It is important to educate kids about the risks associated with alcohol abuse. The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry reports that some kids start experimenting with alcohol before they reach 12 years of age, so it is important that they be educated about the substance before they reach adolescence. The most effective way to teach the impact of alcohol to middle school students is set up activities that show the consequences of alcohol consumption. There are many safe, legal activities that can show children the disorienting effects of alcohol. These activities are appropriate for students in sixth, seventh and eighth grade.
Tell the students that you have an unconventional lesson planned for the day, that you will be using toys and activities to demonstrate the consequences of alcohol intoxication. Do not say what, exactly, you are going to be doing; rather, tell them that you will be exposing them to several activities that will show them the dangers of alcohol abuse.
Bring impairment goggles for students to wear, and let them attempt to catch a softball that is tossed at them. After the students have tried catching the ball with "beer goggles" on, let them try it without the goggles. Make note of how much better they performed without the goggles and ask them whether they would be likely to get into a car accident if their vision were what it was while wearing the goggles.
Have the students say the alphabet out loud. Once they are finished, tell the students to hold their tongue down with their index finger. Ask them to try repeating the alphabet with their tongue depressed. They will not be able to recite the alphabet intelligibly. Explain to the students that this is what it is like to try to speak while severely intoxicated.
Let students cut images out of magazines. The images should be of alcohol advertisements and consequences of alcohol consumption. Beer ads, liquor ads and Mothers Against Drunk Driving ads are ideal. Have the students make a collage out of these images, placing the alcohol ads on one side of the page and the wreckage scenes on the other. Explain to the students that this collage represents the difference between the world beverage companies want them to see and the actual world, in which alcohol is responsible for much loss and suffering.
Explain the meaning of the day's activities to the students. Be clear that you do not intend to preach or moralize but rather to explain the realities of something that many students will encounter before their middle school careers are over. Explain the link between the alcohol simulation exercises and the collage; namely, the fact that the distorted perceptions brought on by alcohol consumption can lead to the kinds of tragedies shown in the collage. Conclude by telling students that they are responsible for their own choices and that those choices will likely be coming up for them soon if they haven't already.
Based in St. John's, Canada, Andrew Button has been writing since 2008, covering politics, business and finance. He has contributed to newspapers and online magazines, including "The Evening Telegram" and cbc.ca. Button is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Memorial University in St. John's.