In this activity participants explore ways that they are different from each other and celebrate these differences.

WHAT TO KNOW:

Celebrating diversity is a core social and emotional competency, as well as an important foundation for preparing young people for a multi-cultural world. The goal is to present the differences among participants in a community as a strength, rather than something to be merely tolerated.  The whole can truly be said to be greater than the sum of its parts if we celebrate differences sincerely and consciously. One way to do this with children is to point out differences in opinion, perspective, life experience, culture, religion, etc. as they happen throughout the day. Be mindful of the images you present to young people in the artwork, books, and media you use in your classroom. The best choices are those that are both “mirrors” that reflect the diversity of family compositions, ethnicities, religions, and races in your classroom, but also “windows” into the larger diversity present in the world.

OBJECTIVES:

Participants will:

  1. discover many ways that we are different;
  2. experience finding out about each other by asking questions; and,
  3. reflect on how it feels to find out new things about each other.

COMMON CORE STANDARDS:

  • Anchor Standards for Literacy: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
    • ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.7 – Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
  • Anchor Standards for Writing: Production and Distribution of Writing
    • ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.4 – Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  • Anchor Standards for Writing: Range of Writing
    • ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.10 – Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.
  • Anchor Standards for Speaking and Listening: Comprehension and Collaboration
    • ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.1 – Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
    • ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.2 – Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

MATERIALS:

Gather Together/Warm Up/Bell Ringer (10 Minutes)

Read Aloud Todd Parr’s picture book, It’s Okay To Be Different. Before beginning ask: “As you listen, try to remember all the ways people in the book are different.”

Process: What were some of the ways the characters in the book were different? Was this book serious or silly? How do you think the message of this book might apply to our classroom or our school?

Main Activity: Play Human Bingo (15 Minutes)

Share with the group:

“The goal of this session is to discover people who are different from you and celebrate those differences.” Just by asking questions, students will find that there are many different experiences, backgrounds, and preferences in the group.

Give each participant a Human Bingo Card. For each question on the Human Bingo Card, students will find a person in the group who would answer it differently. For example, if you are left-handed, you have to find someone who is right-handed. The person you find who is different than you are will write his or her name in the box. You can use each name in your class only once. Continue until every student has every box filled in.

Variation: You can shorten this activity to 10 minutes by applying the rules of Bingo. The first person to fill out a row either horizontally or vertically shouts, “Bingo,” and the game ends.

Tell everyone to “Begin!” The person who fills out his or her card entirely shouts, “Bingo!” and the game ends.

Process:

What was difficult about this activity? What was easy? Any surprises?

End this activity by choosing a category from the Human Bingo card for which there is likely to be a wide range of answers (such as favorite snack food or favorite music group) and have students write their answers on a sheet of construction paper in large letters. Have everyone hold his or her signs up and look around the circle. Or ask everyone to organize themselves around the room based on their various preferences. Make note of the diversity and celebrate it with a cheer of the student’s choosing!

Process:

How might celebrating our differences in our classroom change our classroom? How might our differences make our classroom a better place to learn together?

It’s Okay to Be Different Class Book (10 Minutes) (Integrated Arts)

Give students various art materials to create in pairs or alone a page for your own version of the Todd Parr It’s Okay to Be Different book. What ways do we want to tell people it’s okay to be different in our classroom? Bind all of the children’s contributions into a class book. Consider joining with other classrooms to build a school wide book.

Closing: Bingo Card Buddies (5 Minutes)

Go-Round

Without looking at your Bingo Card name a person you found who had a different answer than you had for that category. What was their answer and yours?”

K-1: Do the Bingo activity in small groups or as a whole group with another adult to help.  Ask one student each question from the bingo card and then ask students who agree to line up with him or her, and students who disagree to form another group.

Grades 6-12: For the gathering, substitute the following “opinion continuum.” Place signs around the classroom “Strongly Agree,” “Somewhat Agree,” “Agree,” “Somewhat Disagree” “Disagree” “Strongly Disagree.” As you say the following statements, have students move to the different areas of the classroom that represent how they feel about that statement.

  • School uniforms are a positive thing.
  • Adding salad bars to school lunch is a good way to get kids to eat healthier.
  • Kids under the age of 12 should not use violent video games.
  • Social media is a very positive thing in our lives.

After each question, make note of the diversity in opinions about the topic.

Adults: For the gathering, substitute the following “opinion continuum.” Place signs around the room “Strongly Agree,” “Somewhat Agree,” “Agree,” “Somewhat Disagree” “Disagree” “Strongly Disagree.” As you say the following statements, have people move to the different areas of the room that represent how they feel about that statement.

  • The Common Core is a positive educational initiative.
  • Prayer has a place in public schools.
  • Charter schools are helping improve education.
  • Linking teacher pay to student achievement on standardized tests is a good idea.

After each question, make note of the diversity in opinions about the topic.

K-5 Literacy: Read Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss.  Point out to students that the main character has pre-judged green eggs and ham without ever trying them.  This “pre-judging” is sometimes called “prejudice” when people judge other people who are different in some way.  Explore the distinction between not liking something and being prejudiced toward it. Have students draw pictures or write about a time they thought they didn’t like something or someone, but then changed their minds at some point.  How much of their dislike had to do with something being new or different?  Share stories.

K-5 Literacy, Art and Math:  Have students draw close-up self-portraits.  These people color faces from Lakeshore are a good size to use. Have students glue different colored yarn for hair.  Tell students you are going to play an attribute game together.  Each student has to find two people with whom they have something in common.  The attributes can be visible or invisible.  The challenge for the class is to “link” all of the portraits together so that each person can be linked to two other people and end with a completely formed circle.   You may have to switch people around for it to work, or ask more questions of one another.  When you have completed the challenge, give students sentence strips or paper to write what they have in common with their “links” (“we both like science, we both have large families,” etc.) Create charts and graphs of variance across the class. Display circle of portraits, sentence strip links, and charts in classroom or hallway.

K-8 Literacy and Art:  Work with students to create interview questions they can use to interview one of their classmates.  Have pairs of students interview one another.  Provide index cards for students to jot ideas or pictures if they want.  Then give each pair of students a large piece of paper to create a Venn Diagram representing the information gained in their interviews.  Have students use markers, crayons and other art materials on their diagram.  Have each pair present their work to the class.  Students can use Venn Diagrams to explore similarities between themselves and characters in stories, also. Older students can write biographies about their classmates.

2-5 Literacy:  Play a game called Diversity Detective.  Assign each student a classmate to investigate. (Use your knowledge of the students to ensure positive pairings.)   Give each student up to five index cards.  Tell them not to write their classmate’s name on the cards.  Over the course of the next two or three days, students will be observing their “subject” from afar.  When they notice a positive quality that their subject seems to have, such as being friendly, being a good joke-teller, or being helpful, they write that quality on one of their index cards.  Encourage students to find something their subject is good at that maybe they themselves are not. After a few days, come together in a circle.  Have each student put one of his or her cards in the middle. As a group, begin to organize the cards in anyway the group sees fit: in a bar graph, in small groups, etc.  Process the similarities and differences.  Have students continue to add index cards to the center.  Guide students to understand that the diversity of positive traits represented makes them a stronger group.  Have students share the names of their subjects at the end.

Grades 6-12 Social Studies/History: As you teach history, ask young people to consider who (gender, race, ethnicity, religion, etc.) is in the story, and who is missing as a way of exploring multiple perspectives in the story. Ask students to use the Library of Congress and other excellent primary resources to investigate voices missing from the narrative.

Grades 6-12 Social Studies/History/Literacy: Create timelines of student’s family backgrounds, including significant moments such as immigration, participation in industry or technology, service in wars, etc. Combine timelines for one large class timeline and then overlay with world events. Consider expanding this to a literacy exercise by writing ethnographies of families to go along with the timeline.

Grades 6-12 Literacy and Art: Create word clouds that celebrate differences. Have each person in your class choose a word that represents his or her identity. Combine in creative and beautiful type fonts or through word cloud resources like wordle to make an attractive poster that celebrates your classroom’s diversity.

Grades 6-12 Social Studies/Art: As you identify perspectives missing from history, engage student’s imaginations in accessing that group’s perspective by having them write letters from that person’s perspective, or create sculpture and artwork based on that perspective.