A Teacher’s Perspective on the Third Grade Life Choices Coloring & Activity Book

Throughout the month of August, we have turned our blog over to some of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ) school-based initiative participants, so they can share their firsthand experiences with our programs.

This week we are hearing from Nadine Galasso, a third-grade teacher from Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Union City.  She shared her experience as an educator and the reactions from her students to PDFNJ’s Third Grade Life Choices Coloring & Activity Book that is made possible through a generous grant from the PSEG Foundation.

If you are interested in receiving the 2021 Third Grade Activity Book for your classroom, please be sure to fill out the online form today. Additionally, the 2020 Activity Book can also be immediately downloaded on our website as well.

All the best,

Angelo Valente - Ex. Director, PDFNJ


By Nadine Galasso

My classroom received the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey Activity Book in February and the students were really excited. It had a colorful, attractive and inviting cover. They enjoyed the puzzles and wanted to be the first to finish each page. They liked the craft activities included to make a bookmark and pencil holder. We were excited to see New Jersey references appear throughout the booklet too. One page listed things to do instead of using drugs or alcohol. I found this to be a great reference for the students, to know alternatives to using drugs. It all comes down to handling your feelings, and knowing ways to help yourself can allow you to make better choices. They liked coming up with more ideas too.

The Activity Book definitely raised discussions about alcohol and substance abuse. Eight and nine-year olds love to share their thoughts and feelings and once they got started, they didn’t want to stop. Many of them talked about experiences in their families with older siblings and you could see that they were affected by these instances. They had a sense of how badly these things can affect your health and had strong opinions against using them. That’s why I feel this is a good age to open the discussion of substance abuse with children before peer pressure and temptation come along. Giving them knowledge and information on the subject will help them make better choices and allow them to not be afraid to say no.

I wasn’t surprised by how much the students had to say on the subject, but I was surprised by the fact that most students wanted to speak up about it. Their fearlessness to talk and willingness to share impressed me. Students may have older siblings, cousins, or a parent dealing with addiction and it can be very scary. Being able to talk with others and learn more about drug abuse helped increase their understanding and awareness. We are fortunate to have a school psychologist in our building and he was available to speak with the class if needed, and a couple of students requested to meet with him. 

Most of the students signed the contract in the opening of the book that asked them to lead a healthy lifestyle. In fact, they were very serious and diligent in getting a parent to sign as well. 

I look forward to receiving the booklet again and would recommend it to fellow teachers as a supplement to their SEL curriculum. It talks about a serious subject in a kid-friendly and empowering way. It connected well with our growth mindset initiative. I feel it’s important to help children deal with stress and self-confidence; it’s easy to make bad choices when you feel down about yourself. We discuss ways to better handle stress and create positive self-talk. The Partnership for a Drug-Free Activity Book reinforced and built upon these ideas.

Additionally, it was good to have the book as a download during quarantine. Students were able to refresh their memory and review/share the information with parents again. I was able to remind them of our list of activities to reduce stress, and being home for months without going outside was stressful, so I do feel this was helpful for parents. It also encouraged them to lookup other places to see in NJ: our beautiful beaches, hiking trails, parks and lakes. Hopefully they added these to their list and will get to visit them real soon!

Blog Updates

Enter your email address and we'll send you an email each time we post something new.