Red Ribbon Week is held each year from October 23 to October 31. It’s the largest drug-abuse prevention campaign in the country, targeting K-12 students. Schools participate in a variety of ways, like hosting special speakers, throwing contests, decorating school campuses, and more. Try these Red Ribbon Week ideas to encourage students to make smart choices and live drug-free every day!
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1. Decorate your doors
This is probably one of the most popular Red Ribbon Week ideas! Many schools turn it into a contest.
2. Hold a coloring contest
Younger students love coloring contests! You can get this free key-themed printable to hold one of your own. Kids can also design their own sign or poster.
Learn more: The Counseling Teacher
3. Dress up for spirit days
We love how these themed spirit days reinforce the idea of making good choices. Clever and fun!
Learn more: Spirit Days/Not So Wimpy Teacher
4. Come up with a slogan
A few weeks in advance, hold a contest to come up with the best slogan. Students can compete as classes or individually. Use the winner as a theme and inspiration for Red Ribbon Week ideas.
5. Teach about prescription drug safety
The sobering truth is that 100 Americans die each day from opioid overdoses. Prevention education programs, especially those aimed at adolescents, have proven to be one of the most effective ways of combating prescription drug abuse. Reaching teens early with this information is more important than ever.
6. Write a song or rap
Watch this video for inspiration, then have kids write their own Red Ribbon Week song or rap!
7. Take a school-wide pledge
Many Red Ribbon Week ideas involve students taking the pledge to stay drug-free. Hang a giant banner, and ask each student to sign it as a promise to stay healthy and happy every day.
Source: Naomie Tate/Pinterest
8. Link up to be drug-free
Lisa Danker says, “‘Link Up to Be a Drug-Free School’ is our Red Ribbon theme at our school this year. Students signed strips of paper as their pledge, which linked together to make the chain that meandered down the hallway. It’s a cool visual.”
Source: Lisa Danker/Pinterest
9. Create a Red Ribbon Week bulletin board
Collaborate with students to make a bulletin board that shows off their choice to be drug-free.
Source: Staten Island NYC Living
10. Add a new reward tag
Do you use reward tags in your classroom? Grab this free one for kids to add during Red Ribbon Week.
Learn more: Not So Wimpy Teacher
11. Spell out a message
Poke colored plastic cups through a chain-link fence to spell out your school’s drug-free message.
12. Map out ways to resist peer pressure
Peer pressure is a real challenge for kids. This concept map gives them ways to resist that pressure. Get it for free at the link.
Learn more: The Owl Teacher
13. Explore hands-on, hands-off items
For very young students, Red Ribbon Week is a good time to introduce some basic concepts around drugs. This simple game helps teach them that they need to steer clear of medicines and other drugs unless a trusted adult provides them.
Learn more: The Handy School Counselor
14. Paint rocks with Red Ribbon Week messages
Spread your drug-free message in the community with painted rocks. Each student can decorate their own, then leave them around town for others to find.
15. Eat bugs, don’t do drugs
Don’t worry, there’s no need to eat real bugs! Give kids treats like gummi worms when they take their photo with this cute frame.
Learn more: Bright Futures Counseling
16. Draw a chalk message
Provide a big box of sidewalk chalk and send kids out to the playground to draw their best drug-free art and messages.
17. Learn what’s healthy and what’s hurtful
Being drug-free is all about making good choices. Use this worksheet to talk about healthy and hurtful actions, then brainstorm others with your class.
Learn more: 1st Grade Hip Hip Hooray
18. Fundraise with sponsored red ribbons
Raise money for Red Ribbon Week activities by offering sponsored bows. You can do this in a larger way among the community. Or offer smaller bows to students to hang around the school for a few dollars each.
19. Record a PSA
The DEA hosts a PSA contest for colleges and universities each year. Younger students can get involved too. Challenge your students to write and film their own PSA. Share the winners during morning announcements or on social media.
20. Make Red Ribbon Week bookmarks
Let students design bookmarks with a drug-free message. You could even hold a contest and make copies of the winners to distribute to the whole school!
21. Take a group photo
Dress in red, then have the whole school pose for a Red Ribbon Week photo op! Be a ribbon, spell out “drug-free,” or come up with your own creative option. Don’t forget to share to your school’s social media accounts.
Source: The Fillmore Gazette
22. Play Red Ribbon bingo
These Red Ribbon bingo cards emphasize the smart choices kids can make when choosing a drug-free lifestyle. Buy them at the link, or make your own cards to use with your class.
Buy it: Oriental Trading
23. Search for a red ribbon
Students will love this one! Hide a red ribbon somewhere on school property each day. The first student to find it and bring it to the principal’s office receives some Red Ribbon Week swag. Here are some options:
24. Wear a drug-free T-shirt
How cute is this shirt? It would be the perfect thing to wear to kick off Red Ribbon Week. It comes in kid sizes too, so you could also offer it as a prize for contests.
Buy it: Say Yes to Unicorns Shirt/Amazon
What are your school’s favorite Red Ribbon Week ideas? Come share on the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE Facebook group!
Plus, check out 10 Conversation Starters To Spark Authentic Classroom Discussions About Drugs and Alcohol.