Teaching Tolerance ~ Lesson Plans

In these lessons (arranged from lowest to highest grade levels), students learn that we are one world, as they explore diversity, stereotypes, positive race relations, and respect.

(Click on these links for Lesson Plans on Bullying Awareness, Making a Difference, and Creating Community.)

Upon the Clouds of Equality
Grades: K through 2
Subjects: Social Studies, Language Arts, Library/Technology and Philanthropy
Duration: One 60 or two 30 minute sessions
Materials: Small “treats” – this could be edible or special erasers, pencils, stickers, etc, Martin’s Big Words: the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., by Doreen Rappaport, old newspaper to stuff the clouds, stapler, fishing line or yarn, drawing paper and material for making the clouds, copies of an attachment and a handout (at lesson plan link below)

  • Students experience a simulation demonstrating unequal treatment and discuss justice and fairness. Students will reflect on Martin Luther King Jr’s dream of equality and his actions as a philanthropist.
  • Upon the Clouds of Equality lesson plan 

    Photo by Leigh Hilbert

What Can We Learn from a Box of Crayons?
Grades: K through 3
Subjects: Social Studies, Art
Duration: One session
Materials: The Crayon Box that Talked by Shane Derolf and Michael Letzig, drawing paper, crayons

Simon Says “Who Are You?”
Grades: K through 5
Subjects: PE and Health
Duration: 20 minutes
Materials: None

Family Tapestry
Grades: K through 5
Subjects: Language Arts, Social Studies, Art, Science and Health
Duration: Four sessions
Materials: See lesson plans at link below

  • Family Tapestry is a series of four lessons designed to help students recognize and accept differences among each other and within the community. As they discover how their own unique family contributes to a richer society, they are encouraged to explore their own biases and prejudices. In the final lesson, students synthesize everything they’ve learned throughout the series to create a quilt that tells the story of how their families contribute to their overall classroom community. 
  • Family Tapestry lesson plans 

Those Tear-Me-Apart, Put-Me-Back-Together, Never-Be-the-Same-Again Blues
Grades: K through 8
Subjects: Language Arts, Health and Social Studies
Duration: One class session
Materials: Brightly-coloured mural or construction paper

Everybody Is Unique: A Lesson in Respect for Others
Grades: K through 8
Subjects: Language arts, Visual Arts and Social Studies
Duration: One class session
Materials: One 2-inch, 3-inch and 4-inch squares of white drawing paper per student, art supplies (might include crayons, markers, or paints), writing paper and pen/pencil

  • In this lesson students learn about respect for others’ unique qualities as they create a totally unique person, with a head drawn by one student, a torso drawn by another student, and lower body drawn by another.
  • Everybody Is Unique lesson plan 

Anti-Racism Activity: The Sneetches
Grades: 1 through 5
Subjects: Reading and Language Arts, Social Studies, ESL
Duration: One session, or one intro and one follow-up session, and ongoing throughout the week
Materials: Dr Seuss’s The Sneetches, Green construction paper, sticky dots, or washable marker, Safety pins

  • Students learn about unfair practices in a simulation exercise based on Dr Seuss’s The Sneetches and then create plans to stand up against discrimination.
  • The Sneetches lesson plan 

Me and We: We Are All Similar and Different
Grades: 1 through 12
Subjects: Reading and Language Arts, Social Studies, Visual Arts, ESL
Duration: One session
Materials: Ten sheets of paper, numbered 1 to 10, taped to the wall, paper, pencils, crayon, markers

Stars for Diversity
Grades: 3 through 5
Subjects: Reading and Language Arts, Social Studies, ESL
Duration: One session
Materials: Stickers in four colours and two stars in two different colour (1 sticker or star per student)

Looks Like Respect, Sounds like Respect, Feels like…
Grades: 3 through 5
Subjects: Social Studies, Language Arts, Art, Philanthropy, Library Technology
Duration: Three 40-minute sessions
Materials: Markers, pencils, construction paper, 4×6 note cards, plastic wrap, `T` chart – use butcher paper, poster board (one piece for each group of three), oversized ear, oversized glasses, large glove.

Words Can Hurt
Grades: 4 and 5
Subjects: Social Studies, Language Arts, Library & Technology and Philanthropy
Duration: One 50-minute session
Materials: Display board or chart paper,“Speak Up” optional homework assignment at lesson plan link below

  • This lesson investigates analyses stereotyping in society and asks the learners to brainstorm ways they can help diminish it.
  • Words Can Hurt lesson plan 

Character Education: Respect
Grades: 6 through 8
Subjects: Social Studies, Language Arts, and Philanthropy
Duration: A unit of five 20-minute lessons
Materials: See lesson plans at link below

  • What role does respect play in relationships and life success? How can developing respect equip people as world citizens who contribute to the common good?  
  • In this unit, students define respect and explore the relationship of “respect” to definitions and examples of prejudice, bias, racism, and stereotype. Students recognize prejudice and examine how they perceive others. The learners are challenged to enhance respect in their personal relationships. They define actions they can take to enhance respect in their school and community.
  • Respect lesson plans Grade 6 
  • Respect lesson plans Grade 7                                      
  • Respect lesson plans Grade 8

Culture Ads
Grades: 6 through 8
Subjects: Social Studies, Language Arts, Library & Technology and Philanthropy
Duration: Three 45 minute sessions
Materials: Picture books on multicultural issues (see recommendations and handouts at lesson plan link below)

  • Learners will identify elements of cultural differences found in picture books about children in Arica, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and minority groups in North America. They will identify one difference they can celebrate in some way, such as the fun or expediency of doing a common task in a different way or seeing the beauty of a different style. 
  • Culture Ads lesson plan

We Are One World
Grades: 6-8
Subjects: Language Arts, Social Studies, Library/Technology and Philanthropy
Duration: Ten 60 minutes sessions
Materials: See lesson plans at link below

  • This unit of four lessons (Stereo What?, Violations and Dreams, What’s the Difference? Freedoms We Enjoy) taught over 10 sessions raises awareness of stereotypes, forms of bias and discrimination faced by peers and others every day. The denial of basic rights to people all over the world is addressed, with students learning about life in other countries. 
  • We Are One World lesson plans

“Claim It!”- Differences & Similarities – Creating a climate of inclusion
Grades: 9 through 12
Subjects: Language Arts, Social Studies
Duration: One 50 -60 minute sesssion
Materials: Printable teacher instructions and handout for students at lesson plan link below

  • The interactive game “Claim It!” provides a simple lesson plan for exploring diversity and helps students think consciously about how they need to speak and act in a diverse classroom so that all members feel included. It can be adapted for younger and older students and can be used in a single classroom, a student organization or club, or with a larger school assembly.
  • Claim It!” lesson plan 

Understanding Stereotypes
Grades: 9 through 12
Subjects: History, Social Studies, Anti-Bias Education
Duration: Three class sessions
Materials: Writing paper, flip chart and/or large sheets of paper, magic markers, art supplies (construction paper, scissors, tape, glue, magazines to cut up, etc.), take home activity sheet: (See printable version at lesson plan link below)

  • This three-lesson unit guides students in understanding how assumptions can lead to stereotypes and unfair judgments about individuals and groups and how stereotypes and biases affect our lives.
  • Understanding Stereotypes lesson plans 

Getting Out of the Box
Grades: 9 through 12
Subjects: Art, Language arts, Library technology, Philanthropy and Social Studies
Duration: Three 55-minute sessions
Materials: Pencils, markers, erasers, blank paper, tape and copies of handouts at lesson plan link below.

7 thoughts on “Teaching Tolerance ~ Lesson Plans

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