when we can put a visual to a very abstract concept. I can't wait to give this a try with my own students. Thanks for sharing!!!