Grades 5 & 6

How Friends Fit In

In this section, students explore their relationships with others. The activities focus on peer relationships and how peer pressure, influence, and acceptance affect their lives. There are also activities on refusal skills to help equip students with strategies for saying "no."

Activity 5: What Would You Do?

  • Skills: Understanding peer relationships/Dealing with peer pressure
  • Suggested Time Consideration: 30 minutes
  • Rationale

    This exercise and the scenarios it includes are designed to get students to reflect on the effects of peer influence. Explain that peer influence means being influenced by what we observe in other people, rather than by any overt pressure we are made to feel. We are merely reacting to our own thoughts rather than anything someone says or does to us.

  • Getting Started

    Share the digital activity link below with your students. You may wish to present the activity on an interactive whiteboard and follow along with students as they complete it individually, or model possible choices students might make.

    Launch Activity

    Ask students to read the activity introduction. Then, read this aloud:

    Scenario 1: The Sneaker Dilemma – You hang around with a particular group of friends. When a new style of sneaker hits the market, a lot of your friends go out and buy them. But, you don’t have the money for them, and besides, you don’t particularly like the way they look. How do you feel when you realize you are the only one in the group who has not purchased the sneakers? What are the different ways you can manage this situation?

  • Talking About It

    In the digital activity, students will see the scenario above. Then, they will see a “Choices and Consequences” branching activity that will ask them to make decisions based on the scenario. Talk with them about the decisions they make and ask them these questions:

    • What is the dilemma?
    • What sorts of things may go through your mind in this situation?
    • Has anyone ever been in a similar situation?
    • What are the options? (Write the options on the board.)
    • What consequences might ensue from each option? (Write the consequences on the board.)
    • What do you think you would do in this situation and why?

    Students will be presented with three additional scenarios. For each, they will be asked to make decisions based on the scenario. Read each scenario to the students. Then, talk with them about the decisions they make and ask them the questions above. In discussing these scenarios:

    • Acknowledge the difficulty students face with decisions that may be hard for them.
    • Reinforce the notion that a student who disagrees with one or two aspects of group behavior can still find a place in the group. Remind students that they chose to be friends before the issue came up, so there are other qualities that they like about each other.
    • Explain that if they disagree with friends on important issues like using tobacco, they can refocus their friendship on the issues they do agree on.
    • Uphold the idea that the ability to think and act independently is by no means easy, but it is to be admired.

    Scenario 2: After School – You go with a group after school to a friend’s house. There is no adult supervision, and some of your friends are there smoking cigarettes. They want you to join them, but you are really opposed to smoking. What sort of position does this put you in with your friends? Can it jeopardize your friendships? What sort of feelings and thoughts would go through your head? What should you do?

    Scenario 3: The New Friend – You meet a new kid in your neighborhood and you hit it off well, but when he shows up at school, none of your friends like him. Some make fun of him behind his back, while others just refuse to warm up to him. You want to remain friends with the new kid, but how do you feel about hanging out with someone your other friends don’t like? What do you think your friends expect you to do in this situation?

    Scenario 4: Old Friends, New Changes – You have had the same set of friends for several years now, and you are all very close, which you like. Lately, however, you notice that some of your friends are changing. Some of them have started stealing, and the others seem to approve. They’ve lost interest in the things you used to do together, like school sports, and you still want to be on some of the teams. What sort of changes are going on here, and what effects could they have on you? Can friendships change and still be friendships? What roles might these friends have played in your life in the past, and what roles might they play in the future?

  • Wrapping Up

    After reading the scenarios and making decisions, students will be asked to answer this question:

    What do you think will really happen if you don’t go along with your friends?

    Use the supplemental “Skater Boy” video to complement this section.