Trouble Talk:

An important discussion in any classroom is identifying what kind of talk constitutes “trouble talk”. 

What is Trouble Talk?

  • spreading rumours, gossiping
  • saying hurtful things
  • sharing information that is not yours to share

Advice for Dealing with Trouble Talk:

  • don’t join in
  • don’t pass on rumours
  • change the subject
  • hang out with kids who make you feel safe

The Toothpaste Experiment:

Mr. Peabody’s Apples;

by Madonna

Tommy sees Mr Peabody taking an apple from Mr Funkadeli’s fruit market and is very surprised that he doesn’t pay. Then Tommy sees it happen again and decides that Mr Peabody is a thief. It is then up to Mr Peabody to teach Tommy about the importance of truth and the power of words.

Purpose: For students to draw correlations between the ease of squeezing toothpaste out (spreading rumours, gossip, trouble talk…) and the impossibility of getting all the toothpaste back in the tube (getting the words back once they’re spoken).


  • a tube of toothpaste for every 4-5 students (you can use sample size toothpastes)
  • paper towel to cover desk or table
  • toothpicks for every student


1. Pass out 1 toothpaste tube to each small group and supply them with paper towel.

2. Tell students they will be timed for two challenges. On your “go”, they are to empty the toothpaste container as quickly as they can onto the paper towel; they will have one minute. Time them for one minute and then have them stop. (Chances are all tubes will be totally squeezed out!)

3. Next, tell them that this time they will have tools and will have triple the amount of time. Pass out toothpicks. On your “go”, they are to get all the toothpaste back in the tube. (Chances are you will see some creative and messy strategies, but they will very quickly see that the task is impossible.

Connections and Conclusion:

4. Read “Mr. Peabody’s Apples”, by Madonna.

5. Have students record their experiment and journal the connections between the toothpaste experiment and “trouble talk”.