Red Ribbon Week is a time to guide your students in learning about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. Below are several activities that highlight drug safety, drug prevention awareness, and the dangers of drug abuse. Of the ideas included, you’ll find activities appropriate for all different ages—from elementary students right through to high school. Read on for our best ways to ensure that your kids remain knowledgeable about drugs and alcohol and stay safe from their effects!
1. Prevention Obstacle Course
This activity is a fun idea for your tweens and teens to learn about the dangers of being under the influence. Start by putting together a typical obstacle course for your students with whatever equipment you have on hand. But here’s the education twist—participants will don “DUI goggles” that mimic the feeling of intoxication. This activity is a powerful lesson for your students in how drugs/alcohol can impair one’s senses and judgment.
Learn More: Guide, Inc.
2. Spirit Week
Here’s a dress code for a cause! Hold a spirit week where your students will get to show their opposition to drugs by dressing up with a different theme each day. This is a simple way to ensure drug awareness remains top of mind all week.
Learn More: Diary of a Not So Wimpy Teacher
3. SADD Chapter
Join or start a SADD Chapter in your school! Students Against Destructive Decisions, or SADD for short, is a great organization for middle and high school students to get involved in. Not only does it teach about making good choices, but it can offer your students plenty of leadership opportunities as well.
Learn More: SAAD
4. Bulletin Board Display
Say NO! …but why? Engage your students by having them write down their own reasons for saying no to drugs. Then, get them to create a bulletin board for your classroom or school that displays their motivation.
Learn More: Tes
5. Drug Prevention Motivational Speaker
A good motivational speaker can be one of the best ways to help your students learn about the pitfalls of drug and alcohol use. Hearing real stories and experiences from real people will only help strengthen drug prevention and education in your school.
Learn More: YouTube
6. Community Pledge Wall
Invite your students to take a school-wide pledge. They can write on a large banner to detail why they’re pledging to be drug and alcohol-free and sign their names. The “wall” can be displayed in a common area to allow others to join in by making a public pledge to live a healthy lifestyle. This will help you promote awareness of the dangers of drugs and alcohol while also uniting your students as a community.
Learn More: Papillion La Vista Community Schools
7. Door Decorating Contest
Shut the door on dangerous decisions. Have your class create a slogan and design to share in your celebration of Red Ribbon Week. Then, emblazon your classroom door with your anti-drug design… and challenge other classes to do the same! Enlist a neutral judge to determine a winner (or winners) thereafter.
Learn More: Teach Starter
8. Coloring Contest
Have your students use their artistic abilities to spread the word! A school-wide coloring contest is an easy way to get your kids engaged in Red Ribbon Week. Provide identical printouts for your learners to color and submit, or invite them to draw and color their own artwork. Winners’ works can then be displayed in the hallway.
Learn More: The Counseling Teacher
9. Involve Parents
Bring in your parent community! Get your students’ families involved by sending home ideas for discussion during Red Ribbon Week. Discussion starters can include topics around peer pressure, risks of drugs, and family values.
Learn More: Ask, Listen, Learn
10. Learn About Drugs
Raise drug awareness with your older students by teaching them about the physical effects of drugs. The Drug Enforcement Administration has a Get Smart About Drugs website that will help your students research and read about illegal drugs and understand their effects.
Learn More: Get Smart About Drugs
11. Use the Red Ribbon Week Tool Kit
This tool kit provides tons of resources to hold a successful celebration in your school or community. Use all or parts of the resource to teach your students about the history of the week, important facts, and how to create a drug prevention campaign.
Learn More: United States Drug Enforcement Administration
12. Essay Contest
Help your students put these lessons into their own words! Use this template to hold an essay contest at your school. A competition could be an extra-effective motivator for your teens to retain and consider the information they’re receiving about the dangers of drug and alcohol use.
Learn More: Ring Gold
13. Healthy Selfies
Create a healthy selfie! Have your students draw themselves in “selfie mode” as part of their public commitment to a drug-free lifestyle. They can even create comment hashtags. When they’ve finished, allow them to complete a gallery walk where they can “like” or comment on one another’s “healthy selfies.”
Learn More: Teachers Pay Teachers
For younger students, play a game of BINGO to ring home the message of Red Ribbon Week. Follow the usual rules of BINGO—but with a Red Ribbon Week twist: use cards that illustrate healthy decisions to help your mind and body. This is a no-pressure week to introduce these concepts to younger learners.
Learn More: Ministry to Children
15. Pill or Candy?
Knowing the difference when faced with this question can save a life. Have a discussion with your young students about how sometimes pills and medicine can look like candy— and this is why it’s important to know what’s going into your mouth. Red Ribbon Week happens close to Halloween so it’s a good time to discuss this topic.
Learn More: California Poison Control System
16. Coping with Stress
Teens are often stressed out—which can lead to drugs or alcohol as a means to try and alleviate some of the stress. Get ahead of this problem by helping your older students learn healthy ways of dealing with stress—keeping them off a path that may lead to drug use.
Learn More: National Institute on Drug Abuse
17. Drug Awareness Worksheet
As your students get older, it’s essential to focus on the hard facts. Scholastic provides several activities and resources to help your older students learn more about the dangers of alcohol and recreational drugs. These fact-based posters and worksheets will provide your teens with compelling, relatable arguments for a drug-free, alcohol-free lifestyle.
Learn More: Scholastic
18. Pledge for Elementary
Everyone has their own reason to stay drug-free! Have your younger students use this straightforward writing prompt to make a pledge to be drug-free so that they can be what they want to be when they grow up. This is a fantastic way to talk to younger kids about the practical side effects of drugs and alcohol.
Learn More: West Creek PTA
Kahoot is a great tool for engaging with your kids digitally. Explore some of their offerings created in collaboration with the National Institute on Drug Abuse to help your teens learn more about the facts of stress and drug abuse and how they relate to them.
Learn More: Kahoot
20. Virtual Assembly
Hold a school assembly to celebrate Red Ribbon Week—digitally! Virtual assemblies are a great option for easier, lower-prep school gatherings. Host one for Red Ribbon Week so that your entire school can engage in the activity!
21. Education for Educators
As you prepare for Red Ribbon Week, remember that it’s not just about your students learning—you may need a refresher too! Ensure that you—and your fellow teachers and administrators—are well-versed in drug awareness programs and methods. If possible, take some professional development courses so that you’re prepared for any tough questions your learners may throw at you.
Learn More: Too Good Programs
22. PSA Creation
Have your students create their own public service announcements about different topics related to Red Ribbon Week: saying no, the effects of drugs and alcohol, making good choices, peer pressure, etc. Kids love making videos and it’s a fun way that they can share what they’ve learned with others!
Learn More: Differentiated Teaching
23. Plant Flowers
Make sure your students have a natural reminder of their commitments! Plant the Promise will get your kids outside planting red tulips as a way to honor the promise they’re making to stay drug and alcohol-free. They’ll plant tulip bulbs during Red Ribbon Week in October and when the blooms appear in spring they’ll be a perfect reminder of the beauty of drug-free life.
Learn More: White Tulip
24. Puppet Show
Puppets with a lively message? Your young students will love the charm of a puppet show about staying drug-free—and your older students will love staging it! Let your older kids guide the scriptwriting and performance to create a relatable, accessible performance for your little ones. It’s not just fun; it’s a creative way to educate and engage!
Learn More: YouTube
25. Online Drug Awareness Quiz
Ready for an enlightening challenge? Engage your students and their parents in a virtual quiz on drug awareness. With every answer clicked, you’ll be fostering a united stand against drug abuse and sharing knowledge that’ll better equip your learners to make positive choices.
Learn More: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
26. Student Mentorship Program
Let’s build bridges of friendship and guidance! Create a mentorship program where your older students can share their insights with younger peers about drug-free living. Let connections grow, support flourish, and an encouraging atmosphere thrive.
Learn More: NIRSA
27. Peer Pressure Role-Play
Help your kids walk in someone else’s shoes! Have your students act out hypothetical scenarios where they confront the peer pressure that’s often related to drug use. Encourage them to feel their emotions, think through their responses, and find their voices. Then, invite other classes to view their role plays. This interactive idea will empower both the actors and the audience members to make better choices and consider their own agency.
Learn More: YouTube
28. Red Ribbon Run
Ready, set, run for a cause! Encourage your students to lace up their running shoes for a “Red Ribbon Run/Walk”. As they run, sporting red attire, they’ll feel both the power of unity and the practical benefits of a drug-free life.
Learn More: Red Ribbon
29. Speech Competition
Who doesn’t love a well-spoken word? Host a public speaking contest; allowing your students to voice their perspectives on drug prevention. Let them explore their ideas, articulate their thoughts, and stand confidently on stage. This is a great opportunity for your kids to consider their own views on drugs and alcohol while also honing their presentation and public speaking skills.
Learn More: YouTube
30. Neighborhood Awareness Drive
Empower your learners to be anti-drug ambassadors! To do so, guide them in taking the message of drug abuse prevention to locals by leading interactive discussions, distributing pamphlets, or hosting performances. As they talk and interact, your learners won’t just be learning; they’ll be changing the community one conversation at a time.
Learn More: Facebook
31. Film Screening
Lights, camera, reflection time! Show films or documentaries to your students that reveal the repercussions of drug abuse. As the screen lights up, invite them to delve into deep discussions, explore different viewpoints, and understand the broader societal impact of drug use.
Learn More: Miami Arch
32. Melodies and Rhymes Session
Are you kiddos ready for a musical journey? Invite them to communicate their dedication to a drug-free life through music and poetry. Discuss how their words or music may resonate with others in unexpected ways—spreading their anti-drug message through a different medium.
Learn More: YouTube
33. Yoga and Meditation Day
This idea invites you to guide your class through a mindful stretching session! Introduce your students to yoga and meditation as effective ways to manage the stress that so often leads older students to explore drug and alcohol use. After an introductory class, encourage them to continue the practice on their own as a powerful form of self-care.
Learn More: PBS