23 Inspiring Red Ribbon Week Ideas and Activities for Schools

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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!

1. Decorate your doors

Doors decorated for Red Ribbon Week
@dicksonstarspta/door decorations via Instagram

This is probably one of the most popular Red Ribbon Week ideas! Many schools turn it into a contest.

2. Hold a coloring contest

Coloring pages for Red Ribbon Week with a key theme (Red Ribbon Week Ideas)
The Counseling Teacher/coloring via thecounselingteacher.com

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.

3. Come up with a slogan

Say no to drugs, and yes to chicken nuggs
@kmsmiddles/chicken nuggs via Instagram

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.

4. 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.

5. Write a song or rap

Watch this video for inspiration, then have kids write their own Red Ribbon Week song or rap!

6. Take a school-wide pledge

Happy to Be a Healthy Me red banner signed by students (Red Ribbon Week ideas)
Naomie Tate/pledge via Pinterest

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.

7. Link up to be drug-free

Red paper chain with students' names written on each link
Lisa Danker/links via Pinterest

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.”

8. Create a Red Ribbon Week bulletin board

Bulletin board featuring a red ribbon made from red handprints
Staten Island NYC Living/bulletin board via statenislandnycliving.com

Collaborate with students to make a bulletin board that shows off their choice to be drug-free.

9. Add a new reward tag

School Life

Do you use reward tags in your classroom? These Red Ribbon Week tags are only 37 cents each when you buy 25.

Buy it: Red Ribbon Brag Tags at School Life

10. Spell out a message

Live Drug Free spelled out on a chain link fence using plastic cups
@nmmshuskies/message via Instagram

Poke colored plastic cups through a chain-link fence to spell out your school’s drug-free message.

11. Map out ways to resist peer pressure

Free printable peer pressure concept map worksheet (Red Ribbon Week Ideas)
The Owl Teacher/wheel via theowlteacher.com

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.

12. Explore hands-on, hands-off items

Two jars with red and green handprints, with items like cough drops and crayons
The Handy School Counselor/hands-off items via thehandyschoolcounselor.blogspot.com

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.

13. Paint rocks with Red Ribbon Week messages

Small rock painted red saying
@payne_stuco/rocks via Instagram

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.

14. Eat bugs, don’t do drugs

Students holding a red paper frame saying "I'd rather eat bugs than do drugs"
Bright Futures Counseling/photo frame via brightfutures-counseling.com

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.

15. Draw a chalk message

Three students lying by a chalk drawing saying Be happy, be brave, be drug-free (Red Ribbon Week Ideas)
@deahq/chalk via Instagram

Provide a big box of sidewalk chalk and send kids out to the playground to draw their best drug-free art and messages.

16. Learn what’s healthy and what’s hurtful

Free printable Healthy or Hurtful worksheet (Red Ribbon Week Ideas)
1st Grade Hip Hip Hooray/healthy vs. hurtful via hensonsfirstgrade.blogspot.com

Being drug-free is all about making good choices. Use this worksheet to talk about healthy and hurtful actions, then brainstorm other ideas with your class.

17. Fundraise with sponsored red ribbons

Red Ribbon Week Bow Sponsorship flyer
@mhainoc/bows via Instagram

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.

18. 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.

19. Make Red Ribbon Week bookmarks

Anti-drug themed handmade bookmarks (Red Ribbon Week Ideas)
@cks_nashville/bookmarks via Instagram

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.

20. Take a group photo

Students and teachers wearing red posing in the shape of a red ribbon, photographed from above (Red Ribbon Week Ideas)
Fillmore Gazette/red ribbon photo via fillmoregazette.com

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.

21. Sign a pledge poster

Red Ribbon Week poster with student signatures as pledges to be drug free
Oriental Trading

This Red Ribbon Week autograph poster encourages students to sign their pledge to choose a drug-free lifestyle.

Buy it: Red Ribbon Week Autograph Poster at Oriental Trading

22. Search for a red ribbon

Red Ribbon Week pins, bookmarks, and bracelets
Amazon

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:

Buy it: Red Ribbon Week Pins at Amazon; Drug-Free Ribbons at Amazon; Live Drug-Free Bracelets at Amazon

23. Wear a “Say No to Drugs” T-shirt

Red t-shirt saying
Amazon

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 at Amazon

What are your school’s favorite Red Ribbon Week ideas? Come share in the We Are Teachers HELPLINE group on Facebook!

Plus, check out 10 Conversation Starters To Spark Authentic Classroom Discussions About Drugs and Alcohol.

These Red Ribbon Week ideas will help you encourage students to make good choices. Coloring contests, door decor, dress-up days, and more!

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