Teaching tolerance lesson plans that share the realization that there is someone like you in the world, helps children find the connections that lead to acceptance. These connections can be found through various means including games, books, and themes.
Teaching Tolerance Objectives
- Recognizing the uniqueness in others
- Recognizing connections to others
- Appreciating both similarities and differences
Find Someone Who... A Game on Likeness and Differentness
One of the quickest and easiest ways for teaching children tolerance is to play the Find Someone Who...game. This can be done several ways.
For very young students, a graph on the board or on a flip chart can list various aspects of physical appearance and personal preferences, such as the color of hair, eye, clothes, height, and favorite game, hobby, sport or book. The classroom teacher asks for students who have one specific aspect to raise their hands, for instance, all children with brown eyes. Then, those children are told to form a group on the rug or at a table.
Other eye colors are called out with the same instructions. At the end, all students will be in a group. The teacher can then explain that eye color makes the children in each group the same, but they are different because there are other things that they do not share. The eye color groups are sent back to their chairs or circle. The teacher forms new groups for a different aspect, such as everyone who likes jump rope in one group, everyone who likes playing ball in another group. The children are asked if everyone from their first group is in the new group. The answer should be no, thus demonstrating for the students how they can be both the same and different. In the event that the answer is yes, (it does happen from time to time) the teacher can find something that would show how the students are different, for instance some are short and some are tall or some have long sleeve shirts and some have short, thereby demonstrating the differences.
Older students can be given a sheet to Find Someone Who. The sheet has various aspects listed. The student asks their peers which apply to them. (In large classrooms, this can be done in small groups.) If a peer identifies with an aspect, they sign their name next to it. Once they fill in their entire sheet, they sit down. (Find a handout on this game here in the Media Gallery).
Teachers can then have the students study the sheets. Did their peers all identify with every aspect? Did a peer identify with something that was a surprise to the student? Discussions on how we are the same, yet different can be introduced. This is an especially good Someone Like You activity when there are students in the class with disabilities or when the class is multicultural.
Variation on a Theme
Another way to bring students together by finding connections is to designate a Someone Like You week. The Someone Like You activities for that week could include a daily grouping of students with similarities. A list of possible topics for the groups might include:
- Shirt colors
- Who has lunch from home or not
- Who rides the bus
- Subjects they like best
- Favorite colors
Like the activity above, a discussion about sameness and difference can be initiated by the teacher.
An invaluable resource for any thematic activity is books. The following is a list of books that can be used with the Someone Like You activities.
Whoever You Are by Mem Fox
We Are All Alike...We Are All Different by Cheltenham Elementary School Kindergartners (Bilingual book)
- Come and Abide (We Are All the Same Inside) by Timothy D. Bellavia
- How Are We Alike? by Linda Rieger
Someone Special, Just Like You by Tricia Brown
Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen
Different Like Me: My Book of Autism Heroes by Jennifer Elder and Marc Thomas
Assess students by how well they are able to articulate the concepts of tolerance and acceptance by asking them, in small groups, to create a skit that will demonstrate what they know. In addition, assess their participation. Note: This should not be a graded assessment, only one that allows you to understand who grasped the concepts and who might need extra help.
We Are All Connected
With teaching tolerance lesson plans, how these activities are presented is not as important as is the connections that are made by teaching children tolerance. When students learn and understand that while we are different, we are all the same, peace and harmony become attainable goals.