Challenge your adolescents and pre-adolescents to take stock of their mouths as we enter into the renewing time of spring.

Make large pictures of mouths and discuss what kinds of words make our mouths ugly. Words like …

  • hate
  • shut up
  • you’re stupid
  • go away
  • I’m not sharing
  • did you hear what she did?

Discuss what words make our mouths attractive. Words like …

  • I like him
  • she’s nice
  • I don’t want to hear that
  • give him another chance
  • that’s really good
  • you can have some
  • do you want to come along?

A fable about gossiping…

A man and a woman were horrible gossips. They talked about every person they knew, and even people they didn’t know! They didn’t see anything wrong with gossiping; after all, it was only to the few dozen people they knew. Well, one day both the man and woman died and went to heaven. St. Peter met them at the gate of heaven and asked them about their gossiping. “Oh, yes,” they laughed. “We sure did gossip a lot but it didn’t hurt anyone. It couldn’t have spread far and we’d take it back if we could.” Then St. Peter took them to the top of a high mountain and gave them each a pillow stuffed with feathers and directed them to tear the pillows open. When each did, the feathers from the pillows were caught in the wind and spread over miles and miles in hundreds of different directions. “Now go,” St. Peter instructed, “and collect all the feathers.”

“Oh, St. Peter,” the two gossips cried. “We cannot possibly do that! The feathers have gone everywhere. It is impossible.”

“So it is impossible,” St. Peter said firmly, “for you to take back all the gossip you spread, for once it is started, gossip spreads and spreads.”

Make bulletin boards or individual posters showing words that build us up and words that break us down. Encourage students to show artistically how words hurt and heal us.