Rumors and Toothpaste

The Secret Olivia Told MeI read, The Secret that Olivia Told Me, by N. Joy, to fourth and fifth grade students to begin a dialogue about rumors.  We talked about how a rumor is something that is spread from one person to another.  A rumor can start out as something true, but people add information to it that makes it get bigger and bigger.  We talked about what students should do if they hear a rumor.  One student suggested that she would say, "I'm not interested," if someone tried to tell her a rumor.  Other students suggested that they could tell an adult, tell the person spreading the rumor that it is not kind, or tell the person that the rumor is about so that they can get help from an adult.

To give students a visual reminder about rumors, I used toothpaste.  I had students volunteer to squeeze toothpaste out onto a paper plate until the tube was empty.  I asked the students what the toothpaste was meant to represent.  A student commented, "The toothpaste gets bigger and bigger just like a rumor."

Each time the toothpaste was squeezed out, it represented someone spreading a rumor.  When the tube was empty, I asked for another volunteer to put all of the toothpaste back in the tube.  Students wanted to try to put the toothpaste back in, but we discussed how it would be impossible to get all of the toothpaste back in. One student shared, "the toothpaste is just like a rumor. Once [a rumor] is out you can't put it back in." 

What books or lessons do you use to teach students about rumors and gossip? Comment below, email metweet, or share on the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page!

Danielle is a K-12 Certified School Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and blogger at School Counselor Blog, a place where school counselors share innovative ideas, creative lesson plans, and quality resources.  Contact Danielle via email, follow her on twitter, and become a fan of the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page.


  1. I'm a school counselor also and use the toothpaste and the book Mr. Peabody's Apples by Madona...I also use a Coffee filter and talk about how we need to "filter" think about what we say before we say it. Fun to see/hear what others are doing out there.

  2. Can you explain a little more about how you use the coffe filter?

  3. I have done something similar with a cut out shape of a person and each time the student has said something negative to anohter or started a rumor we tore a piece off of the person and then at the end had them try to tape the pieces back together. Even when we could put the pieces back where they went, we talked abou how that person isnt the same as before.


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