Family Resources on Tangled

Project and Purpose

Students consider the reasons why drugs and alcohol are dangerous for children.

Essential Questions

What are ways using drugs and alcohol can tangle up our lives?

If this lesson was used in the classroom: Students reviewed the reasons why drugs and alcohol are dangerous for children. During part of the class activity students created a tangled web as a way of discussing the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

Getting Ready for the Conversation

Learning to stay away from drugs and alcohol at a young age is important to healthy development. This print lesson has students discuss the dangers of alcohol and drugs for children.

Conversation Starters and Practice at Home Activities

The first two items are for follow-up after participating in class activities.

Tell what you found interesting about the “tangled” activity. What does the word “tangled” mean?

Share some of the interesting comments that were made during the “tangled” discussion.

Why is it important to avoid drugs and alcohol at your age?

Who are the people you should tell if someone offers you drugs or alcohol? Why is it important to tell?

School to Home Resources on Tangled


  • Place to make a list visible to all
  • Ball of yarn
  • Index cards
  • Markers
  • Tape
  • Direct Instruction example will be difficult to conduct remotely, if in a remote environment change this to an explanation



1. Write the word tangle on the board and ask students to define the word both as a noun and a verb. Definitions to consider include: to twist together in a knot, to fight or argue with someone, to create a mess, to confuse or put something in complete disorder.

2. Ask students to make a list of ways that drugs and alcohol tangle up lives. Post it on the board. Things to consider that drugs and alcohol can do:

  • Make you sick
  • Can cause disease
  • Can get you in accidents
  • Cause depression
  • Make you violent
  • Cause memory loss
  • Damage your organs such as kidneys, liver, stomach, lungs, throat
  • Make you addicted
  • Get you in trouble with the law and cause you to be arrested
  • Make you lose your friends

3. Explain to students that they will use this list in today’s activity.

Direct Instruction (I do):

1. Gather students to sit in a circle.

2. Show the ball of yarn and explain that students will use the yarn to create a tangle. Demonstrate the proper way to toss the ball of yarn and hold onto the string.

3. As for two volunteers to help you; one should sit across from you and the other at a diagonal from you.

4. Demonstrate how to call the person’s name and then toss the ball of yarn to volunteer #1 while holding onto the end of the string.

5. Have volunteer #1 hold the end of the string and call the name of and toss the ball of yarn to volunteer #2. Stress how important it is to hold onto the string with one hand and toss with the other.

6. Take the ball of yarn back and rewind the string but have the two volunteers remain ready. Add another step to the process. Before tossing the ball of yarn, say the person’s name and shout out one of the ways drugs and alcohol tangle up lives. Point out that students can use the list on the board as well as original thoughts in the activity. You might say, “Hey, Darrell, drugs can make you throw up!”

7. Demonstrate all the steps: saying the person’s name, shouting out one way drugs and alcohol tangle up lives, tossing the ball of yarn and holding onto the string tightly.

8. Gather the ball of yarn back and rewind; thank the volunteers.

9. Ask if students have any questions.

Guided Exploration (We do):

1. Tell the entire class they will now participate in the tangled experiment. Remind students that they should toss the ball of yarn to a person who has not yet received the ball of yarn. The yarn should be held tightly and above the ground at all times.

2. Continue until everyone has received the yarn once and shouted out one way drugs and alcohol tangle up lives.

Independent Practice (You do):

1. Ask everyone in the class to carefully and gently lay the tangle down on the floor in front of them. What happens to the tangle?

2. Give each student an index card and a marker and have students write the statement they shouted or another way drugs tangle up lives on one side of the card. They should write in letters large enough for people to see.

3. When they have finished writing, they should tape the index card somewhere on the tangle without stepping on or into the tangle.

4. Have students stand up and walk around the tangle.

5. Ask them to comment on what they see, what they have learned about drugs and alcohol, and ways they can avoid being tangled up in them.

6. If possible, take a picture of the tangle.


Ask students what they think should happen to this tangle. Should it be displayed to warn others of the dangers of drugs and alcohol? Should there be a ceremonial throwing away to show how they will not get tangled up in drugs and alcohol? What would send a powerful message to others and provide a strong reminder for themselves?

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